Archive for the 'Asia' Category

Natural Flow of Water at IUCN Congress

Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 11:12 AM

The IUCN’s World Conservation Congress 2020 has accepted a motion submitted by WWN member at Ramsar Network Japan (RNJ) Minoru Kashiwagi. The motion is about the natural flow of water for the conservation of wetlands.

The IUCN is one of the biggest international non-governmental organisations with members from governments, civil society organisations and indigenous people’s organisations. It is one of the founders of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and one of the six International Organisation Partners (IOPs) of Ramsar Convention. IOPs are non-governmental organisations that are not parties to the convention but that are given a status equivalent to parties (except for voting) because of their contributions for implementation etc. The Ramsar Secretariat is hosted at IUCN Headquarters at Gland, Switzerland. In this sense the IUCN has been supportive of NGOs. It supoorted pre-COP NGO forums of Multilateral Environment Agreements in late 90s and early 2000s in the name of the Global Biodiversity Forum. The forums provided opportunities for local groups to participate in COPs and to make presentations on their activities to the world.

logo of IUCN World Congress 2020

Submission of a motion to the Congress of IUCN can be an effective tool for NGOs, especially grassroots and indigenous groups. Non-governmental members can submit a motion directly. It is not like in the case of a draft resolution at Ramsar COP. In the case of COP only parties, i.e. governments, can submit. NGOs have to find a party to propose a resolution. Once adopted, a motion will be a resolution or recommendation that all members of the IUCN, be they government or non-gorvernmental organisations, have to follow.

The submission of this Motion is a result of a joint project of WWN, RNJ and Korea Wetland NGO Network (KWNN) on the natural flow of water. It started at an international NGO workshop organised by WWN/KWNN/RNJ in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2017. It is a project to halt the degradation/loss of wetlands due to developments on the flow of water from the headstream to estuaries and to coastal region less than 6 m in depth as defined by Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. KWNN proposed this project to address the national project of Four Rivers Project described in the appeal on WWN website. There have been many cases of degradation and loss in Japan and East Asia where there has been and was a strong pressure of development. KWNN and RNJ have taken the initiative for this project since then.

The motion calls on member states to legislate against risks to indigenous people, ecosystems, and local communities, by new projects that would prevent the natural flow of water, in particular, construction projects.

The motion points out the value of free-flowing rivers to ecologically-based disaster risk-reduction (EcoDRR), and the examples of the removal of Arase Dam in Kumamoto Prefecture in Japan, proposal of re-naturalisation of rivers by Republic of Korea and EU Water Directive linking water and ecosystem services.

Before reaching the Congress, IUCN members will discuss the proposed motions and vote online on a selection to be brought forward to the Congress itself. If you are eligible and would like to discuss the motion with Minoru, please get in touch. 

The Congress will happen in Marseille, France, in June 2020. If you are an IUCN member, you can comment on the motion on the IUCN website. WWN members who are not IUCN members are also welcoem to contribute their comments for Minoru, via this form

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NGOs help protect vital Asian wetland

Tuesday, July 09, 2019 at 11:41 AM

NGOs have worked together to influence national and international actors to protect an important coastal wetland.

The Chinese coast of the Yellow Sea was always a likely candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Status. The mudflats are vital for millions of migratory birds; they are essential feeding places on the difficult journeys–the birds there often are flying to or from places like the Russian Far East, Australia, and the Bay of Bengal.

In a region with high coastal development and shipping needs, parts of the Yellow Sea had become oases for the birds. Flagship species that depend on it include the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper.  


Rudong, China. Photo Rich Hearn/WWT.

Then, a few weeks before UNESCO was due to confirm the latest batch of World Heritage sites, conservationists were blindsided: the official recommendation was that the Yellow Sea should not be put forward as a candidate, for another five years.

Wetland scientists immediately approached the interested NGOs, both in China and abroad. As a network, this quickly reached many people and in a few weeks they had prepared a letter with more than 60 signatories for the UNESCO World Heritage Centre asking that rather than waiting until it was too late, they should inscribe the mudlfats on the World Heritage list now.

Once they had distributed the letter to the powers that be, it was an anxious wait.

Then on Friday morning, the news came through: the cooperation had worked. UNESCO officially made the migratory bird stops into World Heritage Sites!

Some conservationists had been fearful of the consequences of missing this opportunity for official protection and tourism investment. With it in place they can be more confident in saving species such as the spoon-billed sandpiper from extinction.

While there is still a lot of work to be done for these wetlands, the story so far is an encouraging case-study of how NGO networks can amplify their voice and get closer to their goals, by engaging in networks.


Chinese media reports the story in more detail; see also the participants including the Paulson Institute;

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Youth Ramsar Japan visit to Slimbridge, UK

Tuesday, July 09, 2019 at 9:29 AM

The current and previous head of Youth Ramsar Japan, Takuma Satoh and Atushi Tanabe respectively, have visited the Slimbridge Wetland Centre in the UK. Maximising their time in Europe at the Ramsar Standing Committee meeting, they then went to the UK to meet WWN Deputy Chair Chris Rostron and colleagues.

Outside Peter Scott's house

Visiting Sir Peter Scott's house at Slimbrige. 

Takuma Satoh writes:

This was the first time I visited an overseas wetland visitor center. First of all, I was surprised at the scale of the Slimbridge Wetland Centre. I felt it was rooted in the locality: WWT centres in the UK have more than 1 million visitors per year and most of them visit from within 20 miles.

It is interesting that the zones of wetland conservation and animal contact are clearly separated, yet each place has different generations and interests for visitors.

By feeding the birds in the collection area, the children learn the original experiences of touching wild animals, while bird-loving adults can secretly observe wild birds. I expressed that it was somewhat like a Japanese zoo, but not exactly. The zoo has a strict permiter, and brings out the wild animals that are not there from the outside, but Slimbridge is the place in the wetland and there is an environment where the wild animals live better. The zoo ends only with contact, and we do not look after environmental conservation and relations with the local community. I felt that there was a fresh place.

I also felt it has a great deal of educational approaches. These had the flexibility to change the contents of the workshop according to the age and the needs of the visiting children. I felt that the connection was created so that not only the children in the area but also the visiting adults could learn.


WWN and youth at Ramsar Standing Committee 57

Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 4:46 PM

Following their closing statement to Ramsar’s 13th Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP13) in October 2018, the Youth Engaged in Wetlandsare continuing to engage with the Ramsar convention. Joining in the 57th meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee thanks to the generous support of Youth Ramsar Japan, they have been getting good support from national delegates.

Youth representatives with Ramsar Secretary General Martha Rojas Urrego

Elise Allély, Takuma Satoh, and Atsushi Tanabe have been warmly welcomed to the meeting, at Ramsar headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. One of the highlights from meeting this meeting is that Ramsar’s COP14 will be hosted in Wuhan, China, in 2021. Some countries have indicated interest in proposing a focus on youth at the next COP.

Elise Allély, the WWN Youth Facilitator, reports back as the meeting comes to a close: 

“From the discussions throughout the week and interventions in plenary, we are pleased to see the enthusiasm and support among delegates around engaging youth in particular in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Convention. Some initial keywords mentioned for the COP14 were Youth, Water, Future and Responsibility! A promising direction for the big birthday of Ramsar!
The Youth Engaged in Wetlands team remains as committed as ever, inspired and full of new ideas! We are keen to keep the contacts we made in the meeting and to lend our voices and ideas as we go towards an exceptional 50th anniversary for wetlands and post COP14”.

There are more details about the topics discussed at the Standing Committee on the Ramsar website. You can also read about how Youth Engaged in Wetlands influenced the previous COP.  

See Secretary General Urrego's tweet about meeting the YEW team!

Youth representatives and the Japanese delegation to Ramsar Standing Commitee 57

Logo of Ramsar Youth Japan


WWN in Asia pre-COP Ramsar meeting 2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 11:32 AM

WWN is participating in the regional Pre-COP meetings, promoting our global survey on the state of wetlands as reported by local communities. Minoru Kashiwagi and his colleagues presented our poster at the Asia meeting prior to the COP. Thanks to our partners from the Wetland Scientific Society (SWS) and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).

See the preliminary results of the World Wetland Survey here.

12th Japan Korea NGO Wetland Forum

Monday, October 30, 2017 at 3:36 PM

WWN’s Regional Representative, Minoru Kashiwagi, played a significant role organising the meeting, and Lou Duff represented WWN in her role as Chair of WWN. Wetland conservation and alignment with the Ramsar Convention is very strong in South Korea. Ramsar COP 10 was held in Changwon in 2008. The NGO leaders who instigated the COP are still very actively involved in wetland education and conservation a decade later, and have an ambitious program of activities planned for 2018 to celebrate a decade of activity since COP 10. Click here to read more.

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Las Piñas wetland action

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Popularly called Freedom Islands, the Las Piñas – Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LLPCHEA) in the Philippines is a wonderful site composed of Freedom and Long islands. It in fact resembles a bird spreading its wings in this Google Map. Adding to its wonder are the 80 migratory and resident birds such as the endemic Philippine Duck, the endangered Chinese Egret, and the rare Pied Avocet that consider this 175-hectare their home. Add to that are the 5,000 migratory birds passing through it from the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

With its thick mangrove forest, LLPCHEA has protected Metro Manila from typhoon surges. Nine species can be found here, including the Nilad, where the city of Manila (Maynilad) got its name. It contributes to sustainability of the livelihood of Manila Bay communities.  Aside from garbage, big corporations have threatened Manila Bay with reclamation projects that will destroy this critical habitat. Affected communities linking arms with organizations committed to protecting LLPCHEA have been struggling against these reclamation projects. Coastal clean-ups have been continuously conducted for the purpose of regularly cleaning-up the coast and for highlighting the issue of reclamation.

Organizations who lead the advocacy for its protection –Save Freedom Island Movement, Earth Island Institute Philippines, and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, aim to gather more support and raise awareness internationally for the Freedom Islands and the communities caring and protecting it.  Vote for Las Piñas now!

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