25th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee


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25th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee
Gland, Switzerland, 23 - 27 October 2000
Agenda item 22.8

DOC. SC25-29

Work Plan of the Senior Advisor on Environment and Development Cooperation (SAEDC)
(originally titled Development Assistant Officer)


1. The attachment contains two additional draft Strategy Notes prepared by the SAEDC, for information and comment.

1 Sept. 00

Strategy Note on How to Approach EU Institutions

1. Objectives: (1) Influence the EU institutions so that wetland conservation and wise use become a priority in their environmental policies and practice. (2) Raise funds for wetland wise use projects in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

2. Target: The EU Commission, the EU Parliament, and the EU Council of Ministers.


3. The EU Parliament is an important institution in that it has important financial powers and an increasing role in defining policies for the Commission. The Ramsar Bureau and its Brussels-based partners should strengthen the relationship with the two most important Parliament Committees: The Environment and the Development Committee. These Committees have the power to create extra-budgetary allocations for specific purposes. They have done it with the creation of the Environment and the Tropical Forest Budget line, initially receiving each about 50 MECU. The Parliamentary Groups can also suggest plenary debates on certain important topics. They have done it in Strasbourg in the past, on wetlands. The Parliament or its specialised Committees is also the place where recommendations or directives are discussed and voted. The Parliament is a huge institution with hundreds of MEP and Committees. One has to make sure not to be lost in the hundreds of administrative corridors and billions of document pages of the Parliament and have a very focused approach so that time is well invested. The best strategy to lobby the Parliament is to identify key MEP supporters and work with them. The Specialised Committees can invite experts from outside the institution, either as observer or key speakers during their meetings. The Ramsar Senior Advisor and partners may, occasionally, attend some of these meetings when they are relevant to wetland conservation and wise use.

4. The EU Commission is by far the biggest "donor institution" on Earth and therefore deserves some special attention, but working with it can be a real nightmare! An average 4.6 Billion Ecus are budgeted per year for external actions and another 3.1 billion for pre-accession aid to NIS countries, which include the PHARE programme. As evidenced by many reports, including the one commissioned by President Prodi, nepotism, fraud, mismanagement and horrible bureaucracies characterised the Commission’s work in the past. Nevertheless, patience and a good network of friends, supporters and partners within the Directorate Generals sometimes paid off. Furthermore, strong actions and an in-depth reorganization are apparently being implemented to improve the functioning of the institution. If the proposed new structure is approved, there will now be four Commissioners with external relations responsibilities. Mr. Chris Patten and Paul Nielson will jointly assume responsibilities for all development cooperation activities. How this is going to work in practice remains to be seen.

5. In the short term, the best strategy for approaching the Commission might still be to maintain a good network of friends and supporters and try to work with them. Once the new institutional arrangements are fully in place and working well, one might review this strategy and adopt a more institutional kind of approach.

6. Approaching the field Delegation might be worth while in Asia, Latin America, Mediterranean countries and countries with economies in transition where they have a relative decentralised power. For fundraising purposes, it is not a very useful strategy to approach EU Delegations in ACP countries where they have almost no power. All decision related to ACP countries are taken centrally, in Brussels, within the ACP Committee. Decisions regarding the use of the special budget lines are also fully taken in Brussels.

7. The Directorate for Environment, Development, External Affairs, Fisheries and maybe Agriculture should be the main target of our work. The Bureau should coordinate its work with Ramsar’s partners having offices in Brussels.

8. The EU Council is probably the most influential of the EU institutions, but it is also the most difficult to influence and approach. The best way to approach the Council is through the COREPER (Comité des Représentants Permanent). The state members each have their permanent representatives in Brussels. They are organized by themes and prepare the agendas of the Council of Ministers meetings. The Bureau and its partners in Brussels should approach the COREPER environment committee with the objectives of having an agenda point on wetlands and eventually a political motion of support by the Council of Environment Ministers to the Ramsar Convention’s work. The super objective would be to have this motion issued by the Super Council of Ministers.

Alain Lambert


Strategy Note on How to Approach and Influence Regional Development Banks and International Financial Institutions

1. Objective: increase awareness within Regional Development Banks, International Financial Institutions and the World Bank on the importance of Wetlands and therefore, increase financial flow to, and direct funding of, wetland projects.

2. Target: Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), African Development Bank (BAD), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Development Association (IDA), International Financial Corporation (IFC), World Bank (WB).

3. Strategy: There is no doubt that all these institutions are key players in the field of environment and development and all are important targets for the work of the Senior Advisor on Environment and Development Cooperation. But to attempt to influence all of them efficiently is over-ambitious, and a serious priority-setting exercise is therefore needed.

4. In the short term, therefore, the action will concentrate on the more "traditional" regional banks (ADB, BAD, IDA, and CDB). In the medium term, other IFIs will be contacted.

5. A three-level approach will be adopted: (1) the Board of Governors, (2) the Board of Directors, (3) bank staff at headquarters and in country offices. Although the Senior Advisor will have a key role in leading this campaign, partner organizations and supporters will strongly be involved in the work. In close collaboration with the Regional Coordinators, the Senior Advisor will also try to involve Ramsar Regional Representatives and National Authorities.

6. Members of the Standing Committee may also wish to support our work.

I. The Board of Governors

7. Contacting every Governor of each bank might be time consuming and not very productive. As a first step, key influential Governors from both Donor Countries and Recipient Countries will be identified and sent a letter (signed by the SG) introducing the Ramsar Convention, and policies and actions for their respective Banks will be suggested to them. A special leaflet targeted at these institutions will be prepared and distributed widely within the banking world. A special point on the agenda of their annual meeting to discuss the importance of sound investments in wetland conservation will be suggested. During most of these annual meetings, a series of workshops are organized either by the Banks themselves or by the NGO community. A workshop could be organized on wetlands.

8. Increasing Ramsar’s visibility is key to efficient influencing. The Senior Advisor and/or other Bureau staff should participate in the annual meetings and in the most important technical meetings organized by regional development banks. The benefit of having a network of partners and supporters is that the Ramsar Bureau could share the burden of participating to these meetings with the partner organizations. This burden could also be shared with colleagues from other Convention Bureaus or Secretariats.

9. The environmental work of most of these Regional Development Banks almost exclusively focuses on chemical water treatment. This is obviously important but this kind of " end-of-pipe treatment strategy" is certainly not the best one in the long term. It might well be that there will be nothing left to treat in the future if the approach is not changed and more importance given to wetland conservation and integrated wetland/watershed management.

10. Ramsar’s partners could send the same kind of letter, either to the same Governors or to others. Members of the Regional Banks Board of Governors are often the Ministers of Finance of their respective countries. Ramsar’s partners and supporters could approach them from a national perspective (Parliament Committee of finance, international affairs, environment, and development cooperation, etc.).

11. When visiting bi-lateral development cooperation agencies, The Senior Advisor on Environment and Development Cooperation will also mention Ramsar’s work with Regional Development Banks and ask the agencies’ political support to influence their respective ministers of finance in their function of Governors of Regional Development Bank. The main argument will be that there is a need to harmonise official development cooperation policies of national agencies-ministry with the work of the Governors of Development Bank. Where it exists, the contradiction between official policies and actions should be evidenced!

12. Regional Representatives and regional members of the Standing Committee may wish to approach the Governors covering their regions to brief them on the reality of wetland conservation and influence them before Board of Governors meetings.

II. The Board of Directors

13. The same kind of letter could be sent to the members of the Board of Director and to its Chairman, the President of the Bank. The letter to these eminent management staff should be more technical and contain a clear economic and environmental analysis of the well being of Ramsar’s approach and policy. It should also show the economic/developmental potential of good investments in Wetland Conservation, which is often low impact but labour intensive.

III. Bank staff and field offices

14. All Regional Banks have an Environment/Sustainable Development Unit or Division. Several Banks have a Water Division. We should contact the staff of these Units/Divisions and assess their importance and influential capacity within their respective Banks. If need be, we should try to strengthen their positions within the Bank and establish a regular working relationship with them, including joint field visits, joint workshops, joint publications, etc.

15. When feasible, the Bureau and Ramsar’s partners should visit field offices and brief them on the Ramsar Convention. Field offices should also be briefed on the work being carried out with the Board of Directors and Governors.

16. At this level, Regional Coordinators should be approached, and when they are in the field, and time permitting, could be invited to support the Bureau’s work, visiting Country Offices and raising Ramsar’s profile within the banking community. If need be, the Senior Advisor on Environment and Development Cooperation could brief those who are planning to visit one of these field offices on the situation of the Regional Bank involved and suggest what to say/discuss during their meeting.

Expected Outputs:

17. It is not going to be easy to measure objectively the direct increase in financial support to wetland projects. It is going to be even more complicated to measure the indirect benefit of the Bureau’s work to wetland conservation. But relevant reports, including financial reports, will give us an indication of the increased interest for wetland conservation projects.

18. Partners and national authorities will also play a key role in informing the Bureau about a possible increase in Regional Banks interest in wetland conservation.

19. Seriously influencing Regional development Bank is a medium to long term challenge that will require outside support and one should not expect spectacular changes in the short term.

A. Lambert

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