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Ramsar STRP Agrees on Draft Work Plan for 2013-2015

1 March 2013: The newly-appointed Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) held its 17th meeting (STRP 17) from 25 February-1 March 2013, in Gland, Switzerland, during which members established a draft work plan for the 2013-2015 triennium.

The STRP is the subsidiary body of the Ramsar Convention charged with providing scientific and technical advice to its Contracting Parties, Secretariat and Standing Committee.

During the meeting, STRP members began further developing the themes and tasks requested by the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11), through the creation of a number of thematic working groups. The Panel defined several priority tasks, based on the needs communicated by Contracting Parties in the different Ramsar regions, which relate to: capacity building and knowledge sharing; economics of wetland ecosystem benefits/services; the Revised Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS); water and wetlands; changes in ecological character of Ramsar sites; and climate change, poverty eradication and invasive species.

On the assessment and support to the capacity building and knowledge sharing needs of parties in implementing the Convention, the draft work plan would have the STRP: assist with the interpretation and implementation of scientific and technical guidance and other materials, for example by engaging parties, where possible, in testing and reviewing these materials; and expand the utility of products available to parties by building a collection of more dynamic and accessible learning materials, such as webcasts, videos and interviews.

On the economics of wetland ecosystem benefits/services, the draft work plan would have the STRP: conduct a survey of parties and Ramsar Site managers on the tools and information required to support integration of ecosystem services values in planning and decision making; and develop a guide to available guidance on best practices for integrating ecosystem services/benefits within the different phases of wetland management.

On the implementation of the Revised Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS), the STRP would provide advice to the Secretariat in the process of helping Contracting Parties implement the 2012 revised version of the RIS.

On the theme "Ramsar, water and wetlands," the draft work plan would have the Panel review and develop a strategy for engaging in the global water debate, providing input to the preparation of the next Ramsar Strategic Plan.

The draft work plan would also have the STRP develop further guidance on standardized terminology regarding issues under Article 3.2 of the Convention, on detecting, reporting and responding to change in ecological character of Ramsar Sites.

On climate change and wetlands, the Panel would review and advise parties on relevant decisions adopted by the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

On poverty eradication, the STRP would provide guidance for policy makers on mainstreaming the “Integrated Framework for linking wetland conservation and wise use with poverty eradication” into international and national policies and programmes for poverty eradication, and develop case studies on the application of the Framework for assessing poverty in association with wetlands wise use.

The draft work plan would have the STRP develop a guide to assist parties on invasive species and wetlands.

The work plan is expected to be approved by the Standing Committee (SC) in April 2013. According to the Ramsar Secretariat, the STRP anticipates advancing a number of tasks through workshops, possibly in China and the Republic of Korea. [IISD RS Sources] [STRP Website]