Olomouc, in Czech Republic, hosted the last of the preCOP meetings of the Ramsar convention on wetlands, the European one. While outside of the meeting room the temperatures sank below zero, inside the room the participants got into heated discussions on the future of the structure of the conventions’ organs, with two proposals presented in parallel, one by Switzerland and another one by the Standing Committee. Despite differences on the proposals, and disagreements regarding procedures, the main feeling was shared: Ramsar needs some changes to keep up with the pace of the times and deliver its maximum potential for the conservation of wetlands.
The link with other conventions was repeatedly mentioned in several draft resolutions – cultural values and climate change, polar and subpolar wetlands, coastal blue carbon, cultural values and climate change, intertidal wetlands, urbanisation, turtles… – as is the need to remind of the value of wetlands to achieve Paris and Aichi agreements or the sustainable development goals. The role of Ramsar Advisory Missions was another corner stone, and the Resolution on RAM if finally strong, has a great potential to take the best out of them.
Another shared feeling is the need to improve the exchange of information between science and managers. Here regional initiatives, such as MedWet, or the NGOs were presented as good pools to share. The MedIsWet project, is a good example, right now developed by several NGOs together with MedWet and Tour du Valat, led by WWF, to make an inventory the wetlands of the Mediterranean islands, implementing a resolution from the previous COP. It was linked to a new DR on small wetlands presented by China. With both resolutions one thing is clear: small wetlands conservation remains a big challenge, but there are tools and experiences that show there is still hope for them.
Several DRs put on the table the relevance of wetlands for peace, and there seems to be agreement to merge them. DR on rapid assessment on ecosystem services was subject of discussion, and the need to align it with existing listings of ecosystem services, such as those of UN or the EU was requested, as well as eliminating some activities that, when developed, involve the destruction of wetlands or of their correct function, such as dumping, peat extraction or hydropower.
Being a European meeting, European regulations and policies floated in the air cross-cutting many discussions. There is work to do, both by the secretariat but also, and mainly, for contracting parties to ensure that the discussions now taking place regarding the review of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the upcoming review of the Common Agricultural Policy contribute to the protection and good management of wetlands, and do not lead to their destruction. Re. WFD, it was agreed that it is not developing its full potential for wetlands as countries are not being ambitious enough on its implementation, and watering it down would have a negative impact on wetlands.
There was also time for more relaxed conversations in the field trips or the dinner at the Archibishop’s palace of Olomuc. Time for watching great videos on European wetlands and to share knowledge of several projects for wetlands presenting posters, including the one in the WWN/SWS/WWT international survey on the status of wetlands. The corner of Mediterranean products, brought by the MedIsWet partners, was a clear win-win for all the participants, in which we toasted for the team work in the future of wetlands.
For more information about 9th European Ramsar Meeting please you can download through the link provided below:
– all presentations shown during the Meeting in the Czech Republic last week,
– all “introductions” to the 18 interactive sessions (numbered according to the session number, cf. the attached Agenda) and
– the “conclusions” presented from each interactive session:
Please download the documents of interest to you: use them for your preparation to report on a specific DR during Standing Committee 54 (23-27 April 2018, if you plan to attend), or for your own preparation for COP13 (21-29 October 2018).
World Wetland Network (WWN)