Summary report, 26–30 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 first Intergovernmental Review (IGR) meeting on Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) took place from 26-30 November 2001 in Montreal, Canada. The meeting was hosted by the Canadian Government and attended by more than 300 participants, representing governments, international and regional organizations, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.

The goals of the IGR were to review the status of GPA implementation, mainstream the GPA, and enlist support and high-level commitment to provide substantial impetus to implementation of the GPA, by: defining realistic targets, activities and responsibilities; devising feasible financial, institutional and technological arrangements; and securing commitments from key partners. Over the course of the five-day meeting, delegates addressed several key issues, including: a review of accomplishments in GPA implementation from 1995 to 2001; the GPAs Strategic Action Plan on Municipal Wastewater; the 2002-2006 work programme for the GPA Coordination Office; coastal and ocean governance; and partnerships and financing for implementation of the GPA.

Thirty-one ministers and high-level officials, as well as representatives from three international institutions and three NGOs, also addressed the meeting during a high-level segment. Delegates adopted the Montreal Declaration on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, in which they commit to improving and accelerating implementation of the GPA through actions related to mainstreaming of the GPA, oceans and coastal governance, and financing of the GPA. The Declaration will be submitted for endorsement to the next Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and to the preparatory process of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development for consideration when addressing measures on protection of the marine environment.


Major threats to the health, productivity and biodiversity of the marine environment result from human activities on land, including the generation of municipal, industrial and agricultural wastes and runoff, as well as atmospheric deposition. These contaminants affect the most productive areas of the marine environment, particularly estuaries and near-shore coastal waters. The marine environment is also threatened by physical alterations of the coastal zone, including destruction of habitats critical to the maintenance of ecosystem health.

In 1972, the UN Conference on the Human Environment underscored "the vital importance for humanity of the seas and all the living organisms which the oceans support." At the conference, the UN General Assembly decided to create UNEP. They endorsed a regional approach to controlling marine pollution.

UNEP launched its Regional Seas Programme in 1974. The Mediterranean Action Plan, the first UNEP Regional Seas action plan, was adopted in 1975, and its legal framework, the Barcelona Convention was adopted in 1976. Regional seas agreements for marine environmental protection were adopted during this time as well, independent of UNEPs Regional Seas Programme, including for the Baltic Sea (the Helsinki Convention, in 1974) and the Northeast Atlantic (the Oslo Convention, in 1972, and the Paris Convention, in 1974). Most of the worlds coastal regions now have regional seas programmes for the protection of the marine and coastal environment.

Coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982, UNEP began addressing issues related to impacts on the marine environment from land-based activities. This initiative resulted in the preparation of the Montreal Guidelines for the Protection of the Marine Environment against Pollution from Land-based Sources in 1985.

At the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992, the international community placed the duty to protect the marine environment from land-based activities squarely in the context of sustainable development. Agenda 21, the blueprint for sustainable development in the 21st century adopted at UNCED, contains a full chapter (Chapter 17) on the protection of oceans, seas and coastal areas, which outlines objectives, activities and means of implementation for the integrated management and sustainable development of coastal and marine areas and for marine environmental protection, among others.

The GPA was adopted by 108 governments and the European Commission at an intergovernmental conference held for that purpose from 23 October to 3 November 1995 in Washington DC. The conference designated UNEP as the Secretariat of the GPA to lead the coordination of GPA implementation. UNEP established the GPA Coordination Office in The Hague, The Netherlands, in 1997. The GPA was designed to be a source of conceptual and practical guidance to be drawn on by national and/or regional authorities in devising and implementing sustained action to prevent, reduce, control and/or eliminate marine degradation from land-based activities.

The GPA targets major threats to the health, productivity and biodiversity of the marine and coastal environment resulting from human activities on land. It proposes an integrated, multi-sectoral approach based on commitment to action at local, national, regional and global levels. The GPA recommends that States identify and assess the nature and severity of problems in relation to food security and poverty alleviation, public health, coastal and marine resources and ecosystem health, and economic and social benefits, including cultural values. It recommends the identification and assessment of the severity and impacts of contaminants, including sewage, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), radioactive substances, heavy metals, oils, nutrients, sediment mobilization, and litter, as well as the physical alteration, including habitat modification and destruction, of areas of concern. Sources of degradation, including point and non-point sources and atmospheric deposition, as well as vulnerable areas, should also be identified and assessed. The GPA calls on States to: establish priorities based on these assessments, applying integrated coastal area and watershed management approaches; set management objectives, with goals, targets and timetables, for priority problems for source categories and affected areas; identify, evaluate and select strategies and measures to achieve these objectives; and develop criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of strategies and measures.

In February 1999, the UNEP Governing Council, in its Decision 20/ 19 B, decided to undertake the first IGR of the status of implementation of the GPA in 2001, and requested the UNEP Executive Director to organize an expert group meeting to facilitate the preparations. This expert group meeting was held from 26-28 April 2000 in The Hague. In February 2001, the UNEP Governing Council adopted Decision 21/10, which called on the UNEP Executive Director to organize the IGR in November 2001.


The first IGR meeting consisted of two segments: a multi-stakeholder segment, which was held from Monday to Wednesday, 26-28 November, and a high-level segment, on Thursday and Friday, 29-30 November. Following is a summary of the proceedings of the meeting.


Herb Dhaliwal, Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, opened the meeting, welcoming delegates to Montreal. He noted that the IGR meeting provided an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned in GPA implementation to date, and to look forward to what needs to be done in the future. He highlighted efforts underway in Canada to manage its oceans in an integrated and sustainable manner, including the adoption of the first Oceans Act in 1997, implementation of its National Programme of Action (NPA) in 2000, establishment of a network of marine protected areas, and implementation of an oceans strategy. He outlined remaining challenges, including instilling a sense of stewardship for oceans at all levels, dealing with sources of marine pollution, and actively developing new financing mechanisms to assist all countries with GPA implementation. He underscored the need for global action and integrated management to protect the oceans for future generations.

Donald Kaniaru, Director, UNEP Division for Environmental Policy Implementation, on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Klaus Tpfer, stated that the IGR meeting would consider opportunities for and barriers to GPA implementation encountered in the past five years, and would pave the way for a revitalized programme of work for the next six years. He said the meeting would review: progress in GPA implementation; the results of scientific assessments of the impacts of land-based activities on the marine environment; progress with national plans; coordination among governments and institutions; and progress in capacity building and mobilization of resources to support GPA implementation.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Delegates elected by acclamation Herb Dhaliwal (Canada) as Chair of the meeting, Magnus Johannesson (Iceland) and Amb. Neroni Slade (Samoa) as Co-Chairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi (South Africa) and Boris Morgunov (Russian Federation) as Vice Co-Chairs, and Franklin McDonald (Jamaica) as Rapporteur. Delegates agreed that Dhaliwal would chair the high-level segment, and Johannesson and Slade would co-chair the multi-stakeholder segment. Delegates agreed to establish a drafting group, chaired by Tom Laughlin (US), to work on the Montreal Declaration. Delegates then adopted the provisional agenda (UNEP/GPA/IGR.1/1) as presented by Veerle Vandeweerd, Coordinator of the GPA Coordination Office.


The multi-stakeholder segment conducted a review of accomplishments in GPA implementation from 1995 to 2001, and considered: the GPAs Strategic Action Plan on Municipal Wastewater; the 2002-2006 work programme for the GPA Coordination Office; coastal and ocean governance; and partnerships and financing for implementation of the GPA.

REVIEW OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GPA, 1995-2001: On Monday morning, 26 November, delegates reviewed accomplishments in GPA implementation from 1995 to 2001 at the global, regional and national levels.

Global Level: GPA Coordination Office Coordinator Vandeweerd presented a review of accomplishments in GPA implementation, based on input from 50 countries and 20 organizations. She reported progress in developing regional and national action plans, increasing the use of integrated coastal area management and environmental impact assessment, and identifying problems and policy needs, but noted that little concrete action has yet been taken. She outlined barriers to implementation, including: a lack of political will, finance and awareness of the GPA; limited availability of appropriate technologies; weak compliance and enforcement of policies; and an institutional divide between the freshwater, coastal zone and marine communities.

Michael Hugo, Chair of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Protection (GESAMP), presented a recent GESAMP report on land-based activities affecting the marine environment. He highlighted, inter alia, difficulties with quantitative assessments, the impacts of pollution on food security and public health, the benefits and costs of policy action, and policy priorities. He stressed that reducing nutrient inputs and sewage generates large benefits but is also very costly. He highlighted three priorities for action: preventing habitat destruction; reducing pollution from sewage, nutrients and sediments; and incorporating the economic cost of environmental values in policy formulation.

Regional Level: Franklin McDonald, Chair of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region, presented a report on the 1999 Aruba Protocol to the Cartagena Convention. He described the Protocol as a strong agreement that furthers the GPA's goals by establishing regional effluent standards and identifying concrete actions on specific sources of pollution. He noted that the Protocol has not yet entered into force.

Lucien Chabasson, Coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan, noted the adoption of a revised Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution from Land-based Sources in 1996, which was designed to: incorporate river basins and watersheds in addressing marine pollution; address substances as well as categories of activities; enable countries to adopt regulations and enact permit systems; provide for adoption of regional strategies to reduce or eliminate pollution; and establish a system of reporting to the COP. He highlighted recent progress, including the completion of an inventory of pollution sources, identification of 107 hot spots suffering significant pollution impacts from tourism and industry, and the adoption of a Mediterranean Programme of Action in 1997.

National Level: John Arseneau, Environment Canada, presented Canada's NPA, adopted in June 2000. He highlighted pollution prevention and integrated management of activities within coastal and marine waters as the two primary strategies for protecting the marine environment from land-based activities. He said key lessons learned from the NPA process included: following the GPA's six-step methodology; involving all relevant stakeholders; beginning with immediate priorities and proceeding to address all priorities; building on existing management strategies; building capacity; ensuring sustainable financing; and maintaining flexibility.

Boris Morgunov, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation, presented the NPA for the Arctic region. He noted that pollution of the Arctic seas is largely a result of oil and gas drilling, mining, pulp and paper, transport, fishing and military activities. He said the Russian Federation aims to develop monitoring systems to assess pollution levels in the Russian Arctic, develop measures to protect the health of local communities, and promote cooperation with other institutions in addressing the transboundary movement of pollutants and protection of the Arctic region.

Robson Jos Calixto, Brazilian Ministry of Environment, presented the NPA for the Brazilian section of the upper southwest Atlantic region. He highlighted water pollution, contamination of sediments and aquatic organisms, changes in sediment dynamics, degradation of ecosystems, loss of biodiversity and endangered fish stocks as priority issues. He identified strategies for managing these problems, including: reducing pollution of water, sediments and aquatic organisms by encouraging the adoption of less polluting practices and technologies; developing studies on technological alternatives for basic sanitation; and supporting the development of environmental monitoring models.

GPA'S STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN ON MUNICIPAL WASTEWATER: On Monday afternoon, 26 November, GPA Coordination Office Coordinator Vandeweerd introduced the GPA's Strategic Action Plan (SAP) on Municipal Wastewater (UNEP/GPA/IGR.1/4 and 5) and Guidance on Municipal Wastewater (UNEP/GPA/IGR.1/INF/4). She explained that the SAP aims to further develop the GPA's guidance on sewage, and to support regional seas and other relevant bodies to address sewage as a priority problem, by: seeking consensus on the guidance document; promoting alternative solutions; facilitating partnerships to apply best practices; and facilitating regional cooperation. Regarding the current status of the SAP's implementation, she noted that the draft guidance has been developed; a global knowledge base has been developed and integrated in the "Sanitation Connection" database; and several regional workshops have been held to review the guidance document, share experiences on best practices and identify pilot projects. In the next four years, the SAP will focus on building capacity to develop new partnerships, explore alternative solutions and facilitate sustainable action. She noted that the SAP on sewage will serve as a model approach for other source categories, and will be submitted for endorsement to the UNEP Governing Council at its 22nd session.

Tanzania underscored the need for new and additional financial resources to improve wastewater management in the East Africa region. Costa Rica said funding is not well-defined in the SAP and asked that the SAP clearly note the need for new financial mechanisms to ensure that implementation activities are properly financed on a priority basis. The Water Supply And Sanitation Collaborative Council noted that the SAP recognizes the variability of local circumstances and the need for local actors to use discretion when applying the guidelines, and highlighted the need for targeted capacity building. The UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics highlighted the importance of strengthening mechanisms to build local capacity to address municipal wastewater issues. He noted the Division's recent compilation of a sourcebook on wastewater management and a survey of alternative technologies. WWF-UK recommended that the SAP address natural alternatives to expensive sewage treatment plants, such as constructed wetlands and onsite composting, which are simpler to maintain and more effective in the long term.

Australia expressed support for the SAP, but called for further analysis and attention to regional and national differences. Thailand supported the SAP's attention to capacity building, and proposed including the polluter pays principle as an official element. Japan said the SAP should take national circumstances into account, and emphasized the need for public-private partnerships and enforcement of the polluter pays principle. Sweden, supported by Ghana and Jamaica, proposed addressing industrial discharges in sewage systems and using alternatives to high-tech solutions, and supported efforts to develop SAPs for other sources of marine pollution.

The UK welcomed the Guidance as a helpful tool, and recommended greater emphasis on defining water quality standards to enable effective wastewater treatment, and consideration of the needs of the poorest in developing policy frameworks. St. Lucia stressed the need for targets for wastewater treatment coverage and effluent guidelines, and endorsed the development of pilot projects that enable sewage needs assessments and development of low-cost and appropriate technologies. The Republic of Korea said the SAP should provide frameworks for cooperation in the distribution of best available sewage treatment technologies. Jordan stressed the need to employ appropriate low-cost technologies or simple regulatory measures to reduce pollutant loads. Samoa highlighted priority issues for small island developing States (SIDS) in sewage management, including the understanding of other contributing factors such as drainage and the need for assessment studies to test sewage management systems.

Pakistan underscored the importance of disseminating technological know-how relating to low-cost wastewater management projects. Mozambique noted that the selection of wastewater treatment options should take into account health-care savings resulting from wastewater treatment improvements. Barbados urged caution regarding implementation of low-cost wastewater treatment solutions, which could damage marine ecosystems if implemented incorrectly. Chile said it is "utopic" to expect action from international institutions, and stressed privatization of sanitation enterprises.

PROPOSED 2002-2006 WORK PROGRAMME OF THE GPA COORDINATION OFFICE: On Tuesday morning, 27 November, GPA Coordination Office Coordinator Vanderweerd introduced the Proposed 2002-2006 Programme of Work (POW) for the GPA Coordination Office, with Indicative Costs (UNEP/GPA/IGR.1/6). She explained that the objectives of the POW are to achieve measurable reductions in pollutant loads in defined coastal locations, protect and restore specific habitats, and enhance the capacity of local and national authorities to address priority problems, considering alternative solutions. The main activity clusters for the POW include: promoting and facilitating binding and non-binding agreements between governments as well as voluntary agreements; contributing to global and regional assessments and analyses for action; building capacity; developing and implementing NPAs; facilitating action on source categories, with a focus on municipal wastewater and physical alteration and destruction of habitats; conducting public outreach and awareness-building; mobilizing resources; and preparing for the second IGR meeting. She explained that cost estimates for the POW were outlined at three different funding levels: "minimum," "intermediate," and "appropriate" (if funds were not a limiting factor).

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission presented the Proposed 2002-2006 POW for UN Agencies in Support of Implementation of the GPA (UNEP/GPA/IGR.1/6/Add.1), and listed proposals to develop indicators for ocean health and sustainable oceans management and to assess impacts of nutrient fluxes into coastal zones. He identified obstacles to effective action, including scarce resources and lack of institutional coordination on cross-sectoral mandates such as the GPA.

The US lauded the GPAs movement into an action-oriented phase, and expressed hope that assessment activities would also be linked to action. Peru stressed the importance of indicators to assess implementation of GPA objectives. Brazil supported establishing criteria to measure implementation of the GPA, and enlisting assistance from the private sector. Canada stated that, when assessing progress, success must be measured not only in terms of ocean health but also the effectiveness of investments. Monitor International expressed support for the POWs emphasis on specific targets and indicators and its focus on nutrients. Colombia stressed the importance of monitoring and assessment, developing indicators for sustainable development, integrating freshwater, oceans and coastal management, and creating financial and policy synergies among organizations and conventions. St. Lucia underscored the importance of strengthening linkages with other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) so that diminishing resources can be used efficiently. Japan noted the need to avoid duplication of activities under other MEAs, including the MARPOL and POPs conventions.

The Netherlands stressed the importance of additional funding for the GPA, and noted that it is considering contributing US$1.3 million to the GPA for 2002. Iceland questioned the POWs inclusion of the "minimum" funding level, stressing that the intermediate funding level is the minimum required to meet the POWs goals. Canada said the intermediate financial scenario is realistic.

Trinidad and Tobago supported the focus on priority source categories. Sweden supported the POWs prioritization of sewage, physical alteration and destruction of habitats, and nutrients, but underscored the need to continue work on other source categories, which continue to be problematic in many regions. Venezuela urged the inclusion of hydrocarbons as a priority source to be addressed in the POW. The World Health Organization (WHO) underscored the importance of incorporating human health concerns into the GPAs future work priorities. Australia noted that the GPA Clearinghouse Mechanism provides a good tool for building capacity. Kenya encouraged the POW to include efforts to enable a wider range of users to access the Clearinghouse Mechanism.

COASTAL AND OCEAN GOVERNANCE: On Tuesday afternoon, 27 November, Co-Chair Slade introduced the document on Improving the Implementation of the GPA through Improved Coastal and Ocean Governance (UNEP/GPA/IGR.1/7). The UNEP Division of Environment Conventions discussed trends in international environmental governance in regional seas, including the increase in multi-sectoral agreements, horizontal cooperation among regional seas conventions, interagency coordination at the regional level, regional coordination among international organizations, and the establishment of regional transfer of technologies. He noted the need for strengthening international environmental governance through a bottom-up approach and clustering at thematic, functional and regional levels. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) underscored the important linkages between the CBD and the GPA given their common interest in the sustainable use of coastal marine resources and conservation of marine habitats. He noted that the CBD and the GPA signed a memorandum of cooperation in September 2000 and that they are exploring collaborative linkages for their clearinghouses.

The International Ocean Institute recommended that ocean governance be advanced at three levels, through: legal frameworks; institutional frameworks; and tools for implementation, including technological, financial, and implementation and enforcement capacity. The US emphasized that the principal responsibility for environmental governance rests with governments, with transparent processes that allow for the participation of all stakeholders. She noted that, at the national level, management of watersheds, coastal zones and the marine environment requires strengthening institutional cooperation among river basin authorities, port authorities and coastal managers. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission discussed the creation of multi-stakeholder validation systems and the need for improved coordination within the UN system.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stressed the need for national-level capacity building and consultations to facilitate harmonization of environmental agreements. St. Lucia supported streamlining the reporting requirements of various instruments, given human resource limitations. Italy stressed the need to improve coordination among organizations addressing global marine issues.

Canada identified the following prerequisites for effective governance: community engagement; consideration of the effectiveness of policy programmes; increased collaboration and cooperation; integrated management; the development of sustainable ocean industries; and political will. Mexico supported linking local, national, regional and global initiatives, and proposed ongoing follow-up to the Oceans Consultative Process, improved coordination among governments and UN agencies, regional plans for GPA implementation, and national sustainable development programmes. Australia called for linkages with the Oceans Consultative Process. Sweden stressed the need for consistency between regional arrangements and NPAs, as well as integration of private and public sector efforts. Nicaragua underscored the need for international, regional and national support for the principles of ocean management and governance, and stressed the importance of strengthening synergies between conventions. The World Bank noted that coordination is crucial for the efficient use of scarce financial resources, and said the Bank is ready to help improve coordination among agencies.

BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS AND FINANCING IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GPA: On Wednesday morning, 28 November, Veerle Vandeweerd, GPA Office Coordinator, introduced the document on Building Partnerships and Financing the Implementation of the GPA (UNEP/GPA/IGR.1/8). She highlighted findings from the July 2001 World Bank/UNEP workshop on promoting sustainable financing for GPA-related activities, including the need for sound and transparent regulatory and legal frameworks, capacity building for enforcement and compliance, and capacity building for governments to identify sound projects and negotiate and manage innovative financing arrangements. The workshop emphasized that: domestic financing is and will remain the primary investor in GPA-related sectors; most countries can mobilize significant domestic financing; there is a need to identify realistic financing possibilities, such as water service pricing and tax and subsidy reform; and water funds, water markets, pollution trading and pollution permits merit further consideration. She stressed the need to mainstream the GPAs objectives into the work programmes of major financial institutions.

The African Development Bank stressed the need to establish priorities, given that a proliferation of environmental agreements has led to competition for increasingly scarce financial resources. He urged the GPA to ensure that its activities are effectively integrated into national development planning processes. Greenpeace International called for: full debt relief for least developed countries; fulfillment of the commitment to 0.7 percent of GNP for ODA by developed countries; removal of all environmentally destructive subsidies; and full implementation of the polluter pays principle.

Canada stressed the importance of integrating public and private investments and improving access to existing resources. Colombia placed emphasis on economic assessments of pollution impacts as a means of prioritizing investments. Jordan stressed the efficient use of financial resources, and said investment should be conditional on innovative good practices. The US welcomed the focus on creating partnerships between the private sector and NGOs for implementing the GPA, and supported the promotion of environmental awareness among stakeholders as a positive strategy for mobilizing new investments. Sweden stressed that building partnerships with stakeholders is key in mobilizing needed resources, and that innovative solutions for financing can be found through private-public partnerships. Tanzania noted the opportunities provided by ecotourism, and highlighted the need for improved town planning, cleaner production and consumption, empowered local governments, and debt relief. Kenya called for clear links between debt relief and GPA implementation.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced that it hopes to increase its support for the GPA in the areas of conservation, sustainable use of coastal resources, and protection of biodiversity. He noted that the GEF is interested in working with the GPA to test the effectiveness of financial arrangements and ways of removing barriers that hinder private investment. Switzerland stressed the importance of a successful GEF replenishment. The International Ocean Institute flagged international taxation, such as a tourism tax, as a possible source of future financing. Mexico supported GPA initiatives and financing to address the impacts of wastewater on human health.

New Zealand supported the phase-out of subsidies that harm the marine environment, especially agricultural subsidies. Kiribati urged the GPA to focus on finding financing solutions for developing countries, particularly SIDS. Peru stated that funding mechanisms should be established as a function of the real requirements of countries and within national frameworks. Belgium stressed that projects must be country-driven and -owned to be successful and sustainable, and said that their inclusion in national sustainable development plans would facilitate access to additional financing.


The high-level segment took place on Thursday and Friday, 29-30 November, during which ministers and high-level officials delivered statements and adopted the Montreal Declaration on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.

OPENING REMARKS: High-level segment Chair Herb Dhaliwal, Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 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 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, Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment of the Netherlands, delivered the keynote address of the high-level segment. He 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 on 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.

HIGH-LEVEL STATEMENTS: On Thursday and Friday, 29-30 November, twenty-nine ministers and high-level officials, as well as representatives from three international institutions and three NGOs, delivered statements on improving the governance structure relating to GPA implementation, and leveraging the necessary resources for implementation.

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, highlighted the impact of climate change on ocean ecosystems, and called for further cooperation on climate impact assessments and ratification of the Stockholm Convention on POPs. 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, with the EU, 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. Iceland highlighted the value of international cooperation in tackling marine pollution. Noting that GPA implementation has not yet been fully reviewed, Brazil 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 MEAs, including the conventions on POPs, PIC, climate change, biodiversity and regional seas. 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 highlighted the impacts of climate change on the marine environment, and 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 Stockholm Convention on POPs, 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 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. 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 in implementing the GPA.

Tanzania urged the Bretton Woods institutions to relax their conditions and to provide debt relief to allow developing countries to make more efficient use of their resources, and to address conservation issues more effectively. He noted that poverty reduction, environmental protection and economic development are interlinked, and supported increased research into community needs, appropriate technologies and indigenous knowledge. Samoa stressed that basic sanitation is a pressing issue for many developing countries, and that wastewater treatment relies upon international funding. He urged the GPA Coordination Office to expand its capacity building and demonstration initiatives in the Pacific region.

Papua New Guinea noted that the majority of its population lives in rural communities and practices traditional methods of waste and sewage disposal, and recommended that UNEP and the GPA Coordination Office conduct research into alternative waste and sewage management practices that are appropriate and within the financial means of traditional rural communities. He noted that foreign industry is a major cause of water pollution in Papua New Guinea and expressed hope for movement toward a regime that would require foreign industry to maintain environmental standards consistent with those of their country of origin. Mexico highlighted the need for financing to prevent pollution of developing countries coastlines.

Tajikistan elaborated on its achievements in environmental policy, and said newly independent states need greater attention and financial support. He stressed the need to coordinate efforts in sustainable development and to create economic incentives for environmentally sound practices. Burkina Faso reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable coastal management and called for proper financial support for national and regional initiatives. Bangladesh called for financial and technical support for national and regional GPA implementation.

The World Bank reconfirmed its commitment to GPA implementation, and reported that the Bank has directly funded 190 GPA-related projects with 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. The GEF reaffirmed its commitment to continue support for the GPA. 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 with the South Asian Seas if adequate funding were provided.

Monitor International, on behalf of NGOs, announced that NGOs had 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 International Ocean Institute emphasized that the regional seas programmes are vital building blocks for ocean governance. GLOBE-India pledged continued support for GPA implementation, expressed concern with inadequate levels of action, and emphasized the need for cooperative partnerships among financial institutions, international organizations, NGOs and other stakeholders.

MONTREAL DECLARATION: Following the conclusion of high-level statements, Chair Dhaliwal presented the final draft of the Montreal Declaration for adoption. In a preambular paragraph listing concerns related to the marine environment, the US, Australia, Iceland and Japan objected to a subparagraph on the expected impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. The US recognized the relationship between climate and oceans, but stated that it was beyond the scope of the meeting, as climate change is not a land-based source of marine pollution. Australia suggested that there are numerous other impacts that could also be noted, and cautioned against creating a "shopping list."

Belgium, on behalf of the EU, as well as Switzerland, the UK, Syria, Barbados and Brazil, strongly supported the subparagraph. The EU and Barbados underscored that ample evidence and scientific knowledge exist on the effects of climate change on oceans. St. Lucia agreed, adding that land-based activities do indeed contribute to climate change. Switzerland urged retaining the reference as a means of building synergies, and strongly cautioned delegations against backtracking on the recent Marrakesh agreement on climate change. The US proposed replacing the "impacts of climate change" with the "impact of atmospheric pollutants and a range of other impacts." Barbados, St. Lucia, Syria and Brazil objected. After a lengthy debate, delegates agreed to a compromise, based on a proposal by Canada and amended by the EU, to link the subparagraph on climate change impacts with another on the vulnerability of low-lying coastal areas and small island States. The final text notes that "the impacts of climate change on marine environments are a threat to low-lying coastal areas and small island States due to the increased degradation of protective coastal and marine ecosystems."

Delegates also debated a preambular paragraph acknowledging that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Agenda 21 provide the key legal and policy framework for implementing the GPA. With support from Venezuela, Colombia preferred acknowledging UNCLOS "and/or" Agenda 21, and Peru proposed that "UNCLOS and Agenda 21 inter alia" provide such a framework, noting that because not all countries are Parties to UNCLOS, they could not support text affirming it as the legal framework for GPA implementation. Delegates agreed to delete the reference to the "legal and policy" framework and acknowledge that UNCLOS and Agenda 21 provide "the key framework" for GPA implementation.

Delegates then adopted the Montreal Declaration with these and other minor amendments. (See below for a summary of the Declaration.)


Rapporteur Franklin McDonald (Jamaica) introduced the report of the meeting (UNEP/GPA/IGR.1/L.1 and L.1/Add.1), which summarizes the IGRs proceedings. He noted that the following are annexed to the report: an outline of information on regional seas activities; the Co-Chairs conclusions from the meeting; and a series of NGO statements. Delegates adopted the report as presented.

Klaus Tpfer, UNEP Executive Director, thanked delegates for their hard work and for their backing of the GPA Coordination Office. He expressed his conviction that UNEP is well-positioned to host the GPA Secretariat, and that the GPA is clearly linked with UNEPs other activities on freshwater, technology transfer, and regional seas, among others. He stressed the need for even greater coordination with organizations both within and beyond the UN system, particularly on financial issues, and stated that the Montreal Declarations recommendations provide the backing to do so. He thanked the Chair, the Co-Chairs, the Bureau, and the Declaration drafting group, and affirmed that the Secretariat would do its utmost to implement the meetings recommendations.

Chair Dhaliwal said it was heartening that the international community had come together at this meeting to send a clear message of commitment to protecting the marine environment for future generations. He stressed the need and responsibility to translate their words into action to stop the degradation of the oceans, and stated that the meetings outcomes represented a significant step toward this goal. He gaveled the meeting to a close at 1:35 pm on Friday, 30 November.


The first IGR meeting on implementation of the GPA adopted the Montreal Declaration on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, based on discussions conducted throughout the meeting in a drafting group, chaired by Tom Laughlin (US). The final Declaration contains six preambular paragraphs and four operative sections on: mainstreaming of the GPA; oceans and coastal governance; financing of the GPA; and other provisions.

The preamble notes the convening of the IGR meeting, and expresses its participants concern that:

  • the marine environment is being increasingly degraded by pollution from sewage, POPs, radioactive substances, heavy metals, oils, litter, the physical alteration and destruction of habitats, and the alteration of timing, volume and quality of freshwater inflows with resulting changes to nutrient and sediment budgets and salinity regimes;

  • the significant negative implications for human health, poverty alleviation, food security and safety and for affected industries, are of major global importance;

  • the social, environmental and economic costs are escalating as a result of the harmful effects of land-based activities on human health, and coastal and marine ecosystems, and that certain types of damage are serious and may be irreversible;

  • the impacts of climate change on marine environments are a threat to low-lying coastal areas and small island States due to the increased degradation of the protective coastal and marine ecosystems;

  • greater urgency is required in taking action at the national and regional levels for meeting the GPAs objectives; and

  • the conditions of poverty are contributing to marine pollution, through, for example, lack of basic sanitation, and that marine degradation also generates poverty by depleting the very basis for social and economic development.

The preamble further acknowledges that UNCLOS and Agenda 21 provide the key framework for implementing the GPA, declares that GPA implementation is primarily the task of national governments, with regional seas programmes playing an important role in implementation, and highlights the importance of active involvement of all stakeholders. The Declaration pledges cooperation to improve coastal and ocean governance to accelerate GPA implementation by mainstreaming, integrating coastal area and watershed management, and by enhancing global, regional and national governance processes. It also pledges to identify new and additional financial resources to accelerate GPA implementation by building capacity for effective partnerships among governments, industry, civil society, international organizations and financial institutions, and by making better use of domestic and international resources.

MAINSTREAMING OF THE GPA: This section contains commitments to improving and accelerating GPA implementation, by:

  • incorporating the aims, objectives and guidance of the GPA into new and existing activities, action programmes, strategies and plans at the local, national, regional and global levels, and into sectoral policies within their respective jurisdictions;

  • strengthening the capacity of regional seas organizations for multi-stakeholder cooperation and action, including through participation in partnership meetings focused on concrete problem identification and solution;

  • supporting the ratification of existing regional seas agreements and the development of additional ones, as appropriate, and promoting collaboration between existing regional seas organizations, including through twinning mechanisms;

  • calling on UN agencies and programmes and international financial institutions to incorporate, where appropriate, the GPAs objectives into their respective work programmes; and

  • calling on regional seas programmes, in light of assessments of their marine environment, to identify priorities, prepare action plans to address those priorities and work, as appropriate, with national authorities to implement them, and produce interim reports on these action plans with a view to completing full reports for the next IGR.

OCEANS AND COASTAL GOVERNANCE: This section contains commitments to: take appropriate action at national and regional levels to strengthen institutional cooperation between, inter alia, river basin authorities, port authorities and coastal zone managers, and to incorporate coastal management considerations into relevant legislation and regulations pertaining to the management of watersheds, particularly transboundary watersheds; and strengthen the capacity of local and national authorities to obtain and utilize sound scientific information to engage in integrated decision-making, with stakeholder participation, and to apply effective institutional and legal frameworks for sustainable coastal management. It notes further commitment to: strengthen regional seas programmes to play a role in, as appropriate, coordination and cooperation in GPA implementation and regional development and watershed management plans, and with other relevant regional organizations and global programmes relating to the implementation of global and regional conventions; support this new integrated management model for oceans and coastal governance as an important new element of international environment governance; improve scientific assessment of the anthropogenic impacts on the marine environment, including, inter alia, socioeconomic impacts; and enhance state of the oceans reporting to better measure progress toward sustainable development goals, inform decision-making, improve public awareness, and help assess performance.

FINANCING OF THE GPA: This section outlines commitments to improve and accelerate GPA implementation, by:

  • strengthening the capacity of local and national authorities with relevant financial and other resources to identify and assess needs and alternative solutions to specific land-based sources of pollution, and to formulate, negotiate and implement contracts and other arrangements in partnership with the private sector;

  • calling on international financial institutions, regional development banks and other international financial mechanisms, in particular the World Bank and GEF, consistent with its operational strategy and policies, to facilitate and expeditiously finance activities related to GPA implementation at regional and national levels;

  • giving due consideration to the positive and negative impacts of domestic policies, including, inter alia, fiscal measures such as taxation and subsidies, on land-based activities degrading the marine and coastal environment; and

  • taking appropriate national action, including, inter alia, institutional and financial reforms, greater transparency and accountability, development of multi-year investment programmes, and providing an enabling environment for investment.

OTHER PROVISIONS: The Montreal Declaration welcomes the Strategic Action Plan on Municipal Wastewater, and urges UNEP to finalize it as a tool for implementing the objectives of the GPA. It calls on governments to ratify the Stockholm Convention on POPs, the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes, and other relevant agreements, in particular regional conventions and protocols dealing with the prevention of pollution of the marine environment, as a means of implementing the GPA, and stresses the need for increased international cooperation on chemicals management. It welcomes the work done by the GPA Coordination Office, commends its 2002-2006 work programme to the UNEP Governing Council, and encourages it to implement the programme at a strengthened level, subject to the availability of resources.

The Declaration notes the outcome of the first IGR as a valuable contribution to the implementation of Agenda 21, requests its endorsement at the next Global Ministerial Environment Forum, commends it to the attention of the upcoming Monterey International Conference on Financing for Development and the Third World Water Forum, and requests that the WSSD's preparatory process take it and the GPA objectives into full account as it considers measures on marine environment protection. Finally, the Declaration requests the UNEP Executive Director to convene the second IGR in 2006 and to seek support for its organization.


INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON OCEANS AND COASTS AT RIO+10: This conference will take place from 3-7 December 2001 in Paris, France. It will consider the status of oceans and coasts ten years after UNCED, and will address: the implementation of conventions; sustainable development; pollution; resource use and conservation; and climate change. For more information, contact: Patricio Bernal, UNESCO; tel: +331-45-683938; fax: +331-45-685810; e-mail:; Internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON FRESHWATER: This conference will take place from 3-7 December 2001 in Bonn, Germany. It will aim to build on the freshwater-related objectives identified in Chapter 18 of Agenda 21, and will serve as a preparatory step for freshwater issues for the upcoming 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). For more information, contact: the Secretariat of the International Conference on Freshwater; tel: +49-228-28046-55; fax: +49-228-28046-60; e-mail:; Internet:

GLOBAL MINISTERIAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM/ SEVENTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL: This meeting is scheduled to take place from 13-18 February 2002, in Cartagena, Colombia. It will consider transmission to the WSSD preparatory process. For more information, contact: Bakary Kante, Director, Division of Policy Development and Law, UNEP; tel: +254-2-624-065; fax: +254-2-622-788; e-mail:; Internet:

SOLUTIONS TO COASTAL DISASTERS CONFERENCE 2002: This conference will be held from 24-27 February 2002 in San Diego, California. For more information, contact: Lesley Ewing; tel: +1-415-904-5291; e-mail:; Internet:

SEVENTH INTERNATIONAL COASTAL SYMPOSIUM: This international symposium will take place from 25-29 March 2002 in Templepatrick, Northern Ireland. This multi-disciplinary event will seek to promote discussion among scientists, engineers and managers on the latest advances in scientific understanding and engineering, and on environmental issues related to coastal processes. For more information, contact: Coastal Research Group; tel: +44-028-70324429; e-mail:; Internet:

TWELFTH MEETING OF STATES PARTIES TO THE UN CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA: This meeting will be held from 13-24 May 2002 in New York. For more information, contact: UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea; tel: +1-212-963-3968; e-mail:; Internet: 

SIXTH SESSION OF THE POPs INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE: The sixth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an International Legally Binding Instrument for Implementing International Action on Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS INC-6) will be held from 17-22 June 2002 in Geneva. For more information, contact: Jim Willis, UNEP DTIE (Chemicals); tel: +41-22-917-8111; fax: +41-22-797-3460; e-mail:; Internet:

2002 WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development will take place ten years after the Rio Earth Summit (UNCED) in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 2-11 September 2002. The Preparatory Committee will meet from 28 January-8 February and from 25 March-5 April 2002 at UN headquarters in New York, and from 27 May-7 June 2002 in Indonesia. For more information, contact: Andrey Vasilyev, DESA, New York; tel: +1-212-963-5949; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail: Major groups, contact: Zehra Aydin-Sipos, DESA; tel: +1-212-963-8811; fax: +1-212-963-1267; e-mail:; Internet:

NINTH SESSION OF THE PIC INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATING COMMITTEE: The ninth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an International Legally Binding Instrument for the Application of the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is tentatively scheduled for 30 September-4 October 2002 in Bonn, Germany. For more information, contact: Jim Willis, UNEP Chemicals; tel: +41-22-917-8111; e-mail:; Internet:

THIRD WORLD WATER FORUM: The Third World Water Forum will take place from 16-23 March 2003 in Kyoto, Japan. The Forum will provide an opportunity for technical and regional organizations and major stakeholders that are actively involved with water problems to present their perspectives. For more information, contact: the Third World Water Forum Secretariat; tel: +81-3-5212-1645; fax: +81-3-5212-1649; e-mail:; Internet:

SECOND INTERGOVERNMENTAL REVIEW MEETING ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GPA: The second IGR meeting will be held in 2006. For more information, contact: Veerle Vanderweerd, GPA Coordination Office; tel: +31-70-311-4460; fax: +31-70-345-6648; e-mail:; Internet:

Further information


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