Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 17 No. 17
Tuesday, 26 November 2002
RAMSAR COP8 HIGHLIGHTS
MONDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2002
Delegates met in Plenary to begin finalizing and
adopting some of the numerous resolutions on the agenda, completing
their work on 21 of these. Contact groups were held to help
delegates reach agreement on the remaining contentious issues,
including agriculture, climate change, culture, future COPs, the
Strategic Framework, and the World Commission on Dams (WCD).
FUTURE COPS: Regarding the draft resolution
on the operation of future COPs (COP8 DR 45), SOUTH AFRICA suggested
that COP9 amend the rules of procedure following a review of the
process for adopting resolutions, and stressed the need for clear
criteria for categorizing resolutions as technical or other types.
BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL suggested deleting language specifying that a
review of effectiveness should be of a general nature rather than
focusing on a country-by-country basis. A contact group on this
resolution was established.
WETLAND INVENTORY: On the resolution on a
Ramsar Framework for wetland inventory (COP8 DR 6 Rev.1), delegates
agreed to a proposal by JAPAN requesting Parties to give priority to
wetlands inventory projects for submission to the Small Grants Fund.
The COP adopted the resolution, as amended.
STATUS AND TRENDS: Regarding the draft
resolution on assessing and reporting status and trends (COP8 DR 8
Rev.1), the COP adopted BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL’s proposed deletion
of text indicating how information on change is to be acquired.
Delegates also agreed to delete explicit reference to indirect
human-induced adverse change in the instructions on content of
reports, and adopted the resolution as amended.
UNDER-REPRESENTED WETLANDS: In the draft
resolution on under-represented wetlands (COP8 DR 11 Rev.1),
references were added to sandflats in the section on mangroves and
to sustainability of commercial exploitation. Following
consultations involving Norway, Australia and the UK, delegates
agreed that the resolution should not focus solely on warm water
MOUNTAIN WETLANDS: On the draft resolution
addressing the wise use and conservation of mountain wetlands (COP8
DR 12 Rev.1), delegates agreed to, inter alia: remove
reference to arid and semi-arid areas in relation to biogeographical
islands; reflect the fact that some communities and species are
endangered; and delete qualifying language when discussing endemic
communities and species. Following the addition of several minor
amendments, the resolution was adopted.
WETLAND RESTORATION: Delegates adopted the
principles and guidelines for wetland restoration (COP8 DR 16), with
added reference to relevant paragraphs from the WSSD’s Plan of
MANAGEMENT PLANNING: Delegates adopted the
resolution on new guidelines for management planning for Ramsar
sites and other wetlands (COP8 DR 14 Rev.1), after deleting language
on reporting under the terms of Article 3.2 (information on changes
in wetlands’ ecological character).
PEATLANDS: On guidelines for Global Action on
Peatlands (COP8 DR 17 Rev.1), delegates agreed to Canada’s
suggestions relating to the proposed Coordinating Committee,
including deleting a reference to extra-budgetary resources and
reflecting the fact that invited partner organizations would be
included in the Committee. Delegates also agreed to address the
issue of mires in a footnote. The COP then adopted the resolution,
FINANCIAL AND BUDGETARY MATTERS: Commenting
on the resolution on financial and budgetary matters (COP8 DR 27
Rev.1), the RUSSIAN FEDERATION stressed that, in the interest of
consensus, it would not put the resolution to a vote, in spite of
its disagreement with the annual budget increases. SPAIN, on behalf
of the EU, expressed satisfaction with the revised budget. The COP
adopted the resolution without amendment.
MANGROVES: Regarding the draft resolution on
mangroves (COP8 DR 32 Rev.1), the PHILIPPINES supported the
resolution and the inclusion of language on sustainable use of
mangrove resources. WWF commended inclusion of, inter alia,
unsustainable aquaculture as a major threat. GREENPEACE proposed
text requesting Parties to reject projects in coastal areas that
would negatively impact mangroves. The resolution was adopted
without this amendment.
COMMUNICATION, EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AWARENESS:
On communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) (COP8 DR
31 Rev.1), the COP agreed to a proposal by JAPAN to include text
noting that the proposed CEPA expert working group’s activities
should begin when resources permit. The resolution was adopted, as
STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK: Regarding the draft
resolution on the Strategic framework (COP8 DR 10 Rev.2), COP8
Rapporteur Tim Jones reported that the contact group had agreed to
withdraw the African proposals and amend the text to express
appreciation to Ramsar’s International Organization Partners and
other partners. However, differences remained on the issue of
socio-economic and cultural criteria. DENMARK proposed referring to
"relevant features, other than those of an ecological character, as
listed in Annex I of the CBD" rather than to socio-economic and
cultural criteria. JAPAN suggested referring to "guidelines" rather
than "criteria." Ramsar Secretary General Blasco urged Parties to
bring the Convention in line with other multilateral environmental
agreements (MEAs) and consider the consequences of continued
resistance to change. Following consultations, AUSTRALIA proposed
text on "additional guidance…to support existing criteria and
guidelines." This proposal will be discussed on Tuesday along with
other matters related to the draft resolution.
TEMPORARY POOLS: Regarding the resolution on
temporary pools (COP8 DR 33 Rev.1), the COP agreed to amendments
proposed by the US on the importance to wetlands conservation of
voluntary actions by informed citizens, and by BOLIVIA on the
importance of temporary pools as nesting places for waterfowl.
Parties then adopted the resolution, as amended.
OTHER RESOLUTIONS: Delegates considered and
adopted, with a minor revision, the draft resolution on wetland
issues and integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) (COP8 DR 4
Rev.1), while the resolution on guidelines for incorporation of
biodiversity issues (COP8 DR 9 Rev.1) was approved after the
correction of several drafting errors.
The COP also adopted draft resolutions on:
partnerships and synergies (COP8 DR 5 Rev.1); Ramsar guidance on
wetland ecological character, inventory, assessment, and monitoring
(COP8 DR 7 Rev.1); guidance for interpreting "urgent national
interests" (COP8 DR 20); defining Ramsar site boundaries more
accurately (COP8 DR 21); Ramsar sites that cease to fulfil or have
never fulfilled the criteria for designation as wetlands of
international importance (COP8 DR 22 Rev.1); incentive measures as
tools for achieving the wise use of wetlands (COP8 DR 23); enhancing
compliance with multilateral environmental agreements and national
enforcement (COP8 DR 24 Rev.1); and the modus operandi of the
STRP (COP8 DR 28 Rev.1).
Delegates also adopted resolutions on evaluating
the Small Grants Fund and establishing a Ramsar Endowment Fund (COP8
DR 29 Rev.1), and on regional initiatives for further implementation
of the Convention (COP8 DR 30 Rev.1).
AGRICULTURE: The Contact Group continued its
work on the draft resolution (COP8 DR 34 Rev.1), debating whether to
retain two bracketed paragraphs ensuring consistency of agricultural
policies with other international agreements, including trade
agreements. Pending consultations with capitals, they agreed to
include one paragraph in the operational section of the resolution
and to leave discussions on the preambular paragraph to Plenary.
References to other international agreements also remained
bracketed. A paragraph stating that agricultural activity has
created distinctive and characteristic landscapes was also left
bracketed at the request of AUSTRALIA. Delegates agreed to language
on, inter alia: identifying possible subsidies and incentives
when reviewing agricultural policies; and enhancing positive
incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Parties considered a revised
draft resolution (COP8 DR 3 Rev.2), agreeing to replace the annex
with an interim executive summary in the background document (COP8
DOC.11). SOUTH AFRICA, supported by AUSTRIA and BURKINA FASO,
proposed additional text requesting the STRP to continue assessing
new information on climate change and make it available as an
information paper. The US expressed its reservations, and agreed to
consult informally on the issue.
Delegates worked through the text
paragraph-by-paragraph, resolving most of the remaining differences.
Closing the meeting, Contact Group Chair Peter Schei (Norway)
indicated that the two remaining disputed issues would be taken up
CULTURE AND WETLANDS: In an afternoon
meeting, delegates could not agree on AUSTRALIA’s proposal to delete
text on the contribution of traditional activities to wetland
conservation and use, or to add a reference to the WTO. They removed
a reference to the prior informed consent principle, inserting
instead references to the CBD and the World Intellectual Property
Organization. Delegates decided that the resolution should refer to
the knowledge of traditional practices and the practices themselves,
and "take note of," instead of "endorse," the guiding principles.
They also discussed the guiding principles, particularly those
relating to cultural landscapes, traditional production systems and
practices related to wetlands. MEXICO stressed difficulties with
references to "managing cultural values."
After reconvening in the evening, delegates
agreed to text recognizing that sustainable use of wetland resources
has created cultural landscapes of significant value to wetland
conservation, deleting language referring to the contributions to
conservation by maintaining wetlands and "wise use." Delegates also
agreed to text encouraging Parties to consider using the Guiding
principles to take into account "exclusively" the conservation of
cultural values of wetlands. The Group agreed to accept the
principles, and concluded its work.
FUTURE COPS: The Contact Group refined the
draft resolution on operation and effectiveness of future COPs (COP8
DR 45), agreeing that the Standing Committee would not have to
classify resolutions that do not easily fit into one of the listed
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK:
African delegates agreed to withdraw the regionï¿½s proposal for
extensive changes to the draft resolution (COP8 DR 10 Rev.2). The
Group adopted WWFï¿½s proposal to extend appreciation to additional
International Partner Organizations, and discussed inclusion of
socio-economic and cultural criteria in designation of Ramsar sites.
WATER AND THE WCD: Regarding the draft
resolution on the Report of the WCD (COP8 DR 2 Rev.1), the Group
agreed to insert a paragraph on reviewing resolutions on water
allocation management and on the WCD report and preparing further
guidance for COP9. They also decided to delete a quote from the
WCDï¿½s report that refers to damsï¿½ contributions to human development
and their social and environmental impacts. In addition, Parties
deleted remaining brackets around paragraphs on, inter alia:
using all available information, including WCDï¿½s information, for
managing and assessing damsï¿½ impacts; and systematically
implementing environmental flow assessments to mitigate large damsï¿½
socio-economic and environmental impacts. A representative of the
Convention on Migratory Species requested that a paragraph be
inserted on damsï¿½ impacts on migratory species and river dolphins.
Regarding the guidelines for water allocation and
management (COP8 DR 1 Rev.1), delegates, inter alia: accepted
all amendments proposed by the regional groups; rejected referring
to "water as a commodity" instead of "water resources"; and agreed
to refer to "conflict resolution" instead of "conflict resolution
IN THE CORRIDORS
With just one day remaining at COP8, delegates
seemed satisfied with the adoption of roughly half of the
resolutions on their agenda on Monday. However, several participants
were quick to point out that Plenary had yet to stamp its final seal
of approval on the most contentious issues, including invasive
species and agriculture. More than one participant thought
discussions on the San Josï¿½ Record and on future COPs might also
"spring some last minute surprises." In spite of these concerns,
many observers seemed cautiously optimistic that a harmonious
conclusion to COP8 was on the cards.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: Plenary will begin at 9:30 am to
continue adopting the remaining resolutions.