The Ramsar Bureau's Work Plan for 2003 -- extract for Africa
Arusha, Tanzania, 4-8 April 2005
Ramsar Bureau Work Plan 2003
Based on Section II of the Convention's Strategic Plan 2003-2005 (Resolution VIII.25), incorporating all relevant Actions called for in Resolutions adopted by the 8th meeting of the Conference of the Parties
Approved by Decision SC29-1 of the 29th Meeting of the Standing Committee
Gland, Switzerland, 26-28 February 2003
SECTION I. GLOBAL AND REGIONAL POLICY AND TECHNICAL WORK PLAN
1. The global actions described below are to be undertaken by the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General, and the Senior Advisor on Environment and Development Cooperation (SAEDC), in consultation with the Regional Coordinators, the MedWet Coordination Unit, and other staff as appropriate. The delivery of some actions will be achieved by regionally-consistent implementation support to Contracting Parties by the Bureau's Regional Teams.
2. The global actions also include most of the work of the Communications Team.
3. Global actions in 2003 will concentrate mainly on the following priorities:
a) the follow-up toCOP8, including:
finalization and wide circulation of COP8 Resolutions; and
preparation of a 2nd edition of the Ramsar "Toolkit" of Wise Use Handbooks;
b) preparation and circulation to Parties of the COP9 National Planning Tool and National Report Format;
c) preparation and input of Ramsar issues and opportunities to the 3rd World Water Forum (Japan, March 2003) and World Parks Congress (South Africa, September 2003);
d) continuing development of synergies with other multilareral environmental agreements (MEAs) and organizations in order to avoid duplication of work both at the international and national levels, and to establish effective coordination and cooperation among the related MEAs. Synergies may include, where appropriate and in consultation with the Standing Committee, further development and implementation of joint work plans, and actions between Ramsar and other MEAs and contributions to their COPs and other meetings. This should facilitate the work of the institutions directly responsible for implementation in each country, and at the same time generate the involvement of other key institutions that so far have not been working with the Convention, such as those responsible for water resources management and land use planning;
e) continuing engagement in a more wide-ranging dialogue with the development assistance community, so as to generate more funds for wetland-related projects in developing countries and countries in transition; including the provision of support to Parties in their development and fund-raising of wetland projects, and in particular to promote the Ramsar Endowment Fund, once its modus operandi has been established by the Standing Committee;
f) further development of work strengthening the Convention's capacity to respond to socio-economic issues, including through the promotion of environmentally sound trade in wetland-derived plant and animal products as a way to conserve wetlands and alleviate poverty, wetland incentives and disincentives for wetland conservation and sustainable use;
g) implementation of the Convention's programme on communication, education and public awareness adopted by Resolution VIII.31, through the provision of additional guidance, materials and information networks for the use of Contracting Parties;
h) further development of the celebration of World Wetlands Day 2003 as a tool to expand the outreach work of the Bureau and to increase the awareness of the role of wetlands in the hydrological cycle and in securing water security and the visibility of the Convention concerning the vital link between wetlands and water, as a means of contributing to sustainable development around the world and heightened understanding of the role of wetlands in this International Year of Water;
i) preparing for and supporting the work of the STRP and the implementation of its new modus operandi established by Resolution VIII.28, including the establishment of the STRP Support Service; and
j) assistance to the Regional Coordinators in their efforts to encourage and support Contracting Parties, in particular in relation to:i) implementation of actions called for in COP8 Resolutions;
ii) delivering on their pledges at COP8 regarding Ramsar site designations and other aspects of the implementation of the Convention;
ii) application of the Strategic Framework for the development of the Ramsar List, including issues related to the updating of the holdings of the Ramsar Sites Database; and
iii) full implementation of Article 3.2 of the Convention, and the assessment and reporting of the status and trends of wetland ecosystems.
Article 3.2: "Each Contracting Party shall arrange to be informed at the earliest possible time if the ecological character of any wetland in its territory and included in the List has changed, is changing or is likely to change as the result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. Information on such changes shall be passed without delay to the organization or government responsible for the continuing bureau duties specified in Article 8."
4. These actions of the Work Plan are to be undertaken mostly by the Regional Coordinator for Africa and the Intern/Assistant to the Regional Coordinator, in consultation with the Administrative Authorities and other staff as appropriate.
5. The Africa region includes the mainland continent and the island states of Cape Verde, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sao Tome & Principe, and Seychelles, which makes a total of 53 countries. Contracting Parties in Africa: (35), January 2003: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia
6. The Bureau has been working effectively with the International Organization Partners, the Contracting Parties, and other players to facilitate the accession of additional countries to the Ramsar Convention. As a result, Benin, Burundi, Libyan Arab Jamahirya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the United Republic of Tanzania joined the Convention during the last triennium.
7. Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, and Sudan are taking steps for accession. Djibouti has finished the process of accession and has sent the instruments of accession to UNESCO. Liberia and Equatorial Guinea have ratified the Convention and need only to designate a Ramsar site in order to complete the accession process. It is hoped that Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Liberia will become Ramsar Contracting Parties within the first half of 2003.
Issues and priorities
8. The important role of wetlands in sustainable development needs to be underscored and communicated to policy makers and economic planners in Africa, so that their values and functions are more fully recognized and taken into consideration. It must also be acknowledged that for Ramsar to be effective in Africa it must work in partnership with the major political and institutional frameworks, and especially the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). In the framework of NEPAD, there has been an agreement among African Ministers to develop Africa-wide environmental action plans for selected thematic areas, including wetlands. This provides a major opportunity for supporting Parties in their delivery of commitments to the Convention, and supporting its NEPAD development and implementation will be a major priority during 2003.
9. The challenge for Africa is to make the best use of all existing frameworks and emerging opportunities for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources through the adoption and implementation of a coherent national action plan for wetlands. Bureau support will focus on assisting Parties to address the following issues and challenges, through the application of the Ramsar tools and guidelines adopted by COP8.
a) Knowledge / Capacity-Building (inventories and valuations)
10. Wetland inventories are a priority in Africa. Until national inventories have been established, it is difficult to select and take long-term actions on wetland management initiatives. In this regard, economic valuation of the goods and services that wetlands provide will help us in convincing decision makers of the importance of wetlands. Environmental evaluations, as well as inventories and assessments, are important tools in wetland management.
b) Links to Poverty Eradication
11. Poverty underlies most problems in the wetlands sector and if our efforts are to be successful, we must link our activities to poverty alleviation and find solutions to these root problems. To this end, wetland and water resource management must be integrated with national livelihood policies.
12. Agriculture is important to livelihoods and food security and is one of the primary target activities in poverty reduction strategies. The NEPAD Wetland Strategy should promote livelihoods and food security through sound irrigation schemes, fisheries management, and range-land management including wetlands, protected areas, and agro-forestry in wetland ecosystems. Coordination and consultation among the relevant sectors and proper legal frameworks are crucial for success.
c) Ecosystem Management & Regional Cooperation
13. River /lake basins are suitable frameworks for ecosystem management: NEPAD highlights transboundary wetlands as an urgent priority because a number of the problems to be addressed (e.g., eradication of alien species, management of coastal zones, and technology transfer) require regional planning and action.
14. In developing the links between NEPAD and Ramsar, there is a need to expand integrated land and water use plans which would serve as the basis for national and regional cooperation.
15. The development of land-use policies must be integrated with water resources management, and countries will be encouraged to adopt uniform water quality standards at the national and subregional levels.
16. Inland waters and coastal areas should be managed together through integrated water resource management and integrated coastal zones management.
17. Funding is severely limited in the region and is needed for a range of actions including inventory, assessment, monitoring of water resources, training, capacity-building, education and public awareness.
18. Funding is also required for the preparation and implementation of wetland management plans for water supply, biodiversity conservation, agriculture, fisheries, range-lands, forestry, and tourism development.
e) The way forward
19. Resolution VIII.44 concerning the role of the Convention in NEPAD provides a strong framework for future actions to secure wetland conservation and wise use in Africa, and during 2003 work will focus on supporting and encouraging Parties to implement the terms of this Resolution, notably that it:
a) urges Contracting Parties to provide support for the implementation of actions undertaken through the Environment Initiative of NEPAD;
b) urges Contracting Parties in the African region to use NEPAD, AMCEN (African Ministerial Conference on Environment) and AMCOW (African Ministerial Conference on Water) to advance the objectives of the Convention, mindful of the need to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to the conservation and wise use of wetlands;
c) urges Contracting Parties to pay specific attention to the development and implementation of initiatives with transboundary elements, particularly where these refer to shared river and lake basins, shared wetlands, migratory species and technology transfer;
d) calls upon the NEPAD development partners to provide support to African Contracting Parties in the implementation of the Ramsar Strategic Plan, including communication, education and public awareness (CEPA), which is considered an important tool for realising the goals of the programme; and
e) directs the Ramsar Bureau to develop synergies between the implementation of the Convention and NEPAD in Africa.