Сonservation and wise use of wetlands on the regional agenda

Publication date: 13 September 2018
Сonservation and wise use of wetlands on the regional agenda

On September 6,  the second meeting of the Coordination Committee of the Ramsar Regional Initiative for Central Asia (CC RRI-CA) was held in Bishkek. The event was supported by the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic (SAEPF). The acting and nominated new members of the CC RRI-CA, SAEPF staff and independent experts took an active part in the meeting. They discussed and agreed on further joint actions for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands in Central Asia.

In a welcoming speech, SAEPF deputy director Arsen Ryspekov and CC RRI-CA chairman Eldar Rustamov stressed that it was Bishkek, where the proposal for the establishment of the RRI-CA was discussed for the first time in 2015. Participants also underlined the importance of the meeting. There is an urgent need to take measures that will help to solve the issues of wetland protection, which are irreplaceable water resources and biodiversity hotspots in the region. Discussion of the issues raised at the meeting is topical in the present conditions when the Central Asian countries are reviewing and updating their national policy aimed at addressing issues of biodiversity and wetland conservation. In addition, the meeting was held on the eve of the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP-13), which will be held in Dubai on October 21-29, 2018, that will provide a new direction in the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands at the global level.

RRI-CA technical secretary Zhanel Karina presented a report on the activities of the initiative, since its set-up in 2016. She highlighted the main activities, including the implementation of the first project of the RRI-CA, and talked about future opportunities for cooperation. In addition to regular activities to provide annual reports to the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, development of semi-annual newsletters, and conduction of the events dedicated to World Wetland Day, which is celebrated around the world on February 2, CC RRI-CA members are involved in the development of project proposals.

Due to the work on the promotion of the project proposals, the first project of the Initiative, called "Update of the information on the status of wetlands in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan by collection and dissemination of good practices for the conservation and sustainable use of the wetlands by local communities", was realized. The results of the project were presented by RRI-CA Chairman at the meeting.

The changing trends in priorities and approaches of the Ramsar Convention were also presented. The participants got acquainted with the existing initiatives and main directions of the Strategic Plan of the Ramsar Convention for 2017-2021, which are most relevant for the countries of Central Asia. RRI-CA technical secretary presented the titles of the resolutions to be considered by the Conference of the Parties. Within the framework of the event in the UAE for the countries of Central Asia were given the opportunity to hold a side event on the topic “Wetland conservation in Central Asia: challenges, threats and opportunities”. Conduction of this side-event has been approved by the Secretariat and the Organizing Committee.

Presentation of the RRI-CA activities and discussion of wetland conservation in Central Asia on different events is necessary in order to mobilize resources for the implementation of regional projects and further improvement of wetland management in the countries of the region. RRI-CA participated in the regional seminar "Potential sites of Central Asia for the UNESCO World Heritage List", where it was emphasized that currently only one wetland "Saryarka: steppes and lakes of Northern Kazakhstan" is included in the list. The results of the RRI-CA project were presented at the international conference "Mainstreaming Conservation in a Changing Asia", held in August 2018 in Bishkek, which became the location of significant events in the field of biodiversity conservation this year.

Unfortunately, the question of joining Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the RRI-CA remains unresolved. At present, only Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan are members of the RRI-CA. Participation of all countries of Central Asia is necessary for the implementation of regional projects and presentation of the interests of the entire region. Therefore, RRI-CA members underlined that it is important that Uzbekistan and Tajikistan join the Ramsar Regional Initiative for Central Asia.

RRI-CA Chairman and technical secretary presented for discussion the general work plans and project proposals for the forthcoming period of work. Head of the Department of the Rational Use of Natural Resources of SAEPF Almaz Musayev and Deputy Chairman of the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan Marlen Ainabekov proposed to update the entire RRI-CA strategic plan and send project proposals for consideration to the members of the RRI-CA.

On the basis of this meeting, the list of CC RRI-CA members was updated, the issue of setting up an initiative group for the preparation of a side event on COP13 was raised, and further steps were taken to update RRI-CA strategy and working plan.

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