Coordinators of the Ramsar Culture Network (RCN) convened to discuss RCN and UNESCO cooperation


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Report and photo by Irini Lyratzaki, Scientific Secretariat, Med-INA (Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos)

On Monday 13 May 2013, Thymio Papayannis and David Pritchard, the coordinators of the Ramsar Culture Network (RCN) had a meeting at the UNESCO offices in Paris to discuss several aspects of their cooperation (shared sites, intangible heritage etc.). Tobias Salathé, Senior Regional Advisor for Europe was representing the Ramsar Secretariat during this meeting, which reviewed progress with specific areas of cooperation that had been previously agreed, including the ‘Indicative Work Plan for Mutual Cooperation’ drawn up in July 2011. Elements of the future process for monitoring, reporting and updating of such action lists were agreed.

Inner yard of UNESCO's Headquarter offices in Paris, France.

It was stressed that activities undertaken within such frameworks should be very pragmatic and results-oriented, with a bottom-up approach and good engagement of local communities. Although the RCN and its collaborations with UNESCO involve only a small number of people and are necessarily global and strategic in nature, the focus must be on achieving a catalytic effect and replicability from one place to another. In this it will be important to work through association with projects led by others, and through existing institutional structures (such as the Ramsar Regional Initiatives) that can help deliver results in this way.

During the first years of RCN’s establishment, the individuals involved in its activities worked on a voluntary basis. In 2011, the MAVA Foundation for Nature approved funding for a number of actions to be carried out until June 2013. For the period 2013-2016, a fuller programme of work has been developed and submitted for funding. A first-stage decision on this is due in mid-June, and if successful it will frame the context for future cooperative activities on wetlands and culture. It aims among other things to create the conditions for sustained attention to the issue beyond this three-year period; but efforts will be required (both now and later) to identify additional sources of co-funding and support in kind.

UNESCO participants present at the meeting concluded that the work of RCN is significant, and that during the difficult present economic situation both organisations can carry out low-cost activities and work in cooperation in projects that are of mutual interest.

Further general information on the Ramsar Culture Network will be posted here soon.

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