Address to the graduates of the International Course on Wetland Management (Lelystad, 2000)

13/10/2000

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The Secretary General, Delmar Blasco, addressed the graduation ceremony of the 7th annual International Course on Wetland Management (Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment, RIZA), 11 October 2000

Dear Bart Fokkens,
Dear Bouke Ottow,
Dear course leaders and organizers,
And most importantly dear graduating students,

It gives me great pleasure, in my capacity as Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, to be present, once more, at the closing ceremony of the International Course on Wetland Management organized by RIZA in Lelystad.

This has been the 7th annual course and I am sure that this year’s training activity will have been fully in line with the reputation of excellence that the Course has gained over time, thanks to the dedication and high technical qualifications of its organizers.

Training is a very important activity for the Convention on Wetlands, because the effectiveness of the implementation of the treaty at the country level very much depends upon having professionals that can deliver on-the-ground conservation and wise use of wetland resources.

Most of you come from countries that are already Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention; the majority of these countries have designated a significant number of sites as Wetlands of International Importance. I very much hope that you will have the opportunity, when you go back home, to contribute to the effective management of these Ramsar sites. Designation of Ramsar sites is important and we encourage countries to designate as many sites as possible that respond to the criteria established by the Convention. But with designation comes a commitment to maintain the ecological character of each site, or, to say it differently, the ecological health of each site. The only way to do so is by developing and implementing sound management plans, with the informed and active participation of all stakeholders.

And for those of you who come from countries which are not yet Parties to the Convention, I very much hope that you will also engage in management activities of those sites that have the potential to be designated as Wetlands of International Importance, once your countries have acceded to the Convention, something that we are expecting to happen any time now in a number of cases.

Let me also remind you that the Convention is not only about Ramsar sites. The countries that join the treaty also commit themselves to promote the "wise use" of all wetlands in their territory. To do so, the Convention advocates in favour of the development and application of National Wetland Policies. Effective wetland site management, hopefully within the context of integrated river and lake basin management, should constitute a key component of those policies. Thus, there should be ample opportunities back in your countries to use the knowledge that you have acquired here at the course. And if these opportunities are not yet there, I very much hope that you will become ardent advocates vis-à-vis your national, provincial and local governments and non government institutions in favour of devoting more prominence and more resources to wetland management.

Finally, let me encourage you to share your knowledge and experience with other people back home. You may consider organizing training activities based on the model of this course, or at least you could organize information sessions in which you can transmit to interested people the main concepts that you have worked on here in Lelystad.

If the secretariat of the Convention could be of any assistance in your endeavours back home, we will be very pleased to do so. Please contact the Regional Coordinators in our office in Switzerland or myself directly. I also encourage you to keep in touch with us by visiting regularly our web site, at www.ramsar.org. Our site is updated daily; so you will always find something new when you log in. We have also placed your names and addresses in the mailing list for the Ramsar Bulletin. I am afraid that now that you are considered a member of the Ramsar family it will be very difficult for you to get out of it! I very much hope that you will be an active member of the family, and that your belonging to it will bring you many, many professional and personal satisfactions.

Thank you very much for your interest in wetlands, and for having devoted a considerable amount of time and energy to get better equipped to serve the cause of their conservation and wise use. Have a safe journey home.

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