Building capacity for Ramsar CEPA Focal Points in east and southeast Asia, Samut Sakhon, Thailand, 19-22 April 2010


The second of a series of workshops for Ramsar CEPA Focal Points brought together 26 CEPA Focal Points and other representatives from 14 countries in east and southeast Asia in the town of Samut Sakhon, near Bangkok from 19-22 April. The workshop was organised and funded by the Ramsar Secretariat and the Ramsar Regional Centre – East Asia, with the support of the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning in Thailand.

See more photos here.

Ramsar’s CEPA Programme (Resolution X.8) urges the Ramsar Secretariat to strengthen the capacity of the nominated CEPA National Focal Points (NFPs),both Government and NGO, through the provision of training and toolkits. Under the Resolution, the CEPA Focal Points are expected to play a leading role in delivering one of the key elements of the Resolution – CEPA action planning at some level whether it be national, sub-national, catchment or local site level – to identify priority CEPA activities that are an essential component of managing wetlands. This workshop set out to give participants some training in CEPA planning through hands-on experience in using the available planning tools as well as encourage CEPA NFP networking in the region.

A brief welcome and opening remarks were delivered by Ms Nirawan Pipitsombat on behalf of the Permanent Secretary General of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand, by Mr Maurice Lineman on behalf of Dr Gea-Jae Joo, Honorary Director of the Ramsar Regional Centre – East Asia, and Dr Sandra Hails the Ramsar Secretariat’s CEPA Programme Officer.

Facilitated by Esther Koopmanschap, from Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation and Sandra Hails, brief presentations outlined the main elements of the Convention’s CEPA programme and an introduction to planning processes (target groups, setting objectives, developing a clear messages etc). The workshop gave participants experience in working in small groups at three levels of CEPA planning: a plan included as part of a bigger programme or framework; planning at the site level, and planning at national level.

At the first level, participants looked at World Wetlands Day (WWD) as a CEPA planning exercise. with, participants working in small groups to make use of various stakeholder tools to look at an important challenge – identifying the key targets for their WWD events, followed by suggested activities for these key targets. 

At the next level, on day two, participants looked at the wetland management planning cycle and where and how CEPA planning fits into this. Working in groups, participants selected a wetland well known to one group member and conducted a situation analysis on the site, including visioning, identifying issues and specific problems, setting objectives and identifying where CEPA objectives need to be included to deliver CEPA solutions as required.

Day three saw a change in location with participants setting off at 07.00 to visit three field sites and meet with wetland managers to discuss issues, stakeholders, and CEPA activities at site level. First was a visit to the Bangpu coastal wetland and education centre managed by WWF’s Thailand country programme. The next stop was at Khok Kham village to visit a coastal saltpan managed for salt production by a farmers’ cooperative group using traditional management techniques. The final visit was to the Mahachai Learning Centre and mangrove restoration area, an initiative by an innovative local man who has developed his own restoration techniques with the support of his local community.

On return to the hotel participants were given no more than a cup of tea and then back to the workshop! They practised setting CEPA objectives and scripting clear messages from their discussion of issues at the field trip sites.

The last day generated some challenging discussion for the groups in considering the need for a CEPA action plan at the national level, who should be involved, and what should be in it. In broad terms, the participants agreed on the need to have some kind of overarching CEPA framework or strategy that would legitimise the CEPA work at local level, provide the framework for coordinating site level actions and which could address overarching issues not covered by site plans.

A review of the workshop by participants showed that the workshop had met their expectations in terms of providing the tools for CEPA planning and the hands-on experience in using them. Also highly rated was the useful networking with other participants during the workshop. The facilitators hope this will result in active CEPA planning once participants return to their home countries.

The Ramsar Secretariat takes this opportunity to thank the Ramsar Regional Centre – East Asia for its support for the workshop both financially and practically in assisting with the logistical arrangements. A very special thanks must go to Ms Nirawan Pipitsombat, Thailand’s National Focal Point and CEPA Focal Point, for her help with logistics and particularly for her heroic efforts in rearranging the location of the workshop at the eleventh hour because of the unrest in Bangkok. Without her efforts the workshop would have been postponed or cancelled.

Read a more detailed report here.

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