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Ramsar Convention Releases Report of STRP 16

2 May 2011: The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Secretariat) has released the report of the 16th meeting of the Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), which took place in Gland, Switzerland, from 14-18 February 2011.

During the meeting, the Panel discussed 12 agenda items, including: the review of the expected products of the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) and timelines for their finalization; the STRP Chair's report to COP 11 and Draft Resolution on the STRP's future scientific and technical priorities; wetlands and poverty eradication; a revised Ramsar Information Sheet and Strategic Framework and Guidelines for the future development of the List of Wetlands of International Importance; a framework and guidance for avoiding, mitigating, and compensating wetland losses; additional guidance on describing the ecological character of wetlands; overarching principles for urban planning and wetlands; a practical guide and manual for managing wetlands and wildlife diseases; the State of the world's wetlands and their services to people; review and proposals for updating and expansion of guidance on wetland restoration; overview of the outcomes of the fourth meeting of the Chairs of the Subsidiary and Advisory Bodies of the biodiversity-related Conventions and discussion of collaboration across the multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) in relation to ecosystem restoration; wetland inventory, assessment, monitoring and reporting (including indicators); update on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a possible information note to the Standing Committee and the COP, and future STRP tasks associated with IPBES; the outcomes of the 10th session of the COP to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); wetlands and extractive industries; wetlands and the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB); and wetlands and disaster risk reduction.

In addition, the Panel discussed energy and climate change issues. On wetlands and energy issues, the STRP Chair explained that the STRP is preparing sectoral guidance to help Parties better interface with other sectors whose activities affect wetlands. In explaining the nature of the guidance being prepared, she noted that it is time to better define the STRP's role and how it works on the interface of these sectors to assist Parties, without being prescriptive. She noted that, given experience with the discussions at COP 10 on Resolution X.26 (extractive industries), the draft resolution on energy sector issues also was likely to generate much discussion among Parties and could be contentious at COP 11.

In its final decision, the Panel endorsed the general structure and approach of the energy sector review report and recognized that only a few additional inputs are needed before the draft report is circulated to the reference group for peer review; and endorsed the finalization of a draft resolution and annexed guidance for transmission to the 43rd meeting of the Standing Committee.

On wetlands and climate change, in Decision STRP 16-13, the Panel agreed to prepare a COP 11 draft resolution on climate change for submission to the 43rd meeting of the Standing Committee, covering the specific issues covered by the background technical reports, to be titled “Wetlands and climate change – updated issues and considerations for the Ramsar Convention,” and accompanied by a COP 11 Information Paper providing summaries and key messages of these reports, including the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the work on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation  in developing countries, as well as conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks).

The Panel further recognized the need to take a more strategic approach to cross-cutting climate change issues in its programme, and requested Max Finlayson, wetlands and climate change STRP expert member, to address this in preparing proposals for any climate change work in the next triennium, for inclusion in the COP 11 draft resolution on future scientific and technical priorities. In Decision STRP16-28, the Panel requested that the STRP's teams on climate change and Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness (CEPA) prepare an online questionnaire to assess Parties' priorities and needs for guidance related to climate change, with results to be made available to COP 11 regional preparatory meetings. [Report of the 16th Meeting of the Scientific & Technical Review Panel (STRP)]