Every three years the environment treaty called the "Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)" holds its magisterial meeting of the Contracting Parties, or member States. In late October and early November 2008, some 1600 government delegates and representatives of other environmental bodies and NGOs converged on Changwon, Republic of Korea, to meet and greet, worry minor distinctions in wording half to death, and batten off the splendid Korean hospitality.
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.
The 10th Meeting
of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP10)
28 October 2008
broadcast trucks. Korean President Lee Myung-bak opened the celebrations.
All week, a spendid festival
of traditional crafts and culture in front of the venue: a sword dance
Booths with traditional crafts, arts, and performances
The Green Tea Experience Hall
tea ceremony in slow-motion
The Tea Master emerges from the background
Setting up for the kick-off
Beautiful Montse, in charge of registration and document distribution
Ramsar flags aflutter
plenary session. At the opening ceremonies, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, sent a video address, and the "Little Angels" children's choir sang for a while.
Korea's Minister of Environment is nodding off in the centre, next to the Ramsar Secretary General, also nodding off.
Delegates nodding off. On the first day, of many.
staff sorting out the logistics
MacKay, reporting for the Scientific and Technical Review Panel
against "reclamation" of wetlands
coverage of the demonstration
Peaceful demonstrations continued outside the venue daily throughout the week. South Korea has had a history of paving over its intertidal wetlands but has promised to stop all that.
Lots to do, all fun, no doubt.
Mr Peck was in charge of document revisions and translations, way in the back office, and had to miss out on most of the most lurid excesses.
A vast adjoining hall filled with the information exhibits of a multitude of organizations
desk sub specie aeternitatis
Including wines and brandies, artfully woven scarves, jewellery, garlic crushers, herbs and spices, toys, hats, and clever kitchen utensils, none of it recognizable to anyone from Ramsar.
English-language press had photos of this process with a caption indicating that they showed
children naturally dying.
Everyone's lined up for the free food. In fact, inside the venue, the Korean authorities laid on non-stop hospitality for the COP10 participants, with dinners, entertainment, excursions to local wetlands, polite bows all round.
troupe of elaborately coordinated dancing and drumming, inspiriting and profoundly energetic. Note the chap on the left with a three-foot kazoo.
Streamers on their headdresses, amazing effect. The two women in the back could face the audience and whack on the drums on either side of them and, from time to time, simultaneously pound the drums behind them without turning round.
desk at the side of the plenary
No, naval base; yes, Ramsar.
officers preparing to fan out round the centre every morning
Secretariat staff and Korean technical support running the large screens' images,
videos and presentations
of Switzerland, host country of the Secretariat
describing the dire situation at the Hawizeh Marsh Ramsar site
The head table, with younger staffers poised to fetch written interventions from the delegates
Tim Jones, asking for written texts of very long interventions.
General providing background on one of the controversial issues
delegation making an intervention
fine day for the traditional crafts festival
Clay doll making class, adjourned
traditional Korean foods person
taking a break from the plenaries
nice shopping mall just next door
reporting for the Standing Committee Subgroup on Finance
Raffaele, USA, Chair of the Subgroup on Finance, in his traditional dress
The rapporteur (far right) doublechecking the guy in the traditional dress
Candlelight vigil against the proposed nationwide Grand Canal
A sword dancer leading the protest, which was otherwise peaceful
We're told that the canal project has been scrapped. We'll see.
Mr Pizza, with the pizza slogan "Love for Women".
Dunkin Donuts on the right, and Kentucky Fried Chicken just out of the frame