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COP10 side event: the Culture and Technology of Wetlands

Side event on the cultural values of wetlands at the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP10)

Action Description:

On 3 November 2008, Wetlands International Japan organised a side event at COP10 in Changwon, Republic of Korea. Over 70 people from all walks of life packed the room to get an overview of the cultural values of wetlands, which were later illustrated with vibrant examples from throughout Asia.


WIJ Secretary General Miki Sasaki and President Tatsuichi Tsujii first delivered keynote addresses describing the cultural values of wetlands within the Ramsar Convention framework, and their importance as tools to achieve the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

These were followed by case studies from Japan, Republic of Korea, Nepal and Malaysia covering a range of topics such as rice paddy aquaculture, spiritual worship, eco-tourism, cooperative wetland management traditions, and even feng shui. Most memorable perhaps was the performance of spiritual folk songs by Mr. Kamal Rai of Nepal.

Theme Essence

Comments were provided by the Ramsar Convention Culture Working Group Secretary Dr. Thymio Papayannis; STRP Japan focal point Dr. Makoto Komoda; and Dr. María José Viñals, a leading proponent of the representation of the cultural values of wetlands within the Ramsar Convention, among others. All stressed the importance of collecting more examples of the cultural values of wetlands throughout the world, and presenting them within the broader Ramsar Convention context to raise awareness on the inextricable link between humans and wetlands.

Although this signals the great amount of work to be done, significant progress has been made. This side event and the opening of the Junam Wetland Culture Centre are proof of a growing interest. Furthermore, the Ramsar Convention Culture Working Group released a comprehensive guidance document on cultural values that will streamline international efforts to give the cultural values of wetlands the recognition they deserve. WIJ is committed to these efforts and plans to continue its studies on the cultural values of wetlands.

Action Partners:

University  Sains Malaysia

Sakata Waterfowl and Wetland Centre (Jpn)

Sakara to Ayumu Akatsuka no Kai (Jpn)

Kushiro International Wetlands Centre (Jpn)

Society for Wetland Biodiversity Conservation (Nepal)

Gyeongsang National University, Korea