The Convention’s CEPA Programme


CEPA Workshop, 15-17 November, Valencia, Spain

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[Ed: The brief report on the CEPA workshop (including rationale, conclusions and recommendations), that forms part of the Speech and Statement of the 17th Global Biodiversity Forum (GBF)  to Ramsar's COP8,  is reproduced below. The full text of the Speech and Statement is available on the GBF Web site, as are full details of the CEPA workshop including agenda, abstracts,  background documents and participants list.]

17th session of the Global Biodiversity Forum:

 Managing Wetlands for Global Change and Local Livelihoods

 (Valencia, Spain, 15-17 November 2002)


Conclusions and Recommendations from the workshop on :

Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) for Sustainable Development


Ramsar Bureau
IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC)
Government of Valencia, Spain
Ministry of Environment, Spain
National Wetlands Programme, Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment, Uganda
Wetlands Centre, Australia
Wetlands International - South Asia


Communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) are critical to the successful implementation of the Ramsar Convention, both in terms of the Convention’s objectives as well as the Convention’s important contribution to sustainable management of wetlands. The benefits that CEPA can deliver to wetland conservation have been undervalued in the past. Indeed wetland CEPA has been constrained by lack of funding and low prioritization.

The CEPA workshop aimed to develop and strengthen the mechanisms in the Convention that support the integration and delivery of CEPA across the work of the Convention, recognising that the benefits of CEPA for wetland conservation have been undervalued. A draft CEPA Resolution for the period 2003- 2008 is to be considered at COP8 and the workshop was an opportunity to involve CEPA Focal Points and other CEPA practitioners in a final review of the draft.

CEPA in the context of the Ramsar Convention should be understood as a set of social instruments (including marketing, advertising, dialogue, negotiation, education, information exchange, training, capacity building) that are used in association with other policy and project instruments. Likewise CEPA is the most appropriate medium for interventions to address the development and wise use of wetlands. Within the context of the draft Resolution, the GBF Workshop on Communication, Education and Public Awareness shared experiences in managing CEPA including stakeholder participation in projects.

Key Recommendations

As a result of the discussions held throughout the workshop sessions, the main recommendations raised by participants are as follows:

     CEPA for Sustainable Development should be adopted as the way forward for Ramsar CEPA. It represents a broader approach that recognises social, economic, cultural values, processes and instruments rather than those that are focused only on ecological values.

     The CEPA Focal Point system is one of the key mechanisms for strengthening the Convention’s support for CEPA work. The system can achieve the sharing of experiences and assist with the integration of CEPA for Sustainable Development within the Convention if it receives support from Contracting Parties.

     Contracting Parties cannot progress CEPA for Sustainable Development within the Convention without dedicated international and national coordination, and support for Focal Points and the Bureau.

     CEPA is a common need for all Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and the natural vehicle for harmonisation.

Key issues discussed 

1.     What is CEPA for Sustainable Development?

    Ramsar has moved from the notion of CEPA to CEPA for Sustainable Development (SD).

    CEPA for Sustainable Development is the means to achieve a holistic understanding of wetland management and encompasses environmental, economic, and social issues.

    CEPA for SD is an empowerment process.

    CEPA for SD is the gate to reach all stakeholders from local to national levels.

    Effective CEPA for SD requires strategic planning in context and is used in an appropriate combination with other instruments, such as legislation, and economic incentives.

    CEPA for SD is a means to share knowledge, practice and solutions for wise use.

    CEPA assists in articulating values, testing arguments, and developing social responsibility and mobilising individuals and social groups.

 What is needed to support CEPA for Sustainable Development?

    Show added value of CEPA through case studies and guidelines with respect for languages.

    Capacity building programme and access to CEPA networks e.g. IUCN Commission on Education and Communication CEC and other international partners.

    Look into the possibility to strengthen the economic and human resources through the Voluntary Fund for CEPA under Ramsar and access to the funds under the GEF.


2.     The CEPA Focal Point system

    The Ramsar CEPA Focal Point system is acknowledged as valuable and this workshop provided the first time for the Focal Points to come together at an international level and discuss their issues.

    Participants identified benefits that the system can deliver including improved partnerships between NGOs and government and increased access to colleagues in other countries allowing the sharing of experiences.

 What are the needs?

    Focal Points need improved practical guidance on their role, recognition and capacity building.

    The institutional support for Focal Points needs strengthening at international and national levels. This requires dedicated funding for full-time support to CEPA in the Bureau.

    CEPA Focal Points need more contact with each other for exchange of ideas and materials. Meeting in association with Ramsar Regional Meetings would be an effective solution.

    The Government and NGO CEPA Focal Points should work closely together and recognise each other's strengths and capabilities as well as weaknesses.

    Continuity of service and secure funding are essential.

    Government and NGO Focal Points need to be members of their National Ramsar or Wetland Committees.


3.     Harmonisation

    Other MEAs are developing CEPA Programmes, recognising the same principles and imperatives. There is a need for harmonisation of the Conventions; CEPA for SD provides a means to facilitate harmonisation.

    There are other work programmes on communication, education and public awareness with which sharing of know-how and capacity building would be beneficial.

    An MEA focal point at national level is essential to co-ordinate and facilitate networking and participation in joint planning for MEAs including CEPA programmes.

    NGOs can facilitate contacts between different government departments and sectors and can be used as a pressure for government action.


ANNEX – Draft Resolution 31: Proposed amendments

The workshop members suggest the following changes to Draft Resolution 31, The Convention´s Programme for Communication Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) 2003-2008.


Paragraph 13. Remove the last two words “as necessary”.

Paragraph 14. replace the words following “Standing committee” with the following text:

“to recognise the critical role that CEPA plays by ensuring that all future triennial work programmes of the STRP integrate CEPA as a cross-cutting measure in all specific tasks requested of the panel.”

 NEW Paragraphs
(To follow 14 if possible)

Requests the STRP to identify a process that would allow results of CEPA initiatives at a local level to support the review and establishment of future actions, priorities and targets, for the implementation of the Convention.

Requests the Ramsar Bureau and the Ramsar Administrative Authorities to identify existing mechanisms within the Convention that could contribute to the development of the CEPA Focal Point System, such as involvement of CEPA Focal Points on national Ramsar committees and regional meetings.

Urges the Ramsar Administration Authorities to adopt Ramsar CEPA for Sustainable Development that addresses the social, cultural and economic values of wetlands.

Return to the CEPA Programme index page

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