ramsar_cop129 June 2015: The 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP 12) agreed on four strategic priorities that link the wise use of wetlands to solving pressing issues, such as climate change and food and water security. Noting the loss of 64% of global wetlands since 1900, the final declaration calls for strengthening partnerships “beyond those responsible for the operation and maintenance of Ramsar Sites and important wetlands,” to enhance the Convention’s implementation.

In total, COP 12 delegates adopted 16 resolutions, including the ‘Declaration of Punta del Este’ that aims to enhance the visibility of the Convention, demonstrate parties’ strong commitment to the new Strategic Plan for 2016-2021, and underline the relationship between wetlands and other global environmental issues.

In a resolution agreeing to restructure the Convention’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), COP 12 delegates note the Panel’s role in, among other areas, providing guidance on wetland monitoring methodologies and tools, and undertaking economic and non-economic valuations of wetland goods and services. They further call for exploring modalities to upgrade the ‘State of the World’s Wetlands and their Services to People’ as a periodic flagship report of the Convention.

COP 12 also approved a proposal by the Republic of Korea and Tunisia aimed at boosting local government leadership in wetland conservation and management. The final resolution outlines criteria and a procedure for accrediting cities located close to Ramsar Sites and/or other significant wetlands, to be labelled as “Wetlands City Accreditation of the Ramsar Convention,” and instructs the Secretariat to develop a global online network of accredited cities.

Several resolutions reaffirm the linkages between Ramsar and other international environmental agreements. Building on a statement by the Nordic Council of Ministers of the Environment on the role of peatlands in climate regulation and wise use, COP 12 encourages parties to inter alia: consider, as appropriate, limiting activities that lead to drainage of peatlands; designate at least one peatland area as a Wetland of International Importance; and utilize national and regional inventories to determine peatlands’ contribution to carbon sequestration. On ensuring water requirements of wetlands, based on a submission by Mexico, COP 12 calls for the integration of water protection into national policies to allow for synergies between international commitments, national agencies and related initiatives.

COP 12 also adopted a resolution on disaster risk reduction (DRR), submitted by the Philippines, calling for a range of interventions to integrate wetland-based DRR within national and international policy making and requesting the STRP to review and compile existing guidance on ecosystem-based adaptation measures, and develop appropriate indicators and baseline information. Delegates also adopted a final resolution underscoring the need for enhanced monitoring of Ramsar Sites in zones of armed conflict. It calls on the Secretariat to investigate the potential value and feasibility of gathering satellite data on changes to Ramsar Sites.

Over 800 delegates from 160 countries participated in COP 12, which took place from 2-9 June 2015, in Punta del Este, Uruguay, under the theme ‘Wetlands for our Future.’ [Ramsar Press Release: Declaration of Punta del Este] [IISD RS Summary and Analysis of COP 12] [ICLEI Press Release] [Natural Resources Policy & Practice Story on “Dramatic Loss” of Global Wetlands] [Ramsar Press Release: Nordic Governments Call for Stronger Peatlands Protection] [COP 12 Meeting Website] [IISD RS Coverage of Ramsar COP 12]