Saturday, July 14, 2012

High level segment to be part of Wetlands Conference

Ramsar COP 11 closing plenary

13 July 2012, Bucharest, Romania - The 12th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Conventions in Uruguay could have a high level segment.   ‘Draft Resolution One – Institutional hosting of the Ramsar Secretariat,” which was adopted during the final day of negotiations in Romania, will form a working group under the Standing Committee to look at ways to enhance the visibility of the Ramsar Convention.

This resolution notes the desire of some Parties to incorporate a high level political segment to improve the visibility of the Convention.  It also instructs the working group to explore the -
“Elevation of Ramsar visibility and stature, including inter alia enhancing high level political engagement in the work on the convention at national, regional and global level. The working group will among other possibilities look into a ministerial segment at the COP including topics to be addressed at this level.”
Fiji was one of the Contracting Parties at the Ramsar COP11 that had a cabinet minister as their Head of Delegation, Honourable Col. Timoci Natuva, the Acting Minister of Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment of Fiji.

As the incoming representative to the Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention on behalf of the Oceania region, Fiji will strive to help raise the visibility of wetlands conservation and wise use at the high level.

Fiji delegation at COP11
“We thought we could arrange a regular meeting in the next three years to brief our leaders, with the plan that this raised awareness would bring more commitment to the Ramsar initiative – a regional type of approach which may help widen our group,” said Ms Taina Tagicakabau, the Permanent Secretary  of  the Fiji Ministry of Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment.

Multi-lateral environment agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change often hold a high level segment to their Conferences of the Parties.  The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) holds a high level segment to their annual meetings every two years.

“I think that building high level support for the work of the Convention is a way of increasing its visibility and profile at the national level and at the global level, amongst the other major Multi-lateral Environment Agreements.   A ministerial segment at the next COP may reap benefits for the Convention in the long term,” said Vainuupo Jungblut, Ramsar Officer Oceania.

Fiji has now taken the reigns from the Marshall Islands as the country to represent the Oceania group for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.  Selection of representing countries from the region is on a rotational basis, among other things, the role of the representing country on the Ramsar Standing Committee is to voice concerns from the Oceania region. 

Mr Vainuupo Jungblut, SPREP
“I look forward to working with Fiji as the incoming regional representative for Oceania for the next three years on the Ramsar Standing Committee and also commend the Marshall Islands for their hard work and service over the last triennium,” said Jungblut.   

The Oceania Contracting Parties consist of Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

“I think it’s a really positive grouping and I think that we are getting, the region is getting more and more of a profile at this Conference, but in particular, the Pacific Island countries are working together more and more effectively and having more of a profile at the meeting itself, so it’s all positive,” said Nicola Scott, New Zealand’s Head of Delegation.

The 11th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Romania was held from 6 – 13 July.

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