Memorandum of Cooperation between Ramsar and SPREP




Memorandum of Cooperation
between the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Bureau of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands


AWARE that the mission of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971), as agreed by the Parties to the Convention in its Strategic Plan 1997-2002 is, "The conservation and wise use of wetlands by national action and international cooperation as a means to achieving sustainable development throughout the world";

AWARE ALSO of the role performed by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in supporting and assisting the 22 island states and territories in the South Pacific Region with pursuing the vision set down in the Action Plan for Managing the Environment of the Pacific Islands Region 2001-2004; namely "People of the Pacific Islands better able to plan, protect, manage and use their environment for sustainable development";

STRESSING that both the Ramsar Convention and SPREP seek to pursue their respective goals through cooperative and collaborative approaches, through institutional and local capacity building and empowerment, and by raising awareness and understanding of the principles and practices of sustainable development;

NOTING that the term "wetland" as defined by the Ramsar Convention includes tidal and inshore ecosystems such as seagrass, coral reefs, mangrove, salt marsh and intertidal communities, as well as freshwater lakes, marshes and swamps, and, that these are ecosystems of great importance to the people of the Pacific Islands in terms of their food and water security and long-term economic development;

RECALLING the Memorandum of Understanding as well as the Joint Work Plan between the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, which acknowledges the latter as the "lead partner" on wetland-related matters;

AND ALSO AWARE of the Memorandum of Understanding between SPREP and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, under which a work plan will be developed for the development and implementation of joint actions;

FURTHER RECALLING the Memoranda of Understanding between the Ramsar Convention Bureau and UNESCO's World Heritage Centre and also with the Man and the Biosphere Programme, both of which establish working relationships to collaboratively assist countries with the identification and subsequent management of World Heritage sites and Biosphere Reserves (respectively) which have also been designated as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention;

TAKING FULL ACCOUNT of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention and the Secretariat of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification to facilitate joint actions to preserve water resources in arid and semi-arid lands;

MINDFUL of the emerging partnership between the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Ramsar Convention which aims at analysing the relations that exist between climate change and wetland ecosystems, and lead eventually to the formulation of agreed joint actions;

RECOGNISING the official International Organisation Partners of the Ramsar Convention, namely, BirdLife International, IUCN - the World Conservation Union, WWF and Wetlands International, that provide assistance to many islands states and territories in the South Pacific Region through their respective regional operations and experts;

RECALLING the conclusions and recommendations from the regional meetings held to discuss wetland management in Port Moresby (1994) and Hamilton (1998);

NOTING as well the Regional Wetlands Action Plan for the Pacific Islands;

ACKNOWLEDGING that the Ramsar Conference of the Parties at its 6th and 7th Meetings (Brisbane, Australia, 1996 and San Jose, Costa Rica, 1999) adopted Recommendations 6.18 and 7.2, respectively in relation to furthering partnerships to support capacity building in the small island developing states, and that such capacity building and cooperation should take account, in particular, of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States;

The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Ramsar Convention Bureau agree the following principles of cooperation, which will form the basis for a Joint Work Plan. These principles recognise the areas of agreed mutual interest between the signatories, where cooperation will assist both Parties to more efficiently and effectively pursue their respective mandates and missions.

Principles of Cooperation

1. Promoting the wise use of wetlands

The wise, or ecologically sustainable, use of wetland ecosystems is a fundamental concept which both signatories to this MoC seek to promote, and a central pillar of the Ramsar Convention. Both recognise that the principles of sustainable development as set down in Agenda 21 are key elements for combating poverty and securing food and water resources for future generations. SPREP and the Ramsar Convention Bureau will work cooperatively to promote the adoption of these principles by the Governments and people's of the Pacific islands. It is acknowledged that this may require significant capacity building, both at the Government level allowing for the appropriate policy and legal frameworks to be in place, and at the community level, which through customary land ownership, are the major stakeholders of wetland resources.

2. Supporting the recognition and appropriate management of wetlands of international importance

SPREP and the Ramsar Convention Bureau are committed to seeing wetlands of global significance recognised, and then managed to protect their special ecological, social, cultural and economic values. Both signatories fully acknowledge the fundamental importance of local people managing their wetlands for long-term sustainability in accordance with Ramsar's wise use principles and guidelines. A second pillar of the Ramsar Convention is the designation of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites); recognition given to those sites that satisfy the specific criteria set down by the Convention. These sites are increasingly viewed as 'demonstration sites' for showcasing the principles of wise use.

3. Promoting international and regional cooperation

The third pillar of the Ramsar Convention is the promotion of international cooperation. The Convention's official guidelines acknowledge such cooperation as covering a range of issues including the following: cooperative implementation of environment-related conventions, the sharing of knowledge and expertise, international development assistance, sustainable harvesting and trade in wetland-derived products and the appropriate regulation of foreign investments that may impact on wetland ecosystems. Through the Joint Work Plan, SPREP and the Ramsar Convention Bureau will consider each of these areas and develop suitable responses as resources permit.

4. Assistance with resourcing for capacity building

Capacity building is acknowledged by both signatories as the highest priority for their immediate attention through the Joint Work Plan. The building of capacity needs to occur at different levels; from Government departments and officials to the local custodians of the wetlands. Mobilising the resources to enable this capacity building, and using existing opportunities for sharing knowledge and expertise will be of paramount importance.

5. Promoting accession to the Ramsar Convention, where appropriate

A priority is to increase the number of the World's small island developing states which are Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention in order that they can help guide the future policy directions and operational priorities of the Convention, and also access the various tools, expertise and resources which the Convention can mobilise. While accession by the countries in the South Pacific Region is a priority, the non Parties currently do not have the capacity to comply fully with the Convention. However, both signatories to this MoC acknowledge that member status would assist with mobilising the resources to gain that capacity, while also offering greater access to the expertise and tools needed for the building of capacity in the longer-term. Each sovereign state will be encouraged to take into account these forms of assistance when considering accession to the Ramsar Convention.


The above principles set out the general framework of working relations between SPREP and the Ramsar Convention Bureau. The Joint Work Plan will provide the basis for tangible and specific actions which each Party shall take pursuant to the MoC.

Any financial or legal commitments that arise from measures taken to implement this MoC and the JWP will be made on a case-by-case basis and agreed to by both Parties.

This MoC may be reviewed at any time by mutual agreement. The JWP shall be reviewed every two years, and both Parties shall report to their respective member countries and governing bodies about achievements and new priorities.

This Memorandum of Cooperation shall enter into force upon the last date of signature of the Parties and may be terminated by giving advice in writing to the other not less than six months in advance.

For and on behalf of the
South Pacific Regional Environment Programme

Tamari'i Tutangata

Date: 6 May 2002

For and on behalf of the Ramsar Convention Bureau

Dr Nick Davidson
Deputy Secretary General

Date: 6 May 2002



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