New Year's message from the Secretary General


2004 was generally not a happy one for the world, and it ended in tragedy for countries bordering the Indian Ocean. Our thoughts and sympathy go especially to those countries which have suffered such losses and tragedy on unimaginable scales of human suffering. Yet there are awful lessons also in this tragedy. Even though it would have happened, and there would have been tsunamis, destruction of coastal systems and poor planning and management of coastal resources undoubtedly exaggerated the consequences. This issue is one of direct concern and relevance to our Convention, and we must pay due heed to all these issues during this next year, as we move toward our ninth COP. And as the affected nations look to rebuilding, we also need to ensure we are regenerating and restoring destroyed wetlands and water resources.

The COP will no doubt be exciting and vibrant, and we look forward to being welcomed in Uganda, and working with the Ugandan government to make the COP the best yet, and, let us say now, the most relevant in terms of charting an environmentally sustainable future for wetlands. Right now we are 144 parties, and I am confident we will reach at least 150 by COP9.

During the run-up to the COP we will be trying to improve our communications to you as individuals, governments and organisations involved in the life of the Convention. We will be slowly and carefully re-shaping the Web site to be even better for you to use, as we are planning that documentation and registration for the COP will be largely accomplished through the Web. So this will be an incentive to visit the Web frequently to see what is happening and to keep up-to-date!

2005 will also see the launch of the Millennium Assessment of the world's ecosystems, an assessment which seems likely to come with strong messages, but also advice and hope on how to manage and adapt to the future. These messages no doubt will feed into the processes of the STRP and the Standing Committee meetings, which will help shape the COP agenda.

As ever, I have benefited enormously during the year from the support from Parties and key agencies and organisations to help put the Convention and its collective wisdom into practice. But most of all I have been helped and supported by the secretariat, a more dedicated set of people I could not wish to have working with me to deliver the mission of the Convention. So, it's thanks to them, and thanks to you who visit the site and use it frequently, that we have such a vibrant convention. Let us hope 2005 will be a good year for the world as a whole, especially the world of wetlands!

Peter Bridgewater
Secretary General of the
Convention on Wetlands

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The Convention today

Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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