The 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties

12/07/2005


"Wetlands and water: supporting life, sustaining livelihoods"
9th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Kampala, Uganda, 8-15 November 2005
Agenda item XV
Ramsar COP9 DR 10

The role of the Ramsar Convention in natural disaster prevention, mitigation and adaptation

1. RECALLING that at COP8 the Contracting Parties adopted Resolution VIII.35 on The impact of natural disasters, particularly drought, on wetland ecosystems, but RECOGNIZING that the spectrum of natural disasters is much wider than was covered in that document, as witnessed by continuing extreme climatic and other events and especially the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004;

2. AWARE that the joint United Nations Environment Programme/ UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Environment Unit (UNEP/OCHA) is the UN coordinating body mandated to mobilize international assistance in case of environmental emergencies and natural disasters with environmental impacts;

3. RECALLING that the International Conference on Disaster Reduction (Kobe, Japan, 2005) has established a Framework for Action the scope of which encompasses disasters caused by hazards of natural origin and related environmental and technological hazards and risks, which thus reflects a holistic and multi-hazard approach to disaster risk management and the relationships between the various hazards which can have a significant impact on social, economic, cultural and environmental systems;

4. RECOGNIZING the important role that the Ramsar Convention can play as one of the international actors potentially involved in disaster avoidance and mitigation and in post-disaster restoration;

5. ACKNOWLEDGING that both conservation of natural wetland ecosystems such as mangroves, as well as wise use of such wetlands in the coastal zone, contribute to natural flood prevention;

6. RECALLING that through Resolution VIII.1 Contracting Parties have emphasized the critical importance of maintaining water allocations to ensure that wetlands can continue to deliver their many services, including, inter alia, water retention and purification, groundwater recharge, and the provision of water, food and fiber for people and for the maintenance of global biological diversity, and that this need is particularly high in a post-disaster phase; and

7. RECOGNIZING the significance of synergies with the other multilateral environmental agreements and agencies with a particular focus on the impacts of natural disasters, especially the joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit and including the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), The World Health Organization (WHO), The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and also RECOGNIZING the role that can be played in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), especially the Convention's International Organization Partners (IOPs);

THE CONFERENCE OF THE CONTRACTING PARTIES

8. UNDERLINES the devastating impacts of natural disasters on the delivery of ecosystem services, including cultural, social and economic services, and thus on the maintenance of the ecological character of Wetlands of International Importance and other wetlands in affected countries;

9. URGES Contracting Parties affected by natural disasters to give attention to Ramsar sites and other wetlands in accordance with their natural hydrological regimes, bearing in mind the Convention's guidance available to assist with restoration of ecological systems affected by natural disasters, in order to ensure that they can continue to deliver their full range of ecosystem services for people and for biological diversity, as called for in Resolution VIII.1;

10. ENCOURAGES Contracting Parties to ensure that wetland ecosystems are managed in such a way as to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters, for example by impeding flood waters and tidal surges and providing resilience in arid and semi-arid zones against drought;

11. REQUESTS affected Contracting Parties to monitor and assess the impacts of natural disasters on the ecological character of Ramsar sites and other wetlands and on the livelihoods of local communities and indigenous people dependent upon these wetlands within their territory and, for designated Ramsar sites, to report this information to the Ramsar Secretariat so that this information can be made available to the Scientific and Technical Review Panel to assist in its reporting to subsequent COPs on the status and trends in the ecological character of sites in the Ramsar List and other wetlands, as called for in Resolution VIII.8;

12. URGES Contracting Parties to establish mechanisms for emergency assessment in close cooperation with the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination mechanism (UNDAC) and the joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, and to promote ongoing restoration work for wetlands, especially Ramsar sites, following natural disasters;

13. CALLS upon Contracting Parties and others to work together urgently to promote the recovery of coastal wetlands and associated community livelihoods in countries affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004 as well as the reduction of the vulnerabilities of coastal communities and wetlands through

  • assistance with prevention of natural disasters, ensuring the implementation of ecologically sustainable management and redevelopment approaches and enhanced integrated coastal zone management throughout the region,
  • mitigation of impacts of future tsunami and storm damage, and
  • initiation of a regional initiative to share experience and expertise;

14. INSTRUCTS the STRP, working with relevant agencies and IOPs, to develop for Contracting Parties a set of restoration guidelines to be implemented following natural disasters in general, including drawing on existing and new guidance relating to the role of wetlands in ICZM, in implementing responses to ecosystem rehabilitation and vulnerability, and updating existing guidelines which emphasize the role of wetland ecosystems in mitigating against the effects of natural disasters, as appropriate; and

15. INSTRUCTS the Ramsar 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.

For reasons of economy, this document is printed in a limited number, and will not be distributed at the meeting. Delegates are requested to bring their copies to the meeting and not to request additional copies.

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