RESOURCE-E.GIF (6856 bytes)
San Jos�, Costa Rica
10-18 May 1999


The Seventh Conference of Contracting Parties (COP7) to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands met in a Plenary session to hear opening statements, present the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards, take care of procedural matters, and hear the reports of the Standing Committee, the Scientific and Technical Review Panel and the Secretary-General, as well as a number of special presentations.
COP7 began with a bang with India�s proposal that, in order to place the Ramsar Convention on par with the post-Rio conventions, it must be amended to include financial and dispute settlement mechanisms, among others. Many delegates seemed to concur that the discussion of the rules of procedure was not the appropriate moment to table this proposal. Others saw this as a strategic move to signal early on that some delegations believe now is the time to give the Convention �teeth� by equipping it with the necessary tools to integrate conservation and wise use of wetlands into the broader context of sustainable development. Yet others expressed doubt that this proposal would be acceptable to all Parties.

Photos and RealAudio from 10 May

Opening Plenary

Delmar Blasco, Secretary-general of the Convention, welcomed delegates, highlighting the importance of COP7 in conducting a detailed review of implementation and remaining challenges, establishing clearly defined objectives for the next three years, and enabling Contracting Parties to achieve progress in the conservation and wise use of wetlands (excerpts from his welcoming address)
Jonathon A. Kusi, Director of UNESCO�s Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs, UNESCO, highlighted the Convention�s progress and Ramsar�s working relations with the World Heritage Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). He noted that the Ramsar Secretariat and World Heritage Centre would sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at COP7 aimed at enhancing cooperation.
Maritta R. Von Bieberstein Koch-Weser, Director General of IUCN, spoke on behalf of the four international NGO partners of the Convention. Regarding water management, availability and access, she stressed that engineering solutions alone are ineffective and underscored the need for better �nature-made� options (excerpts from her speech)
Secretary-general Blasco presented the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards to the following individuals and consortia: Professor Vitaly G. Krivenko (Russian Federation, shown here); Victor Pulido (Peru); the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association (Kenya); the Society for the Protection of Prespa (Greece); and the Pacific Estuary Conservation Program (Canada)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez, President of Costa Rica, highlighted Costa Rica�s efforts to implement fiscal incentives to encourage mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and conservation of forests, water resources and biodiversity. He stated that the notion that economic growth is incompatible with environmental protection is no longer widely held (excerpts of the President's speech)
Delegates elected Elizabeth Odio Benito (Costa Rica) as President of COP7
Delegates viewed slides of �Water Seen from Space�, a presentation that highlighted other possible sources of water in our solar system
The Trombone Quartet of Costa Rica played the national anthem and two Costa Rican compositions during the Opening Plenary
Lord Enniskillen, Chair of the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association, summarized the consensus-building approach used to develop Lake Naivasha�s management plan and recommended the promotion of, inter alia: local community and private ownership of resources; public education; the polluter pays principle; and family planning (excepts of the keynote address)
View of the dias during the Opening Plenary

Miscellaneous photos

A number of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples' organizations, including OilWatch, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Indigenous People's Alliance for Biodiversity held a colorful demonstration outside of the conference center, calling for a moratorium on shrimp aquaculture in mangroves, swamps and estuaries. They also protested the equally damaging effects of large dams, mining and oil extraction not just on wetland ecosystems, but on the very cultural survival of indigenous and local communities.

Back to ENB's Ramsar COP7 home page

Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.