Participation of Central Asia at the 13th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention

Publication date: 26 October 2018
Participation of Central Asia at the 13th Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention

The 13th Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP13) to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is taking place from 21 to 29 October 2018. The Ramsar Convention is the first international environmental treaty and it is aimed at the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. 170 countries are parties to the Ramsar Convention, 157 of which are currently participating in the COP13 in Dubai, UAE.

The Ramsar Convention’s newly released flagship publication, “The Global Wetland Outlook: State of the World’s Wetlands and their Services to People” (, states that the world’s wetlands are declining rapidly, 35 per cent have been lost since 1970; with wetlands disappearing three times faster than forests. Therefore, there is the need for immediate action to reverse this trend.

The plenary meetings of the Conference discuss measures for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, including the need to increase the effectiveness of the Ramsar Convention, its implementation at all levels, as well as the administrative and financial issues of the work of the Ramsar Secretariat. Decisions are made on 26 resolutions relating to such topics as the assessment of ecosystem services provided by wetlands, restoration of degraded peatlands for mitigation and adaptation to climate change, sustainable management of coastal ecosystems, wetlands and agriculture, the importance of wetlands for local communities, peace and security, etc.

Special attention is paid to the value ​​of wetlands in cities, as the theme of the current Conference of the Parties is “Wetlands for a sustainable urban future”. During COP13 the Ramsar Convention introduces the Wetland City Accreditation, which recognizes 18 cities that have taken exceptional steps to safeguard their urban wetlands. Most of them are situated in China and South Korea. 

In addition to the plenary sessions, side events are organized by countries and organizations. Under the leadership of the Ramsar Regional Initiative of Central Asia (RRI-CA), for the first time, the countries of Central Asia held a separate side event on the conservation of wetlands in Central Asia. The event, held on October 23, 2018, presented general information about unique wetlands of Central Asia, the history of the RRI-CA creation, the results of the first RRI-CA project on the work with local communities at selected wetlands in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. A discussion was also held on the theme “Wetland conservation in Central Asia: challenges, threats and opportunities”.

Speakers of the discussion were Almaz Musaev, the director of the department of biodiversity conservation and SPNA of Kyrgyz Republic, Khisravshokh Shermatov, the representative of the National biodiversity and biosafety center of the Republic of Tajikistan and CEPA Government Focal Point, Uktam UTAEV, the deputy chairman of the State committee on ecology and environmental protection of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Eldar RUSTAMOV, the chair of the RRI-CA Coordination Committee. During discussion they underlined the main threats for wetlands in Central Asia such as climate change, irrational use of water resources (unregulated water intake, transboundary issues, human-made pollution as a result of agricultural production and biodiversity loss due to anthropogenic pressure (fishing, grazing, hunting, recreational activities). Guests of the event shared their experience in addressing these threats and suggested possible opportunities for collaboration and implementation of regional projects.     

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