Ramsar Convention's address to CITES COP14

06/06/2007

Statement to the Fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in the CITES Convention

The Hague, 4th June 2007

Delivered by Adrián Ruiz-Carvajal, Ramsar Convention

Mrs Chairman, distinguished delegates:

The Convention on Wetlands is pleased to have this opportunity to attend the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CITES Convention.

The Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, Dr. Peter Bridgewater, sends his apologies for his absence from this Conference, as he is currently travelling back from Uganda.

Wetlands are the natural systems that receive, store and transport water from the mountains to the sea, enabling the existence of all forms of life, and providing humans with innumerable benefits. Wetlands, according to the Convention, extend beyond freshwater systems, such as rivers, lakes and marshes to include brackish and saline ecosystems like mangrove forests and estuaries, coral reefs and even underground water. Freshwater wetlands alone account for 12% of all animal species and coral reefs are an extraordinarily species rich ecosystem.

As we are both venerable Conventions, the linkages between the Ramsar and CITES Conventions have been established for a long time, and span from the extraction and use of numerous wetland-dependent species that are much appreciated by the world market to the conservation of the integrity of the wetlands where such species reside. From this perspective trade in species is but a link in a chain of events that mutually reinforce each other to achieve conservation objectives, for without healthy natural habitats there can be no species to trade; and without responsible trade the financing of sound, proactive management of those habitats is all the more difficult.

Mrs Chairman,

All the biodiveristy-related Conventions have conservation objectives, even if our scope and mandates differ. It is for this reason that the Biodiversity Liaison Group was created to coordinate the actions of all the major Biodiversity Conventions in a coherent manner. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands sees the ongoing cooperation with CITES and the other biodiversity-related Conventions through the Biodiversity Liaison Group as a key means of enhancing cooperation and reducing the burden of overall work - and especially reporting - on our numerous contracting parties.

Ramsar shares with CITES the belief that in order to effectively protect nature we must also use it to help people meet their needs and improve livelihoods. In this spirit the Ramsar Convention invites CITES to look for new opportunities to develop joint work on monitoring trade in wetland-dependent species over the next triennium, and perhaps even by enhancing the sound and responsible trade in some species where this trade does not pose a threat to the conservation of the species involved.

We look forward to continued strengthening of the existing cooperation between our agreements, and - if necessary - the establishment of new areas of cooperation, which better deliver our common conservation objectives at the global, regional and local levels.

Thank you, Mrs Chairman.

Peter Bridgewater
Secretary General,
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

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