Ramsar regional meeting in Oceania, September 2005
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The Oceania Region preparatory meeting was held at Nadi, Fiji, from 29 - 30 September.
The Regional meeting was hosted by Fiji, represented by Manasa Sovaki, from the Department of Environment. Contracting parties represented included Australia, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa. IOPs represented included Birdlife International, Wetlands International and WWF International Oceania and WWF (International and South Pacific). An observer from the University of the South Pacific also attended and the secretarial support was provided by SPREP, including the secretariats out-posted Oceania officer Vainuupo Jungblut. Funding was made available by the governments of Australia and Sweden to help organise the meeting.
Issues dealt with included:
Report on Outcomes of the 2nd Oceania Regional Meeting (May 6-8 2002, Apia Samoa); Report on Outcomes of the 31st Standing Committee Meeting (6-10 June 2005, Gland, Switzerland); An update on CoP 9 policy issues of regional interest; a review of the COP 8 Resolution on Oceania, and a presentation of CoP 9 agenda & Key Issues.
The meeting resulted in the agreement to forward two new DRs for Consideration by COP (DR21 and 22, now available on the web), and some revisions to DR8 on regional initiatives. The meeting also heard of progress towards accession by Fiji, the Cook Islands and Tonga.
The meeting was preceded by a workshop on capacity building (report below), held between 26 -28 September, whose conclusions were considered by the meeting in the preparation of the DRs, and elaboration of a revised regional initiative.
The Secretary General presents the site certificate for the new Manawatu River Mouth Ramsar site to Philippe Gerbeaux, New Zealand Department of Conservation
Oceania regional meeting
The Secretary General with delegates from Palau, New Zealand and Australia
At the kind invitation of the Government of Fiji, this workshop took place between 26 - 28 September 2005. Participants were from Palau, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Fiji, and the Cook Islands. Secretarial support was provided by Dominique Benzaken (SPREP), Vainuupo Jungblut (Ramsars' man in the Pacific) Penina Namata (WWF Fiji Programme) and Doug Watkins (Wetlands International - Oceania).
The workshop reviewed the wetland issues raised in the Second Oceania Regional Ramsar Meeting in 2002, and also had presentations on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and its relevance to the region. A small number of additional issues were identified, importantly global climate change. A field visit to a local village to discuss community stewardship of the river and associated fish resources was organized in conjunction with the WWF South Pacific programme and Wetlands International Oceania.
Key wetlands management issues are seen as important in the areas of habitat change, invasive species, pollution, overexploitation and climate change. Issues were grouped into four areas and the key challenge identified for each of these groups. A key conclusion was that capacity development at the national level should be the key approach in providing international support for wetland conservation as an integrated component of natural resource management. Where possible, capacity development should be integrated with the delivery of on-ground activities.
Four Key Challenges were identified by the workshop;
1. Limited awareness and support for wetland conservation and management at government and community levels.
Some possible ways and means to resolve this challenge included:
- Effectively influencing decision makers and key leaders in the community (business, churches, NGO, community leaders)
- Using valuation and other techniques to demonstrate importance of wetlands to local and national economies
- Strengthen regional and national coordination mechanisms for awareness activities
The Capacity development needs were seen to include Communication, Social marketing, Advocacy, leadership training/champion, valuation techniques, collaboration and facilitation skills, collaborative work programming.
2 Insufficient knowledge on which to base wetland conservation and management decisions, and limited access to existing knowledge.
Key knowledge needs to be addressed are:
- Use valuation tools to demonstrate the economic importance of wetlands to the local and national economy
- Conduct national assessments of wetland status and trends as part of integrated natural resource management processes
- Prepare case studies on the effectiveness of traditional management systems in maintaining the ecological character of wetlands
The Capacity development needs were seen to include Communication, Specific technical skills (valuation, inventory, traditional values), infrastructure, National training activities for field assessments)
3 Limited ability of local communities to influence and control the wise use of their wetlands.
Here the priority action was to empower local communities to generate and use knowledge for local-level decision making in wetland management by:
- Creating fora for knowledge and technology transfer between local users/owners and technical experts and sharing of success stories
- Integrating traditional knowledge with modern management tools
- Integrating management across ecosystem types (eg. Ridge to reef)
- Harnessing existing manpower and resources
- Showcasing examples of best practices for management within the region
- Creating sustainable finance mechanisms
The Capacity development needs were seen to include:
- Training for community development
- National and community level training in specific technical skills (restoration, monitoring, inventory, management)
- Facilitation and communication skills
4 Inadequate policy and institutional frameworks for biodiversity and natural resource management (including wetlands).
Here the priority actions were to
- Establish mechanisms at the national level that link government and civil society to improve biodiversity and natural resource management (including wetlands)
- Integrate biodiversity conservation and natural resource management (including the wetlands) into economic development strategies
The Capacity development needs were seen to include:
Models: legislation, wetland / biodiversity / natural resource management policies, national sustainable development strategies, institutional arrangements and structures (councils and committees, ToR, organizational structures), purpose specific wetland MoUs, Training: facilitation, collaboration skills, participatory approaches.
The next generation listens raptly to a presentation from Wetlands International
Doug Watkins, Wetlands International - Oceania, and kava
The Secretary General