The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat have signed an agreement that will see the UAE host an important conference on wetlands in October in Dubai.
The ‘Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP13)’ will be hosted in cooperation with Dubai Municipality, the official sponsor, from October 21 to 30.
On behalf of the ministry, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Sultan Alwan, assistant undersecretary of the regions sector at the ministry, and Jonathan Barzdo, deputy secretary-general, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, on behalf of the secretariat.
The UAE has joined and ratified the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands pursuant to the Federal Decree No. 11/2007. In 2007, the UAE listed a number of wetland sites of international importance, such as Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, and Wadi Wurayah National Park in Fujairah, among others.
Alwan said: “The UAE’s regional and international efforts in supporting high biodiversity and maintaining sustainable natural resources have secured it a prominent position as a world-class hub for environmental conferences and major events, such as 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.”
He added that the seminar “is expected to draw participation from over 1,200 representatives of the governments of the contracting parties. Representatives of non-member states and non-governmental organisations attend these meetings as well to get a closer look on the developments in wetland management”.
Alwan pointed out that the ministry will carry out awareness campaigns six months before the conference start, to educate the public about wetlands, their environmental significance, and the best ways to conserve them.
Alia Al Harmoudi, director of Dubai Municipality’s environment department, said the municipality’s sponsorship “affirms Dubai Municipality’s vision towards developing a happy and sustainable city. Dubai is ready to host this important event that will see the participation of 169 countries. This will be the first time the conference is being held in an Arab country”.
She added: “Although the UAE is better known for being situated in one of the most arid regions of the world, the wetland ecosystem in the country is one of the most unique and diverse in the Arabian Peninsula. It includes marshes, vast tidal flats, fresh water aquifers, mangroves and coral reefs.”
Barzdo said: “We appreciate the generosity of the Government of the United Arab Emirates in hosting the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The theme of this meeting is ‘Wetlands for a sustainable urban future’, and Dubai will serve as an excellent host city given its commitment to the conservation and the wise use of wetlands. It is especially relevant in this Year of Zayed to recognise the commitment to nature and Wetlands of the founder of the United Arab Emirates. We are looking forward to working with the UAE to make COP13 a great success.”