|"Wetlands: water, life, and culture"|
8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Valencia, Spain, 18-26 November 2002
Daily photo summaries of the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands
News from COP8. Ramsar COP8 gets underway in Valencia. The past few days have gone by in a frenzy in Valencia, as the city's enormous and impressive Museum of Sciences has been converted into a convention centre virtually overnight. Sunday, 17 November, saw registration for most delegates and observers, some 1,200 people. We've also had a successful 27th meeting of the Standing Committee, as it transformed itself into the Conference Committee and ironed out the COP's programme, as well as a very successful meeting on a draft action plan for Africa's wetlands under the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development -- and the pre-COP Global Biodiversity Forum drew to a close in its third day, including the Ramsar workshop on communications, education, and public awareness. Today, 18 November, will see the Opening Ceremonies, featuring greetings from local and regional officials, Spain's Minister of Environment, and HRH Prince Felipe of Spain, a noted conservationist in his own right. Other speakers later today include HE Philippe Roch, Secretary of State for the Environment, Forests and Landscape of the Bureau's host country, Switzerland, and Dr Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International, speaking on behalf of the Convention's four International Organization Partners (BirdLife, IUCN, Wetlands International, and WWF). At the end of the day, after some basic COP housekeeping agenda items, the Government of the Autonomous Community of Valencia will host a welcoming reception for all the participants, and on Tuesday the 19th the real work begins. A few photos of the set-up can be seen here. [18/11/02]
News from COP8.Opening ceremonies and first day's business.The first official day of Ramsar COP8 passed eventfully on 18 November, with a great deal of administrative business to get out of the way, well mixed with ceremonial occasions and welcoming speeches, along with an artistic performance on the water outside the venue and a lively reception in the Museum. Here are a few photo highlights of the day -- for a thorough report and analysis of the day's work, please consult the Web pages of the IISD's Earth Negotiations Bulletin, http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/. In addition, here are some photos of the Wetland Conservation Award ceremony, and here is the text of the address of Dr Claude Martin of WWF International on behalf of the Convention's four International Organization Partners (BirdLife, IUCN, Wetlands International, and WWF) in English and Español. [19/11/02].
News from the COP.Already a bit behind schedule. Day 2, Tuesday 20 November, continued the fun of the opening day but left administrative details behind in favor of the substantial business of the meetings. Following the morning's Report of the Secretary General on implementation of the Convention, filled with what he called 'challenges for the Parties' in the next triennium, an extraordinary number of CPs offered reports of their own efforts in support of the Convention's objectives, in many cases pledging specific further actions over the next triennium. Introductions were made to the draft Strategic Plan 2003-2008 and Work Plan 2003-2005, so that further contact group negotiations could be got underway over the course of the week, and the Standing Committee gave a financial report for the past year and offered a budget proposal for the next triennium. In the final business of the plenary's work, first considerations were made of a large number of the draft Resolutions and Recommendations that will be further discussed in the coming days.
The plenary session also heard an address by Dr Angela Cropper on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and its relevance to the Convention, and Ms Inés González Doncell, Director General of Nature Conservation in the Ministry of Environment of Spain, made a special presentation on wetland conservation in Spain, which included the announcement of 11 new Ramsar sites, which will bring the COP host's total Ramsar area to 173,000 ha. The many many side events included presentations on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the launch of the 7th Directory of Wetlands of International Importance by Wetlands International, a presentation on the restoration of Chilika Lake in India, the launch of the 3rd Waterbird Population Estimates, also by Wetlands International, discussion of coral reef conservation with WWF International, and many others. Some photos are available here. [20/11/02]
News from the COP.Tech Session I and the side event with the dates. Day 3, 21 November, was devoted to regional meetings in the morning, which allow the Parties with like geographical problems and perspectives to share their own experiences in implementing the Convention, and, in the afternoon, to the first of the five Technical Sessions: "Major challenges and emerging opportunities for wetlands, water and sustainability". Following five presentations by invited experts, covering the texts and guidance in Draft Resolutions, the plenary broke into four regional groupings to discuss the drafts further, eventually to conflate their regional perspectives into common amendments to the draft texts in the coming days. In addition, there was the usual rich array of side events, almost frustratingly too many for the participants to choose among, and the exhibit hall continued to attract large numbers of astonished gawkers. Algeria's side event on the Ouled Said Oasis drew a good crowd to hear the discussion and mainly to eat up all the dates. Here's a representative sampling of photos from the whole day. [21/11/02]
News from the COP.Two more Technical Sessions down, and two to go. Day 4, Thursday, 21 November, began at a very early hour for a catch-up plenary session for last Tuesday's review of a number of Draft Resolutions and Recommendations, and then got into Technical Session 2: "Baselines for sustainable use: wetland inventory and assessment" for the rest of morning, and spent the afternoon with Technical Session 3: "Global biological diversity and sustence of human life: the Ramsar List of International Importance". Both Tech Sessions, in their regional break-out meetings, made further progress in negotiating amendments to the Draft Resolutions under study. The side events, which were many and varied, included a presentation on lake biodiversity conservation and Ramsar linkages by LakeNet, an IUCN discussion on NEPAD water and environment programmes, Wetlands International's introduction to the Asian Wetland Inventory, presentations on shrimp aquaculture by the Industrial Shrimp Action Network and the Mangrove Action Project, an introduction to the new database system by the UNEP/Global Environment Facility Coordination, and a Ramsar and UNCTAD BIOTRADE presentation on sustainable trade in wetland products, among many others. Here are some photos of the festivities -- for details on the issues, consult the ENB's daily reports at http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/. [22/11/02]
News from the COP.Last two Technical Sessions, and the signing of a new MOC. Day 5, Friday, 22 November, covered the last two of the five Technical Sessions, a large number of side events, and, as a bonus, the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ramsar Bureau and the Institute for Inland Water Management and Wastewater Treatment (RIZA) based in the Netherlands. Some of the day's photos are available here, and so is the text of the new MOC. For further details on the day's events, consult the ENB's daily reports at http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/. [23/11/02]
News from the COP.COP Committee reports and two more MOCs. Day 6, Saturday, 23 November, ended early, a pleasant surprise for everyone, but not before the plenary heard progress reports from the four Conference Committees -- the Committees on Credentials, on the Strategic Plan and the Work plan, on Finance, and on Future COPs -- and a series of chairpersons' summary reports on the work of the five Technical Sessions of the previous days: Challenges and Opportunities (Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda), Baselines for Sustainable Use (Nadra Nathai-Gyan, Trinidad and Tobago), Ramsar List of Wetlands (Louise Lakos, Hungary), Wetlands Management (Natalya Kasymova, Uzbekistan), and Culture and Wetlands (Clayton Rubec, Canada).
In addition, Gonzalo Castro, Team Leader for Biodiversity at the Secretariat of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), reported on a World Bank / WWF study on "The impact of Ramsar designation on management effectiveness", and, among other things, a double ceremony took place for the signing of memoranda of cooperation between the Ramsar Bureau and, on the one hand, the Lake Chad Basin Commission, and on the other, the Niger Basin Authority. In the free afternoon, some of the contact groups on contentious issues, most notably the group on the World Commission on Dams report, continued their negotiations away from plenary. Some photos are available here. For further details, consult the ENB's daily reports at http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/.
News from the COP.Day 7, "Documents Day". One day in every meeting of the Conference of the Parties is left free for participants to make field excursions to local sites, in this case, any one of five excursions supplied by the hosts to wetlands and other natural and cultural landmarks in the neighborhood of Valencia. The chief purpose of this day is to allow the secretariat to prepare final versions of all of the Draft Resolutions that had been under negotiation during the week. Behind-the-scenes photos, here.
News from the COP. Adoption of the final Resolutions, 1. On Monday, 25 November, the penultimate day of the COP, the delegates got down to the long concluding task of making final amendments to and adopting or not adopting the 46 Draft Resolutions that had been under negotiation, sometimes intense negotiation in regional meetings and contact groups, throughout the past week. Roughly half the DRs glided through the process on Day 8, leaving only the other half, the most contentious ones in many cases, to struggle through last minute rounds in the contact groups and come to gavel on the morrow. Here are photos, and further details of the give-and-take and thrust-and-parry are available from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/.
News from the COP. Adoption of Resolutions 2, and Closing Ceremonies. Day 9, Whaaiee!! Brings a tear to your eye, all those heartfelt thanks, standing ovations, and clasped hands raised in triumph. Be that as it may, here are some photos of the last day of Ramsar COP8, during which some fairly acrimonious consensuses were worked out and everybody thanked the hosts and everybody else and set challenges for the future. View some photos here, and then settle back and wait for the final versions of the Resolutions and the Conference Report to appear almost magically on this Web site whenever that may happen. One hopes before Xmas, but there are variables . . . . . . [Left, Uganda's Environment Minister promises a warm welcome in his country for Ramsar COP9 in 2005.]
Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards
Other miscellaneous (including Slovenia)