The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 7 January 2003
Headline story. Cuba names five new Ramsar sites. The Bureau of the Ramsar Convention is delighted to announce that the Government of Cuba has designated five extraordinarily valuable wetlands for the List of Wetlands of International Importance, bringing that country's total surface area under the Ramsar umbrella to 1,188,411 hectares. These five sites include an impressive array of coastal wetland types and provide support for many species of flora and fauna, some of them rare or endangered. The very commendable efforts by Cuban authorities to designate these new sites have been materially assisted by WWF's Living Waters Programme. The new Ramsar sites are 1) Buenavista (313,500 ha) in Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus provinces, 2) Ciénaga de Lanier y Sur de la Isla de la Juventud (126,200 ha) on the Isla de la Juventud, 3) Gran Humedal del Norte de Ciego de Avila (226,875 ha) in Ciego de Avila province, 4) Humedal Delta del Cauto (47,836 ha) in Granma and Las Tunas provinces, and 5) Humedal Río Máxima-Cagüey (22,000 ha) in Camagüey province. Here are brief site descriptions prepared by Ramsar's Julio Montes de Oca. [07/01/03]
Headline story.Ramsar wishes well to Veit Koester in retirement. "Those who were at the recent Ramsar COP8 will surely remember the Danish Head of Delegation, who was also speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States: Veit Koester. I was sad and moved on 27 December when I received a message from him announcing that that was to be his last day in the Ministry of Environment, since he was going into retirement." Ramsar's Secretary General provides a brief memorial to Veit Koester's long history of contributions to the Convention, right here. [07/01/03]
End of the Year Hols and Ramsar COP8 convalescence for most people in the Bureau at the moment.
MedWetCoast Regional Coordinator sought by UNDP and UNOPS. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) are searching for a Regional Coordinator/Project Manager for a regional project entitled ' Conservation of Wetland and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region (MedWetCoast)'. The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with co-funding from French FEM. It aims at conserving threatened coastal and wetland biodiversity in 15 key sites in six countries/authority (Albania, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Authority and Tunisia). The wetland components of this programme build on the achievements of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet) and in many ways the programme is linked to this Initiative and operates within the MedWet Network. Here are some more details [since removed]. [24/12/02]
Belatedly available. Interviews with the winners of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award and Recognitions of Excellence. With, in some cases, new photos. These insightful background pieces were meant to be posted at the time of the conferring of the Awards at Ramsar COP8 in November, but there wasn't time. So here they are now -- Interviews with Tony Sharley, manager of Banrock Station Wines; Miroslava Cierna of DAPHNE; Ajit Pattnaik of the Chilika Development Authority; and Monique Coulet of France; and a background newspaper article on Max Finlayson. Go to the main Awards 2002 page and look for the interviews. [22/12/02]
Australian NGO-private sector team wins conservation award. Bill Phillips, former Ramsar DSG, forwards the news that "BHP Billiton mining company and Conservation Volunteers Australia are delighted to announce that the Revive Our Wetlands program has won the National Large Business category of the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships. Revive was the only environmental program to win out of the six Award categories. This success is a testament to the increased prominence of wetland conservation. Since its inception two years ago, Revive has achieved significant outcomes on 100 of Australia's most important wetlands. These include: Greater community involvement in wetland conservation; 150,000 stems (meaning small trees etc) planted; 600 hectares of weed control; 50 kilometers of fencing; 30 kilometers of walking tracks; 85 flora and fauna surveys. BHP Billiton and Conservation Volunteers Australia would like to say thank you and congratulations to all our 100 project partners and the thousands of Revive volunteers. This has been a fantastic effort and we look forward to more wetland conservation in 2003. For more information visit www.reviveourwetlands.net." Best wishes, Phil Harrison, Director Corporate and Government Affairs, Conservation Volunteers Australia; Melinda Buckland, Group Manager Community Programs, BHP Billiton.Conservation Volunteers Australia, PO Box 423, Ballarat Vic 3355, 03 5333 1483 Visit us at www.conservationvolunteers.com.au." [21/12/02]
India names eleven new Ramsar sites. The Bureau is very pleased to announce the designation by the Government of India of 11 new Wetlands of International Importance, bringing the Party's total to 19 Ramsar sites covering 648,507 hectares (these new sites were, in fact, added to the Ramsar List in early November 2001, but because of Ramsar COP8 it has taken us this long to prepare the brief site descriptions). These extremely interesting new sites range geographically all over the country, from three sites in Kerala in the southwest and another in Tamil Nadu in the southeast to another at 4,595m (15,075 feet) altitude in the Himalaya. They include coastal estuaries, dammed reservoirs, and lots of mangroves, and they include the famous East Calcutta wetlands, the traditionally developed natural urban waste water treatment system that is also enormously productive in fish and other commodities - and Bhoj wetlands at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, about which wefeatured a photo essay by Dr Madhu Verma about a year ago. Many of the sites qualify on hydrological grounds, many for their birds and some for their sea turtles, others for their support for fisheries, and a few are considered to be sacred in one way or another. It's well worth mentioning that WWF-India has been instrumental in the preparation of the site data for all of these new designations, as part of a project supported by WWF's Living Waters Programme; indeed, many of the government's 'Ramsar Information Sheets', the site datasheets, contain valuable detailed recommendations for government and community actions for future management of the sites. Peruse brief descriptions of the new sites here. [20/12/02]
7th Goose Specialist Group meeting, Doñana.Ramsar's Sergey Dereliev participated in the 7th meeting of Wetlands International's Goose Specialist Group, hosted this year by the Doñana Biological Station in Spain, and do you think he could trouble himself to take the time to report on it for you? Eh? Well, you're wrong, obviously you don't know Sergey. He did take the time, and here's his one-page report on what happened there, and where it's supposed to happen next year, with some Doñana lore thrown in. View his brief synopsis here.[20/12/02]
Another Ramsar addition.Ramsar's Ibrahim Shaame is pleased to announce that he and Rehema Nyange are newly the parents of Farida Ibrahim, born in Zanzibar on 15 December at 3.3kg, both mother and the younger one doing very well. [20/12/02]
Bureau welcomes new intern for Africa. The Bureau is very pleased to welcome the new intern and Assistant to the Regional Coordinator for Africa, Ms Nassima AGHANIM of Algeria -- she will be replacing Simon RAFANOMEZANTSOA of Madagascar, whose internship will come to an end on 2 January 2003. Nassima is both arabophone and francophone, with a very good knowledge of English. She graduated in biology and oceanology from the University of Algiers in 1997 and in management of coastal areas from the European University Institute of the Sea, in Brest, France, in 2001. Whilst in Brest she also did a four-month traineeship, from June to September 2001, at the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat in France, within the MedWetCoast project. She is presently enrolled at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, France, for the 2002/2003 course on "Environment: habitats, techniques, societies", which she hopes to complete whilst doing her internship with Ramsar. In 1998, Nassima participated in the conference "Year of the Ocean" in Algiers, and she became acquainted with the work of the Ramsar Bureau by participating in the Ramsar subregional meeting for North and Central Africa, held in Algiers in March 2002. Moreover, she contributed to the census of cultural values of MedWetCoast sites which was presented at Ramsar COP8 in Valencia, Spain. [19/12/02]
News from the SGF. Namibia completes Ramsar SGF project on wetland inventory and management planning. Holger Kolberg of the Directorate Scientific Services, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, has forwarded the outputs from Namibia's 1997 Small Grants Fund project -- a CD-ROM containing a database inventory of the country's Ramsar sites and other wetlands, as well as GIS data and updated Ramsar Information Sheets on all four of its Ramsar sites and draft management plans for three of them. A number of public information materials have also been produced, including a brochure summarizing the results of the inventory and individual leaflets on Namibia's Wetlands of International Importance. Congratulations to Namibia for the completion of this valuable project and the production of these useful tools. More details here. [19/12/02]
"Jamaica is pleased to announce that six signs were erected (December 11, 2002) at our designated Ramsar Site, the Black River Lower Morass. Attached are photographs of some of the signs installed." Christine Sutherland, Protected Areas Branch, National Environment and Planning Agency, Jamaica CSutherland@nepa.gov.jm (18/12/02)
Now available. More stuff for World Wetlands Day. The superb WWD 2003 poster has an accompanying hardcopy "background paper", similarly entitled No wetlands - No water!, which amplifies the subject considerably, specifically on three themes: 1) "Freshwater - Is There Enough?", 2) "Water for Ecosystems?", and 3) "Wetlands, Water and Poverty Eradication", all nicely written up by Sandra Hails and filled with quotable factoids and attractively laid out, and NOW, only now, reprinted on this Web site, and only on this Web site. Look on the WWD 2003 index page and click on the right button if you can. Send for your free stuff and plan big gala events for 2 February 2003 or thereabouts, and try to convince the voting public that the viability of wetland functions is worth voting for -- and then, after the dust has cleared, send us a short or long report of your World Wetlands Day activities, with or without photos, as you wish, and we will post it here on the Ramsar Web site, as we've done in the past. Photos may be electronic or physical prints, but the texts should definitely be in electronic format, since nobody here types very well anymore or has time to transcribe your scribbled notes. Hint: the so-called "Ramsar sites brochure", a 3-ply nicely illustrated foldout about why we bother to designate Ramsar sites in the first place, makes a great stocking stuffer and can double as a placemat at your World Wetlands Day sitdown buffet, so order them in quantity. [17/12/02]
Headline story.Ramsar urges sustainable trade at UNEP meeting. At the UNEP-MEA Meeting on Enhancing MEA and WTO Information Exchange (Palais des Nations, Geneva, 11 November 2002), Ramsar's Alain Lambert made a presentation on sustainable trade, which was summarized in the Chairman's Report of the meeting as follows: "Promoting sustainable trade. The promotion of trade in sustainably produced products was identified by some participants as a way both to promote implementation of MEAs and to enhance the contribution of trade to sustainable development more generally. Information exchange between trade and environment officials could help combine expertise to integrate these policy objectives, and support WTO discussions on the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services. Information exchange could help identify new market access opportunities in this sector for developing countries. The representative of the Ramsar Secretariat described a number of national level projects (in Brazil, Ecuador, the Comoros, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa) which are promoting trade in sustainably produced products from wetlands, achieving both poverty alleviation and nature conservation objectives." More info at http://www.unep.ch/etu/etp/events/MEA_WTO/11Nov2002.htm. [18/12/02]
Conservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of High-Andean Wetlands. On 5-6 December 2002, an international workshop on high-Andean wetlands was held in Iquique, Chile, sponsored by the Ramsar Convention and large number of local and national institutions and financially supported by GEF/UNDP, the Centre for Development Studies (CED), and the private sector mining company Collahuasi. More than 100 people attended, including representatives of local communities and indigenous people, government officials, academics and experts from the region, and progress was made at reach consensus on a number of management issues for these very special places. The Bureau's Margarita Astràlaga (left, at the Salar del Huasco Ramsar site) reports on the the results of the meeting and the subsequent study tour of the Salar del Huasco, site of an ongoing GEF/UNDP project. Here is her brief report, with photos. [16/12/02]
Bolivia receives a new prize from WWF for wetland conservation. After receiving recognition for efforts and initiatives for conserving wetlands in August, once again, during the Summit in Johannesburg, Bolivia was for a second time recognized in November at the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP8), on wetlands (COP8) held in Spain. This second recognition for Bolivia, consisting in the "Gold Duck" award on behalf of WWF, responds to the interest of the country in preserving its freshwater wetlands. Ms. María Marconi, representative from the Bolivian Ministry of Sustainable Development and Planning, indicated that after the COP8, their willingness to continue the process for wetland conservation through the organization of a national workshop aimed at defining policies for a national plan and a regulations for wetlands management including the Ramsar Sites. Bolivia possesses one of the largest and best preserved freshwater wetlands in the world, the Bolivian Pantanal, as well as 8 other declared wetlands of international importance (Ramsar) totaling an area of 6,518,073 hectares conserving different ecological characteristics. -- Ana Alicia Eid Chajtur, Coordinadora de Comunicaciones, WWF Bolivia, Santa Cruz (firstname.lastname@example.org). [16/12/02]
Bolivia recibió nuevo premio de WWF por conservación de humedales. Luego de ser reconocida en agosto por los esfuerzos e iniciativas por conservar los humedales, durante la Cumbre de Johannesburgo, Bolivia es nuevamente reconocida por WWF en el mes de noviembre, durante la Octava Conferencia de las Partes de la Convención Ramsar sobre humedales (COP8) realizada en España. Este segundo reconocimiento a Bolivia que consiste en la entrega del premio "Pato de Oro" por parte de WWF, responde al interés de este país por conservar sus humedales de agua dulce. Cabe resaltar que María Marconi, representante del Ministerio del Ambiente del gobierno boliviano, comunicó luego de la COP8 a WWF Bolivia, su voluntad política de continuar el proceso para la conservación de humedales mediante la organización de un Taller Nacional para definir políticas de un plan nacional y un reglamento para la gestión de humedales incluyendo a los sitios Ramsar. Bolivia posee uno de los humedales de agua dulce más grande y mejor conservado del mundo, el Pantanal Boliviano y junto con éste tiene actualmente 8 sitios declarados humedales de importancia internacional (Ramsar), los cuales suman un área de 6.518.073 hectáreas y conservan diferentes características ecológicas.
Now available. Ramsar COP8 outputs slowly bobbing to the surface. The much-sought-after Participants List is now ready for viewing, thanks to Valerie Higgins' long labors with the Registration database -- in PDF format, there are three files: File I includes delegates of Contracting Parties and Observer States, government observers, national NGOs, and the business sector, ordered by country; File II includes intergovernmental organizations, partner organizations, international NGOs, invited experts, and the Earth Negotiations Bulletin team; File III covers the secretariat, i.e. Bureau staff plus translators, interpreters, seconded helpers, and so on. We also have the reports of the Standing Committee meetings just before and after the COP, the 27th and 28th Standing Committee meetings. The Conference Report is still making the rounds of translators and sign-offs by Their Lordships, and the Resolutions adopted by the COP are going to need a little while longer to guide through the final updating, editing, translating, and formating processes, so settle back with a Fanta and a bowl of peanuts and your little Gameboy and resist the temptation of writing to the Bureau insistently but prematurely. [13/12/02]
In memoriam.George Atkinson-Willes. "With the death, just after his eightieth birthday celebrated with great glee in September, of George Atkinson-Willes, wetland and waterfowl conservation has lost one of its earliest pioneers, and also one of its most colourful characters." Mike Smart remembers the man so closely involved with Slimbridge, the International Waterbird Census, IWRB, the creation and early evolution of the Ramsar Convention, and the 1% Ramsar Criterion. Here is his brief tribute to George Atkinson-Willes. [12/12/02]
Now available. World Bank study of Ramsar effectiveness. During the 8th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, Gonzalo Castro of the World Bank presented the results of a World Bank / WWF study of the extent to which Ramsar designation has contributed to the biodiversity conservation of the listed sites. "The study concludes that the designation of sites to be incorporated in the Ramsar database is likely to have improved the conservation prospects of these sites due to various factors, including increased awareness about the importance of these sites, increased conservation funding (both domestic and international), increased participation by local stakeholders in conservation, and reduction of threats." Here is Dr Castro's accompanying paper in English, French, and Spanish. [12/02/02]
Announcement. RIZA's 4th International Course on Wetland Restoration. The dates have been set for 2 June - 1 July 2003, and brochures and application forms can be obtained from the Wetland Advisory and Training Centre in Lelystad, The Netherlands, email@example.com.
Kyrgyz Republic brings vital Central Asian areas into the Convention. The Ramsar Bureau is very pleased to announce that Abdulqawi Yusuf, Director of the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs of UNESCO, has informed the Bureau that as of 12 November 2002 the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia has completed the procedure of accession to the Convention, as amended by the Paris Protocol of 1982, and becomes the Convention's 134th Contracting Party with entry into force on 12 March 2003. With documents signed by Askar Akaev, President of the Republic, and Muratbek Imanaliev, Minster of Foreign Affairs, the Kyrgyz Republic has submitted a map showing boundaries for its first Wetland of International Importance, the high-altitude "Isyk-Kul State Reserve with the Lake Isyk-Kul". When first designated as a Ramsar site by the former Soviet Union in 1976, the Ramsar site 'Issyk-kul Lake' covered 629,800 hectares (42°27'N 077°16'E) and was added to the Montreux Record of threatened sites in July 1990, but it remains to be seen, when the new Ramsar Information Sheet has been received from the Kyrgyz Republic, how the present designation will compare with that from the Soviet era.
Announcement. Opening for Operations Manager for GEF Siberian Crane Wetlands Project. The International Crane Foundation (ICF) seeks an Operations Manager of the Regional Coordination Unit (RCU) for a Global Environmental Facility Project on Siberian Crane Wetlands in Asia. The position will be responsible for financial and administrative coordination of the project, operations of RCU, and links to national teams in China, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Iran. For more information, see the full announcement here [link later removed], and then contact Claire Mirande, Project Director (Mirande@savingcranes.org).
More stuff on Ramsar COP8. Meetings, exhaustion, illnesses, existential anomie only just beginning to fade off, now we've got a lively set of photos of each day's noteworthy events if any and many snapshots of the excellent delegates and observers. Actually, we've still got some more photos to poke around amongst, but this makes a good beginning. Quickly view this day by day menu of events and thought-provoking photographs of people on per diems, and use wetlands sustainably. [08/12/02]
Ramsar signs cooperation agreements with river basin authorities. During the Ramsar COP8 proceedings in Valencia, on Saturday, 23 November, the Ramsar Bureau concluded Memoranda of Cooperation with two of the most significant river basin authorities in Africa, the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Niger Basin Authority. Secretary General Delmar Blasco signed separate agreements with Muhammad Sani Adamu, Executive Secretary of the LCBC, and with Mohammed Bello Tuga, Executive Secretary of the NBA. The progress of the Convention's work with these authorities, in conjunction with generous and tireless support from the WWF Living Waters Programme, has been evident on this Web site for some time now, and the designation of many new Ramsar sites in the region over the past year bears witness to the extent to which this cooperation has borne fruit. Both MOCs cover four areas of joint activity: the wise use of all wetlands in the basin, mobilization of funding resources, designation and management of Ramsar sites, and international cooperation and transboundary management. The texts of the two new instruments are available here: with the Lake Chad Basin Commission and with the Niger Basin Authority. [04/12/02]
Ramsar COP8 is over now, and many Bureau staff members will be back at their desks on Monday, 2 December. More photos of the events will begin appearing here soon, and of course work is now beginning on the COP Proceedings, with the final texts of the Resolutions adopted in the last two days. In the meantime, daily reports and an analytical summary of the whole COP are available from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/.
Ramsar staff members make a subtle statement about the end of the long COP by donning their festive COP8 T-shirts in the corridor of the COP8 offices, late on 25 November.
News from the COP.Last two Technical Sessions, and the signing of a new MOC. Day 5, 22 November, covered the last two of the five Technical Sessions, a large number of side events, and, as a bonus, the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ramsar Bureau and the Institute for Inland Water Management and Wastewater Treatment (RIZA) based in the Netherlands. Some of the day's photos are available here, and so is the text of the new MOC. For further details on the day's events, consult the ENB's daily reports at http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/. [23/11/02]
News from the COP.Two more Technical Sessions down, and two to go. Day 4, 21 November, began at a very early hour for a catch-up plenary session for last Tuesday's review of a number of Draft Resolutions and Recommendations, and then got into Technical Session 2: "Baselines for sustainable use: wetland inventory and assessment" for the rest of morning, and spent the afternoon with Technical Session 3: "Global biological diversity and sustence of human life: the Ramsar List of International Importance". Both Tech Sessions, in their regional break-out meetings, made further progress in negotiating amendments to the Draft Resolutions under study. The side events, which were many and varied, included a presentation on lake biodiversity conservation and Ramsar linkages by LakeNet, an IUCN discussion on NEPAD water and environment programmes, Wetlands International's introduction to the Asian Wetland Inventory, presentations on shrimp aquaculture by the Industrial Shrimp Action Network and the Mangrove Action Project, an introduction to the new database system by the UNEP/Global Environment Facility Coordination, and a Ramsar and UNCTAD BIOTRADE presentation on sustainable trade in wetland products, among many others. Here are some photos of the festivities -- for details on the issues, consult the ENB's daily reports at http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/. [22/11/02]
News from the COP.Tech Session I and the side event with the dates. Day 3, 21 November, was devoted to regional meetings in the morning, which allow the Parties with like geographical problems and perspectives to share their own experiences in implementing the Convention, and, in the afternoon, to the first of the five Technical Sessions: "Major challenges and emerging opportunities for wetlands, water and sustainability". Following five presentations by invited experts, covering the texts and guidance in Draft Resolutions, the plenary broke into four regional groupings to discuss the drafts further, eventually to conflate their regional perspectives into common amendments to the draft texts in the coming days. In addition, there was the usual rich array of side events, almost frustratingly too many for the participants to choose among, and the exhibit hall continued to attract large numbers of astonished gawkers. Algeria's side event on the Ouled Said Oasis drew a good crowd to hear the discussion and mainly to eat up all the dates. Here's a representative sampling of photos from the whole day. [21/11/02]
News from the COP.Already a bit behind schedule. Day 2, 20 November, continued the fun of the opening day but left administrative details behind in favor of the substantial business of the meetings. Following the morning's Report of the Secretary General on implementation of the Convention, filled with what he called 'challenges for the Parties' in the next triennium, an extraordinary number of CPs offered reports of their own efforts in support of the Convention's objectives, in many cases pledging specific further actions over the next triennium. Introductions were made to the draft Strategic Plan 2003-2008 and Work Plan 2003-2005, so that further contact group negotiations could be got underway over the course of the week, and the Standing Committee gave a financial report for the past year and offered a budget proposal for the next triennium. In the final business of the plenary's work, first considerations were made of a large number of the draft Resolutions and Recommendations that will be further discussed in the coming days.
The plenary session also heard an address by Dr Angela Cropper on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and its relevance to the Convention, and Ms Inés González Doncell, Director General of Nature Conservation in the Ministry of Environment of Spain, made a special presentation on wetland conservation in Spain, which included the announcement of 11 new Ramsar sites, which will bring the COP host's total Ramsar area to 173,000 ha. The many many side events included presentations on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the launch of the 7th Directory of Wetlands of International Importance by Wetlands International, a presentation on the restoration of Chilika Lake in India, the launch of the 3rd Waterbird Population Estimates, also by Wetlands International, discussion of coral reef conservation with WWF International, and many others. Some photos are available here. [20/11/02]
News from COP8.Opening ceremonies and first day's business. The first official day of Ramsar COP8 passed eventfully on 18 November, with a great deal of administrative business to get out of the way, well mixed with ceremonial occasions and welcoming speeches, along with an artistic performance on the water outside the venue and a lively reception in the Museum. Here are a few photo highlights of the day -- for a thorough report and analysis of the day's work, please consult the Web pages of the IISD's Earth Negotiations Bulletin, http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/. In addition, here is the text of the address of Dr Claude Martin of WWF International on behalf of the Convention's four International Organization Partners (BirdLife, IUCN, Wetlands International, and WWF) in English and Español. [19/11/02].
News from COP8. Ramsar COP8 gets underway in Valencia. The past few days have gone by in a frenzy in Valencia, as the city's enormous and impressive Museum of Sciences has been converted into a convention centre virtually overnight. Sunday, 17 November, saw registration for most delegates and observers, some 1,200 people. We've also had a successful 27th meeting of the Standing Committee, as it transformed itself into the Conference Committee and ironed out the COP's programme, as well as a very successful meeting on a draft action plan for Africa's wetlands under the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development -- and the pre-COP Global Biodiversity Forum drew to a close in its third day, including the Ramsar workshop on communications, education, and public awareness. Today, 18 November, will see the Opening Ceremonies, featuring greetings from local and regional officials, Spain's Minister of Environment, and HRH Prince Felipe of Spain, a noted conservationist in his own right. Other speakers later today include HE Philippe Roch, Secretary of State for the Environment, Forests and Landscape of the Bureau's host country, Switzerland, and Dr Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International, speaking on behalf of the Convention's four International Organization Partners (BirdLife, IUCN, Wetlands International, and WWF). At the end of the day, after some basic COP housekeeping agenda items, the Government of the Autonomous Community of Valencia will host a welcoming reception for all the participants, and on Tuesday the 19th the real work begins. A few photos of the set-up can be seen here. [18/11/02]
Earth Negotiations Bulletin reporting from COP8. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin team is producing daily reports from COP8, as well as photos and Real Audio recordings of key speeches. A report of each day's events is prepared overnight, and a summary report and analysis of the entire COP will be available 48 hours after the end of the last day. Whilst the Ramsar Bureau will be posting news at the end of each day as well, the expert ENB reporting team is capable of providing much more detail and much much more candor. To catch up with the latest news throughout the Conference of the Parties, visit http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/.[18/11/02]
From the Ramsar Forum.WWF stresses importance of Ramsar COP8. In a posting to the Ramsar Forum as well as to the Opinion Editorial pages of WWF's Panda Web site, Mr Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF International's Living Waters Programme, outlines his organization's views on the importance and relevance of the Ramsar Convention, especially in the follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and emphasizes the importance of COP8 (Valencia, 18-26 November 2002) for the continued growth and evolution. Here is a reprint of Jamie's editorial. [14/11/02]
World Wetlands Day looming just over the horizon. Over the past six years, World Wetlands Day has been celebrated by government agencies, NGOs, and local groups on or about 2 February annually, and the Bureau has been able to report on a growing number of activities each year, as accounts and photos have been submitted to us, in some 70 countries at last count. For WWD2003, the Standing Committee has suggested a theme of "No wetlands - No water!", in honor of the UN's International Year of Freshwater, and friends of wetlands who take up this theme in February can count themselves as part of the first IYF-related activities of the year. Ramsar staff have been a bit preoccupied this year with preparations for COP8 in Valencia, but nonetheless, through the indefatigable efforts of Sandra Hails, Delmar Blasco, and Publicitron S.A., and with financial support from the Ramsar Evian Project of the Danone Groupe, this year we are offering an informative new poster on freshwater issues (with additional info sheets to accompany it) and a new brochure on the meaning and importance of Ramsar sites for wetland sustainable use, both in English, French, and Spanish. There is also a new video on Ramsar and freshwater issues, produced in the same languages by TVE, ready in early December, but because of its cost this is intended only for large group and multiple showings and thus will be less widely available. We also have stock remaining of some of the World Wetlands Day posters and information packs from the past few years, and these can be requested at the same time. Our Web pages on WWD2003 are only partially built at this point, but you can get a sense of what's on offer and read some semi-eloquent prose in the meantime, including the Inspiring Letter [E, F, S]. Naturally, if you choose to order your World Wetlands Day materials straightaway (at firstname.lastname@example.org), you will nod in benign understanding if they do not arrive on your doorstep immediately -- most of our staff will be returning from Spain in early December. Here is the semi-finished WWD2003 index page. [13/11/02]
More to follow. Watch this space. Feedback and suggestions are welcome to: the Ramsar Convention Bureau, Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland (tel +41 22 999 0170, fax +41 22 999 0169, e-mail ). Updated regularly by Dwight Peck, Ramsar Bureau.