Ramsar and water -- CSD 12, April 2004: Side event


International cooperation for water resources management

At a 27 April side event at the 12th meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, New York, USA, co-organized by the Swiss Agency of Environment, Forests and Landscape, the Japanese Ministry of Environment, and the Ramsar Convention, and chaired by IUCN's Director General Achim Steiner, the focus was upon the need to have an integrated international approach to managing the world's scarce water resources.

According to Ramsar's Sebastià Semene Guitart, Ambassador Beat Nobs spoke of the mistakes Switzerland has made in the past in managing its environment, basically saying that, stronger because of these mistakes, the Swiss could, today, help other countries in not repeating the same errors. This, he said, is why the Swiss are pushing so strongly the ecosystem approach and the wise use principle. The background of Ambassador Nobs' speech was to say that managing ecosystems in a integrated way is not much more expensive and, according to the Swiss experience, can even turn a profit.

Mr Tomohiro Shishima of Japan's Ministry of Environment reinforced the Swiss position by providing examples of river and stream management in Japan, but whereas the Swiss perspective was more economic, the Japanese was more social, explaining the benefits of ecosystem management for people.

Among the presentations and pauses in the ample lunch, Peter Bridgewater, Ramsar’s Secretary General, emphasized the unique and lengthy experience the convention has had with cooperation on on water resources management, and Ambassador Nobs pursued that further, after saying that Ramsar should be recognized as a major water convention, by urging that Ramsar be more widely used as a tool for implementing IWRM based on an ecosystem approach.

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