Ramsar remarks to a joint SBSTA / SBSTTA meeting, November 2005


Address to an informal meeting of the CBD SBSTTA and UNFCCC SBSTA, 30 November 2005


Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General

Mr Chairman It is with great pleasure that i take the floor at this informal gathering of the two sbst(t)a's to bring to the meeting the views of the Ramsar Convention, as expressed in recent meetings of its COP.

Firstly, let me underline the views of the contracting parties to the Ramsar Convention on the issues of climate change. At the Eighth meeting of the COP in 2002, Parties recognised that climate change may substantially affect the ecological character of wetlands and their sustainable use, and understood the potentially important role of wetlands in adapting to and in mitigating climate change.

In fact wetlands are consistently under-emphasised in the discussions on carbon sequestration; they are prime sinks as well potentially considerable sources for carbon. And while Forests appear to remain the main focus of discussion linking Biodiversity and Climate change, we should emphasise not only the key role of wetlands, but also emphasise the complex nature of our global land and seascape matrix. For it is in the wise management of this matrix that we can gain in our efforts to mitigate against, and adapt to, climate change, and the changes it in turn brings in other areas of the natural world, as well as human well-being.

The Ramsar Conventions' responsibility and mandate deals with wetland ecosystems and associated water resources. The convention realises that wetlands are not isolated 2-dimensional islands in the landscape, but are connected by flows of water, energy and species. This means that actions in wetlands can have far-reaching effects outside, and that actions in other ecosystems can affect wetlands. And this includes feedback processes on both biodiversity and climate change.

We already enjoy an excellent working relationship with the CBD in delivering elements of that conventions' programme on inland waters, as well as marine and coastal and other ecosystems. This relationship works at the COP level, but perhaps most of all through the SBSTTA framework.

Our COP9 just concluded reinforced this cooperative approach, and urged me to extend it to UNFCCC and UNCCD, in part though our observer status on the Joint liaison Group, as well as with other MEA's in the biodiversity cluster. To paraphrase the poet, no convention is an island, and we must strive to redouble our efforts at synergy, from global to national levels.

Looking at the agenda COP9 set for the next three years there continues to be a need for engagement with CBD and its SBSTTA through our on-going work, but also in new areas of work dealing with

The role of the Ramsar Convention in the prevention and mitigation of impacts associated with natural phenomena, including those induced or exacerbated by human activities;
Wetlands and poverty reduction; and
Engagement of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in ongoing multilateral processes dealing with water.

Mr Chairman, as you will see this is an ambitious programme for us, and one which we will need to work closely with both CBD and UNFCCC. The Ramsar Convention secretariat, as a member of the Biodiversity Liaison group, also looks forward to working with sister conventions in the biodiversity cluster in elaborating these new challenges in conjunction with CBD and UNFCCC colleagues, both through the SBSTA and COP processes.

Thank you Mr Chairman.

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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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