Ramsar Address to the Ministerial Consultation of the UNEP Governing Council meeting, February 2003


Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum

22nd Session

Nairobi, Kenya, 3-7 February 2003

Intervention during the Ministerial Consultation segment of the UNEP Governing Council, under the item Poverty and the Environment (3 minutes maximum interventions)

Mr. President,

I am very happy that a few minutes ago the Hon. Minister of Lesotho paved the way for my intervention, when she referred to the crucial importance of mountain wetlands in her country.

The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Wetlands met only two months after the World Summit on Sustainable Development and for the occasion the Secretariat had prepared a detailed analysis of the WSSD Plan of Implementation to highlight its relevance to our Convention. The analysis demonstrated that indeed there are many sections of the Plan which are very relevant to Ramsar.

The COP adopted a Strategic Plan for the Convention for 2003-2008 and I am happy to report that it incorporates Ramsar's contribution to the implementation of WSSD in a significant manner. Now I very much hope that our focal points in the Contracting Parties will consistently use the opportunity to apply the Convention in the quest for sustainable development in their respective countries.

In this sense, I have personally been pleading for a shift in the way that Parties perceive the environmental conventions: they should be perceived and used as tools for sustainable development instead of seen merely as a burden that the Parties have to comply with! I am happy to see that UNEP has retained this concept in the paper dealing with synergies among conventions, and I very much hope that in a not too distant future conventions will be placed by Parties at the heart of the development planning processes.

As you know, Mr. President, our next COP will take place in your country. Uganda has been the first Party to Ramsar to include wetland issues in its poverty eradication strategy. Thus, surely, other Parties will have the opportunity to learn a lot from your experience when they come to the next COP, though I very much hope that many Parties will have made progress by then in putting the Convention on Wetlands at the service of achieving the overriding objective adopted by WSSD: the eradication of poverty.

Thank you.

-- Delmar Blasco, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

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