Cooperation with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and Ramsar National Focal Points

Being a recognized Ramsar Regional Initiative (RRI), the RRC-EA maintains cooperation and linkages with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and with Ramsar National Focal Points to ensure that the initiatives of the RRC-EA are in sync with global and national commitments and developments. It is the goal of the RRC-EA to provide the highest quality of services to countries with the use of up-to-date information as a contribution to the effective implementation of the Ramsar Convention. The RRC-EA mobilizes CEPA National Focal Points as well as STRP National Focal Points by way of online or face-to-face workshops to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences in the wise use and conservation of wetlands in East, Southeast and South Asia. Ramsar Convention tools and guidelines are also being promoted and customized by the RRC-EA for the use of wetland managers.

Ramsar Site Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (R-METT)

The Ramsar Convention encourages Contracting Parties to adopt approaches for the wise use of wetlands and to designate suitable wetlands for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance and ensure that these wetlands are effectively managed. In order to achieve these, periodic assessment of the effectiveness of wetland management is encouraged. Such assessments look into past and current management practices and systems to determine areas for improvement as well as lessons learned.

A number of assessment tools and methodologies have already been developed and used for protected areas. The Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Bank is one of the most widely used management effectiveness assessment tools.

Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention recognized the need to develop a customized METT for Ramsar Sites. In June 2014, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand, the Ministry of Environment and the Gyeongnam Province of the Republic of Korea, and the Ramsar Regional Center – East Asia (RRC-EA) organized a workshop in Bangkok, Thailand to deliberate on modifying the METT for specific application in Ramsar Sites.

By virtue of Resolution XII.15, Ramsar COP12 formally adopted the Ramsar Site Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (R-METT) and encouraged Contracting Parties to use the R-METT in evaluating the management effectiveness of Ramsar Sites. The RRC-EA is regularly promoting the use of the R-METT through its communication, capacity building, education, participation, and awareness (CEPA) program.

Rapid Assessment of Wetland Ecosystem Services

Wetlands are ecosystems that include inland waters, and coastal and marine areas. They offer a broad range of benefits to society and the economy. But similar to other ecosystems, wetlands are also facing threats that lead to the loss of wetland functions. Wetland degradation does not only negatively impact on biodiversity, but also on the livelihoods of communities residing within and adjacent to wetlands. Consequently, these impacts are experienced as well by the general populace who enjoys the benefits derived from wetlands.

Considering the multitude of development needs of the society, national and local governments are responsible in prioritizing sectors for the corresponding policy support and financial resources. Wetlands often receive less recognition due to the low awareness of policy and decision-makers on the value of wetlands and wetland ecosystem services. Thus, it is necessary to work towards improving the understanding and appreciation of policy and decision-makers with regard to wetland benefits.

In Ramsar COP11, Contracting Parties adopted Resolution XI.8 and agreed to revise the recording of information for the Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands (RIS) by elaborating and describing fully the elements of the ecological character and the ecosystems provided by the wetland.

In this context, the Ramsar Regional Center – East Asia (RRC-EA), together with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and technical experts, has developed and is advocating a simple yet reliable approach for wetland managers: Rapid Assessment of Wetland Ecosystem Services (RAWES). By using RAWES, wetland managers can:

facilitate the integration of ecosystem services in wetland management plans,

help improve the effectiveness of wetland management with more comprehensive information at hand,

update and provide more detailed information on wetland ecosystem services in the RIS,

clearly define and disseminate the benefits of wetlands to key wetland stakeholders, especially to policy and decision-makers, and

have an alternative option to carry out an ecosystem services assessment that is not time-consuming and costly.