Thursday, July 5, 2012

Conserving Pacific wetlands

4 July 2012, Bucharest, Romania - The future host of the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is a major topic on the agenda at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention.  Currently hosted by IUCN in Gland, Switzerland, a proposal is on the table to have the Ramsar Secretariat hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme.

This was one of two key matters highlighted for the Oceania region, by the Marshall Islands who sat at the roundtable today, representing our region at the 44th meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee.

This committee meets once a year with an additional meeting before and after the Conference of the Parties, whereby it transforms into the Conference Committee for the duration, providing advice and guidance on issues that may arise.

“This is an important issue for our Pacific countries.  UNEP has been active, the conduit between the countries and the Global Environment Facility and then again IUCN also has a strong presence in our region, so that’s an important issue we should pay attention to,” said Olai Uludong, Chief, Coastal and Land Management Division of the Environmental Management Authority of the Marshall Islands and current Oceania representative on the Ramsar Standing Committee.

L - Vainuupo Jungblut SPREP,  Olai Uludong Marshall Islands
"This Draft Resolution will determine the future administration of the Ramsar Secretariat," said Vainuupo Jungblut, the Oceania Ramsar Officer at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“A lot of ground work on the pros and cons for this proposal has been prepared.  My advice would be for the Oceania parties to thoroughly consider the information they have available to them, very carefully before making their final decision on this issue.  This is a huge issue.”

The Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention have varying views on this issue, however if no consensus can be reached on this matter, further deliberations will take place through a sub-committee formed to deliberate this topic.

The second issue was the proposal to have two contracting parties from each region attend the different committees within these negotiations, given the small numbers from the Pacific at this conference, this will also need to be considered if it is possible for delegates from the Oceania region.

The Standing Committee, acting as the conference committee will be meeting on a daily basis during the Conference of the Parties.

The 11th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is from 6 – 13 July.  Pacific contracting parties to the Convention are; Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

Quick tips Ramsar Convention on Wetlands:  What is a Standing Committee?

This Committee normally meets once each year, in addition it meets just before each COP at which time it transforms itself into the Conference Committee for the duration of the COP; and then again on the last day of the COP when the newly elected members choose the incoming executives.

The standing committee consists of 16 regional, two ex officio members from the Ramsar regions as well as eight permanent observers. 

The role of this committee is varied, ranging from canvassing opinions of Contracting Parties in their regional group before the meeting of the Standing Committee to advising the Secretariat in setting the agenda of regional meetings.

The Oceania representative to the Standing Committee is selected on a rotational basis.  All but Fiji and Palau have been members on the Standing Committee.

Read more about the Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

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