The Wetlands Alliance International Conference (WAIC) was jointly organized by the Asian Institute of Technology on behalf of the Wetlands Alliance and the Ministry of Environment, Cambodia. With this conference, the Alliance expanded on its original mandate to vertically link the local with the regional and horizontally civil society, policy makers and academia. Wetlands Alliance partners from Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam were joined by representatives from a wide range of programs, projects and initiatives working towards sustainable management of wetlands through conservation and livelihood development for wetlands dependent communities.
The Wetlands Alliance was represented by Corin Asia, WorldFish, WWF, Cambodian Rural Development Team, local partners from Cambodia and central Vietnam, the Cambodian Fisheries Administration, the Learning Institute, FREDA and AIT. IUCN and the Ramsar Convention, USAID, the Wetlands Research Network of Mahidol University, BirdLife International and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) were among the key participating organizations, with individual participants from universities in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
40 presentations provided insights into a wide range of wetlands management related themes, both from research and implementation perspectives, covering issues such as Wetlands Conservation, Wetlands and Livelihoods, Climate Change and Wetlands, Wetlands and Fisheries, Communities, Governance and Rights-based approaches as well as impact and environmental quality assessments.
With a opening keynote talk from the Ramsar convention, the organizers stressed the importance of extending linkages and networking within the region and encouraging Ramsar to engage beyond its immediate network of Ramsar sites within its new “Indo-Burma Regional Ramsar Initiative”, which is hosted by IUCN.
In a passionate keynote presentation, Dr. Zeb Hogan, the host of National Geographic’s “Monsterfish” referred to the disruptive infrastructure developments on the Mekong and their potential impacts on fisheries in the lower Mekong, pointing at a range of opportunities that he think should be explored to minimize the impacts of hydropower development on fish.
Presentations clearly showed that while the drivers of wetlands degradation are known well, the importance of wetlands and their services is widely recognized and responsible agencies usually know what needs to be done to protect and sustainably manage wetlands, wetlands are still continuing to decline at alarming rates. A world-café-style round table discussion challenged the participants to tackle this issue and explore new approaches to address wetlands management and conservation in the region.
The above sketch probably reflects best the thoughts and concerns expressed by participants during the café session: it is a doodle by one of the participants, symbolizing the idea that a future is possible in which people and fish, communities and nature can co-exist. Read More