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Water, Oceans and Wetlands

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December 2006


EU fisheries ministers met on 19 and 20 December 2006 to agree on the 2007 fishing quotas for European fleets. Before the meeting, the Union's scientific advisers sought a total ban on cod fishing in European waters. Ministers agreed to a 20 percent cut in waters to the west of the UK, 14 percent in the North Sea and 15 percent elsewhere. The number of days allowed for cod fishing was reduced between seven and ten percent. For other fisheries, the ministers adopted the following quotas: increases in quotas for prawns, haddock, mackerel and monkfish; a 12 percent increase in Bay of Biscay sole; a 20 percent increase in northern hake; a limited lifting of a ban on anchovy fishing; a 12 percent decrease in plaice and a 10 percent decrease in tuna fishing in the Mediterranean. Scientists argued their surveys were ignored and environmental NGOs have criticized the EU for ignoring scientists' warnings and said the protection measures are too weak.

Link to further information BBC press release, 21 December 2006

The East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2006 culminated in the signing of the Haikou Partnership Agreement on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia and Operating Arrangements by 11 ministers and high-level officials from countries in the East Asian region. The Congress convened from 12-16 December 2006 in Haikou City, People's Republic of China, hosted by the Chinese Government and organized by the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), a regional programme supported by the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Maritime Organization. Partnership Operating Arrangements were also signed by 12 PEMSEA stakeholder partners during the EAS Partnership Council meeting, transforming PEMSEA into a fully-fledged regional partnership, featuring a decision-making body, a resource facility and a financial mechanism, to advance the sustainable development of the region's marine and coastal resources.

Link to further information IISDRS coverage

The African Development Bank (AfDB) hosted the First Dialogue between the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) and African Stakeholders on 14 December 2006, in Tunis, Tunisia. The UNSGAB was established in March 2004 by former Secretary General Kofi Annan, to advise on and galvanize global action on water and sanitation issues. The UNSGAB's current chairman is Prince Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange of the Netherlands. The 14 December meeting sought to formulate a framework of collaboration between the UNSGAB and key African organizations in support of ongoing African water initiatives and programmes, including preparations for the 2008 International Year of Sanitation. The Dialogue's main outcome was the design of specific joint actions by UNSGAB and African institutions to move toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on water and sanitation in Africa.

Links to further information World Water Council press release, 18 December 2006 Opening Remarks by the Prince of Orange, 14 December 2006

A Capacity Building Workshop on Partnerships for Improving the Performance of Water Utilities in the Africa Region has discussed implementation of the global water and sanitation agenda in the African context. The workshop, which convened from 6-8 December 2006 at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya, was organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) and the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT). Attended by more than 90 senior water experts representing governmental and inter-governmental organizations and the private sector from over 36 countries, the workshop focused on contributing towards the implementation of the global water and sanitation agenda by strengthening the capacities of water utilities in meeting the dual challenge of service expansion and efficient delivery of services. Participants developed a Nairobi Statement, which states the need to, inter alia: develop and implement programmes to overcome limited technical, financial and institutional capacities; promote commitment, support and participation of all stakeholders to improve the performance of water utilities; increase finance to improve and extend safe and adequate access to water and sanitation for all; recommend separation of the dual functions of regulatory and operational activities that will improve the performance of public utilities in delivering water and sanitation services; implement actions regarding benchmarking of utilities, such as establishing criteria for customer satisfaction, evaluating the performance of utility managers, serving the poor and creating gender balance in the utilities; and develop and institutionalize partnerships to promote the exchange of experiences and facilitate contact among utilities. Links to further information IISD RS meeting coverage Workshop website

November 2006


Members of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) met from 17-26 November 2006, in Dubrovnik, Croatia, to address collapsing bluefin tuna stocks. At the meeting, delegates adopted a 15-year management plan for bluefin tuna, commencing 1 January 2007. Under the plan, the annual catch of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean is to be cut by one fifth in an attempt to conserve dwindling stocks. In addition, delegates agreed on measures to combat illegal fishing, including through setting up an international inspection scheme on the high seas. The scale of the cuts was criticised as “weak” by conservation groups, who cited scientific advice prepared for the ICCAT meeting that concluded that catches in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean were about three times above sustainable levels. The main measures agreed at the meeting include: a gradual reduction in the total allowable catch from the current 32,000 tonnes to 25,500 tonnes in 2010; an extension of the closed seasons when bluefin tuna fisheries are prohibited; an increase in the authorized minimum landing sizes from ten kilograms to 30 kilograms; and a global control system that covers every step of the process, from the catch to the market through to landing, transhipping and caging operations. Links to further information BBC News, 27 November 2006 ICCAT 15th Special Meeting website

The fourth meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes convened from 20-22 November 2006 in Bonn, Germany. At the meeting, which marked the tenth anniversary since the Convention's entry into force, parties reviewed and endorsed the activities carried out in the last three years and adopted their workplan for 2007-2009. Participants were presented a Preliminary assessment of transboundary rivers in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and of selected lakes in the UNECE region, adopted new model provisions on transboundary flood management and recommendations on the payments for ecosystem services in integrated water resources management, and decided to focus their future joint work on water and climate change and to develop a Strategy for the UNECE Region on Water and Climate Adaptation. During discussion of the Preliminary assessment of transboundary rivers in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and of selected lakes in the UNECE region, parties reaffirmed that the assessment is an important tool to evaluate compliance with the Convention and the progress achieved to protect and sustainably manage transboundary waters. The complete assessment for the whole UNECE Region will be submitted at the Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” in Belgrade in October 2007. The Model provisions on transboundary flood management that parties adopted set out riparian countries' obligations that could be included in legal instruments on transboundary waters or on flood management. By adopting these provisions, riparian countries commit to exchange information, cooperate in setting up warning and alarm systems and develop a long-term flood-management strategy. The Recommendations on the payments for ecosystem services in integrated water resources management that parties adopted indicate measures to internalize costs and benefits of the services provided by water related ecosystems. The Recommendations will assist decision makers in making economically efficient, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable decisions. Parties also decided to develop pilot projects to test their application. Participants further decided to focus their future joint work on water and climate change and to develop a Strategy for the UNECE Region on Water and Climate Adaptation. The Strategy will address possible impacts of climate change on flood and drought occurrences, health related aspects as well as practical ways to cope with transboundary impacts through adaptation. Another innovative decision of the Meeting was the involvement of the Convention and its secretariat in the development of National Policy Dialogues (NDP) in EECCA countries within the framework of the EU Water Initiative. The NPD will assist countries to develop integrated water resource management plans, analyze water reform needs and define strategies to attain the agreed targets through a participatory process. The first policy dialogue will be launched in Moldova. Links to further information Fourth Meeting of the Parties website UNECE Water Convention website

Wetland and water experts, including ministerial focal points from all seven Carpathian countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine), gathered in Evian, France, from 15-17 November 2006, for the sixth Encounter to define the fields of activities for 2007-2008 to be addressed by the Carpathian Wetland Initiative. Evian Encounters are part of the Ramsar Convention project financed by the Danone group, owner of the Evian mineral waters company. During the Encounter, which brought together senior officials of the Ramsar contracting parties and other relevant organizations in an informal atmosphere, participants focused on the Carpathian Wetland Initiative, building on the outcomes of the project “Network of Carpathian Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites” coordinated by the Slovak State Nature Conservancy, with support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Link to further information Ramsar Press Release, 1 December 2006

The second international meeting on the establishment of the South Pacific regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO) took place in Hobart, Australia, from 6-10 November 2006. Delegates did not reach agreement on interim measures that might apply in the period prior to the entry into force of the proposed Agreement to establish a South Pacific RFMO, but agreed that the matter would be discussed further at the Third International Meeting, scheduled for 30 April-4 May 2007, in Chile. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and Greenpeace have condemned the European Community, South Korea, and Russia for blocking measures supported by Australia, New Zealand, Chile, the Pacific Island States and the US aimed to protect deep sea life from bottom trawling. Links to further information South Pacific regional fisheries management organization con... Greenpeace press release, 10 November 2006 Deep Sea Conservation Coalition press release, 10 November 2006

Launched last September, the Asia-Pacific Water Forum (APWF) is a new regional network, working to identify and adopt solutions to water issues in the region. The APWF Governing Council, composed of Singapore's Ambassador at Large Tommy Koh, MDG Ambassador for Asia-Pacific Erna Witoelar, and former WaterAid Executive Director Ravi Narayanan, held its first meeting on 31 October–1 November 2006. The APWF will work on three key themes: water financing; disaster management; and water for development and ecosystems. Link to further information Asia-Pacific Water Forum website

October 2006


The Second Intergovernmental Review (IGR-2) of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA) (16-20 October 2006, Beijing, China) was attended by over 400 participants, representing governments, international and regional organizations, international financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations. The goals of IGR-2 were to: strengthen the implementation of the GPA at national, regional and global levels; contribute to the achievement of specific targets in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation as they relate to the GPA, the ecosystem approach, and sanitation; and provide guidance on the programme of work for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/GPA Coordination Office for the period 2007-2011. The outcomes of the meeting include: a Chair's summary of the high-level discussions; a report of the meeting; and the Beijing Declaration on Furthering the Implementation of the GPA. The Declaration will be submitted for endorsement to the next UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in February 2007. At the end of IGR-2, delegates welcomed the approval of the Coordination Office's new programme of work and the meeting's strong emphasis on new ideas for the further implementation of the GPA. Link to further information IISD RS coverage

The Third International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Symposium (ITMEMS3) has convened in Cozumel, Mexico. The International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Symposium (ITMEMS) is the core activity of the International Coral Reef Initiative, a partnership among governments, international organizations and NGOs. Over 300 participants from 45 countries gathered from 16-20 October 2006 to: share experiences and lessons learned; identify effective local solutions to common management problems; inform future action to manage tropical marine ecosystems; evaluate progress made; and strengthen and expand the network of tropical marine managers. During ITMEMS3, thirteen themes were discussed and teams representing a wide range of locations, disciplines and institutions engaged in participatory workshops on key issues and questions. In addition, the Local Government Leaders Forum was held, hosted by Mayor Gustavo Ortega of Cozumel, bringing together local and traditional leaders from the Philippines, the Cook Islands, Australia, the US and Tanzania to discuss the importance of engaging effective local political, community and indigenous leadership to achieve sustainable management and conservation of tropical marine and coastal ecosystems. The outcomes of ITMEMS3 are: an Action Statement, which includes the recommendations emanating from the Local Government Leaders Forum and the Regional Caucus Reports; the Local Government Leaders Statement; and recommendations emerging from the thirteen thematic workshops. Recommendations address the need to build resilience into coral reef management, enforce relevant laws, and support sustainable fisheries management, among others (IISD sources). Link to further information ITMEMS website

The 8th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans took place from 13-14 October 2006, in Beijing, People's Republic of China. Participants contributed to fine tuning the agenda of the Second Intergovernmental Review (IGR-2) of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), also taking place in Beijing from 16-20 October 2006. Participants exchanged experiences on implementing the GPA and addressed cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Migratory Species (IISD sources). Link to further information Website for 8th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventi...

WWF, the Fisheries Secretariat and Birdlife International organized a workshop on the implementation of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) on 5 October 2006 in Brussels, Belgium. The workshop sought to: raise awareness among NGOs about the importance of the EFF and to support their participation in the EU member States' national programming processes; highlight measures benefiting sustainable development of the marine environment eligible under the EFF; and outline steps to ensure that these measures are included in national programming documents. Links to further information WWF press release, 5 October 2006 Background paper for the workshop

September 2006


The African Water Facility is an initiative led by the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) to mobilize financial resources for water resources development in Africa. On 21-22 September 2006, the Facility organized a regional consultative meeting in Tunis, Tunisia, with the cooperation of the African Development Bank to share experiences and build partnership to support African countries in water sector monitoring and evaluation. Link to further information IISD sources (25 September 2006)

At the Meeting on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore: Enhancing Safety, Security and Environmental Protection, which took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 18 to 20 September 2006, the littoral States of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and user States met to develop mechanisms and programmes to enhance cooperation in the management of the Straits, one of the most important and busiest shipping routes in the world. Meeting participants agreed to support, inter alia: the removal of wrecks in the Traffic Separation Scheme in the straits; cooperation and capacity building on hazardous and noxious substance; preparedness and response in the straits; setting up tide, current and wind measurement systems for the straits to enhance navigational safety and marine environment protection; and replacement of aids to navigation damaged by the tsunami disaster of December 2004. Delegates also agreed that the littoral States, user States, the shipping industry and other stakeholders should cooperate towards the establishment of a mechanism for voluntary funding for the agreed projects and the maintenance and renewal of aids to navigation in the Straits. Link to further information IMO Press briefing (22 September 2006)

States participating in a UN meeting in New Delhi have apparently welcomed a series of guidelines on responsible shrimp farming that aim to reduce the sector's environmental impact while enhancing its contribution to poverty alleviation. The support for the guidelines came during the third meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, held from 4-8 September 2006. Although shrimp farming is often criticized for its environmental impacts, millions of small-scale producers in the world's poorest countries, which produce 99 percent of the world's farmed shrimp, depend on it for their livelihoods. The principles were not submitted for formal adoption at the meeting, but there was reportedly general agreement that they should be used as a global point of reference. The principles deal with, inter alia: the siting of farms and their design; the use of resources such as water and feed; and the social impacts of aquaculture on local communities. Links to further information FAO Press release, 11 September 2006 The International Principles for Responsible Shrimp Farming

A regional gathering has been held on marine and coastal wetlands. The International Workshop on Marine and Coastal Wetlands: Education Network, Capacity Building, and Training, which took place from 30 August to 1 September 2006 in Nha Trang, Viet Nam, brought together practitioners from the East Asian region to discuss the possible creation of a network of marine and coastal wetlands educators. Among the workshop outcomes, Vietnamese participants agreed to establish a national wetlands education network in order to facilitate the regular exchange of information and sharing of experiences, and international participants international participants discussed preparations for the Asian Wetland Symposium, scheduled for early 2008. Link to further information IUCN press release (8 September 2006)

August 2006


World Water Week 2006 has focused on a range of issues, included river-basin management and the sharing of benefits and responsibilities. World Water Week, which took place from 20-26 August, in Stockholm, Sweden, was organized around the theme: “Beyond the River – Sharing Benefits and Responsibilities.” An annual global meeting place for capacity-building, partnership-building and follow-up on the implementation of international processes and programmes in water and development, the event addressed livelihood improvement, land-based activities within a river basin, and society's ability to cope with natural disasters. Individual sessions also covered issues such as governance, follow-up to the Fourth World Water Forum, and public-private partnerships.

Link to further information World Water Week in Stockholm website

The Stakeholder Forum and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) convened a side event on 24 August 2006, at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, to explore options for establishing an Ad-hoc Global Public Policy Network (GPPN) on Water and Sanitation. The event, “What Can CSD 2008 do for the Water Agenda?” considered alternatives for preparing for the 2008 Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) review session, which is expected to devote a separate segment to monitor and follow up implementation of the decisions on water and sanitation and their interlinkages taken at the CSD's thirteenth session. Sweden's Environment Ambassador Viveka Bohn chaired the meeting. During the meeting, participants raised a variety of issues, including: the role a GPPN could play in preparing for the CSD's discussions, especially in light of the time and resource constraints leading up to that session; the importance of engagement at the country level; and the possibilities for linking the GPPN to the CSD's current “energy cycle.” Based on this discussion, the Stakeholder Forum and SIWI will revise their proposal for how the GPPN could move forward, and circulate it for comment and for organizations to state their interest to become part of the GPPN. Links to further information Stakeholder Forum website Stockholm International Water Institute website The meeting report

July 2006


The World Heritage Committee has inscribed several new water-related sites on its World Heritage List. During its 30th session, held in Vilnius, Lithuania, from 8-16 July 2006, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage Committee inscribed on the list several water related sites, including the aflaj irrigation system in Oman, the Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof in Germany, and the Vizcaya Bridge in Spain. Link to further information UNESCO website

The UN Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation has held its sixth meeting, focusing on topics related to Africa, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the series of actions presented by the Board during the 4th World Water Forum. The Board was created in 2004 by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan and is intended to galvanize global action on water and sanitation issues, which are widely regarded as central to the world's hopes of eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development. The Board's sixth meeting was held in Paris, France, from 10-11 July 2006. Link to further information World Water Council press release (10 July 2006)

The 17th session of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) Intergovernmental Council was held from 3-7 July 2006 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. The Council addressed, inter alia: collaboration of the IHP with the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education; member States' proposals for the establishment of centers under the auspices of UNESCO; development of a strategy for UNESCO's water centers; endorsement of the draft Strategic Plan of the 7th phase (2008-2013) of IHP; the expected role of IHP in the UNESCO-wide strategy for water education at all levels.

Links to further information Agenda of the meeting, July 2006 Council documents, July 2006 Presentation of the next IHP phase (IHP-VII)

An online consultation for the Zaragoza Expo 2008's Pavilion of Citizens´ Initiatives is underway. The consultation seeks input from civil society organizations interested in the 2008 event, which is expected to draw a large audience and will focus on “Water for Sustainable Development.” Link to further information Fundación Ecología y Desarrollo website (July 2006)

June 2006


An online dialogue has been held to consider the impact of coastal urbanization on the marine environment and human health. From 19-30 June 2006, an online dialogue was held on the theme: “Our Expanding Urban Coast: a Threat to the Marine Environment and Human Health.” The online dialogue was hosted by Stakeholder Forum, in collaboration with UNEP/GPA (the Global Programme of Action for the protection of the marine environment from land-based pollution). The aim of the dialogue was to explore the links between the marine environment, coastal urbanization and physical alteration and destruction of habitat, integrated management approaches, and nutrients, with a view to developing recommendations on: processes and policies to address these issues at all levels; the GPA's role in addressing these issues; and the potential role of various stakeholders.

Link to further information Summary of the outcomes (July 2006)

The conference “Past and Future in Establishing Institutions on Danube Cooperation,” which took place in Galati, Romania, from 27-29 June 2006, brought together river navigation specialists and environmental, water management and wetlands experts. The event underlined the need to work jointly across sectoral interests and national boundaries in order to find lasting solutions for sustainable development in the lower Danube region. The conference provided the opportunity for specialist groups to: discuss historical aspects of the institutional evolution since the establishment of the first Danube Commission; and focus on the most recent political Danube Cooperation Process, initiated by the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, after the 1999 Kosovo war.

Link to further information Ramsar press release (5 July 2006)

Delegates attending the latest International Whaling Commission meeting have voted narrowly in favor of a non-binding declaration that supports the pro-whaling agenda and states that the International Whaling Commission will collapse unless whaling resumes. The declaration, which was adopted with 33 votes in favor, 32 against, and one abstention, took place during the Commission's annual meeting, which was held from 16-20 June 2006 in St. Kitts and Nevis. The St. Kitts and Nevis Declaration that was adopted during the event notes that the moratorium on whaling was adopted in 1986 without advice from the Commission's Scientific Committee, and was intended as a temporary measure. It adds that, since then, research has indicated that many stocks and species of whales are abundant and sustainable whaling is possible. Even though the pro-whaling nations will need a 75% majority to formally reject the moratorium and resume commercial whaling, this declaration seems likely to bring in a new era in the conservation of whales. Next year's meeting of the Commission will be held in Anchorage, Alaska from 4-31 May. The 2008 meeting will be held in Chile.

Links to further information The Declaration BBC news report (21 June 2006)

The latest discussions on oceans and the Law of the Sea at UN headquarters in New York has ended with agreement on a report that will be submitted to the General Assembly for consideration at its next session. The seventh meeting of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (12-16 June 2006, New York, NY) brought together over 400 representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. During the week-long conference, delegates convened in plenary sessions to: exchange views on areas of concern and actions needed; discuss cooperation and coordination on ocean issues; and identify issues that could benefit from attention in future work of the General Assembly. A discussion panel was held to consider ecosystem approaches and oceans. The outcome of the meeting includes a report containing elements agreed by consensus on ecosystem approaches and oceans, which will be submitted to the General Assembly for consideration at its 61st session under the agenda item “Oceans and the law of the sea.” IISD coverage. Advance and unedited text of the report on the work of the Consultative Process containing the agreed consensual elements to be suggested to the General Assembly is online.
Antigua Hosts Meeting on Watershed and Coastal Areas Management

June 2006: Caribbean environment and sustainable development officials have gathered in Antigua during the first week of June to discuss the implementation of an “Integrating Watershed and Coastal Areas Management” (IWCAM) project for 13 Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The IWCAM project seeks to enhance the participating countries' capacity to plan and manage their aquatic resources and ecosystems sustainably. Funding for the US$23 million project has been provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and several collaborating agencies. [IWCAM news release, 29 May 2006[ [Antigua Sun news story, June 2006]

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands' Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) has met from 30 May to 2 June 2006 in Switzerland to take stock of Parties priority tasks for the 2006-2008 and discuss a work programme for carrying out these tasks. According to a briefing note on the Ramsar website, “six regional networking members and six thematic expert members, with the five members representing the Convention's International Organization Partners, were joined in a full schedule of plenaries and break-out contact groups by representatives of other MEAs… and other organizations like the FAO, UNEP-WCMC, the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the European Space Agency (ESA-ESRIN), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and RIZA (the Netherlands), as well as the Society of Wetland Scientists, The Nature Conservancy, and Ducks Unlimited U.S.A., with additional observers and invited experts.” Link to further information Ramsar report (6 June 2006)

May 2006


A meeting to review a UN agreement on straddling and migratory fish stocks has been held in New York. The Review Conference of the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNFSA) convened from 22-26 May 2006, at UN headquarters. By the end of the meeting, delegates had adopted a final report that highlights: a commitment to integrate ecosystem considerations in fisheries management; the urgent reduction of the world's fishing capacity to levels commensurate with the sustainability of fish stocks; urgent strengthening of regional fisheries management organization mandates to implement precautionary and ecosystem approaches to fisheries management; performance reviews of regional fisheries management organizations; a commitment to develop a legally binding instrument on minimum standards for port State measures and a comprehensive global register of fishing vessels; expanded assistance to developing countries; and continuation of a dialogue to address concerns raised by non-Parties. The final report will be transmitted to the secretariats of the regional fisheries management organizations and the General Assembly, and delegates decided to resume the Review Conference no later than 2011. Link to further information Earth Negotiations Bulletin report of the meeting

The Bureau of the International Hydrological Programme has approved its strategic plan for 2008-2013. The Programme, which is UNESCO's “intergovernmental scientific co-operative programme in water resources,” convened its 39th session from 3-5 May 2006 at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft, the Netherlands. The Bureau focused on a variety of tasks, including: endorsing the Implementation Plan of the Seventh Phase of the IHP (IHP-VII, 2008-2013); examining the follow-up actions to Resolution XVI-7 on IHP governance as well as the mechanisms for a strategy for the coordination of the network of water-related centers operating under the auspices of UNESCO; and review progress on new IHP initiatives on floods and sedimentation. Link to further information UNESCO web site

The annual Board meeting of the Ramsar Regional Center for Wetland Training and Research in the Western Hemisphere (CREHO), based in Panama, was held on 2 May 2006. The Board emphasized the need for conservation and wise use of wetlands, through strengthening technical capacities of decision makers and wetland managers in the Americas, and highlighted the role of CREHO as a driving force of capacity building processes. Link to further information Ramsar statement, 9 May 2006

April 2006


A workshop in Comacchio, Italy has focused on the role played by the Ramsar Convention on wetlands in reducing biodiversity loss; and on specific aspects related to biodiversity concerns in the Italian context. The workshop, entitled “Biodiversity is Life, Countdown 2010: Biodiversity Protection in Wetlands,” took place on 29 April 2006, and was organized by the Parco del Po, in association with Europarc Federation, the Italian Federation of Parks and Nature Reserves, and the “Delta chiama Delta” association. Link to further information Ramsar website

The 34th meeting of Ramsar's Standing Committee took place from 10-13 April 2006 in Gland, Switzerland. The members and observers of the Committee adopted some 25 decisions mostly concerning the establishment of the work, working procedures, and working bodies for the next triennium leading up to the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention in the Republic of Korea in the second half of 2008. Links to further information The report of the Committee Decisions adopted by the Committee

(UNECE, April 2006) At its seventh meeting, which took place from 10-11 April 2006 in Geneva, the Joint Expert Group on Water and Industrial Accidents adopted draft safety guidelines/good practices for pipelines. The Group is a body under the auspices of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents and the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. The draft guidelines will be submitted for adoption to the Conference of the Parties to the Industrial Accidents Convention (Rome, 15-17 November 2006) and to the Meeting of the Parties to the Water Convention (Bonn, 20-22 November 2006). Link to further information UNECE website

Applying and monitoring biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements at the national level was the focus of a recent meeting for Gabonese parliamentarians. The meeting, which took place on 3 April 2006, in Libreville, Gabon, sought to strengthen the capacity of parliamentarians and other stakeholders to comply with and enforce biodiversity-related MEAs. It was organized by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, UNEP, and the Ministry for the Environment and the Protection of Nature of Gabon. Participants gained first-hand insight in the implementation of the Ramsar Convention, CITES, UNCCD and the CBD in Gabon through presentations by national focal points. UNEP also briefed participants on questions related to the coordination of environmental issues in the UN system and recent attempts to strengthen system-wide coherence. Link to further information Ramsar press release, 20 April 2006

March 2006


A workshop on legal support for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in West and Central Africa has been held in Yaounde, Cameroon. The meeting, which took place which took place from 27-28 March 2006, addressed how to strengthen the participation of countries in the region in Ramsar Convention objectivies. Participants were also briefed on the results of the ninth Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention, held in November 2006. In addition, issues of legal support and the Ramsar guidelines for reviewing relevant laws and institutions were discussed. The event ended with the adoption of a declaration by participants. Link to further information The report of the meeting

The International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee has adopted some amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. At the Committee's fifty-fourth session, held at IMO Headquarters from 20-24 March 2006, amendments were adopted on regulation of oil fuel tank protection, the definition of “heavy grade oil,” and port State control on operational requirements. Other issues on the agenda included ballast water management and air pollution from ships. The Committee also agreed on a work plan for the further development of a legally-binding instrument on ship recycling. Links to further information IMO press briefing, March 2006 Meeting agenda, March 2006

A meeting has been held at United Nations headquarters in New York to prepare for the Review Conference of the 1995 Agreement for the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. The preparatory meeting, which was held from 20-24 March 2006, examined guidelines to be used during the upcoming Review Conference to assess the adequacy of the Agreement. The draft criteria that resulted from these discussions will be recommended to the Review Conference, and cover the extent to which States parties have adopted measures to conserve and manage straddling and migratory fish stocks. Criteria also cover the extent to which States parties have sought to: eliminate overfishing; minimize catch of unwanted species; establish new regional management organizations; and strengthen international cooperation. The Review Conference is taking place from 22-26 May 2006. Links to further information UN press briefings, March 2006 UN News centre, 24 March 2006 UN press release, 16 March 2006

The 4th World Water Forum convened in Mexico City, Mexico from 16 to 22 March 2006. The Forum seeks to enable multi-stakeholder participation and dialogue to influence water policy-making at a global level towards sustainable development. The Forum's main theme in 2006 was, “Local actions for a global challenge.” This was addressed through five framework themes: water for growth and development; implementing integrated water resources management (IWRM); water supply and sanitation for all; water management for food and the environment; and risk management. Over 200 thematic sessions were held, and almost 20,000 participants attended, representing governments, United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, academia, business and industry, indigenous groups, youth and the media. A Ministerial Conference concluded the Forum on 21-22 March, with some 140 ministers and high-level officials gathering, and the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration calling for international action on water and sanitation issues. Link to further information IISD coverage

February 2006


A conference has been held to consider conservation and sustainable development in the Danube Delta. The conference, which took place from 27-28 February 2006, in Odessa, Ukraine, was convened by the Government of Ukraine in cooperation with the Governments of Romania and the Republic of Moldova, under the auspices of the Danube Commission (ICPDR), and with the support of UNESCO and the European Commission. The event brought together about 100 specialists, government officials, international governmental and non-governmental organizations, scientific experts, and stakeholders from the Danube Delta region. Participants discussed the current state of the Danube Delta, cooperation mechanisms, and means of achieving conservation and sustainable development. They concluded that the Danube Delta forms a culturally and geographically unique region, and that regional development has to be planned and undertaken at an ecosystem scale in a sustainable way, taking into account ecological limitations and sensitivities. Link to further information Report on the meeting

An informal United Nations working group has convened to discuss biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdictions. The Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group of the General Assembly to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction convened from 13-17 February 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. Participants agreed on the need for short-term measures to address illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and destructive fishing practices as the most urgent threats to marine biodiversity, as well as institutional coordination. Many delegates also agreed that there should be an ongoing process to advance discussions on sharing the benefits from marine genetic resources, avoiding the adverse impacts of marine scientific research on marine biodiversity, and facilitating the establishment of high seas marine protected areas. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting

January 2006


Preparations for the Fourth World Water Forum have continued, with several regional and sub-regional events held in recent weeks. On 8 and 9 December 2005, a meeting of the Africa Regional Directive Committee for the 4th World Water Forum took place in Windhoek, Namibia, to conclude the Africa Regional Report and the continent's contribution to the Ministerial Declaration that will be sent to the dialogue table during the Forum. The Africa Regional Report identifies problems and challenges regarding the availability of water, and establishes a commitment to reach full access to water and sanitation services by the year 2025. Other recent meetings include a dialogue of Plata Basin countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) held on 23 November 2005 at Foz de Iguazú, Brazil. Civil society workshops have also been held recent in San Salvador, Buenos Aires and Mexico City, and the 21st World Water Congress held in New Delhi in November also addressed various relevant issues. Link to further information Forum newsletter, Volume 12, January 2006

A major conference on oceans, coasts and islands has discussed how to move the oceans agenda forward, as well as discussing governance and climate-related matters. The Third Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, which took as its theme “Moving the Global Oceans Agenda Forward,” was held at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris, France from 24-27 January 2006. Bringing together over 400 participants, the meeting sought to accelerate progress in achieving international ocean policy targets, especially those related to the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Participants also examined two major emerging ocean policy issues: high seas governance and the wide-ranging effects of climate change on oceans and coastal environments. Link to further information IISDRS coverage of the meeting