The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP13) was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 21 to 29 October 2018.
On Tuesday 23rd October MedINA co-organised the side event “Cultural approaches to wise use of wetlands – past, present and future” with great success. Other organisers were the Governments of Tunisia, Slovenia, Senegal and Burkina Faso along with IUCN World Heritage Programme, Emirates Wildlife Society, ICOMOS, MedWet, Wetlands International, Youth Engagement Thematic Group, WWF, Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, WWT, Wetland Link International, World Wetland Network in Dubai.
An Arabic dance show took place before the start of the event while a display of posters on projects related to culture and wetlands were laid out in the room. MedINA also participated with in the poster exhibition with its own poster for its e-publication titled “Gastronomic Heritage in Mediterranean wetlands – healthy wetlands, healthy eating”. This was a small project undertaken within the MAVA Culture Network programme which aimed to promote the culinary heritage of Mediterranean wetlands. The e-publication can be found here. Especially for the Ramsar COP13 printed copies of the publication were provided to the participants!
The side event presentations began with short, four minute talks on diverse topics; Mariam Ali presented via video “Achievements of the MAVA culture network programme with a focus on the report on indigenous peoples and local communities”, Adam Torey the “Restoration and conservation of a traditional water use system – UAE” project from Emirates Nature – WWF and The Water Project, Clemens Kupper from UNESCO introduced the topic of “UNESCO – cultural values of wetlands and how they deliver good conservation outcomes; what UNESCO is doing and can offer the Ramsar community”. Following that, Jose Gabriel Mejia, the previous winner of the Ramsar photo contest presented his visual storytelling project of his trip to Patagonia, trying to inspire and engage people in conservation, Aurea de Silva Garcia from WI Pantanal elaborated on a short video which showed the importance of engaging local communities and involving them in the management of their own protected areas. Finally, Joel Awouhidia Korahire, director at Ministry for Coordination of International Agreements from Burkina Faso gave a presentation regarding the “Sacred crocodiles of Sabu”.
Following the presentations, a panel discussion took place with the participation of Gordana Beltram from the Ministry of Slovenia, Chris Rostron from WWT, Hela Guidara- Ramsar Focal Point for Tunisia, Paule Gros from MAVA Foundation, Elise Allely the Youth representative and Clemens Kupper from UNESCO. The panel questions focused on the importance of cultural values for the Ramsar Convention and what the future and role of the Ramsar Culture Network will be.
A key point that emerged was the importance of sharing traditional local knowledge with policy makers and experts so as to effectively protect it the same way scientific knowledge is protected. Regarding the new Resolution on “Cultural values and practices of indigenous peoples and local communities and their contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation in wetlands”, the opinion expressed is that its purpose is twofold: to maintain and promote communities and their way of adaptation to Climate Change and to maintain the RCN and make it sustainable. Gordana Beltram from RCN stated that the important thing is to bring together experience, knowledge and people from different organizations so as to act as a platform and establish linkages both inside and outside of the Ramsar Convention. Chris Rostron on the other hand, stressed the fact that although today the Ramsar Culture Network works under CEPA, it has a separate identity which needs to be supported.