During the 53rd meeting of the Standing Committee that took place at Secretariat headquarters in Gland, Switzerland, from Monday 29 May to Friday 2 June 2017, an interesting debate took place during the discussion of the MAVA project “Conservation of the natural and cultural heritage in wetlands”.
The importance of the cultural dimensions of wetlands was underlined by several Contracting Parties and it was acknowledged that culture is one of the ecosystem services produced by wetlands. Moreover, the significance of the cultural aspects in raising awareness of, and communicating about wetlands was stressed, as well as the existence of a plethora of potential synergies with the Ramsar CEPA Programme (on Communication, Capacity building, Education, Participation and Awareness) and the Sustainable Development Goals. Some Contracting Parties, however, differed in their views on how culture could best be taken forward in the context of the Convention.
Following the discussion on this agenda item, an open-ended contact group was established by the Chair. You can read the report of the Contact Group on pages 16-17 of the “Report and Decisions of the 53rd Meeting of the Standing Committee” (see the links below), as well as the Standing Committee decision on culture, SC53-15, on page 17 (please also see pages 13-14 for additional discussion points on this issue).
It must be noted that there were many positive interactions, as well as many future-oriented discussions, which also included exploring further projects on culture in each Ramsar region. These projects could also enhance CEPA outcomes, and could create future opportunities to collaborate with the MAVA Foundation. Interested Parties agreed to work together and consider how best to take the issue of culture and wetlands through to the next COP.