RAMSAR benefit in so many ways from wetland ecosystems but most people do not recognize wetlands’ vital value in sustaining our lives. More than a billion people around the world make their living directly from wetlands, yet some 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared in the last century.
To counter this alarming loss, promoting wetlands and their vital role for humanity is urgently needed. Strategic and targeted communication must be put in place.
The Ramsar Convention’s Programme on communication, capacity building, education, participation and awareness (CEPA), was adopted through Resolution XII.9 at COP12 in 2015. It superseded earlier approved CEPA Resolutions in 1999, 2002 and 2008.
The Ramsar Administrative Authorities are the key implementers of the Programme. Their National Focal Points work with the country’s CEPA Focal Points, NGOs, Ramsar Regional Initiatives and other civil society organizations and wetland visitor centres.
Effective use of CEPA requires a planned systematic approach which reflects the interests of stakeholders and beneficiaries. Approaches need to be tailored to the local context, culture and traditions. Nonetheless, international experiences can guide national planners in formulating country-specific CEPA plans.
CEPA FOCAL POINTS
CEPA National Focal Points are recognised experts in Communication, Capacity development, Education, Participation and Awareness, one from within the government and one representing an NGO. Together they lead the development and implementation of national and local wetland CEPA programmes and action plans.
The roles and responsibilities of the CEPA Focal Points can include some or all of the following:
- Providing a supportive environment in which wetland CEPA planners and practitioners can develop their work;
- Providing leadership for the development and implementation of a wetland CEPA programme at an appropriate level (national, subnational, local);
- Being the main points of contact on CEPA matters;
- Assisting in the practical CEPA implementation at the national level and in national reporting on CEPA activities to the Ramsar Conferences of the Parties;
- Ensuring a high, positive public profile for the Ramsar Convention and its conservation and wise use goals;
- Being active spokespersons for wetland CEPA;
- Establishing and maintaining any contacts, networks, structures and mechanisms necessary to ensure the efficient communication of information between relevant actors at all levels and in all sectors.
The nomination of Government and NGO CEPA National Focal Points by every Contracting Party is regarded as the starting point for an effective review of CEPA needs within each country, leading ultimately to a CEPA Action Plan. The National Focal Points (NFPs) are also the main points of contact within and between countries for wetland CEPA.
CEPA RESOURCES AND ACTIVITIES
The biggest CEPA outreach activity takes place every 2 February since 1997, the Convention’s annual World Wetlands Day campaign uniting the Ramsar global community in activities to raise awareness of the value of wetlands by-
- CEPA PROGRAMME (RESOLUTIONS)
- CEPA ACTION PLANS AND GUIDELINES
- CEPA EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS
- CEPA STORIES
- WETLANDS CEPA METHODS
WETLANDS EDUCATIONAL CENTRES
The Convention’s CEPA Programme encourages the establishment of Wetland Education Centres, recognising their value in promoting the Ramsar principles of wetland conservation and wise use. Wetland centres across the world connect people with nature and raise their awareness of wetland values and sustainable lifestyles. They range from high-tech centres designed to welcome significant numbers of visitors, to simple, non-staffed centres giving small numbers of people a limited but effective wetland CEPA experience.
The CEPA Programme identifies the global Wetland Link International (WLI) network of centres as an effective network to link centres and provide an opportunity for sharing experiences, materials and innovative display and engagement ideas. WLI has over 300 member centres and has established several regional networks.
Wetland Centres around the world
Please click on the map below to get more details about the wetland education centers across the world
CULTURE & WETLANDS
People are at the heart of wetland conservation. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands supports governments to safeguard the cultural values of wetlands, the livelihoods they provide, and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to participate in their management.
Wetlands are often associated with long-standing cultural practices that enable human societies to thrive, to adapt to environmental change, and to use nature in a sustainable way. According to data from the Ramsar Sites Information Service (RSIS), nearly all Ramsar Sites provide cultural ecosystem services, and over half have spiritual and inspirational values. Integrating both nature and culture in the management of wetlands can therefore play a powerful role in their conservation and wise use.
When the Convention was adopted in Iran in 1971, in its preamble the signatories affirmed their conviction ‘…that wetlands constitute a resource of great economic, cultural, scientific and recreational value, the loss of which would be irreparable.’ In this sense, although the Convention is better known for its focus on wetland biodiversity, cultural aspects have been taken into account from the very start.
Over the years, several Resolutions on culture have been adopted, including Resolution VII.8 (1999) on local communities and indigenous peoples, and Resolutions VIII.19 (2002) and IX.21 (2005) on integrating cultural values in wetland management. Resolution IX.21 also created a Culture Working Group.
Wetland managers and other wetland practitioners involved in integrating cultural values in wetland management can join the Ramsar Culture Network, which works in close cooperation with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. More information on joining the Network can be found here, and new members can choose to join one of the RCN’s five thematic groups.