Story | 18 Apr, 2021

IBRRI Annual Meeting highlights experience sharing and future of wetlands conservation in the Indo-Burma Region

On 18 February 2021, the Indo-Burma Ramsar Regional Initiative (IBRRI) held its Fourth Annual Meeting online, with representatives from governments, academia, NGOs, and Ramsar International Organization Partners (IOPs). Attendees shared their accomplishments in wetland conservation over the past year, discussed potential synergies and future funding opportunities, and developed a work plan for the Ramsar Regional Initiative for the coming year.

The meeting served as a virtual platform to convene decision-makers and practitioners working on Ramsar sites and other wetlands in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. A review of the 2020 IBRRI work plan showed that partners had made considerable progress on the planned activities, despite travel restrictions and lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among its key accomplishments, IBRRI signed Memoranda of Understanding with the two other Ramsar Regional Initiatives working in the region, namely the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) on increasing collaboration on wetland birds and the Ramsar Regional Center- East Asia (RRCEA) on communication, capacity building, education participation, and awareness (CEPA). IBRRI also released the maiden issue of its biannual newsletter, which will increase information sharing and highlights the work of members and partners in the region.

During the meeting, the National Ramsar Focal Points of Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Thailand shared the progress of their work on wetlands and new sites with IBRRI partners. Though the Focal Points from Myanmar and Viet Nam were unable to attend, organisations that they work with shared updates on the collaborative work they implement with the two countries.

The Cambodia Ministry of Environment highlighted that they have recently designated Toulpontalei – Boeung Snae Multiple Use Area, an important breeding site for waterbirds, as a protected wetland. Mr. Sun Visal, Chief of Office, MOE Cambodia explained that during the gazetting process, “we tried to involve all relevant stakeholders to manage the area through co-management. The sub-decree includes site zoning including a core zone, conservation zone, sustainable use zone, and community zone. Next, we aim to designate this protected area to be a Ramsar site.”

Presentations from regional partners, including the EAAFP and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), have introduced potential future opportunities for strengthening wetland ecosystem services in the region, through a new financing mechanism from the Asian Development Bank, as well as Phase II of Improving Biodiversity Conservation of Wetlands and Migratory Waterbirds in the ASEAN Region.

National level presentations from partners provided site-specific examples of important wetlands research and advocacy, ranging from Wildfowl & Wetland Trust’s research on the hydrological regime of the Cambodian Lower Mekong Delta to the promotion of organic agriculture by Flora & Fauna International at Indawgyi Ramsar site in Myanmar. A presentation from Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) Myanmar also highlighted monitoring work on waterbirds and creating and supporting local conservation organisations.

To conclude the meeting, the IBRRI Secretariat provided a brief introduction to each of the 16 small grants on Ecosystem-based Adaptation in wetlands that were selected for funding. Though the small grants have only recently begun, they will be implemented over the course of the year, focusing on strengthening climate change resilience through Ecosystem-based Adaptation in wetlands, supporting the implementation of the IBRRI work plan.

About IBRRI

The Indo-Burma Ramsar Regional Initiative (IBRRI) was jointly developed by the Ramsar National Focal Points of the five countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam), and IUCN’s Asia Regional Office, based on specific needs identified in these countries. It was endorsed by the 52nd meeting of the Ramsar Convention Standing Committee in June 2016. The IBRRI aims to support the coordinated implementation of the objectives of the Strategic Plan of the Ramsar Convention. IUCN acts as the Secretariat for the Initiative under the leadership of the Steering Committee, which includes representatives from the five governments and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat as an observer.