Jonathan Barzdo, Deputy Secretary General, and Maria Rivera, Senior Advisor for the Americas represented the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands at the Sixth GEF Assembly held in Viet Nam from 24 to 29 June, 2018.
The GEF has taken into account the importance of wetlands since its inception, leading to direct GEF investments totalling some USD 2 billion in grants, leveraging over USD 11 billion in co-financing towards projects entirely focused on wetlands, or as part of projects with significant wetland components. These projects have been funded out of the 'Biodiversity', 'Climate change', 'Land degradation' and 'International waters' Focal Areas, highlighting that wetlands are pivotal for securing multiple environmental services and supporting a range of terrestrial and marine systems.
Deputy Secretary General, Jonathan Barzdo, addressed the Assembly saying: “As much as wetlands are vital to us and our survival and are key for achieving SDGs, they face many challenges. Up to 87% of the global wetland resource has been lost since 1700. We lose wetlands three time faster than natural forests. The alignment of the Ramsar Strategic Plan with the SDGs, Aichi Targets and the four-year framework of programme priorities (2018-2022) for the seventh replenishment of the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund represent an important opportunity for countries to invest in improved management, restoration and best use practices for wetlands, through national and regional actions, to ensure they continue to provide a range of social and economic benefits.”
Jonathan Barzdo made an intervention at the High Level Round Table “Blue Economy” stressing the importance of conservation, management and restoration of wetlands such as mangrove and coral reefs and other coastal ecosystems as essential to achieve SG14 on oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. He addressed that the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is a ready platform to be used as a mechanism to achieve SDG14 and other SDGs as the Convention provides the global legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of all wetlands.
Maria Rivera made an intervention at the High Level Round Table “Partnership for Transformative Change: the power of Advocacy and Innovating Environmental Action”. The session was to showcase examples of innovative tools and mechanisms used by civil society and indigenous peoples and local communities in achieving these transformations. Examples were presented of how governments and international institutions, including the GEF and Multilateral Environmental Agreements, have provided opportunities for citizens’ engagement in processes to achieve these changes.
Maria Rivera presented how the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands to which 170 countries are members provides opportunities of engagement for Civil Society in different processes to support the implementation of the Convention: