Protocol of Cooperation between the Danone Group and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, March 2004


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Address by Peter Bridgewater,
Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

on the occasion of the signing of a Protocol of Cooperation with the Danone Group for the intensification of efforts, in collaboration with the WWF Living Waters Programme, in behalf of the programme Agir de la montagne à la mer, pour la protection de la ressource et de la qualité de l'eau

22 March 2004

M. Franck Riboud, PDG Groupe Danone,
Mr. Jamie Pittock, head of WWF Living Waters Programme,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs...

Today is special for several reasons, but let me mention just two.

First, we are gathered to sign a document which brings together the efforts Ramsar and Groupe Danone have been making on strengthening outreach about the Ramsar Convention, with extra support and cooperation from WWF in helping to implement this activity.

Secondly it is World Water Day, the 11th such day since it was established.

Normally Groupe Danone/Ramsar activities have a strong focus in World Wetlands Day on February 2nd. But this year we are making this signature ceremony on World Water Day - why?

The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

The United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March of each year as the world day for water by adopting a resolution in 1993.

World Water Day is pivotal to focusing attention on the need, among others, to:

  • address the problems relating to drinking water and its supply;
  • increase public awareness on the importance of conservation, production, and purification of water resources and drinking water supply; and
  • increase governments, international agencies, non-governmental organisations, and private sector participation and cooperation in the organisation of WWD celebrations.

While the official theme for this year's day is water and disasters, we are really celebrating not a disaster but a new and exciting opportunity. Because we are bringing together an intergovernmental treaty, a major private sector organisation and one of the world's key conservation organisations, to affirm new ways of cooperating in favour of the world's wetlands, and thus the world's water. This ceremony, therefore, is just a perfect example of a WWD event, and, incidentally, the only one officially being celebrated in France.

For Ramsar, this event is significant as it strengthens our relationship with Groupe Danone, and their effective and legitimate support for our activities, while enabling one of our key NGO partners to help in this effort. We will be building on this in future with another development in education, involving UNESCO as a player in the partnership, and I acknowledge with pleasure colleagues from UNESCO here present.

Mr. Lefebvre has already outlined the activities that have been and will be covered by our existing partnership. I simply want to underline the gratitude the Convention has to Groupe Danone for support in the area of outreach for now several years. I have no doubt that without this support we would have been less effective in taking our message to the people. This new increased cooperative relationship involving WWF helping to implement some key activities will bring new experience, new ideas and new strength, to the table.

22 march is therefore a unique occasion to remind everybody of the extreme importance of water for maintaining the environment and increasing development in human societies. Practical efforts can help us to increase worldwide awareness of both problems and solutions. To make a difference our tasks consist in turning words into commitment and action, and that's what our joint activities will result in.

The 138 member states of the Ramsar Convention will welcome this move, and see it as valuable extra commitment and help to implementing their commitments and activities under the Convention.

I can only confirm again that the Convention is delighted with this event, and especially delighted that the PDG was able to find time in his heavy schedule to take part in this event, where we are striving to help secure more certainty in the provision of water for all.

So let us toast (with Evian water) to the continued efforts we can all three make together to promote a world where life is a little less uncertain.

From left: Jamie Pittock, Franck Riboud, Peter Bridgewater

Protocole de coopération, mars 2004

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