Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) -- Work Plan for 2000


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Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands

(Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

Work Plan - 2000

[preceding section]

Section 4: Communication and Awareness Work Plan 2000

In partial fulfilment of the Convention’s Outreach Programme 1999-2002, the Bureau’s communications staff will attempt to devote time and resources to the following actions during 2000.

Those actions shown with an asterisk (*) are to be considered for funding through the Communication Theme of the Evian/Danone Group Project should they be approved by Standing Committee as appropriate actions.

Those actions shown with shading will not proceed without additional resources being provided to the Bureau.

1. Corporate image of the Convention


Attractive and informative posters are an excellent, economical means of bringing an organization to the notice of the public, since individuals and groups are frequently enthusiastic about including them in decorative presentations at events of their own. The Convention had been using two posters to supply this need, one for COP7 and the other for World Wetlands Day, which bears the old logo, and both of these are obsolete.

Action to be taken *: A design company will be tasked to present an estimate for a new poster and, if acceptable within budgetary constraints, to create a new concept.

Promotional items (ties, scarves, lapel pins, watches, t-shirts, etc.)

Promotional items are an important part of the "corporate image", especially for those representing the Convention in meetings, conferences, etc. They can also form a key component of protocol gift-giving in some countries.

Action to be taken: Consideration will be given to the design and production of suitable promotional items to be distributed when appropriate on a partial cost recovery basis.

Other ‘giveaway’ items: bookmarks, mousepads

Well-designed heavy-paper bookmarks bearing the logo and a few lines of text make a handy and low-cost means of keeping the image of the Convention before the public eye. Similarly, mousepads bearing the Ramsar logo can be produced inexpensively and distributed widely as promotional tools.

Action to be taken *: The Bureau will look into producing low-cost bookmarks and mousepads for free targeted distribution during 2000.

Design of publications, displays, etc.

Using a standard design element throughout all publications and promotional products is also an important element of "corporate image". A new design has been generated for the Handbook Series (see below) and for the latest edition of the Information Packs, based loosely upon the design which was developed for the Brisbane Proceedings (1996) and continued with variations on the basic concept through other publications of the last triennium. This new concept will be followed, with suitable variations for each new product, for publications and displays through the next triennium.

Action to be taken: Continue using the new design concept through the next triennium, with consistent variations for each new product.

Involvement of public figures to promote the Convention

In terms of raising profile and awareness, one very useful tool is to adopt a patron or patrons for an initiative (examples include Prince Phillip for WWF and Harrison Ford for Conservation International). Consideration will be given to Ramsar pursuing a similar course of action.

Action to be taken: Consideration will be given to Ramsar adopting a patron or patrons.

Ramsar site diplomas

New Ramsar site diplomas have been designed and are now being produced for display at Wetlands of International Importance.

2. Communications, public awareness-raising, information services


Diplomatic Notes

These are for transmitting official information and advice to the Administrative Authorities of each Contracting Party. Several are transmitted each year.

E-mail mailing lists (Ramsar Exchange and others)

The Bureau operates five electronic mailing lists for administrative communications: the Ramsar Exchange, with separate English, French, and Spanish versions, is for messages between the Bureau and the Administrative Authorities and partner organizations, and for discussion amongst them all. There are two more lists, one for interaction between the Bureau and the STRP and another for the Standing Committee. At present not all members of these groups have access to the Internet. A survey was carried out in 1997 to determine which Administrative Authorities could benefit from financial assistance for hardware and services to gain access to the Internet, and in 1998-99 a beginning has been made, with use of resources from the Evian Project, in supplying those needs for a few Contracting Parties.

Actions to be taken: The administrative e-mail mailing lists will be used with greater frequency as more Parties are able to benefit from them. The Bureau will make a special effort in 2000 to ensure that the mailing lists include the best and most up-to-date e-mail addresses in each CP and to encourage the Administrative Authorities to use the mailing lists for reporting their activities to the other CPs as well as to the Bureau.
To the limits of available resources, further efforts will be made to assist Administrative Authorities in gaining access to the Internet. *

Promotional/Awareness Raising

Press Releases

These are generated as special events or activities dictate, as for example World Wetland Day (see below) At present the distribution list for press releases includes relatively few general media outlets in only a few countries, and this has never been a productive means of getting the Ramsar message before the public. The releases are also posted on the Ramsar Web site and Ramsar Forum, and may feature in the Ramsar Newsletter (see below), from which they are frequently picked up by the environmental media.

World Wetlands Day (2 February)

WWD was conceived as an annual opportunity, on 2 February each year, to focus world attention on wetlands, in order to increase public awareness of wetland values and of the Ramsar Convention. WWD is largely promoted by NGOs (both global, regional/national) and the Administrative Authorities in some countries. The Bureau produced a poster for WWD in 1998 which was distributed in late 1997 to all CPs and the partner NGOs. Following WWD 1998 and WWD 1999, the Bureau posted on the Ramsar Web site reports of WWD activities of all kinds sent in from more than 60 countries. For WWD 2000, the Bureau has sent a Diplomatic Note to Administrative Authorities suggesting several appropriate actions they may consider taking.

Actions to be taken: The Bureau will produce and distribute a press release and statement from the Secretary General for use by local and regional groups wishing to hold WWD celebrations and include the international element that Ramsar implies.
Resources permitting, the Bureau will consider producing other WWD promotional material, such as stickers, posters, etc.


Ramsar Web site

The Ramsar Web site is one of the Bureau’s chief communication mechanisms. As the information superhighway becomes accessible to more and more people, it will be important to keep the Web site dynamic (as now) and to continue to add resources to it which are directed at the priority target groups listed in the Convention’s Outreach Programme. A survey of Administrative Authorities was undertaken in 1997 to establish their Internet capacity, and some steps have already been taken to assist those in developing countries and those with economies in transition to gain access to the Net. Consideration might be given to issues of language versions on the Web site - which are already in place for all official documents and many other materials. The vision for the Web site should be to include materials of interest and of direct usefulness for all of the priority target groups.

Actions to be taken: The Bureau will continue to update the Ramsar Web site frequently with news, announcements, new documents and reports, and other materials of interest to the public and of use to Administrative Authorities and others.

Time permitting, the Bureau will approach the Administrative Authorities with a special effort to urge them to highlight the Ramsar Convention on their own Web pages and to make sure that their Web pages (and any others within their CPs which contribute to Ramsar issues) are made known to the Bureau in order to be linked to from the Ramsar Web site.

A similar effort should be made to survey the CPs for information about individual Web sites dedicated directly or indirectly to Ramsar wetlands, and to impress explicitly upon the people responsible for those Web sites the importance of highlighting their Ramsar associations.

The Bureau will continue to assist in maintaining the Joint Web Site of the biodiversity-related conventions.

If significant resources were secured for the purpose, additional staffing could permit development of French and Spanish versions of the Ramsar Web site.


Ramsar Forum

The Ramsar Forum is an electronic mailing list that is open to the public so that the Bureau can post news and announcements and members of the public can post, reply to, and discuss messages relating to Ramsar and wetland issues. There are approximately 550 members of the Forum.

Actions to be taken: The Forum is maintained by Bureau staff, and its operation will continue as at present. In accordance with the Convention’s Outreach Programme, paragraph 31, the Bureau should make efforts, time permitting, to invite and encourage a wider range of government and non-government players in the CPs to subscribe and contribute to the Ramsar Forum.


Ramsar Newsletter

The Bureau produces approximately three issues of the Ramsar Newsletter per year, drawing mostly upon material developed for the Ramsar Web site (see above) in order to make that material available to a wider audience. It is presently produced in the three official languages of the Convention, but could be produced in more languages if additional earmarked resources were found. The Newsletter is distributed to all Administrative Authorities, government officers, NGOs and other institutions and individuals that have requested it, some 3,500 recipients in all. A much larger distribution will not be possible without substantial additional support from the CPs, NGOs and the private sector.

Actions to be taken: The Bureau will continue to produce and distribute the Ramsar Newsletter as frequently as seems advisable.
If additional funding were secured, the Newsletter could be translated into other languages, as appropriate, and either produced by the Bureau or forwarded to CPs for local production. It would be particularly desirable to translate the Newsletter into Russian and provide the text for inclusion in the periodical of the Administrative Authority in the Russian Federation.

Ramsar Manual

The Ramsar Manual has been an important tool to encourage countries to join the Convention and to inform the personnel in each CP about how to implement the treaty. The first English edition (1994), as well as the second edition (1996), have included both introductory information about wetlands and the Convention and the texts of all of the Convention’s criteria and guidelines for the use of practitioners. There have also been editions in French and Spanish. All of these have become obsolete because of the progress made at COP7.

Action to be taken: It has not yet been decided whether or not the Bureau should produce new editions of the Ramsar Manual in its present configuration, since there are now a large number of guideline documents and they are presently being published as the Ramsar Handbooks, and since the Ramsar Information Pack contains most of the Convention’s introductory materials. If the decision should be made to produce a new Manual, it will probably be a much reduced publication, consisting mainly of the Information Pack materials in a small handy volume. An alternative might be to produce an electronic version of the Manual, to be distributed as a CD-ROM or PC diskette.


Ramsar brochures

The 2-ply general information leaflet about the Convention, which was published in 1996 and updated in 1998 in the three Convention languages, has been rendered obsolete by COP7. A regionally-targeted leaflet, modelled on the Small Islands Developing States leaflet of 1998, has been produced for Western Asia, and plans are under way to develop a similar brochure for Africa.

Actions to be taken *: The general information brochure will be updated and republished to take account of developments at COP7. A regionally-targeted brochure will be produced for the African region.

Ramsar Information Packs

The Information Pack presently consists of 15 "Information Papers" that lay out introductory information about wetlands and the Convention, as well as selected other documents and brochures. It is produced by photocopy within the Bureau, using specially designed paper and covers, in English, French, and Spanish, and the Bureau has made a translation into Russian. A Chinese version has been distributed within China, and Arabic and Farsi translations have been made and await production.

Actions to be taken *: The Information Pack is presently being updated to account for COP7 resolutions, with the addition of several new Information Papers, and will be updated in French and Spanish as well.
Resources permitting, the Info Pack will be updated in Arabic, Chinese, and Russian as well, and assistance will be offered to Administrative Authorities to undertake translation and production of the new versions into their own national languages.

Ramsar Handbook Series

The guidelines adopted by COP7 are being published as the core of the "Ramsar toolkit", a series of nine handbooks on issues of concern to the Ramsar community. These include, in addition to guidelines from COP7, the wise use guidelines from earlier COPs and a number of case studies, background papers, and photographic illustrations for all of the volumes, and are being published in the three working languages. These will be completed in early 2000 and distributed as widely as possible throughout the triennium. An attractive "ministerial briefing" brochure is being produced to accompany and introduce the Handbooks series to high-level political personnel.

Action to be taken: When the Handbook Series has been finalized, they will be prepared for ‘Wise Use Resource Centre’ portion of the Ramsar Web site as soon as staff time permits.

Ramsar COP7 Proceedings

The Resolutions and Recommendations, the Conference Report, and the List of Participants from COP7 have been printed in thermal-bound photocopy form and distributed to a targeted list of recipients. The Convention’s Work Plan 2000-2002 is being published as an adjunct to the Handbook series described above, and all of these together are to be considered the Proceedings of the 7th Conference of the Parties.

Other publications

The Bureau has published a number of other books, in addition to the Ramsar Manual, which are distributed free from the Bureau to people who need them and offered for sale to the public through IUCN’s Publications Services Unit in Cambridge. These include:

  • Economic Valuation of Wetlands (1997)
  • Wetlands and Biodiversity (1996)
  • The Legal Development of the Ramsar Convention (1995)
  • Towards the Wise Use of Wetlands (1993)
  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: Its History and Development (1993)
  • The Ramsar Convention: a legal analysis [in Denmark] (1989)

In addition, the most recent editions of the Directory of Wetlands of International Importance and the Ramsar Sites Overview have been published and offered for sale by Wetlands International and are available for limited free distribution by the Bureau.

Action to be taken *: As the Bureau has published no general circulation books for some time, consideration will be given to publishing a new book should a suitable project be brought forward.

‘Jewels in the Crown’ coffee-table book

The so-called Jewels in the Crown book, portraying with impressive photographs one significant Ramsar site in each Contracting Party, has been offered some funding from the Swiss Government, but more would be required if the book were to be created and printed in Europe.

Action to be taken: The Bureau will continue to seek additional funding for the production of this book and will investigate whether the present pledges of assistance might be sufficient if the book were to be produced in some other part of the world.


The Bureau has recently concluded the production of a video entitled "The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands", and has updated the COP6 Brisbane video on the history and evolution of the Convention. Both of these are available to Ramsar staff, Administrative Authorities and partners for presenting the Convention to meetings, and will be made available to the public on some basis.

Action to be taken *: The Bureau will distribute these videos to the Contracting Parties, STRP members/Focal Points, the national CEPA Focal Points and others and encourage CPs to have them dubbed into other national languages.

"Speaker’s Kit"

The Bureau has produced a series of basic PowerPoint presentations which can be customized by Bureau staff to meet the needs of individual fora, and these will be further refined over the year 2000. The same presentations can be produced on transparencies for overhead projection when necessary.

Action to be taken: Certain of the Bureau’s PowerPoint presentations which might be useful for others in presenting the Ramsar Convention will be made available for download from the Ramsar Web site.

The public role of the Ramsar Database

The Ramsar Database is housed at the headquarters of Wetlands International in the Netherlands. Efforts made over the past few years to improve the coverage and quality of the data on Ramsar sites have been quite successful and will continue. The List of Wetlands of International Importance and List of Contracting Parties are updated by the Bureau as soon as any changes are required and distributed in both paper and Web forms. A new briefing publication, the Annotated Ramsar List (ca. 130 pages), to be produced in-house, will expand the simple List by including a paragraph of useful information about every Ramsar site; this has been authored by a consultant with assistance from Bureau staff and is presently in its final stages of editing.

Wetlands International continues to produce graphical representations of Ramsar data on its Web site. In addition, negotiations are under way with an external agency to make data from the Ramsar Database available to sophisticated searches by the public over the Web, at no cost to the Convention, and these should lead to concrete products over the year 2000. See also the Global Work Plan with respect to future collaboration with CIESIN at Columbia University for providing an interactive web site for the Sites database.

Actions to be taken: The Bureau will finalize the Annotated Ramsar List, have it translated into French and Spanish, prepare it for posting on the Ramsar Web site, and make hard copies available when requested.

The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards

At its 20th meeting the Standing Committee approved the establishment of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards and, at its 21st meeting, chose five winners in three categories from a large field of nominees. The Awards were presented at the opening ceremonies of COP7 in May 1999. Late in the year 2000 the Bureau will restart the publicity for the nomination process, so that new winners can be chosen by the Standing Committee in 2001 and the Awards presented at COP8 in 2002.

Action to be taken: In the second half of the year 2000, the Bureau will begin the nomination process for the Awards to be given in 2002. Prior to that time, some small alterations in the nomination forms should be considered and approved by the Standing Committee.

Information services for the public

Bureau staff continue to devote considerable time and resources to responding to information requests and requests for documents and materials from the public, both in physical and electronic forms. The communications unit responds to most general requests and forwards technical and regionally-based inquiries to appropriate personnel within the Bureau. Some specific questions concerning data on Ramsar sites are forwarded to the Ramsar Database manager at Wetlands International. These functions will continue as before.

Virtual Ramsar site

The ‘Virtual Ramsar Site’ is a private sector initiative which is intended to establish a Web site at a wetland education centre close to Sydney 2000 Olympic venues. The Web site will have a strong education and training base. The Bureau has contributed financially to its progress and will continue to monitor and advise upon its development.

Evian Project (see comment at the beginning of this Work Plan relating to the use of Evian Project communication funds)

The Evian Project, signed in January 1998, continues with financial and logistical assistance for a series of high-level awareness raising sessions known as the ‘Evian Encounters’, and a special component related to communications assistance has been provided under this project for the Administrative Authorities in eleven Contracting Parties to gain access to the Internet.

Actions to be taken: The Bureau will organize a third Evian Encounter, this one for high-level officers in Contracting Parties in Asia.

Reaching the private sector

The Convention has had some early success in forging ties with the private sector, but it has been suggested that much more could be done. (See the Global Work Plan, Section 2.)

Actions to be taken: The Bureau will be exploring the possibility of establishing a Private Sector Working Party on Wetlands, in partnership with other interested institutions.
Resources permitting, the Bureau will review and assemble a database of professional associations in the following sectors -- water management, mining, forestry, fishing/aquaculture, tourism and environmental management -- contact them and provide Information Packs, and seek their support in advising their members of how to contact the Bureau and gain access to its materials.

Reaching the other convention secretariats

Considerable progress has been made over the past few years in forging cooperative working relationships with other environmental conventions, especially in the signing of memoranda of cooperation and understanding with several of them. Similarly, five of the biodiversity-related conventions (CBD, CITES, CMS, Ramsar, and WH) have created a "Joint Web Site" to serve as a comparative index to the Web sites of all five. Several other projects are under way amongst the communications staff of these secretariats.

Action to be taken: The Bureau will help to maintain the Joint Web Site and, as time and resources permit, pursue other joint initiatives during the year 2000.

3. Administration of communications efforts

National CEPA focal points

In Resolution VII.9, the Contracting Parties resolved to appoint national focal points for Wetland "CEPA" (Communication, Education, and Public Awareness), and the Bureau has requested the names of those focal points from the Parties by diplomatic notification.

Action to be taken: When the network of focal points begins to take shape, Bureau staff will assist in establishing methods by which they can assist in the Ramsar’s communications efforts, as outlined in the Convention’s Outreach Programme.
If resources permit, attempts should be made to survey the CEPA materials of all participating CPs and determine which of these might be available for use by other Parties and under what circumstances.

As the CEPA network takes shape, the Bureau will establish an e-mail mailing list for coordinated communications amongst the focal points.

International Organization Partners

Very important resources for the Convention’s communications efforts are the experience, personnel, contacts, and materials of the International Organization Partners and other bodies that are active in the field. For the Convention to make best use of these resources, much greater interaction and coordination between the Bureau and the Partners would be desirable.

Action to be taken: Over the course of 2000, the Bureau should make more systematic efforts to engage the communications personnel of International Organization Partners and other bodies in dialogue, with a view to more organized cooperation and better reciprocal use of one another’s experience and materials.

Wetland Education Centres

The Convention’s Outreach Programme calls upon the Bureau and the International Organization Partners to seek resources from the private sector in order to promote Wetland Link International (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) as "a key educational delivery mechanism", and to promote WLI on the Ramsar Web site.

Actions to be taken: If resources were to be secured, the Bureau will seek to find ways to promote and to assist in strengthening the Wetland Link International network of wetland education centres.

Ramsar Bureau Work Plan 2000, next section

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