The State Secretariat for Environment and Tourism, together with the Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN – Guinea-Bissau), jointly organised a stakeholder meeting on the occasion of the celebration of World Wetlands Day 2013 in Guinea-Bissau under the theme Wetlands and Water Management. The celebration, which brought over 35 wetland stakeholders, was marked by the signing of an inter-ministerial decree for the creation of a National Ramsar Committee in Guinea-Bissau by the Secretary of State for Environment and Tourism, His Excellency Dr. Agostinho da Costa.
In his opening speech, the Secretary of State pointed out the importance of wetlands and environmental protection in Guinea-Bissau and stated the value of biodiversity conservation and wise use. He remarked that the creation of a National Ramsar Committee in Guinea-Bissau is only one of the many actions that the country has launched in order to ensure environmental sustainability after the fight against plastics.
The Ramsar Secretariat, represented by the Assistant Advisor for Africa Ms. Ako Charlotte Eyong, congratulated Guinea-Bissau for this initiative and stated that this was an opportunity for the country to re-enforce the implementation of the Convention and promote Ramsar Site designations, wise use and international cooperation. The Ramsar National Committee in Guinea-Bissau was created with assistance from the IUCN-PREMI (Initiative for Poverty reduction and environmental management) programme. More information on the creation and training of the Ramsar National Committee members is available in the report presented by PREMI here.
|Secretary of State Agostinho da Costa signing the inter-ministerial decree on the creation of the National Ramsar Committee|
The celebration of World Wetlands Day 2013 was an opportunity for the newly created National Ramsar Committee to get acquainted with the work of the Ramsar Convention and develop a road map for future activities at the national and local levels to enhance the implementation of the Convention. In her presentation, Ako Charlotte Eyong provided background information on the work of the Ramsar Convention and explored widely the relationship between wetlands and water management providing the World Wetlands day 2013 message of “reconsidering the view of wetlands within water management and recognising that the water resource requirements of human society are delivered by and through wetlands”.
|Secretary of State Agostinho da Costa interviewed by the media on the role of the National Ramsar Committee in Guinea-Bissau|
After a review and evaluation of the activities carried out by the Secretariat of Environment and Tourism through the International Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas, a roadmap was developed for the National Ramsar Committee to facilitate the development of an action plan for the committee. Key points included in the road map are:
Elaboration of a National Wetland Policy in Guinea-Bissau;
Integration of wetland issues in local and national planning;
Integration of wetland issues in the National Environmental Policy
Integration of wetland issues in the National Poverty reduction Strategy;
Identification and designation of Wetlands of International Importance and ensuring the development of a management plan for all designated sites;
Ensuring the update of the Ramsar Site “Lagoa de Cufada” and preparation of a management plan for the site;
The development of integrated projects on water, wetlands and other related sectors and ensuring partnership with other environmental actors.
There was a general sensitization on the economic value of wetlands and the techniques to ensure general environmental education and awareness in the country. The need to carry out a National wetlands inventory was specially discussed and the country resorted at developing a project proposal to seek funds from interested donors in order to carry out this inventory.
|Ms. Ako Charlotte Eyong (Ramsar Secretariat) congratulates Guinea-Bissau by offering a Ramsar publication on the importance of wetlands to the Secretary of State for Environment and Tourism, Dr. Agostinho da Costa.|
The meeting ended with the announcement of four proposed wetlands to be listed as Wetlands of International Importance. The Ramsar Convention Secretariat is currently working with the Ramsar National Focal Point and wetland partners in Guinea-Bissau to follow up the designation process of these sites.
Report and photos by Ako Charlotte Eyong, Assistant Advisor for Africa