On March 13, 2020, the Standing Committee of the Convention on Wetlands appointed Professor Lei Guangchun of the School of Ecology and Nature Conservation at Beijing Forestry University(BFU) as Chair of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel(STRP) of the Convention. Previously, Professor Lei served as Senior Regional Adviser for the Asia-Oceania region at the Secretariat of the Convention from 2004 to 2008, as well as a scientific committee member of STRP from 2015 to 2017 and a technical committee member from 2018 to now. In 2019, he was an Independent Committee member of the Wetland City Accreditation. This is the first time that a committee member from China has taken the chair of the STRP, marking the international recognition of China’s scientific and technical progress in global wetland conservation and management.
The Convention on Wetlands, also called the Ramsar Convention, was signed in the Iranian town of Ramsar in 1971. It is the first intergovernmental multilateral environmental convention in the world, the only convention that exclusively targets one type of ecosystem. The Convention was established earlier than other conventions like the Convention on Migratory Species, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Convention on Climate Change and Convention on Biological Diversity. The purpose of the Convention is to promote the protection, management and wise utilization of global wetlands through regional and national actions and international cooperation, so as to contribute to global sustainable development. At present, there are 171 Parties to the Convention, which is the environmental convention signed by the most countries. China joined the Convention in 1992.
Held every three years, the Conference of the Parties (COP) is the highest decision-making body of the Convention. Between each two sessions of the COP a Standing Committee is established as the highest decision-making agency. Under the Standing Committee, there are two supporting bodies, namely, the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) and the Communication, Education and Public Awareness Panel (CEPAP). The STRP is responsible for providing scientific and technical support to the Convention, including national guidelines for wetland policy-making, technical guidelines for wetland conservation and management, as well as providing technical advice to the Parties. It plays a leading role in the global wetland conservation and management.
The duties of the Chair of the STRP include: organizing the preparatory committee meetings and performing tasks with the assistance of the Secretariat and the vice chair; managing the progress of the implementation of work plans of the STRP and ensuring the proper submission of reports; leading the daily work of the STRP and coordinating the working groups of the Standing Committee to submit resolutions to the COP; appointing directors of the thematic working groups established by the STRP and providing technical advice; discussing with the vice chair and making decisions on the division of supervision duties; coordinating with the STRP committee, the thematic working groups and the Secretariat on priorities and emergencies; identifying the priority areas and programs for every triennial period; representing the Committee in the meetings of the Chairs of Scientific Advisory Bodies (CSAB)of the multilateral environmental conventions and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services(IPBES);reviewing the qualifications of re-election members recommended by the Parties, etc.
The fourteenth session of the COP to the Convention on Wetlands will be held in Wuhan, China, in 2021, which is the first time for China to host the Conference, and the year of 2021 is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Convention. Entrusted by China’s Implementation Office of the Convention, Professor Lei Guangchun’s team at Beijing Forestry University provides technical support for the Conference. In this context, Professor Lei Guangchun, as chair of the STRP, can effectively coordinate the technical resources related to the 50th anniversary of the COP, and integrate the achievements and experience of China’s wetland conservation and management into the process of global environmental enhancement.
The wetland ecology discipline of Beijing Forestry University has long been actively providing social services for China and the international community. Prof. Lei Guangchun leads his team to offer technical support for the implementation of the Convention on wetlands in China’s as well as the conservation of cross-border biodiversity. He has also served as vice chairman and secretary-general of China’s National Wetland Science and Technology Commission and president of the National Innovation Alliance for Wetland Conservation and Restoration, promoting the establishment of such research platforms as the Center of East Asian-Australian Flyway(CEAAF) and the Secretariat scientific department of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership（EAAFP). In recent years, the wetland team of Beijing Forestry University has made positive contributions to the application and management of wetlands of international importance, the accreditation of international wetland cities, the preparation of the Convention’s technical reports, the drafting of resolutions, and the protection of waterfowls and habitats in the East Asian-Australasian flyways, expanding BFU’s influence in the field of international wetland research and conservation management. Professor Lei’s achievements have been recognized in the global wetland discipline and won the Wetlands International Luc Hoffmann Medal for Wetland Science and Conservation in 2018.
Written by: School of Ecology and Nature Reserve
Translated by: Zhu Hongmei