COP11 Bulletin news archive

21/08/2012

The Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP) is the policy-making organ of the Ramsar Convention. Government representatives from each of the Contracting Parties meet every three years to receive national reports on the preceding triennium, approve the work programme and budgetary arrangements for the next three years, and adopt guidance for the Parties on a range of ongoing and emerging environmental issues.

COP11 theme: Why tourism and wetlands?

Ensuring well-managed tourism practices in and around wetlands and educating tourists on the value of wetlands contributes to the health of the world's wetlands and the long-term benefits that wetlands provide to people, wildlife, economics, and biodiversity. To date, the Ramsar Convention has not had a specific focus on wetlands, tourism and recreation and its member states decided to focus COP11 on this topical issue, with the slogan: “Wetlands, home and destination”.

Other key issues: urban wetlands, climate change, poverty eradication, avoiding further wetland losses, energy issues. (See media advisory here).

Press releases:

Friday 6 July | “The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards 2012”. Press release (06.07.12) also available in Romanian (PDF).
More information on the winners of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award and Evian Special Prize for 2012 here.

Monday 9 July | “Launch of a publication on tourism and wetlands”.
» Press release available here in English and in Romanian (PDF).

Friday 13 July |“Closing Q&A session”. Read the closing press release (PDF)





Last Day in Plenary - 13 July

COP 11 President Fâca started the day in plenary by inviting all interested Parties in DR1, Rev1 on the “Institutional hosting of the Ramsar Secretariat” to meet at lunchtime and come back late afternoon to give the outcomes of the discussion.

Eight Resolutions were adopted yesterday and can be found here.

At the end of the morning plenary, delegates adopted important and topical Resolutions, including: DR15 “Agriculture-wetland interactions: rice paddy and pest control”; DR7 on “Tourism, recreation and wetlands”; and DR10 “Wetlands and energy issues”.

In the afternoon several DRs were formally adopted, including DR20 "Promoting sustainable investment by the public and private sectors to ensure the maintenance of the benefits people and nature gain from wetlands", DR8 "Strategic Framework and guidelines for the future development of the List of Wetlands of International Importance of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) – 2012 revision", and DR9 "An Integrated Framework for avoiding, mitigating, and compensating for wetland losses".  DR1 Rev.2 on the “Institutional hosting of the Ramsar Secretariat” was finally adopted after seven years of discussion.


Photo credit: Ramsar COP11 © Quartzfilm / Trandafirescu

Date and venue of the next COP: Uruguay offered to host the next COP in Punta del Este. The Ambassador of Uruguay reiterated his country’s interest in hosting the next COP in 2015 in front of all delegates, who accepted Uruguay's offer.

Chris Rostron, Chair of the World Wetland Network, made a closing statement in the name of all present NGOs, insisting on the immense knowledge and advocacy work they are all doing for wetland conservation. Matthew McCartney from IWMI made a speech in the name of Ramsar's five IOPs (IWMI, Wetlands International, WWF International, BirdLife International and IUCN), stressing their concern at the budgetary constraints limiting the work of the Convention. UNEP representative took also the floor to reaffirm its commitment to the Convention.

SG Anada Tiéga addressed the audience to congratulate Herbert Raffaele (Head of US delegation) for his long-standing engagement in wetland conservation and named him a “Wetland Person of International Importance”.

COP11 delegates closed the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties by adopting the general report.

Thursday 12 July - In the Plenary

During the 12 July plenary, the Ramsar COP11 Parties spent the morning discussing changes to the draft resolutions that were opened for negotiation in the first days. At the end of the morning plenary, Romfilatelia made a special presentation with the launch of a philatelic collection of Ramsar COP11 stamps. Catalina Ionescu, Marketing Director of the Romfilatelia shared with the participants a good overview of these beautiful new stamps.

The end of the morning session concluded at this point, with DR3, "Procedures for the preparation and approval of decisions by Ramsar Contracting Parties at COP11" formally adopted by the Convention.

In the afternoon several DRs were formally adopted, starting with DR4, Rev.2, "The status of sites in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance"; DR6, Rev. 2, "Partnerships and synergies with Multilateral Environmental Agreements and other institutions"; DR12, Rev. 1, "Wetlands and health: taking an ecosystem approach", and DR13, Rev. 1 "An Integrated Framework for linking wetland conservation and wise use with poverty eradication". The discussion for DR13 centered on ensuring clarity in wording to match the Rio+20 outcomes document specific to poverty.

As the afternoon progressed, the Parties also adopted DR 16, Rev. 1, “Ensuring efficient delivery of scientific and technical advice and support to the Convention". Later, the Sub Group on Finance Chair made a presentation related to the budget and DR2, by Tiina Niikkonen, Finance and Budget Committee Chair. At the end of the interventions, DR2 on finance was formally adopted. The plenary continued with discussing DR18, "Adjustments to the modus operandi of the STRP". After a brief final discussion, it was also adopted by the Parties. Moving on to DR20, Rev.1, "Wetlands and sustainable development", the group adopted it and closed the meeting.


Wednesday 11 July

COP11 participants had the opportunity to attend field visits to 11 different natural and cultural sites in Romania (see list of destinations here).

COP11 participants ready for the field trips this Wednesday, standing in front of the COP11 venue, the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest. (Ramsar COP11 © Quartzfilm / Trandafirescu)

4th Day in Plenary - 10 July

The day started with a special presentation by Dr Andrew Farmer of the Institute of European Environmental Policy, who spoke about “The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity” (TEEB), highlighting the value of water and wetlands. His presentation covered many case studies proving the value of conserving and restoring wetlands. Later in the day, TEEB, in partnership with Ramsar, UNEP, and the Institute of European Environmental Policy convened a side event with a focus on "Valuing wetlands - capturing economic benefits from wise use". The executive summary and overall development of the "TEEB for water and wetlands" report were a major point of discussion.

The plenary spent the morning on the next set of Draft Resolutions, continuing from yesterday's work. The group began with a discussion of DR8, "Ramsar Information Sheet and Strategic Framework, 2012 revisions". Dr David Stroud of the STRP gave a brief overview of DR 8 before interventions were made by several countries. After this, the group moved on to DR 9, "An Integrated Framework for avoiding, mitigating, and compensating for wetland losses". This DR relates to a key aspect of the Convention's work and as such, a great number of interventions were made by the Parties.

Heather MacKay, STRP Chair, then spoke about DR10, "Wetlands and Energy Issues". She gave a clear description of the focus of the DR and called attention to some of the finer points of the content.

The afternoon session started with a special presentation by Mr. Michael Scoullos, Chair of Global Water Partnership (GWP) Mediterranean on “Water security and the importance of wetlands as natural infrastructure in water resource management”. He made the point that investing in water security is necessary to enhance the natural infrastructure of wetlands. Before starting again on the nine Draft Resolutions left to be discussed, the Head of the UAE Delegation, Mohamed Saif Abdulrahman A. Alafkham Hammoudi, gave a present to SG Anada Tiéga to thank him for his constant support.

Pierre Horwitz, STRP Lead for Wetlands & Human Health introduced DR12 on “Wetlands and health: taking an ecosystem approach”, recalling that human health and well-being are dependent upon ecosystems. DR14 on “An Integrated Framework for linking wetland conservation and wise use with poverty eradication” was also opened, while DR15 on climate change went into a contact group yesterday.

STRP Vice-Chair Rebecca D’Cruz introduced the next DR, n°15, on “Agriculture-wetland interactions: rice paddy and pesticide usage”. The information paper COP11 DOC 31 recognizes the continuing patterns of pesticide use are damaging biodiversity in production areas and polluting water resources. Many Contracting Parties suggested amendments to this important text.

Three related DRs on technical work (DRs 16, 17 and 18) were introduced by the STRP Chair, Heather MacKay. She referred the audience to info paper 26 and thanked the informal working group for their support. The main objective is to see how the Convention delivers and takes up different kinds of technical support effectively.

DR19 concerns some adjustments to the terms of the structure and composition of the Standing Committee. The last two DRs have been submitted by Contracting Parties, DR20 by Switzerland and DR21 by Iran.

In conclusion, all DRs are going into revisions as Rev1, except for DR4 that is on the status of Ramsar Sites that goes into a Rev.2.


Third Day in Plenary - 9 July

The day started in plenary with a special presentation by Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), on the linkages between tourism and wetlands, announcing today’s launch of the new publication “Destination Wetlands: Supporting Sustainable Tourism” by UNWTO and the Ramsar Secretariat. Growth in sustainable tourism not only reflects environmental realities, but also a desire from tourists themselves to embrace green tourism. “Today there is no place in the sun that is not visited – it’s a reality, we have to face it and deal with it”, said Mr Rifai.

The publication can be downloaded here in:
English, French, and Spanish (PDF).

Through 14 cases studies, covering different wetland types around the world, the publication demonstrates how sustainable tourism practices in and around wetlands can contribute to conservation, economic growth, poverty reduction and support to local cultures. Access the case studies here.

Further discussions on the "Institutional Hosting of the Ramsar Secretariat" went on in the plenary. The item of "Regional Initiatives 2013-2015 in the Framework of the Ramsar Convention"was also discussed in the morning, without reaching a concensus on a temporary moratorium on new regional initiatives for 2013-2015.
DSG Nick Davidson introduced the item on "Partnerships and Synergies with MEAs and Other Institutions"and after a few comments by Parties, the Secretariat has to work on a Rev.2 for further consideration.

COP11 Draft Resolution 7 on "Tourism and Wetlands" was introduced, as well as the item on "Climate Change and Wetlands"(COP11 DR14 and Doc.32).

The day ended with delegates heading towards the reception hall for the launch of the publication on tourism and a lucky draw won by an IUCN representative, who will be able to travel to one of the 14 wetlands showcased in the case studies included in the publication. The winning prize was generously offered by MKA, the company that arranged hotels for the Ramsar Secretariat, translators, interpreters, and sponsored delegates.


Second Day in Plenary - 8 July

The second day of Ramsar COP11 was kicked off by a special presentation by Brice Lalonde, the Coordinator of the recent Rio+20 Conference (and former French Minister of Environment in 1988). He shared the implications of the outcomes of Rio+20 for the Ramsar Convention. 

The plenary continued with agenda items related to consideration of Draft Resolutions and Recommendations submitted by Contracting Parties and the Standing Committee, the financial report for 2009-2012, the proposed budget for 2013-2015, and election of Parties for the Standing Committee (SC) 2013-2015. The Partnerships Coordinator also gave a brief report.

In plenary, the delegates discussed and intervened on Draft Resolution 1 (DR1), "Institutional hosting of the Ramsar Secretariat". The "straw poll" taken initially was a vote to determine the delegates' willingness to have an indicative vote to show hands on the issue of hosting the Secretariat at IUCN, as it is now, or within UNEP. The results of the indicative vote showed 66 Parties in favour of IUCN hosting, 26 Parties in favour of UNEP hosting, and 18 Parties abstaining.

The agenda also included discussion of COP11 DR 3, "Adjustments to the Strategic Plan 2009-2015 for the 2013-2015 triennium", and COP11 DR 4 Rev. 1, "The status of sites in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance". Several Parties have contributed edits and corrections to these draft resolutions. Revised versions that include Parties' comments and changes will be posted to the website by the Secretariat.

Side events included presentations on "Wetlands monitoring by earth observation satellites – current state of the art", "Responsible management of wetland agro-ecosystems for food security and biodiversity conservation: an urgent global call to reduce pesticide-related risks in rice paddy production systems.", "The MedWet Initiative: twenty years of regional cooperation", and "STRP briefing event: wetlands in a changing climate" among several others.

The day ended with regional meetings for Europe, Oceana/Asia, the Americas, and Africa. The Americas meeting included a special signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ramsar Secretariat and Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC). The joint activities to be undertaken under this Memorandum includes among others the regularly exchange of information to enable early detection of threats to sea turtles in Ramsar Sites and to support the designation of Wetlands of International Importance that are important for nesting or foraging habitats for sea turtle species.


First Day in Plenary - 7 July

Delegates started the day in the Plenary room by adopting the COP11 provisional agenda and the special presentations planned from 7 to 10 July - See agenda here.

The plenary also considered rules of procedure, elected the President and Vice-Presidents, appointed the Credentials Committee and established the Finance and Budget Committee, and addressed the point on the admission of observers.

Various reports were considered during the rest of the day (the Standing Committee report, special report on the recommendations of the World Wetlands NGO Conference, report of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), and the report on the implementation of the Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness Programme (CEPA) ).

Anada Tiéga presented his report on the “Implementation of the Convention at the Global Level” to the delegates, and the plenary closed with a presentation on wetland conservation ans sustainable use in Romania.


The Plenary ended with James Leape, Director General, WWF International, handing over certificates for the four new Ramsar Sites that were officially designated in Romania to Mr Fâca, COP 11 President.

» Read the full Earth Negociations Bulletin report here.


COP11 Opening Ceremony - 6 July


The 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (Ramsar COP11) opened yesterday evening in Bucharest at the Palace of Parliament, Romania. The entire ceremony was broadcasted live from the Rosetti Room, where more than 700 participants gathered to listen to the welcome speeches on www.ramsar.ro.

The Opening Ceremony was kicked off by Romania’s master of pan flute, Mr Gheorghe Zamfir. COP11 participants gave grand applause to this emblematic Romanian musician known worldwide. 

This musical interlude set the tone for the Master of Ceremony, Mr Magor Csibi (WWF Romania), who welcomed all participants by thanking them for their engagement in the conservation of wetlands over the last 40 years. While he was speaking, an unexpected guest joined the room to make the point about the importance of the Lower Danube Green Corridor (agreement committing Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine since 2000) by bringing in a massive cardboard sturgeon. Since 2006, Romania has banned sturgeon fishing both in the Danube and in the Black Sea, the usual sturgeon habitat.

Pan flute master Gheorghe Zamfir imitating bird songs during his performanceCOP11 participants in the Rosetti room

The official part started with the passing of the Ramsar flag. Mr Yoo (Ramsar Standing Committee Chair and COP10 official representative) handed over the Ramsar flag to Mr Cozmanciuc (Romanian COP11 Coordinator) .

Live addresses followed this solemn moment. Read more here (source Earth Negociation Bulletin team).

M. Corneliu Cozmanciuc, COP11 National Coordinator / State Secretary, Ministry of Environment and ForestsM. Ovidiu Silaghi, Minister of Transport & InfrasctructureBogdan Aurescu, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Remus Cernea, Prime Minister's Counselor (photo courtesy: IISD)Masa Nagai, Acting Deputy Director, Division of Environmental Law and Conventions, UNEP


Mr. Anada Tiéga, SG Ramsar ConventionJulia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General IUCNJames Leape, DG WWF International

Photos by Adriana Trandafirescu (studio[at]quartzfilm.ro)

Second part of the Opening Ceremony: Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award Ceremony

Nothing better illustrates in practical terms the Convention's mission and values in wetland conservation than the achievements of the five laureates of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards. These laureates from five different countries each received the Ramsar trophy during COP11 Opening Ceremony as recognition of their contributions towards promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands worldwide.

The five laureates (l-r): prof. Tsujii, Katie Beilfuss, Augusta Henriques, Luc Hoffmann, and Thymio Papayannis

This year's edition were given in three categories: Education to the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Management to Ms Augusta Henriques and Science to Prof. Tatsuichi Tsujii. The jury has also conferred a Recognition of Achievement Award to Mr Thymio Papayannis. Finally, as 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Convention, the Standing Committee decided to honour one of the founding fathers of the treaty, Dr Luc Hoffmann, with a 40th Anniversary Honorary Ramsar Award.

Members of the pressOur five laureates presenting their main achievements in wetland conservation at the press conference

As in previous editions, the three 2012 awards for Education, Management and Science were complemented by the Evian Special Prize, a cash award of USD 10,000 to each laureate, generously donated by the DANONE Group, which was represented by Mr Emmanuel Faber, Vice Chairman of the Board.

Mr Faber (left) and Mr Giraud from Danone Group congratulating Ms Henriques.

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