I hope that you and your families are well.
A quarter into a critical year for wetlands action, I am pleased to share that the Secretariat is actively engaged in preparations for our Conference of Parties (COP14), critical global processes and supporting Contracting Parties to implement the Convention. I would like to thank the commitment of Contracting Parties in implementing the Convention’s mission, with four new Wetlands of International Importance published and championing wetland values with actions around the world.
A main focus for the Secretariat during this period has been preparing for the resumed session of the 59th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC59) to be held on 23-27 May: a critical milestone towards COP14 in November. In addition, the Convention is also organizing four regional preparatory meetings this month and working with our host, the People’s Republic of China, to ensure a successful COP14. It also continues to support the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) to deliver its high priority tasks and identify priorities for the next triennium. I would like to thank Parties for their extensive contributions to the governance of the Convention and to its continued implementation in spite of persisting challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am delighted that next month we will meet many of you in person at SC59 as we come together for the first time in more than two years.
With environmental negotiations resuming this quarter, the Secretariat actively engaged in key processes relevant to positioning wetlands and the Convention in the global policy agenda. Most notably, the Secretariat participated in the fifth meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly(UNEA-5) in Nairobi, Kenya from 28 February to 2 March. Our delegation’s focus included strengthening implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements and catalysing actions and partnerships towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Following the Assembly, our delegation also joined the UNEP@50 celebrations 3-4 March. The Secretariat also engaged in the long-awaited Geneva meetings of the Convention on Biological Diversity: contributing to the development of a comprehensive, ambitious Framework which incorporates the mandates, indicators and tools of the Convention on Wetlands and other biodiversity-related Conventions. We will continue to engage in the process towards the CBD COP15.
Championing wetlands actions for people and nature, World Wetlands Day was celebrated for the first time as a United Nations observance following a Resolution from the UN General Assembly adopted last year. The Secretariat launched a campaign, supporting Contracting Parties and 11 heads of UN agencies and key partners to support global actions to reverse wetlands loss. The day saw more than 1,400 World Wetlands Day events take place across 76 countries, three new Ramsar Site designations and many ambitious commitments to expand restoration and conservation of wetlands. Marked by an official observance by the UN to be reported on at the UN General Assembly later this year, the global campaign has paved a strong path for wetlands action on the road to COP14 in November.
Within the Secretariat, as in previous years, staff convened to review our progress in implementing our 2021 Annual Plan and identify our work for 2022, within our mandate and accountability to the decisions of our governing bodies. The Secretariat also convened an online training for staff in January to help strengthen resilience and wellbeing, responding to a need identified by the team during the pandemic. The training also offered opportunities to reflect on the Secretariat’s new ways of working and how to improve our impact further in what will be a milestone year for wetlands action.
I look forward to continuing our important work together through the next intensive months towards COP14 in Wuhan, China.
Martha Rojas Urrego
Secretary General, Convention on Wetlands