Dwight Peck's personal website

Mr Peck goes to Korea
(the southern part of Korea)

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.

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.

The 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP10)

Registration, 28 October 2008

Television 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

A musical 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

The first 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.

Ramsar staff sorting out the logistics

Heather MacKay, reporting for the Scientific and Technical Review Panel

A demonstration against "reclamation" of wetlands

Press 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.

"Save My Hometown"

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

The registration desk sub specie aeternitatis

Ramsar COP10 souvenir(s).
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.

The Korean 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.

A ten-person 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.

An incredible show

An unfair question

The Secretariat's desk at the side of the plenary

No, naval base; yes, Ramsar.

Police officers preparing to fan out round the centre every morning

Ramsar Secretariat staff and Korean technical support running the large screens' images, videos and presentations

The delegation of Switzerland, host country of the Secretariat

Iraq describing the dire situation at the Hawizeh Marsh Ramsar site

The head table, with younger staffers poised to fetch written interventions from the delegates

The rapporteur, Tim Jones, asking for written texts of very long interventions.

The Secretary General providing background on one of the controversial issues

The Russian delegation making an intervention

Another fine day for the traditional crafts festival

Clay doll making class, adjourned

A proud traditional Korean foods person

Delegates taking a break from the plenaries

A very nice shopping mall just next door

Traditional stringed instruments

The USA reporting for the Standing Committee Subgroup on Finance

Herb 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.

More Mall

Mr Pizza, with the pizza slogan "Love for Women".
Dunkin Donuts on the right, and Kentucky Fried Chicken just out of the frame

Starbucks and McDo.

About half the restaurants in the mall were American fast food joints, and the other half provided chopsticks.

Rottibun. Yum. And Weeny Beeny.

Prices everywhere were somewhat lower than Swiss and US prices generally, but much lower soon after we got there, as the won crashed against the dollar.

Mall security

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 30 November 2008, revised 30 January 2014.

The COP10 Orange, by Juan Carlos Valdovinos, translation team


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