Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 17 No. 15
Saturday, 23 November 2002
RAMSAR COP8 HIGHLIGHTS
FRIDAY, 22 NOVEMBER 2002
Delegates met in Technical Sessions on wetlands
management and on cultural aspects of wetlands as a tool for
conservation and sustainable use. Committees on Finance and the
Strategic Plan and Work Plan convened, and contact groups met to
continue discussions on agriculture, climate change and the San José
TECHNICAL SESSION ON WETLANDS MANAGEMENT
The Technical Session on managing wetlands for
sustainable use and human well-being began with panel presentations
by invited experts, and continued with discussions on related draft
resolutions in four regionally-based groups. The Session was chaired
by Natalya Kasymova (Uzbekistan).
PRESENTATIONS: New Guidelines on management
planning: Chaman Lal Trisal, Wetlands International, presented
new guidelines on management planning for Ramsar sites and other
wetlands (COP8 DR 14), which he said: focus on site-based management
planning; provide flexibility to allow variation in Ramsar site
types and involvement of local communities in the management
planning process; and address socio-economic and cultural features.
San José Record: Marie-Odile Guth, Director
of Nature Conservation, France, presented the San José Record of
well-managed Ramsar sites (COP8 DR 15), stressing that it can be a
tool for the exchange and dissemination of information on methods
used in such sites, and for the promotion of cost-effective
management planning. She added that the criteria for inclusion on
the record must be revised regularly.
Principles and guidelines for wetlands
restoration: STRP Member George Zalidis (Greece) presented
principles and guidelines for wetland restoration (COP8 DR 16),
highlighting the need for, inter alia, national plans, a
step-wise approach, performance standards, consideration of the
existing natural conditions, multi-stakeholder involvement, and
integration of the guidelines into wider policies. He noted the
establishment of a "wetland restoration mini-website."
Guidelines for Global Action on Peatlands:
Jack Rieley, International Peat Society, introduced the guidelines
for global action on peatlands (COP8 DR 17), which seek to achieve
international recognition of peatlands’ importance and facilitate
partnerships and cooperation. Noting that peatlands are
under-represented in the Ramsar List of Wetlands, he stressed their
cultural and socio-economic values, and barriers to their
sustainable and wise use, including drainage, agriculture, forestry,
and nature conservation. BOLIVIA noted difficulties in gathering
Invasive Species: Geoffrey Howard, IUCN,
discussed invasive species and wetlands, highlighting the particular
threats posed by invasive species, and introducing the draft
resolution (COP8 DR 18).
REGIONAL GROUPS: Africa: Delegates endorsed
guidelines for management planning and for global action on
peatlands. They approved the San José Record resolution with various
amendments, including: deletion of preambular text stating that
"appropriate and exemplary management is not necessarily costly";
and agreement on listing sites for six years. The group endorsed
principles and guidelines for wetland restoration, with added
references to the WSSD’s Plan of Implementation. Regarding
the draft resolution on invasive species, delegates opposed
reference to the CBD Biosafety Protocol, and endorsed the resolution
without amendment. Some delegates requested clarification on the
different positions taken in the contact group.
The Americas: The group reaffirmed its
opposition to the San José Record, and welcomed a US proposal to
investigate an alternative mechanism to link the resolution’s
concepts with the CEPA focal points. Regarding guidelines on
peatlands, BRAZIL suggested that the coordinating committee be
regionally-balanced and composed of government representatives. On
the draft resolution on invasive species, the US supported an IUCN
compromise proposal on reference to the CBD. BOLIVIA proposed
recognition of the potential importance of invasive species for the
livelihoods of local populations.
Asia and Oceania: The Group endorsed the
draft resolution on wetland management planning. On the San José
Record, delegates supported a three-year review process and opposed
restricting the nomination procedure. On guidelines for wetland
restoration, delegates discussed the need to pay particular
attention to peatlands. Regarding guidelines on peatlands, delegates
agreed to delete a reference to the Kyoto Protocol, and added
language on the Joint Work Plan on Peatlands, wetland restoration,
limits on actions relating to national capacities, and
extrabudgetary funding for the proposed coordinating committee. On
the draft resolution on invasive species, JAPAN opposed establishing
a new STRP task to compile guidance on this issue.
Europe: On new guidelines for management
planning, delegates proposed language in the annex on integrating
Ramsar site management plans at all levels to ensure public
participation and local ownership. COASTWATCH proposed language on
compensatory measures for adverse effects.
On invasive species, ECOLOGISTAS EN ACCION
proposed examining the consequences of water transfer. The EU
proposed adding reference to CBD decision VI/23 on invasive species
guidelines. WWF proposed language on regulating the importation of
live species for aquaculture and aquarium trade.
TECHNICAL SESSION ON CULTURE AND WETLANDS
The Technical Session on cultural aspects of
wetlands as a tool for their conservation and sustainable use began
with panel presentations, and continued with regionally-based
discussions. The Session was chaired by Clayton Rubec, Environment
PRESENTATIONS: Different perspectives on culture
and wetlands: Maria José Viñals, SEHUMED-Universidad de
Valencia, delivered an audio-visual presentation outlining different
perspectives on cultural heritage of wetlands.
Guiding principles on the cultural aspects of
wetlands: Thymio Papayannis, Special Advisor to the Ramsar
Secretary General, presented an information paper and the draft
resolution on guiding principles on the cultural aspects of wetlands
(COP8 DOC.15 and DR 19), stressing that the resolution is a source
of ideas and advice rather than a constraint.
Many delegates endorsed the resolution. SPAIN and
DENMARK highlighted the value of hunting. NGOs called for
recognition of indigenous peoples’ cultural rights. UNESCO welcomed
joint activities with Ramsar to improve the conservation of cultural
and biological diversity, and promote a bio-cultural approach to
sustainable development. Deputy Secretary General Davidson reminded
delegates that the Ramsar Convention affirms the cultural value of
wetlands in its preamble.
REGIONAL GROUPS: Africa: Delegates endorsed
the draft resolution on culture and wetlands with a number of
amendments, including a reference to community property rights and
prior informed consent. SOUTH AFRICA urged delegates to make the
link with cultural and socio-economic aspects in the draft
resolution on the Ramsar list (COP8 DR 10 Rev.1). Regarding the
draft resolution on climate change (COP8 DR 3 Rev.1), delegates
supported stronger wording on commitments, and retaining reference
to climate change adaptation and linkages with other organizations.
Delegates endorsed the draft resolution on the New Partnership for
Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (COP8 DR 44) without amendments.
The Americas: On culture and wetlands, the
group suggested making a reference in the preamble to the relevant
COP7 Resolution (COP7 Res.8), which acknowledges the Convention’s
commitment to wetlands’ cultural value. Participants called for
consistency of terminology with other international instruments and
considered the use of the terms "cultural aspects" and "cultural
values." They agreed that regional representatives should establish
regional working groups while national groups should be established
by Contracting Parties.
Asia and Oceania: Regarding the draft
resolution on culture and wetlands, delegates deleted language on
wetlands as a resource for tourism and recreational activities, and
suggested amendments on: synergies with other MEAs; reporting
requirements pursuant to the resolution; and avoidance of
trade-related concerns in reference to quality labels. They agreed
to text encouraging Parties to "consider," instead of "adopt and
use," the guiding principles. PAKISTAN suggested recognizing
indigenous peoples’ role. AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND proposed
deleting text on the contribution of traditional activities to
wetland conservation and wise use, or specifying that these
activities should "be consistent with the WTO requirements."
MALAYSIA and the PHILIPPINES opposed references to the WTO, and the
text remained bracketed.
Europe: On the contribution of knowledge of
past wetland management practices to wetland conservation, some
delegates proposed language stating that the practices should be
traditional. NORWAY advocated using the term indigenous peoples, and
a number of delegates supported referring to cultural values rather
than cultural aspects. SPAIN proposed taking into account customary
laws when considering the systematic compilation and assessment of
cultural elements. WWF added language on stakeholder involvement in
planning, management and monitoring activities. ALBANIA proposed
recognizing the need to protect the wetland archeological heritage.
SWEDEN suggested adding the mobilization of necessary resources to
the list of guiding principles.
FINANCE: Ramsar Secretary General Delmar
Blasco introduced a revised draft budget for 2003-2005, including a
4% annual budget increase and decreases in several budget lines,
including regional initiatives. While many Parties supported this
budget, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION expressed concern that the increase
was too high. BELGIUM, COLOMBIA and SWITZERLAND lamented the absence
of funding for regional initiatives other than MedWet. Delegates
agreed to allocate extra annual savings to COP-related costs, and
endorsed the revised budget. They also sought further information on
the proposed Endowment Fund.
STRATEGIC PLAN AND WORK PLAN: The Committee
on the Strategic Plan and Work Plan completed its work, having
approved amendments to the Strategic Plan (COP8 DR 25 Rev.1) and
Work Plan (COP8 DR 26) that were required in view of the decision to
eliminate the global priorities and move the targets to an annex.
Revised draft resolutions are expected on Saturday.
AGRICULTURE: Delegates were unable to agree
on Brazilï¿½s proposed language specifying trade-related agreements
with respect to ensuring consistency of agricultural policies with
international agreements. Text on the positive impacts of
agricultural practices on wetland ecosystems also remained
bracketed. However, delegates accepted Ugandaï¿½s proposals relating
to: dependence of the poor, particularly women, on wetlands;
dependence of local communities on wetland resources, particularly
as it relates to small-scale agriculture; and consideration of
wetland tenure systems and user rights when reviewing land tenure
policies. Brazil expressed its concerns over the resolution as it is
CLIMATE CHANGE: Despite extensive discussions
on the draft resolution (COP8 DR 3), no decision was taken on
whether to retain the annex or delete it and insert an executive
summary in the accompanying Information Paper instead (COP8 DOC.11).
Following the Contact Group meeting, a revised draft resolution was
circulated on Friday afternoon (COP8 DR 3 Rev.1).
SAN JOSE RECORD: Parties agreed that the
Record should focus on "effective management examples and
demonstration practices" rather than on well-managed Ramsar sites.
The resolution will be amended accordingly, including the title,
which will now read: "San Josï¿½ Record for the promotion of
IN THE CORRIDORS
Delegates emerging from Fridayï¿½s Finance
Committee meeting seemed satisfied after reaching a compromise on
the budget. Meanwhile, the Strategic Plan and Work Plan Committee
also successfully completed its work.
Elsewhere the news was less positive. A
compromise proposal on invasive species generated some support, but
with the EU apparently holding out for stronger language, a deal on
the resolution remains elusive. References to trade in the
resolution on agriculture remain bracketed. And there were also
rumors that a few Parties remain bitterly opposed to the current
resolution on the World Dams Commission. In spite of this, several
observers were quick to point out that negotiators still have
several days to complete their work.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: A Plenary session will begin at 9:30
am to hear the report of the Credentials Committee, and briefings on
progress in the Committees on Finance, Future COPs, and the
Strategic Plan and Work Plan. In the afternoon, delegates will
consider reports and recommendations from the Technical Sessions,
and the modus operandi of the STRP.