Ramsar Conference to Open in Changwon
By Kim Rahn
Experts, government officials and environmental activists will gather in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, in October to discuss the conservation of wetlands.
The 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands, or Ramsar COP10, will open in the city from Oct. 28 through Nov. 4.
Changwon Exhibition Convention Center (CECO) and nearby wetlands, including Upo Wetlands and Junam Reservoir, will be the main venues.
It is the second time for the triennial conference to be held in Asia, following Japan's Kusiro meeting in 1993. The number of participants is expected to be around 2,000 from 165 nations, the largest ever, including those from non-contracting parties.
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is the world's first treaty to provide a framework for national action and international cooperation on the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
The treaty was adopted in Ramsar, Iran in 1971 and came into effect in 1975. South Korea signed the treaty in 1997 as the 101st nation, with 158 nations joining so far.
Korea put eight wetlands on the Ramsar wetlands list ― Yong Wetlands in Inje, Gangwon Province; Upo Wetlands in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province; Jangdo Wetlands and tidal flats at Suncheon Bay and Muan, South Jeolla Province; Mulyeongari Orum Wetlands in Jeju; Mujechi Wetlands in Ulsan; and Duung Wetlands in South Chungcheong Province.
``Through the conference, Changwon aims to promote the city around the world as `an environmental capital,' introducing the province's wetlands including Junam Reservoir, the nation's biggest stopover for migratory birds,'' Changwon Mayor Park Wan-su said.
Under the theme of ``Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People,'' participants will announce ``Changwon Declaration,'' through which they can develop the Ramsar Convention.
The declaration, to be announced at the end of the meeting, is expected to carry the contracting parties' pledges for the conservation of wetlands, such as accumulating a computerized database on them.
The conference preparation committee and the city government hopes the participants will decide on establishing an East Asia regional Ramsar wetland center in Changwon, so that the city can play more roles for international exchange about wetlands.
The conference is comprised of three meetings ― standing committee meetings, plenary sessions, and regional meetings. Participants will decide and discuss issues not only wetlands conservation but also climate change, avian influenza and human health.
Other various events will be held at several places in Changwon for participants as well as citizens who do not take part in the meetings.
Exhibition booths will be set up around the CECO where participants can introduce wetlands in their countries and their policies for the conservation of the wetlands. Korean will especially take advantage of its state-of-the-art information technology in the exhibition.
Traditional-style markets, folk games and traditional cultural performances will be available around the convention center plaza.
A festival of films about environmental preservation, Asian martial arts shows, music concerts, traditional Korean dance, and parades will also be presented at several locations in the city.
Participants can also enjoy excursions to Junam Reservoir and Upo Wetlands and can learn about the history of the wetlands, their ecosystems, and the living of residents near the regions.