Successful SADC Ramsar meeting
At the invitation of the Government of South Africa, and with financial support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 10 of the 11 member counties of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) met in Pretoria, 2-6 February 1998, to review the implementation of the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002 and discuss the steps to be taken for further action on wetland matters at national and regional levels. SADC countries which are Contracting Parties to Ramsar include Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia. The non-Contracting Parties in the SADC region were also invited to participate with a view to encouraging them to join the Convention: Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Tanzania (unfortunately Angola did not send a representative). The Ramsar Bureau was represented by the Secretary General, D. Blasco, and the Regional Coordinator for Africa, A. Tiéga.
Participants at the meeting hear explanations from an official of the provincial nature conservation agency during a visit to the Blesbokspruit Ramsar site. The site has been placed by the South African government on the list of sites in danger, because of the impact of excess salted water discharged into the wetland from a nearby gold mine. At the centre of the photograph (with African shirt) is Anada Tiéga, the Regional Coordinator for Africa at the Ramsar Bureau. Photo D. Blasco
The meeting was opened by South Africa Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Hon. Z. Pallo Jordan. A series of recommendations were adopted, based on a review of the Ramsar Strategic Plan, addressed both to the participating countries, the Ramsar Bureau, the Standing Committee and to the forthcoming Pan-African Ramsar meeting to be held in Uganda on 6-10 July. One initiative that will be immediately launched by the Bureau in cooperation with the IUCN Regional Office in Harare is a project to carry out an economic valuation of the major wetland systems in the SADC countries, so as to assist decision-makers in adopting policies towards the sustainable use of these resources. The meeting also recommended that the Pan Africa meeting move a resolution at the next Conference of the Parties to initiate a process to amend the name of the Convention, so that the current commonly used name, "Convention on Wetlands", becomes the official name of the treaty. In another recommendation, the meeting proposed the elaboration of a global protocol under Article 5 of the Ramsar Convention based on the 1995 Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region.