Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
This statement is delivered on behalf of 49 countries, among which there are 14 Standing Committee Members and Alternative Members, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Georgia, Guatemala, Japan, Republic of Korea, Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, as well as other Contracting Parties: Albania, Andorra, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and my own country, Ukraine.
This statement is open for further alignments.
We welcome the factual update report from the Secretariat, as requested by the COP, on the implementation of Resolution XIV.20, and invite the Standing Committee to take note of the update. This report demonstrates the ongoing work undertaken by the Secretariat to implement an independent assessment of the impacts of Russia’s war on Ukraine’s internationally important wetlands.
Last year during the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention we adopted the Resolution XIV.20, thus, reaffirming our commitments to the Ramsar Convention’s principles and objectives and showing the ability of the Convention to respond to the emergency situation.
We highly appreciate the efforts made during the COP14 by the Contracting Parties and the Secretariat for the recognition of the devastating impact of the Russian Federation’s aggression on the environment in Ukraine, including the disruption of the ecological status of 16 Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites) and potential damage to another 15 Ramsar Sites.
However, Russia’s aggression has led to huge ecological damage in the territory of Ukraine. Further, the destruction of the Kakhovka dam is a major environmental disaster for Europe and has had a grave impact for the Kakhovka Reservoir, which has now dried up, threatening 2.9 million hectares of the Emerald Network. These are nature conservation territories of considerable ecological value, which serve as habitats for the internationally important population of waterbirds.
Destruction of the dam and the sharp descent of large volumes of water from the Kakhovka Reservoir has likely led to a change in the ecological character of three Ramsar sites: the flooding of the «Dnipro River Delta», leading to the death of mammals and other animals and of nesting birds; a sharp change in the hydrological regime and the draining of the «Archipelago Velyki and Mali Kuchugury» and the «Sim Maiakiv Floodplain». The situation also threatens desalination of the adjacent seawater areas, which may have caused a change in the ecological character in the two Ramsar sites «Yagorlytska Bay» and «Tendrivska Bay».
In addition, three large flyway routes of wetland birds run through Ukraine. Due to constant explosions and the impossibility of breeding, the flyway routes change, and bird populations do not have time to recover after long flights. This will ultimately leave its mark on the biodiversity of Europe, but also the African continent.
With this in mind, we welcome the ongoing actions taken by Contracting Parties and international organizations to support the independent assessment and subsequent advice on the restoration of Ukraine’s wetlands of international importance. We affirm our support to reconstruction in Ukraine, including for providing assistance for the restoration of its wetlands of international importance.
For the past five decades, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has served as a vital international legal instrument promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Ramsar represents an essential international forum for compiling and sharing knowledge about sustainable wetland management with great potential to further enhance environmental security.
Reaffirming our commitment to the implementation of the Ramsar Convention, we reiterate our demand for the Russian Federation to cease its aggression and withdraw its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine, thus restoring Ukraine's sovereign right to protect, restore, and wisely use its Ramsar sites within its internationally recognized borders.
We would like this statement to be included in the report of the meeting.
I thank you.