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The 12th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, Punta del Este, Uruguay

Once every three years, the Contracting Parties or member States to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands gather to renew old friendships, cast hostile glances round the hall, and freeze the budget for another triennium.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

A long head-banging COP week, 3-9 June 2015

Kristin's walk on the wild side (of the peninsula)

The less family-beachy side of the Punta del Este. Kristin's got some time off and is out exploring on her own.

The Playa Brava, or Fierce Beach

Zeus making off with Europa

Europa and her favorite bull, on the Rambla Artigas ('Put that back, you bovine freak!')

A dead penguin on the beach

Seaside views

Around to the tame side of the peninsula, this is the fishing port, complete with sea lions looking for a handout.

The Mediterranean Agora by night

Back to work

The document flow at COP12 was a disaster. Normally, the delegates have several days of plenary sessions and contact groups to negotiate amendments to the proposed resolutions, then they have to stop, we put the revised documents and their translations together on 'Documents Day' whilst the delegates get a free excursion to exciting local sites, then they come back and make a final pass-through in the last two days and adopt everything into international soft law.

This time, however, through some unfortunate miscommunication nobody told them that they needed to finish in good time, and in any case, for some reason, instead of amending the documents that had been prepared by drafting committees over the previous three years, the contact groups set about rewriting many of them from scratch. Our dedicated translators were laboring over complicated Revision 1's whilst, even the night before the final day, contact groups were deliberating over Revision 4's. It was an almost-laughably desperate experience throughout, but in the last hours, the Parties in plenary agreed to finalize all 16 proposed resolutions using only the English versions in hand, which might or might not have been the actual final ones. And so it was all therefore a success.

Kristin's visit to the Isla de Lobos, 9 June 2015

The MedWet team offered Ramsar delegates a free very-early-morning boat trip out to the Isla de Lobos on the Atlantic side of Punta del Este, and Kristin went along (and took these photos). I would have guessed that the name meant, wildly inappropriately, the "Isle of Wolves", but here it's considered to mean the "Isle of Sea Lions", which makes better sense.

There they are. Look at 'em, filthy great beasts. Infesting the place. (Many people like sea lions, however; I don't judge them.)

We're closer, but not close enough to cuddle with them.

The lighthouse and the Uruguayan flag (for the first two days, I thought it was a Greek flag with a happy decal pasted on it)

A seagull with lights on it?

A hovering seagull with lights on it?

Or Seal Team 6? Everyone down; pull up your hoodies, turn off your cellphones.

Denis Landenbergue (WWF International) and Nejib Benessaiah (MedWet) marveling at modern surveillance technology

Sea lions everywhere

Back in the fishing port of Punta del Este, with the morning catch

Oh good grief!

Hmmm. Looks kind of good. With the right sauce . . .

Restaurant in the fishing port

The end of COP12

Back to COP12 -- it should be breaking up soon. The news dashing out of the plenary doors affirms that they've got through all 16 resolutions, one way or another, and are celebrating a victory of sorts. (We got through 46 resolutions in Valencia in 2002, and they threatened to shoot us if we ever tried that again.)

Here they come. Don't get in their way.

Everybody looks so happy now. Except the back-office staff, who probably just want to lie down on the rug and go to sleep.

Even the Registration desks are closing up.

They've cleared out faster than a false bomb warning.

The "Punta del Este Declaration" -- oh, what international conference of the Parties can end without an official Declaration, which repeats what's been said in all the previous ones? "Recognizing that wetlands are very important . . . .", "kidneys of the planet", yada.

A US$ 83 lunch for the French translators that never got et

The French team decompressing

The indefatigable Montse packing up the unused goods for sending back to Switzerland, whilst the bosses celebrate

A generous Uruguayan reception in the cafeteria tent, which quickly sloped off into a flamenco demonstration . . .

. . . but some people were able to bypass the flamenco and get at the sweets table straightaway.

Whilst we in the documentation and translation teams absented ourselves to a semi-upscale restaurant, Lo de Tere, in the port area, enjoyed ourselves heartily . . .

. . . and walked home in the drizzly rain.

Wendy and Kristin in midnight calisthentics

Back to the Conrad, midnightish

The Ramsar banner (it will be gone by tomorrow morning)

A midnight commemorative photo in a drizzly rain

Which way to the entrance, please?

Late night Ramsar folks in the lobby: Solongo Khurelbaatar, Ed Jennings, Lew Young, and María Rivera. Night night.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 23 June 2015.


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