Ramsar address to CBD's SBSTTA-9 on the progress of the Joint Work Plan

12/11/2003

Convention on Biological Diversity
Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice,
9th meeting

CBD SBSTTA-9
Monday 10 November 2003

Statement by the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

Nick Davidson
Deputy Secretary General, Ramsar Secretariat


Mr Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Thank you for the opportunity to briefly update you on the progress of the work of Ramsar's Scientific & Technical Review Panel, and its relevance to the implementation of our CBD-Ramsar Joint Work Plan and the issues being addressed by SBSTTA9 and your COP7 next year.

From a wealth of tasks established by our COP8 last year, the STRP has been instructed to focus its work on six priority themes, for each of which it has established an expert Working Group, in which CBD secretariat staff participate, at its 11th meeting in April 2003.

For wetland inventory and assessment, the Panel is developing an integrated framework for for inventory, assessment and monitoring, which will build from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment's Conceptual Framework. It is also preparing guidance on defining ecological character and detecting and responding to change in ecological character, and is reviewing the Ramsar context of the guidance you considered at SBSTTA8 on rapid assessment methodologies for inland waters and marine and coastal systems. In response to SBSTTA8 recommendations on harmonisation on inland waters issues, the Panel is undertaking further work on wetland classifications and mapping, and, again drawing on the work of the MA, reporting on the status and trends of Ramsar sites and other wetlands.

The Panel's second Working Group is addressing a core issue for the Convention, that of updating the Ramsar guidance on the Wise Use concept, in relation to the ecosystem approach, sustainable use and integrated resource management, and how and when to apply the increasing suite of Convention guidances on specific implementation issues available in the 'Toolkit' of Wise Use Handbooks. This is a challenging work in progress, and it is again emerging that the MA's Conceptual Framework provides a valuable starting point for explaining these linkages.

The third Working Group - on water resource management - will contribute particularly to supporting implementation of the Programme of Work on inland water biodiversity. The issue is one of increasing importance for our Conventions as global demand for water continues to increase. Building on our COP8 guidelines on water allocations and management to maintain wetland ecosystem functions, the expert Group is preparing technical reports and guidelines on enviromental flows and on groundwater management.

Mr Chairman, this year is the International Year of Freshwater, and World Wetlands Day in Febreuary this year celebrated this vital link between wetlands and water. COP8 last year, in the International Year of Mountains, also stressed the important role that mountain wetlands play in supporting and regulating water for entire river basins, and urged coordination between conventions in implementing work on mountain systems, including through your upcoming programme of work on mountain biodiversity beting considered this week.

Working Groups 4 and 5 are addressing site-based matters, relevant to your consideration of protected areas this week, including further guidance on identification, designation and management of Wetlands of International Importance. Importantly, and in response to your SBSTTA8 recommendations, this work addresses harmonising Ramsar site criteria with the components of biological diversity in Annex I of CBD, including development of criteria for socio-economic and cultural importance, and a quantitative criterion for wetland-dependent species other than waterbirds.

Last, but by no means least, the Panel's sixth Working Group is developing indicators for assessing the effectiveness of implementation of the Convention. This work has focussing down on establishing a small set of 'outcome-oriented' indicators of the ecological character of wetlands, which will complement the largely 'process-oriented' indicators in Ramsar's COP9 National Report Format derived from our Strategic Plan. Some of the indicators will be applicable at the national scale, and others at biogeographic region and global scales, with some are being designed to contribute to assessment of the 2010 biodiversity target. Clearly there are very close links in this work with your consideration of 2010 indicators, and on outcome-oriented targets for inland waters and marine and coastal biodiversity, and we believe that it will be vital to secure as much harmonisation as possible between these indicator sets so as to ease the task of our respective Parties in applying them.

The STRP's work will be considered by our COP9, hosted by the government of Uganda in late 2005. Prior to that, the Ramsar and CBD Secretariats will be reviewing progress and updating our 3rd Joint Work Plan, so as to fully respond to the emerging opportunities and benefits of collaboration in convention implementation since its approval 2002 and will report on this to the Ramsar Standing Committee and CBD COP7 next year.

Mr Chairman, over the last few years, our collaboration has strengthened and progressed from an initial identification of common ground, through the adoption in the Ramsar context of guidance developed under the CBD, to the joint development of new materials and approaches, notably in the preparation of the revised inland waters programme of work for COP7 consideration. As we all gear up to assessment and actions to address the 2010 biodiversity target, Ramsar's Standing Committee and STRP are committed to furthering our collaboration so as to provide our Parties with the clearest and most consistent possible guidance for national implementation and response on wetland biodiversity matters.

Thank you.

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