Daily report for 29 November 2001

1st Intergovernmental Review (IGR) on Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA)

The high-level segment of the Intergovernmental Review (IGR) on Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) began on Thursday, with ministers and other high-level officials delivering statements on coastal and ocean governance, financing for GPA implementation, and the draft Montreal Declaration on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.


High-level Segment Chair Herb Dhaliwal, Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, highlighted the primary objectives of the high-level segment: to discuss how to improve GPA implementation through ocean governance; to address potential partnerships and financing for the GPA; and to adopt the Montreal Declaration. He noted that although good progress has been made since the GPA was adopted, many challenges remain, and highlighted ocean governance as perhaps the most important issue. Regarding the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), he said Canada would support strengthened ocean governance, sustainable development, integrated management and the precautionary approach.

Klaus Tpfer, UNEP Executive Director, urged nations to ratify the conventions on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and prior informed consent (PIC). He noted that land-based activities are a source of great harm to the oceans, and highlighted the need for international cooperation and solidarity, particularly in the areas of financing, technology transfer, capacity building and governance. He concluded that we already possess the technology, knowledge and resources to address the problem, and that governments must respond with political will to turn planning into action.

Jan Pronk, Dutch Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, thanked the GPA Coordination Office for its excellent work. He underscored the importance of maintaining the earths natural capital to prevent the spread of poverty. He highlighted the toll of globalization and its environmental externalities on coastal zones and human, social and economic health. On governance, he called for improved coordination of freshwater and oceans management policies, and greater emphasis on regional cooperation within the framework of regional seas programmes. Highlighting the relationships between climate change, erosion, desertification, loss of agricultural fertility, and excess nutrients in coastal zones, he emphasized the need for the various environmental conventions to reinforce one another. On finance, he stressed the need for: stable and predictable funding for GPA implementation; new and innovative ways of mobilizing finance; integration of the value of sustainability into economic decision-making; and strengthened regional approaches. He stressed the need to fuel the WSSD with political will to enable the GPA and other environmental instruments to be effective mechanisms in the future.


Co-Chair Johannesson (Iceland) presented the Co-Chairs Summary of the multi-stakeholder segment. He highlighted: considerable progress in GPA implementation; implementation of national programmes of action (NPAs); strong regional cooperation; and support for the Strategic Action Plan on Municipal Wastewater and the 2002-2006 work programme for the GPA Coordination Office. He said delegates emphasized the need for: coordination and cooperation with ongoing programmes and UN agencies whose work complements the GPA; innovative approaches to attract private investment for GPA implementation; debt relief; and public-private partnerships to create new financial opportunities.

Co-Chair Slade (Samoa) summarized the deliberations on governance, highlighting that GPA implementation generates economic, health, environmental and sustainable development benefits, and that regional seas programmes are pillars for improved coastal and ocean governance. He emphasized the need to: more systematically integrate the GPA with complementary international instruments to expand their reach and efficiency; ensure the currency of the GPA in the UN Oceans Consultative Process; and build capacity to improve the understanding of oceans and the governance of coastal and ocean resources at the national level.


SOUTH AFRICA expressed concern about the capacity of African countries to service environmental agreements, attend meetings and participate in decision- making. She suggested that countries be represented by relevant regional bodies to make participation more affordable and effective. BELGIUM, on behalf of the EU, supported twinning arrangements, stressed the impact of climate change on ocean ecosystems, and called for further cooperation on climate impact assessments and ratification of the POPs Convention. On the Montreal Declaration, he suggested calling on regional seas programmes to prepare action plans, and produce interim reports on their implementation and full reports for the next IGR. On finance, he noted that Belgium contributed US$1.6 million to the GPA last year, pledged continued support, and advocated a 50 percent increase for the GEF replenishment.

The UK strongly supported regional seas programmes and called on them to prepare assessments of marine pollution, action plans, and detailed reports. Describing UNEP as "the single most important world institution," he said the volatility of its funding is unacceptable. On finance, he supported a 50 percent increase of the GEF Trust Fund, and announced that the UK would propose establishing a new fund of US$50 billion for developing countries. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said it allots high priority and actively contributes to GPA implementation, and highlighted regional achievements of the Arctic Council. GLOBE INDIA read a statement on behalf of US Congressman James Greenwood, President of GLOBE, and pledged continued support for GPA implementation. He expressed concern with inadequate levels of action, and emphasized the need for cooperative partnerships among financial institutions, international organizations, NGOs and other stakeholders. ICELAND highlighted the value of international cooperation in tackling marine pollution.

BRAZIL noted that a full review of GPA implementation has not yet been completed, and stressed the need for continued dialogue, particularly at a technical level. SWITZERLAND noted that its rivers empty into the basins of three seas, and as a result, it assumes responsibility for protecting the oceans by preventing upstream pollution. He stressed the importance of strengthening governance as well as GPA cooperation with multilateral environmental agreements, including conventions on POPs, PIC, climate change, biodiversity and regional seas. MONITOR INTERNATIONAL, on behalf of NGOs, announced that NGOs prepared a declaration related to the GPA, and highlighted: the importance of building public awareness; the need for the GPA to end and eventually reverse the degradation of coastal and marine environments; and the urgency of tackling nutrient pollution.

The WORLD BANK reconfirmed its commitment to GPA implementation, and reported that the Bank has directly funded 190 GPA-related projects worth more than US$4 billion. She noted a shift from segmented to comprehensive and integrated approaches, from curative to preventive approaches, and from incremental to strategic investment approaches. CTE DIVOIRE called for improved coordination between the GPA and relevant UN bodies in order to avoid duplication and more effectively manage human and financial resources. He said GPA implementation must stress approaches for integrated and sustainable management of coastal areas as well as development of river basins. FINLAND recommended that the Montreal Declaration highlight the impacts of climate change on the marine environment. He noted the relatively small number of NPAs in existence as a sign that words are not easily translated into action.

NORWAY expressed concern about the health implications of municipal wastewater discharges, and supported the Strategic Action Plan on Municipal Wastewater and the prioritization of sewage in the work programme. He urged all governments to expeditiously ratify the POPs Convention, and reiterated the need to ensure adequate, predictable and stable financing for UNEP. The US underscored the principal responsibility of national governments for GPA implementation, and stressed the importance of science-based decision-making, improved regional cooperation, coordination among UN agencies, and linkages between the GPA and global freshwater initiatives. On financing, she underscored the need for public-private sector partnerships and awareness-building among stakeholders as a way to mobilize new investments. She said the US intended to continue its financial contributions to the GPA, including funding for South Pacific and Caribbean initiatives. JAMAICA said the draft Declaration does not convey a sufficient sense of urgency. He promised early ratification of the Aruba Protocol to the Cartagena Convention, and highlighted the International Coral Reef Initiatives relevance to the GPA.

SWEDEN expressed concern about the low level of participation by UN agencies in GPA implementation, and stated that effective GPA implementation requires a holistic approach, transparency among stakeholders, and an enhanced knowledge base for decision-making. On finance, he stressed the primacy of national responsibilities, the need for innovative solutions through public-private partnerships, and the importance of internalizing external costs, including the cost of non-action and the benefits of action. MONACO supported international financial commitments in addition to national responsibilities, noting that some countries cannot afford to fund their own policies. The GEF reaffirmed its commitment to continue support for the GPA.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Tpfer proposed adding a reference to cooperation with the GEF to the Montreal Declaration. He stressed the need to capitalize on the many water-related conferences by building linkages among them and by distributing their findings and outputs widely. The UNEP EAST ASIAN SEAS REGIONAL COORDINATING UNIT (EAS/RCU) noted that it would cease to exist in two years unless it receives additional funding. He noted that the EAS/RCU would lend support through twinning to the South Asian Seas if adequate funding were provided. ST. LUCIA highlighted the need for capacity building, public education, institutional strengthening, policy reform, monitoring, evaluation, performance indicators, economic valuation tools, and innovative sources of funding. He noted that the transfer of low-cost technologies would be appropriate provided that it does not negatively impact human health or the environment and is culturally acceptable. ECUADOR stressed that international funding agencies should increase their contributions to national programmes, particularly local grassroots programmes.

ITALY stressed the importance of regional action. PAKISTAN noted that it has instituted a pollution charge as well as a voluntary self-monitoring and assessment programme. PALAU, on behalf of Pacific Island States, emphasized the need for a coordinated regional approach to ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness. KENYA stated that the transboundary impacts of marine pollution demand joint efforts. He expressed alarm about developing countries limited resources and their minimal participation in decision-making, stated that capacity building and technology transfer are integral to environmental governance, and urged financial institutions to support regional arrangements. MOZAMBIQUE highlighted poverty alleviation as integral to sound coastal management, and stressed the need for financial assistance and capacity building. CHINA identified the lack of financial resources as the chief barrier to GPA implementation. While acknowledging the paramount role of national governments, he urged developed countries to support developing countries implementation of the GPA.


Chair Dhaliwal noted the circulation of a revised draft of the Montreal Declaration, and highlighted additional proposals that had been made, including, inter alia, for: a strengthened role for regional seas programmes; increased ODA and GEF replenishment; stable and predictable funding for UNEP; reporting on the state of the oceans; and inclusion of the GPA in national development plans. He invited delegates to voice any additional proposals they wished to be reflected in the final draft.

GHANA stressed the need to strengthen the language on financing to ensure that the GPA will achieve results. CUBA also called for text on augmenting financial resources to effectively implement the GPA. On a paragraph calling on international financial institutions and mechanisms to facilitate and expeditiously finance GPA-related activities, COLOMBIA, supported by BRAZIL and CHILE, proposed specifying the GEF, and VENEZUELA and PERU recommended also adding the World Bank. To text highlighting the harmful effects of land-based activities on coastal and marine ecosystems, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA proposed also mentioning the human health impacts.


HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT: Delegates will convene in Plenary 4 at 10:00 am to hear statements from ministers and high-level officials. The closing session of the meeting will convene in Plenary 3 at 3:00 pm to negotiate and finalize the Montreal Declaration and adopt the report of the meeting.

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