Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE, receiving the Ramsar flag from Jorge Rucks, Vice Minister of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment, Uruguay
On Monday evening , 22 October, following a welcome reception, COP13 opened under the theme, "Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future" in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
During opening ceremonies, Uruguay, the COP12 host country, handed over the ceremonial Ramsar flag to UAE, transferring the COP Presidency for the next triennium.
Delegates heard opening remarks from Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE, and Jorge Rucks, Chair of the Standing Committee. Additional speakers welcomed delegates, considered the Ramsar Convention in the international context, and highlighted wetlands protection and restoration efforts in the UAE.
A video presentation illustrated the rich diversity of life in protected UAE wetlands.
The evening closed with the Ramsar Awards Ceremony, which recognized: Fundación Global Nature, Spain, for wise use of wetlands; and Youth Climate Action Network of Samoa, for young wetlands champions. Ma Guangren, China, received a Merit award for lifetime achievement in wetlands conservation and restoration projects in China and Asia. Danone was recognized for its 20 years of commitment to conservation and sustainable management of wetlands of international importance.
Regional meetings took place earlier in the day and a midday special event, “UN Ocean Conference Community of Ocean Action on Mangroves: Progress and Opportunities,” highlighted the critical role of mangrove ecosystems for coastal and ocean resilience.
Key takeaways from the first day included:
a strong emphasis on links between the Ramsar Convention and other international multilateral agreements, especially the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals;
a sense that urgent action is needed at all levels; and
recognition for those individuals and groups making a difference in wetlands protection and restoration.
For a brief history of the Ramsar convention and more details on opening ceremonies, see our curtain raiser.
IISD Reporting Services, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, has provided a curtain raiser, daily web coverage, and a summary and analysis report from COP13.
Jorge Rucks, Vice Minister of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment, Uruguay
Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE
Dawoud Al Hajiri, Dubai Municipality
Razan Al Mubarak, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi
Stewart Maginnis, IUCN
Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Ocean
Martha Rojas Urrego, Ramsar Secretary General
Elizabeth Mrema, UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
Jane Madgwick, Wetlands International
Florence Fontani, Engie
Video presentation on protected wetlands of the UAE
L-R: Facundo Etchebehere, Danone; Cosme Morillo, Fundación Global Nature, Spain; Jorge Rucks, Vice Minister of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment, Uruguay; Samantha Kwan, Youth Climate Action Network, Samoa; Martha Rojas Urrego, Ramsar Secretary General; and Ma Guangren, Director General, China Wetland Conservation Association
L-R: Jorge Rucks, Vice Minister of Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment, Uruguay; and Facundo Etchebehere, Danone
Special Event: UN Conference Community of Ocean Action on Mangroves
L-R: Elizabeth Mrema, UNEP; Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Ocean;Martha Rojas Urrego, Ramsar Secretary General; and Stewart Maginnis, IUCN
Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Ocean; and Martha Rojas Urrego, Ramsar Secretary General
Elizabeth Mrema, UNEP
Stewart Maginnis, IUCN
Ana Paula Leite Prates, Brazil
Mark Taylor, Australia
Carolina Montalván, Ramsar Regional Initiative of Mangroves and Coral Reefs
Ahmed Senhoury, Regional Partnership for Marine and Coastal Conservation in West Africa (PRCM)
Michael Löfroth, Sweden
Sandeep Singh, Fiji
View of the room from the perspective of the dais
L-R: Diane Klaimi, UNEP; Martha Rojas Urrego, Ramsar Secretary General; Elizabeth Mrema, UNEP; and Katharina Rogalla von Bieberstein, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC)
WATER-L - A News and announcement List on Water Policy Issues
SDG - A Mailing List for News on Sustainable Development Policy
SDG Update Newsletter - A compilation of news, commentary and upcoming events published on the SDG Knowledge Hub
SDG Knowledge Hub - An Online Resource Center for News and Commentary Regarding the Implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Linkages Update - International Environment and Sustainable Development News