Report on Ramsar and the 5th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice
The minus 20º C outside did not affect the warmth with which CBD's 5th SBSTTA (31 January to 4 February 2000) welcomed the growing and evolving partnership and cooperation with the Ramsar Convention. The products of the meeting, once available, will mention this partnership in the recommendations from the meeting relating to the inland waters, marine/coastal, and forest biodiversity programmes of work, as well as the cross-cutting theme of alien invasive species. These recommendations will now go forward to the next CBD Conference of the Parties in Nairobi this coming May. Significantly, the meeting gave its overwhelming endorsement for the 2nd Joint Work Plan (JWP) between CBD and Ramsar which was developed collaboratively between the secretariats and the Chairs of CBD's SBSTTA and Ramsar's STRP, the respective subsidiary advisory bodies. The meeting also supported a new format for National Reports under the CBD - one that is very similar to that employed by Ramsar for its COP7 - which, if it is accepted by CBD COP5, should assist with efforts to harmonize national reporting in the future.
As delegation after delegation spoke about the merits of the CBD-Ramsar JWP, it was obvious that this approach to forging strong working links between conventions, in order to avoid duplication and allow sharing of resources, is one that most countries support. The new JWP also makes the significant quantum leap of recognizing Ramsar's joint actions with other conventions as well - and how these can serve to advance the cause of CBD. This precursor of multi-convention work planning also met with approval, and Ramsar continues to be a pioneer in this regard.
One issue which momentarily distracted the meeting were concerns from some non-Ramsar Parties that they may be disadvantaged by the JWP because they were not signatories of the Convention on Wetlands. Of course, there is one way to fix that problem quickly – they can join Ramsar. But even those countries that cannot or don't wish to join Ramsar for whatever reason can be assured that this does not threaten their interests in any way - in fact, the JWP will go on delivering 'products' for all CBD Parties without discrimination. However, it has to be said that these 55 CBD Parties that have yet to join Ramsar would further strengthen the partnership approach by being CPs of both conventions. The good news is that at last count, about 25 of them are presently somewhere along the road to joining the Ramsar Convention.
Next stop - CBD's COP5 in Nairobi - and all Ramsar Administrative Authorities and supporting organisations are again urged to make sure this meeting recognizes the full potential of the CBD-Ramsar JWP.
-- reported by Dr Bill Phillips