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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 convened in Plenary to consider the reports of the technical sessions, appoint the members of the STRP, and consider and adopt COP7 resolutions. The Minister of the Environment of France made a special presentation.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Some delegates reacted that Monday�s rapid adoption of resolutions and the flood of new Ramsar sites was �fantastic.� However, with the revised �consensus budget� effectively making it impossible for the Bureau to engage a full-time development officer to fundraise for Convention implementation in all CPs, additional burdens will be placed on the Secretariat, whose staff is already over-extended. Notwithstanding, a few delegates have been questioning the Bureau�s budgetary transparency and prefer voluntary contributions for specific activities, while others felt this was a pretext to avoid having to dig deeper into their pockets.

Photos and RealAudio from 17 May
Reports of the Technical Sessions and the budget debate
Bill Phillips, Deputy Secretary-General of the Ramsar Secretariat (pictured on the far right), provided an overview of the five technical sessions. He reported that drafting groups had revised the resolutions relevant to each technical session to reflect amendments proposed by the regionally-based discussion groups. He said the technical sessions were an innovative approach that had considered 13 of COP7�s 32 draft resolutions.
EGYPT was among the delegations that strongly supported the 5-5-5 proposal.
On behalf of the Neotropical Region, URUGUAY tabled two additional amendments, recommending that the STRP�s composition reflect the different bio-geographic characteristics represented in CPs and that STRP members, to the extent possible, come from countries not represented in the SC.
The US stressed that the Work Plan applied to the Convention as a whole, not only to the Bureau, and supported BRAZIL�S suggestion to incrementally allocate the 5-2-2 proposal over the three years, to 2%, 3% and 4%, respectively. He added that any CP is welcome to supplement the budget with voluntary contributions.
Syria: The UN system was excluded as a reference for the deliberations
Secretary General Delmar Blasco answers questions about theSecretariat's proposed operating budget
IRELAND said the 5-5-5 proposal was necessary for Ramsar to achieve its objectives, implement its Work Plan, engage a development assistance officer, and send positive signals to CPs regarding implementation of the Convention in the next millenium.
GERMANY said it is not in favor of increasing the budgets of international organizations. He noted that while a development officer would be advantageous, there are other ways to raise the necessary funds, such as through payment of dues owed by CPs.
IUCN introduced an amendment that the STRP provide �guidance on legislation� rather than �model legislation� on risk assessment, as each CP has its own particular national legal context. He also inserted text that urges CPs to �review existing legal and institutional measures� pursuant to the resolution on CP legislative and policy reviews on wetlands, prior to adopting legislation and programmes to prevent the introduction of alien species.
BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL stressed the need to remain focused on what is transpiring on the Ramsar sites themselves and invited CPs to discuss how COP8 can adequately consider this issue.
Miscellanous photos
CROATIA explained that the draft resolution on the Status of Yugoslavia in the Ramsar Convention (COP7 DOC.15.36) calls upon Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to submit to the Convention Depositary a notification of succession to the Ramsar Convention as other successor States to the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia have done.
Dominique Voynet, French Minister of the Environment, made a special presentation to the Plenary. She discussed Ramsar�s significant role in the sustainable development and conservation of wetlands, and outlined France�s Convention-related activities at the national and international levels. She underscored wetlands� essential role in renewing water resources and the potential for private enterprise to contribute to the achievement of Ramsar�s objectives.
ENB's Chris Spence seeking clarification from the French delegation
Scenes from the exhibition area, where NGOs, governments and industry share their accomplishments and visions for the weltands of the future.

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Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.