Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ramsar Convention to remain at IUCN

13 July 2012, Bucharest, Romania - DR1 was the buzz word during the 11th Conference of the Parties on the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the issue being ‘Draft Resolution One – Institutional hosting of the Ramsar Secretariat.’  After much deliberation and negotiation during the 11th Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, a consensus was agreed.
“The Conference of the Contracting Parties decides to renew its confidence to IUCN and continue its hosting arrangement for the Ramsar Secretariat”
In continuing to do so, the Ramsar Standing Committee, through a working group of contracting parties will explore; the accommodation of UN languages into the Convention; elevation of Ramsar visibility and stature including enhancing high level political engagement in the work of the convention at national, regional and global level; enhance the synergies between the Ramsar Convention and other multi-lateral environment agreements (MEA's); increased involvement of Ramsar in UNEP’s initiatives and programs regarding biodiversity-related MEAs to  enhance cooperation and synergies between the Ramsar Convention and UNEP.

Nicola Scott, NZ Delegation
“It has been a hard week and I think that we were on tender hooks right until the end of the meeting there were a number of items that were extremely controversial,” said Nicola Scott, head of the New Zealand delegation.

“Right up until the 99th hour we didn’t see how we were going to get though and find concensus but we did, the positive thing is that the meeting did not come to a formal vote on the hosting procedures.”

The majority of the Pacific parties to the Convention preferred to keep the status quo, keeping the Ramsar Secretariat hosted  by  IUCN.

The spirit of Ramsar is concensus, that contracting parties negotiate until they come to an agreement instead of formal voting to make decisions.  In the history of the Ramsar Convention, the contracting parties have never had to make a formal vote to come to an agreement.

Photo courtesy of Diane Klaimi, UNEP
While there is some work ahead to strengthen the Ramsar Convention, for the Oceania region it is hoped that there will be new contracting parties from the Pacific by the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention.  Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu are in the process of becoming contracting parties with support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“I think there were some very good outcomes for all out of this COP.  The issue of Insitutional hosting, while an important one, took up too much time and diverted attention away from the core business of the Convention – the conservation and wise use of wetlands,” said Vainuupo Jungblut, Ramsar Officer Oceania.

”Nevetherless, I am quite satisfied with the outcomes and am thankful that Ramsar’s spirit of consensus has prevailed once again, given those hard issues that were deliberated upon. With further Pacific Countries joining the Convention very soon, I look forward to having an even stronger Oceania delegation and voice at COP12 in Uruguay.”

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