The brilliant American Wetlands Month Celebration, "Team Wetlands: 101 Ways to Win for Wetlands," hosted by the Terrene Institute and held in Arlington in the state of Virginia, USA, 15-17 April 1998, featured some 24 workshops organized into 5 "tracks" covering 1) policy and legal questions, 2) scientific and technological issues, 3) education and participation, 4) the "world arena", and 5) "problem-solving huddles" [roundtable discussions].
The Track 4 international program was organized by the US National Ramsar Committee, a group of NGOs (including WWF-United States, Sierra Club, Ducks Unlimited, the Caddo Lake Institute, and others) dedicated to fostering implementation of the Ramsar Convention in the USA and abroad, and began with an afternoon session on "Designating a Ramsar site", providing advice for achieving Ramsar designation for additional sites beyond the present 15 Ramsar sites in the USA. The session was moderated by Kim McClurg of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the panelists included Constance Hunt of WWF-US, Bruce Monroe of the Sierra Club, and Bill Phillips of the Ramsar Convention Bureau.
Much of the rest of Track 4 comprised elements of what was also the third workshop of the IUCN Social Policy Group-coordinated project on "Involving Local and Indigenous People in the Management of Ramsar Wetlands", which was called for by Recommendation 6.3 of the 6th Ramsar COP in Brisbane, 1996. (The first two workshops were held in the USA and Japan, and the final product will include guidelines and case studies on community participation in wetland management in time for presentation to COP7 in Costa Rica in 1999.) Case studies were presented by such well-known figures as Philippe Tous (Guinea-Bissau), Olivier Hamerlynck (IUCN Mauritania), Abdoulaye Ndiaye (IUCN Senegal), and Vera Stanova (Slovakia) amongst others, and Jane Claricoates, Wetland Link International Coordinator for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, focused on the role of wetland education centers in involving local people in wetland management.
The Track 4 workshops were chaired by Dwight Shellman, Jr., Caddo Lake Institute, Constance Hunt, WWF-US, Alex de Sherbinin, IUCN Social Policy Group and project coordinator for the Recommendation 6.3 project, and Reiko Nakamura, Secretary General of the Ramsar Center Japan. In the final session, Larry Mason of the Caddo Lake Institute, formerly Ramsar’s chief promoter in the USA before his retirement from the Fish and Wildlife Service, then chaired a "lessons learned" wrap-up with these four chairpersons, which made considerable progress in distilling the key principles that will feature in the Draft Decision being prepared for COP7. There was a general sense in the meeting, according to Bill Phillips, that the "lessons learned" being evolved through these project workshops are still too general in nature to be of tangible assistance to the Contracting Parties, and the Bureau will assist over the coming months in drawing the Draft Decision and attached guidelines into closer focus. It is envisaged that the case studies will be issued in a low-cost publication, with assistance from WWF, for presentation as an info document to COP7 in order to further discussion. The final results will be published after COP7 as a companion book to the Conference Proceedings.
During and after his participation in the affairs, Dr Phillips also held discussions with Jim Corven of the Manomet Center concerning the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network; with Dennis Nelson of Project WET concerning wetland educational resource materials; with Peter Thomas of the US State Department, head of the USA’s delegation to COP4 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, concerning the CBD-Ramsar Proposed Joint Work Plan; with Roberta Chew of the State Department, Larry Mason of Caddo Lake, and Gilberto Cintron of the USFWS concerning the Wetlands for the Future programme; and with Marshall Jones of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ramsar administrative authority charged with implementation of the Convention in the USA.