Ramsar moves to join forces with global programmes promoting education, public awareness and communication on wetlands and water resources.
On 24-25 September 1998, the Ramsar Bureau played host to a number of global, regional, and national programmes that are active in promoting education, public awareness and communication (see the list below). This-two day workshop was designed to identify ways in which the Ramsar Convention can facilitate the expansion of these grassroots-style programmes to help further the cause of wetland conservation and wise use. Financial support for the conference came from the Evian Project's component on communications and public awareness.
Rather than a conventional workshop, though, it was more like a free-for-all of innovation and ideas after two days we had crossed all continents (figuratively speaking) through the presentations of those in attendance. We heard of the diversity of approaches being taken and how grassroots action can be fostered in all settings - the coastal Ramsar sites of Ghana, among the isolated communities of northern Australia, in the big urban centres, including the heart of London - and on it went.
At the end the participants spent a few hours drawing up a list of actions which the Convention should adopt as priorities for promoting those activities that most effectively lead to informed local action. These ideas have been included in the Conventions draft Outreach Programme on education, public awareness and communication which will be considered at COP7 next May in Costa Rica. At the COP itself these participating organizations will make a joint presentation to the Plenary Session as part of the Technical Session on involving local people in wetland conservation and wise use.
Our thanks goes to the following people who contributed so enthusiastically to the workshop
- Linda Segebrecht, Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN), USA
- Ngai Weng Chan, Water Watch Asia, Malaysia
- Sabesi Fordjour, Ghana Wildlife Society, Ghana
- Bronwen Golder, Capacity Building Programme, WWF International, Brusells
- Wendy Goldstein, Commission on Education and Communication, IUCN, Switzerland
- Kate Gowland, Waterwatch Australia, Environment Australia
- Doug Hulyer, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and chair of the Wetlands International Specialist Group on Education and Public Awareness, UK
- Louise Lakos, Department of European Integration and International Relations, Hungary (Chair of the Ramsar Convention Standing Committee)
- Dennis Nelson, The Watercourse Program/Project WET, USA
- Rick Pedolsky, Project Director, Water Planet, Sweden
-- reported by Bill Phillips, Deputy Secretary General