Ramsar workshop in Lao PDR

20/06/2003

First Ramsar Workshop in Lao PDR

VIENTIANE-Lao PDR is the one of the two remaining countries in Southeast Asia that have yet to ratify the Convention on Wetlands. The government continues to take strides, however, in exploring options for sustainable development. On 18 June 2003, the Science, Technology and Environment Agency (STEA) of Lao PDR in collaboration with IUCN held a one-day information sharing workshop to initiate a national dialogue on the Convention.

The workshop was well attended by national and provincial authorities, including representatives from major ministries. The workshop began with introductions by co-chairs Mr. Soukata Vichit, Director General of the Department of Environment at STEA, and Mr. Peter-John Meynell, leader of the UNDP-MRC-IUCN Mekong Wetland Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme. Several speakers from government reviewed their agencies' activities in wetlands management, including transboundary initiatives with other countries of the Lower Mekong Basin. In the afternoon, officials heard commentary from Pham Dinh Viet Hong, a representative of Vietnam's Environment Protection Agency. She described her country's experience as Southeast Asia's first Ramsar signatory and welcomed further communication about the Convention between the two governments. IUCN presented background information on the Convention and highlighted its potential relevance to Lao PDR.

The workshop is part of the preparatory phase of the UNDP-MRC-IUCN Mekong Wetland Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme. Activities in the preparatory phase have been made possible through financial support from the Royal government of Netherlands. ICLARM (WorldFish) also provided financial support for the workshop.

Over the next year, STEA plans to examine more closely the benefits and responsibilities entailed by the signing the Convention. These activities will be supported by the IUCN Lao office and the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Programme.

IUCN Lao PDR
June 19, 2003

Peter-John Meynell and Soukata Vichit

Mrs. Latsamay Sylavong, Officer-in-Charge of IUCN Lao PDR

Further information: Sarah Cobey, Assistant Programme Officer, IUCN Lao PDR, 15 Fa Ngum Road, P.O. Box 4340, Vientiane, Lao PDR (Tel: 856 21 216401, Fax: 856 21 216127, Email: sarah@iucnlao.org)

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