Latest news about World Wetlands Day 2012
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I’m sure that many wetland people will be happy to hear that our World Wetlands Day theme for 2012 will be on Wetlands and Tourism. As some of you know, the theme for WWD 2012 is linked to the theme for the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties (“Wetlands, Tourism and Recreation”), COP11, which will take place in June 2012, hosted by Romania.
Sustainable tourism both in and around wetlands can bring many benefits to countries from national to local community level but, as we know, unsustainable tourism practices can also have negative impacts on wetlands and the people they support. And of course there are positives and negatives from the point of view of wildlife too! To date the Ramsar Convention has not had any specific focus on wetlands and tourism and, with the upcoming WWD and COP11, the time is right to turn our attention to this important issue.
What are we planning?
- We expect to have a draft Resolution on wetlands and tourism which will highlight the importance of the subject and propose concrete steps that the Ramsar Parties can take in the short and long terms, for their consideration and adoption at COP11. The first draft of this proposed Resolution will be considered by our Standing Committee at the end of October 2011 and will be available on our website at that time. We will all be able to see the final draft to go forward to the COP by March 2012.
- We are working with a consultant and a number of Parties on some practical case studies on the direct and indirect impacts of tourism on Ramsar Sites and other wetlands, using selected sites from all our Ramsar regions. We’ll be looking at both the opportunities and threats that wetland tourism brings, and we hope to be identifying key messages from the case study analysis for important target groups – land-use as well as wetland policy-makers, local governments, tourism developers, wetland site managers and others.
- The output from this work will be a full-colour booklet that focuses upon wetlands and tourism, providing important lessons learned from the case studies to help those considering the development of tourism in and around their wetlands or struggling to deal with issues from ongoing unsustainable tourism practices. This booklet will be launched at COP11.
- In our tourism work we have joined hands with the UN World Tourism Organization (with whom we have a Memorandum of Cooperation signed in 2010). We are also working with the Convention on Biological Diversity and with IUCN on this subject, so we’re hoping to make the best use of what has already been done and to partner with those experienced in managing tourism.
- What about World Wetlands Day 2012? This we hope will be a warm-up for the strong focus on tourism at COP11 – a chance for us to help all our WWD actors focus their attention on tourism in and around their wetlands. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to use our campaign day to look at the value of your wetlands for sustainable tourism and the benefits this can bring, or perhaps to focus on how tourists themselves can contribute to sustainable tourism in their choices and their behaviour. There are many possibilities!
For this WWD as usual we will produce a poster and sticker on the theme as well as a leaflet aimed at providing some basic information on tourism and wetlands with a very brief preview of our work on the case studies for the COP11 publication. As usual we will provide a hands-on activity for children, and the design files for all our materials will be made available so that you can customize them to suit your national language and culture if you wish to.
We hope you will be inspired by our theme and will throw your energy into WWD planning in the coming months. You’ll be hearing from us again as matters progress, and please don’t hesitate to send us any suggestions you may have.
With best wishes, Sandra Hails, Ramsar Secretariat