RESOURCE-E.GIF (6856 bytes)
THE SEVENTH SESSION OF THE CONTRACTING PARTIES TO THE RAMSAR CONVENTION
San Jos�, Costa Rica
10-18 May 1999

Briefing

Delegates at COP7 met in Plenary to hear overviews of implementation of the Convention in Africa, Eastern and Western Europe, the Neotropics and North America, as well as a number of special presentations. They convened for an additional evening session to consider a draft resolution on regional categorization of countries.

IN THE CORRIDORS
Funding issues could cause controversy today when the sensitive question of the Convention�s budget for the next triennium arises. While many agree that the budget needs to be increased, discord is anticipated regarding the question of how much is required, where exactly it would be allocated, and, more importantly, who will supply it. The Standing Committee has taken a realistic approach by proposing only a modest funding increase. Proponents of a more substantial increase point to the Convention�s broadening scope and miniscule current budget compared to other environmental conventions. However, with many developed countries facing budgetary squeezes that allow little room for increased contributions, these arguments seem set to fall on deaf ears.

Photos and RealAudio from 11 May
Robert Watson, Director of the Environment Department at the World Bank, underscored the need to determine the direct use value of ecosystems. He highlighted an increasing willingness among Bank clients to borrow for biodiversity projects and noted that the GEF�s Medium-Sized Grants are particularly appropriate for such projects. He highlighted the deleterious effects of climate change on wetlands
Tim Jones, Regional Coordinator for Europe, presented the regional overview of implementation in Western and Eastern Europe. He highlighted achievements in implementing the wise use guidelines in the region, including: wide application of environmental impact assessment; high priority assigned to restoration; and significant progress in implementing wetland policies and establishing national committees.
Anada Tiega, Regional Coordinator for Africa, presented an overview of implementation of the Convention and the Strategic Plan for 1997-2002 in Africa. He stressed that wise use and communications are inseparable, and underscored the use of inventories as a basis for decision making. He identified the major threats to wetlands as inappropriate land-use practices, the increased prevalence of invasive species and pollution.
Bill Phillips, Deputy Secretary-General of the Convention, presented progress in implementing the Convention in the North American region, including, inter alia: a wide range of EIA and wetland-related policy instruments; integrated and watershed approaches; experimentation with assessments and economic valuation of wetlands; wetland restoration initiatives; institutional capacities and cooperation; bilateral agreements on migratory birds; and donor assistance for wetlands projects.)
Geoffrey Howard, Programme Coordinator, IUCN East Africa, made a presentation on invasive species. He outlined their effects on wetlands and other water-dependent ecosystems, including: alteration of flow, water quality and downstream wetland functions; reduction of water quantity; alterations in fisheries; increase in human health hazards; reduction in wetland species abundance and diversity; and alteration of wetland species population integrity, community structure and distribution.
Nestor Windevoxhel, COP7 Special Advisor, presented an overview of Convention implementation in the Neotropical region. He said the main achievements since COP6 include increased attention to the conservation and rehabilitation of degraded wetlands, actions to enhance EPA, and development of management plans for one-third of the Neotropical Ramsar sites.
URUGUAY, on behalf of the Neotropical region, proposed that the Standing Committee include an additional alternate representative from their region, and that the SC�s composition be determined not only by the quantitative criterion of the number of CPs per region but also by qualitative criteria.
On procedures to admit new CPs, The EU proposed amending the text to allow CPs located near boundaries of regions to participate at their own request and based on the existence of similar natural conditions within an alternative region, provided that the STRP does not object to the preconditions for the request.
IRAN proposed establishing an open-ended working group to resolve the regional categorization issue.
ISRAEL instead called for a vote on the two categorization options.

Back to ENB's Ramsar COP7 home page

Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.