Secretary General's message of greetings to Kushiro's former Mayor Wanibuchi


Honors for former Mayor Wanibuchi

The city of Kushiro, in Hokkaido, Japan, has recently conferred its first award of honorary citizenship upon former mayor Toshiyuki Wanibuchi on 15 September 2004. Mayor Wanibuchi worked hard from 1990 onward to bring the Ramsar Parties to Kushiro for the 5th meeting of the Contracting Parties in 1993 and to make that COP one of the Convention's most memorable for thorough preparations and hospitality. in 1995, Mr Wanibuchi became the first president of the new Kushiro International Wetland Centre (KIWC), dedicated to following up on the momentum created by the COP; Naoko Satoh of KIWC and former Ramsar staff member Dr Satoshi Kobayashi will be joining in a Kushiro reunion of COP5 participants on 1 October 2004, and the latest edition of UNITAR's training sessions on wetlands and biodiversity management will be convening there later in the year.

Secretary General Peter Bridgewater's message of greetings

Wanibuchi san!

Greetings from Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, and all of the Secretariat Staff.

Many of us remember the exciting time of the Ramsar COP5 in Kushiro, surely a point at which we can say the "modern" age of Ramsar began. It is fitting that your contribution to the development of city are well known, and is being deservedly recognized. But the global Ramsar community remembers you, not only for the COP itself, and the wonderful way it was organized and worked, but for the awareness of Ramsar and its message which reached widely into the Japanese community.

You also made sure this work continued beyond the COP, building Kushiro as a regional and global centre of importance for wetlands. Even now, this work is carried on by bodies such as UNITAR.

The future of the Kushiro Shitsugen, and therefore the future of Tancho and other birds such as Ojishigi, is more secure because of your actions. I remember well my own visit to Kushiro, and the discussions we had with the Nishi High School, and the twinning of the sites to the Hunter estuary in New South Wales. Your vision in involving youth, and seeking to build bridges of understanding between different cultures who have important wetlands to look after, is exemplary for our convention.

Our new catch phrase is to be "what did you do for water today?" - Toshiyuki Wanibuchi, you have already done much, and we hope you will carry on so doing!! Certainly, you richly deserve the award of honorary citizen. And so, joining with the citizens of Kushiro, the world's Ramsar community salutes you, and urges you to continue to work for the wise use and conservation of our wetlands and water everywhere.

Peter Bridgewater
Secretary General

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