On 12-13 May 2022, the Omgevingsberaad Waddenzee (OBW) made a study visit to Lower Saxony in preparation for the Trilateral Governmental Conference, held at the end of November. The OBW is a Dutch stakeholder council, chaired by the Kings Commissioner of Fryslân, which serves as direct advisory body to the Dutch ministerial Wadden Sea Policy Council. The Omgevingsberaad will advise the Dutch ministry on the Wilhelmshaven Declaration, to be signed at the Conference.
During the visit, the delegation of 20 met with the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS) at the recently reopened Wadden Sea World Heritage Visitor Centre Wilhelmshaven. Wadden Sea Board Chair Karin Lochte welcomed the group during a video call. Nanou Beekman, Dutch delegation leader in the Wadden Sea Board, opened the session by highlighting the importance of the upcoming consultation phase of the Wilhelmshaven Declaration.
Bernard Baerends, CWSS Executive Secretary, gave the council an introduction to the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation and the work of the Secretariat. Baerends emphasised the relevance of working at this trilateral scale, the international dimension of the World Heritage title, the international cooperation extending to Africa within the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative as well as to the Yellow Sea. He also stated the importance of the Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Programme for the conservation of the Wadden Sea. CWSS Programme Officer Anja Domnick continued with a presentation on the trilateral sustainable tourism strategy as well as on the results of the first visitor survey conducted in all parts of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Destination simultaneously. The results will soon be published on this website. The presented topics were discussed in more detail during an open talk.
Katja Philippart of Waddenacademie and Harald Marencic, CWSS’s project manager of the Interreg project PROWAD Link, took the opportunity to hand over two reports to Arno Brok, Chair of the Omgevingsberaad Waddenzee. An analysis of social media to assess the importance of natural land- and seascapes for recreation and tourism and a quick scan on the interaction between nature and tourism through social media on Terschelling were both conducted by the Waddenacamie in the framework of PROWAD Link. In conjunction with the first report, an interactive online application was developed with which the trilateral Wadden Sea region can be explored digitally for landscape aspects that are important for tourism and recreation.
The meeting was concluded by Baerends with a brief outlook on the upcoming Trilateral Governmental Conference and the future Wilhelmshaven Declaration. Baerends: “The visit of such a large delegation demonstrates the importance of our Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation. Over the past four decades, our mantra has been that we only have one shared Wadden Sea. The fact that the OBW continued their trip to meet with regional partners in Lower Saxony shows that this notion is lived at many levels. We hope to meet many of the participants again at the Conference in November.”
On their visit, the council also met with the Wadden Sea Forum and jointly signed a memorandum. They further visited the Council of the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park as well as the Island of Norderney, where they discussed the cable-laying issue at the island among other topics.