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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 special presentations and overviews of implementation in Oceania and Asia, review the official descriptions, conservation status and management plans for Ramsar sites, and consider proposals for COP7 resolutions and recommendations, the Work Plan and Bureau budget for 2000-2002, and the report of the Credentials Committee.

IN THE CORRIDORS
Delegates spent much of Wednesday consulting informally on how to resolve the issue of regional categorization of Israel yet avoid breaking Ramsar�s long-held tradition of agreement by consensus. Some delegates felt that adopting the SC Chair�s proposal to use bio-geographical regions (which would keep Israel in the Asian region) would obstruct cooperation in the Asian region and the Convention as a whole and discourage accession by potential CPs holding views similar to those favoring UN categorization (which would place Israel in the Western European and Others Group). However, some expressed optimism for consensus based on the EU proposal, which allows CPs located near regional boundaries, at their own request, to participate within an alternative region if the STRP does not object. Nevertheless, the potential for a deadlock that will force a vote looms large for this morning�s debate.

Photos and RealAudio from 12 May
Deborah Moore, Commissioner of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), made a presentation on the WCD�s objectives and activities. She explained that the WCD, which includes both dam opponents and proponents, is conducting a global review of dams� impacts, assessing options and best practices for delivering water and power services, and developing criteria, guidelines and policies for dam planning, operations, mitigation and de-commissioning
Bill Phillips, Deputy Secretary-General of the Ramsar Secretariat, provided an overview of implementation in the Oceania region. He highlighted achievements in implementing wise use guidelines, including development of wetland policy frameworks and use of EIA and economic valuation. Challenges in implementing wise use include the need to assist parties to implement the Convention, build capacity, and utilize wise use frameworks.
Barbara Di Giovanni, on behalf of Hamdallah Zedan, Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), spoke on the joint work programme between the CBD and Ramsar. She highlighted key features of the programme, including: Ramsar�s status as lead CBD partner for developing criteria and classifications of inland water ecosystems; close cooperation between the conventions� scientific bodies; and sharing of expert rosters and reports on inland waters and coastal and marine biodiversity.
Rebecca D�Cruz, Regional Coordinator for Asia, presented the regional overview of Convention implementation in Asia. She indicated that the Ramsar Bureau treats Israel as an Asian CP but that this issue remains unresolved. She said progress in implementation was mixed and identified significant challenges, including: increasing membership in Central and West Asia; enhancing NGO involvement; mainstreaming wetlands into water and coastal zone policies; designating additional sites, particularly under-represented wetland types; completing site management plans; enhancing training; and monitoring changes in ecological character.
NORWAY said that an increase in the budget ought to be considered by the Parties.

Secretary-General Blasco noted that Plenary was considering "a more ambitious work plan than the budget allows for". He stated that if the work plan is adjusted to the budget, it will be difficult to raise additional resources for activities not mandated by the COP

He is seen here waving the five dollars Denmark owed the Ramsar Bureau. In settling his country's accounts with the Bureau, Vice-President Koester hoped the jesture would encourage other Parties to do likewise

The US encouraged the Bureau to seek collaboration with the International Coral Reef Initiative and announced that it has earmarked US$100,000 for coral reef projects.
Regarding Small Island Developing States and Ramsar (COP7 DOC.15.24), delegates supported ARGENTINA�s request to delete a proposal that specific countries with small island territories review Ramsar implementation, as some are the subject of sovereignty disputes.

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Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.