The Grand Mike Smart Commemorative Dinner in the Cafeteria!
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This the party!!
This is the 20th meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee -- AFTER WHICH a gala dinner was held, in the cafeteria of the IUCN headquarters building (don't laugh, the food was excellent, and the ambience was . . . delightfully functional).
And here (below) are some pictures of the party. Gland, Switzerland, 2 October 1997.
Delmar Blasco, Secretary General of the Convention, raises a toast to the two guests of honor, Mike Smart (in the strange tie), departing Senior Policy Advisor, and his incoming successor, Bill Phillips (in the grand suit), the new Deputy Secretary General. Ms Blasco and Ms Phillips are seen from behind.
A rare photo of Mike Smart trying to sum up his philosophies of the conservation and wise use of wetlands strictly in terms of humorous stories of previous gala commemorative dinners and their terrible excesses. The diplomat in him is leaving out all the best parts, to the evident relief of Bill Phillips of the Bureau and the bewilderment of Louise Lakos (Hungary).
But here, at last, Mike reveals the missing sequel to the story, to a select audience, including the somewhat skeptical Louise Lakos, chairperson of the Ramsar Standing Committee since 1993. Note, on the right, Dr Phillips warming up for the chugging contest.
Gentlemen, drain your cups!
The long-awaited Grand Ramsar Chugging Contest, which came down to a face-off between former and future Bureau policy gurus Mike Smart and Bill Phillips. Unfortunately, neither was a clear and undisputed winner, and it appears there will have to be a rematch.
Tim Jones, Regional Coordinator for Europe, seizes the opportunity to try out some of his recently composed "Drab Age imitation" verses in the de casibus tradition, after the manner of the Mirror for Magistrates (1559), to a measured reaction from the audience: front row, Mihaly Végh (Hungary), Clay Rubec (Canada) Montserrat Riera of the Bureau, and Clarita Martinet-Fay, recently of the Bureau. The kitchen looms behind them.
And as Mr Jones' 350-stanza poem proceeded slowly, over time, towards its conclusion, it took two bearded men -- Gerard Boere, representing the Netherlands, and Mihaly Végh of Hungary, representing the Scientific and Technical Review Panel -- to convince Cassandra Phillips (left), representing WWF International, that the next poem would almost certainly be better. Or at least, could not be worse.
Clayton Rubec (Canada) and Montse Riera (Ramsar Bureau) are listening intently to someone, can't tell whom in this picture but she has a yellow hairband on, whilst Clarita Martinet-Fay (until recently of the Bureau, now of IUCN) is listening to somebody else.
Christophe Lefebvre, Conservatoire du Littoral, is not just wearing his name tag for this party. He always wears it.
Both of these gentlemen -- Herb Raffaele and Gilbert Cintrón of the United States of America -- get the joke, but one of them has heard it too many times before.
Undeterred by Mike Smart's clear superiority in scandalous anecdotes from the deep Ramsar past, Julia Tucker, Ramsar Administrator, shocks Ms. Phillips with some Ramsar anecdotes of her own. Ms. Blasco (right) recoils in horror.
The Paul and Abdoulaye Show
Paul Mafabi, Uganda, and Abdoulaye N'Diaye, Senegal, rest after rehearsing some scandalous Ramsar anecdotes, preparing to triumph over the scandalous opposition later in the evening. That unusual tie commemorates the Ramsar COP6 in Brisbane, unfortunately, and the T-shirt probably has a story of its own.
Mike Moser, Director of Wetlands International - Africa, Europe, Middle East, and Samuel Antiko, representing Papua New Guinea, the Standing Committee member for the Oceania region -- looking affable and alert, possibly misleadingly.
Mohammad Reza Salamat and Borhan Riazi, representing the Islamic Republic of Iran, Alternate Standing Committee member for Asia, clearly having a lot of fun.
Mr Abdel Rahim Al-Wreikat, representing Jordan as an Observer State to the Standing Committee meeting, and Reinhold Turk, one of Ramsar's most effective advocates in Austria.
The crowd scene from Ben Hur
Prominently applauding in the center of the colisseum, John O'Sullivan of BirdLife International, and bearded to the left, David Stroud and the back of Linda Smith's head, both heads from the United Kingdom, Observer State to this meeting. In the back, Tim Jones applauding and Cassandra Phillips not.
That may be Scott Frazier's forehead in the front.
M. François Lerat, representing France, responds to another story from Mike Smart, whilst Tom Kabii (left), the Bureau's Regional Coordinator for Africa, indicates that he has misgivings.
And Guillermo Lingua, representing Argentina as an Observer State to this meeting, remains serenely above it all and refuses to lose his good humor amid all this shameful display, and Raquel Siguënza (left), Ramsar Intern for the Neotropics, has seen this craziness more than once before and persists in being gracefully friendly.
Representing Costa Rica, host of the next Conference of the Parties (May 1999), is Manfred Peters and his beautiful wife (left), observing the Ramsar goings-on and possibly beginning to wonder what Costa Rica has got itself into this time.
Through the magic of low-resolution jpegs, come 1999, you can be there, too.