Ramsar signs agreement with UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit
On 17 January the Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, and Mireille Katz visited UNEP/OCHA in Geneva to sign a memorandum of cooperation. The MoC was signed between the Secretary General and Vladimir Sakharov, Chief of the Environmental Emergencies Section in the joint UNEP/OCHA Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Also in attendance was René Nijenhuis from OCHA staff.
This MoC continues the process requested in Ramsar Resolution IX.9 which, in part, instructs the Secretariat, working with relevant international organizations and agencies, especially the joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit and including inter alia ISDR, WMO and UNEP, as well as, where appropriate, the IOPs, to develop guidance on a set of responses which can be initiated by governments and others immediately following the onset of a natural disaster affecting or likely to affect wetlands, especially sites in the Ramsar List.
Work on this has been proceeding with OCHA, culminating in this agreement. Benefits are that it represents a codification of actions and details following any environmental emergency. We will also be working to ensure that we are both prepared for managing the humanitarian and the environmental outcomes of any natural or human-related disaster which impacts on wetlands. In each case, of course, we learn of mistakes and opportunities which allow for better preparedness and response on subsequent occasions.
While we hope we never have to bring this MoC into practice, its certainly good to feel prepared!
-- Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General
Text of the agreement:
Interface Procedures Between The Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Secretariat) and The Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
from left: Peter Bridgewater, Vladimir Sakharov, René Nijenhuis
from left: Mireille Katz, Peter Bridgewater, Vladimir Sakharov