'Regional Capacity Development Workshop on Wetlands Management with Focus on the Ramsar Convention in Pacific Island Countries'
The five Pacific Island signatories to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands recently completed a one-week training session from 10-13 March, designed to enhance sustainable management of their important wetland sites.
The Pacific island parties to the Convention: Fiji, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa, were brought together in an informal and interactive setting to familiarise with the Ramsar management planning process and format. It was a week of ‘hands on’ work to develop draft management plans for Ramsar sites and other priority national wetland sites.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) coordinated the one-week training in partnership with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and IUCN Oceania, in Nadi Fiji.
Participants also discussed follow-up actions, which they agreed they could work on in the coming 12-months. Furthermore, participants agreed that a follow-up workshop be held in one year’s time to update on progress of these targets and designate further actions as needed.
The immediate actions identified include updating the Ramsar Information Sheets for their Ramsar sites; prioritizing their internationally important wetland sites for future designation as Ramsar sites; writing World Wetlands Day summaries to be submitted to the Communications Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) officer of the Ramsar Secretariat; and to identify all national Ramsar focal points and provide these details to the Ramsar Secretariat.
An important part of the workshop involved developing the structure, and drafting the management plan for one of the Ramsar sites in each of the participant's countries. Over the coming year, the SPREP’s Associate Ramsar Officer Vainuupo Jungblut will be following up with each of the participants and assisting them in completing the management plan.
Another issue discussed at the one-week gathering was that of identifying funding sources. International non-governmental organisations that work in Pacific Ramsar sites were identified as potential sources of assistance, whether for technical or financial support. The private sector in each of the countries was also identified as another potential source of assistance for specific activities, such as the production of wetlands awareness materials such as posters and leaflets, in each of the countries. It was recognized that there are many opportunities for forming stronger partnerships with various stakeholders within Pacific Island Ramsar parties, and that such partnerships could enable assistance towards the effective management of Pacific Island Ramsar sites.
The one week training also enabled participants take part in a half-day field trip to Lomawai village on the outskirts of Nadi. The field trip showcased a GEF-funded climate change project that is currently being implemented by WWF Fiji within the mangrove forest of the village. The field trip also enabled participants to gain a first hand experience of the traditional use by the community of their mangrove wetland resources. The WWF Fiji country programme and the Fiji Department of Environment organized the field trip.'
Group photograph of the participants at the Workshop
Opening remarks by Mr. Joeli Boca Rokovandra, Commissioner Western Division, Government of Fiji.
Participants at work
Trying ‘kava’, the traditional drink of Fiji and the Pacific Islands
Workshop participants getting a ‘feel’ of the WWF Fiji project at the Lomawai mangroves