Ramsar's address to CITES' 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, October 2004
12. Cooperation with other organizations
12.5 Statements from representatives of other conventions and agreements
Remarks to the plenary session on behalf of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
Victoria Lichtschein, Argentina
Bangkok, 13 October 2004
I should like to make a few remarks, not from the perspective of Argentina, but as the appointed representative of the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention.
This issue is one that concerns all secretariats of the biodiversity-related conventions
As with the CBD, it is indeed true that the overall goals of CITES and the Ramsar Convention, while not identical, are mutually supportive. Certainly the conservation objectives of both conventions are best served when set within the paradigm of sustainable development, which in the case of the Ramsar Convention we call the "wise use principle". Different words, from maybe a different era of thought, but the ideals are the same.
Given CITES's powerful and specific trade measures and the inclusion in the Ramsar Strategic Plan of issues dealing with sustainable trade of wetland products, implementation of both conventions should be mutually beneficial. The secretariats will endeavor to work closely together on this and related issues in the coming years.
But, Mr. Chairman, while the secretariats will indeed work together, the sharp end of delivery of cooperation and synergy must be the national level, and here we strongly suggest that focal points for each of the biodiversity-related conventions should establish mechanisms appropriate to national circumstances to ensure coordination. This coordination should include all activities to do with implementation of international obligations at the national level, including reporting.
We also believe that Parties should develop their capacity for managing information more effectively to support implementation of conservation and management obligations, and for reporting on those obligations to the governing bodies of the conventions. Such approaches should focus on enabling access to information and should build on the experience of the pilot projects, and use both existing tools and tools that are being developed (e.g., the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, which could help rationalise issues of taxonomic uncertainty between conventions).
We note that there are several projects promoting better coordination of national reports, such as those organised by UNEP-WCMC with respect to the Environmental Management Group, and the project on 'Towards the harmonization of national reporting' which held a final workshop in recent days.
A new UNEP project on development of issue-based modules to support coherent implementation of biodiversity-related MEAs has identified inland waters, invasive alien species, climate change and sustainable use as themes that it will address first, and these are all areas where our two conventions can work together effectively and well.
Mr Chairman, we should also acknowledge that the proposed Biodiversity Liaison Group of the biodiversity-related conventions, decided on by CBD COP7, will be a forum that will enhance synergy and interlinkages between us, and promote further collaborative action. Of course, our own COP will have to formally agree this process, but, in the interim, the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention will take part in the work of this group.
Above all, Mr. Chairman, and however different and complementary the approaches taken by our two conventions are, we should be united in trying to finds ways to achieve the 2010 target on reducing the current rate of biodiversity loss, agreed in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
And in the framework of that target, united also in trying to achieve the slogan we have adopted for our next COP, Wetlands and Water: supporting life, sustaining livelihoods.
(photo of Victoria Lichtschein by Earth Negotiations Bulletin)