ramsar-sprep18 August 2014: Wetlands play a critical role in sustaining island biodiversity and livelihoods, according to participants at the sixth Oceania Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar). Participants also discussed priority areas for Ramsar’s new Strategic Plan, which will provide a framework for future action for Ramsar and the world’s wetlands from 2016.

Eight Pacific countries are parties to the Ramsar Convention: Australia; Fiji; Kiribati; Marshall Islands; New Zealand; Samoa; Palau; and Papua New Guinea. Partners from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Nature Fiji, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pacific, Birdlife Pacific and Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas (FLMMA) also attended the meeting.

Wetlands provide essential ecosystem services in the Pacific, such as clean water, which are important for the region’s economic development and well-being, said the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Director-General, David Sheppard, in a statement delivered on his behalf.

The meeting assessed implementation of the Regional Wetlands Action Plan for the Pacific Islands 2011-2013, with a focus on identifying priority areas on which to focus future Ramsar work. The meeting also served as an opportunity for participants to discuss the Pacific’s priorities for Ramsar’s new Strategic Plan, which will be agreed on at Ramsar COP 12. Ramsar’s third Strategic Plan runs from 2009-2016.

The Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention and SPREP organized the meeting, which took place from 18-20 August in Nadi, Fiji, under the theme, ‘Wetlands for our Future.’ The Government of Australia provided financial support for the meeting.

COP 12 will take place Punta del Este, Uruguay, in June 2015. [SPREP Press Release] [Publication: The Ramsar Strategic Plan 2009-2015] [Publication: Regional Wetlands Action Plan for Pacific Islands 2011-2013][Ramsar COP 12 website]