5 December 1995
Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt a Global Programme of Action
for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities
Washington, D.C., 23 October - 3 November 1995
1. The Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt a Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities was convened by the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) pursuant to Governing Council decision 17/20 of 21 May 1993, in which the Council authorized the Executive Director to organize a structured and sequenced preparatory process leading to a two-week intergovernmental meeting in late 1995 for the purpose of adopting a programme of action for the protection of the marine environment from landbased activities. The Conference, which was the final meeting in the process, was held in Washington, D.C., from 23 October to 3 November 1995.
I. OPENING OF THE MEETING
2. The Conference was opened by Ms. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at 10.35 a.m. on Monday, 23 October 1995.
3. The Conference was attended by representatives of the following 109 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mozambique, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zaire, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
4. The Conference was also attended by representatives of the following two United Nations bodies and Secretariat units: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
5. In addition, representatives of the following nine specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system also attended: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Global Environment Facility (GEF), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO/IOC), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank and World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
6. Also represented were the following seven intergovernmental organizations: Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research, Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (Helsinki Commission), Comision Permanente del Pacifico Sur (CPPS), European Commission (EC), International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME) and South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
7. Observers from the following 29 non-governmental organizations were also present: Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea (ACOPS), American Crop Protection Association (ACPA), Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Chemical Manufacturers Association (CMA), Chlorine Chemistry Council (CCC), Chlorine Institute (CI), Earth Action (EA), European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), Department of Planet Earth (DPE), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), European Crop Protection Association, Foundation Hernandiana (FH), Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD), Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace International, International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), International Coastal and Ocean Organization (ICOA), International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), The Cousteau Society (TCS), National Academy of Science (NAS), Rio Systems (RS), Société pour Vaincre la Pollution, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), World Conservation Union (IUCN), World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
8. The full list of participants is attached as annex III to the present report.
9. Opening statements were made by the Executive Director of UNEP and by Ms. Eileen Claussen on behalf of the Government of the United States of America.
10. In her statement, the Executive Director welcomed participants, thanked the Government of the United States of America for its hospitality and said that the oceans, which covered 71 per cent of the earth's surface, provided a habitat for plants and animals, constituted a major source of human food and, through their interactions with the atmosphere, lithosphere and biosphere, were indispensable for maintaining the conditions making life possible. Human activities had, however, endangered the necessary balance, and almost 80 per cent of the pollution involved emanated from or related to land-based activities. Protection of the marine environment was a very complex issue which encompassed many diverse human activities and thus required a mix of measures of various kinds. It was necessary to bear in mind the indivisibility of the marine environment, the fact that virtually every substance released into the biosphere was carried seaward, the close connection of the marine environment and the freshwater drainage basins and the fact that the world's coastlines were being increasingly overwhelmed by human settlement. The draft Global Programme of Action that was before the Conference (UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/3) contained a comprehensive, sequential and coordinated approach to the situation that built on the principles of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development namely, sustainable development, the precautionary principle, holistic considerations and international cooperation. She thus recommended it to the serious consideration of the participants.
11. Ms. Eileen Claussen, Special Assistant to the President of the United States and Senior Director for Global Environmental Affairs of the United States National Security Council, welcomed the participants to the United States of America and said that land-based sources were undoubtedly the main cause of the ocean pollution and loss of marine habitat that threatened the health and economic well-being of the majority of the world's population living in coastal areas. It was evident from the statistics that the marine environment was of crucial importance to human survival and that it was by no means in a healthy condition. Its protection was thus a major challenge. Significant progress had been made in recent months in addressing fisheries issues, and the current Conference provided the opportunity to achieve comparable progress in controlling pollution from land-based activities. That meant not only completing the task of drafting the Global Programme of Action but also demonstrating political will by making a companion High-Level Declaration outlining in a succinct fashion steps to implement the Programme and reaffirming the commitment to do so.
12. The representative of Iceland, speaking as Chairman of the final preparatory meeting for the Conference, said that failure to act in the near future to halt the degradation of the oceans would be a blow to the people of the world and a betrayal of future generations. He stressed the importance of the effective implementation of the Global Programme of Action, reminding participants that the carefully drafted Montreal Guidelines for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-based Sources, which contained no compliance requirements, had not had the effects that had been expected. He further stressed, in particular, the enormous threat to the environment posed by persistent organic pollutants (POPs), on which immediate international action was needed. Having given an account of the work done on the draft Global Programme of Action at the preparatory meeting in Reykjavik, he said that the work of the current Conference would be a major input to the forthcoming session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, in its consideration of chapter 17, relating to the oceans, of Agenda 21.
II. ORGANIZATION OF THE MEETING
A. Rules of procedure
13. The Conference decided to apply the rules of procedure of the Governing Council of UNEP mutatis mutandis to its proceedings.
B. Election of officers
14. The Conference elected by acclamation the following officers:
Chairperson: Ms. Eileen Claussen (United States of America)
Vice-Chairpersons: Ms. Paula Caballero (Colombia)
Mr. Sakkie van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Mr. Dariusz Stanislawski (Poland)
Rapporteur: Mr. Laavasa Malua (Western Samoa)
Chairpersons of the
Working Group A: Mr. Magnus Johannesson (Iceland)
Working Group B: Mr. Salif Diop (Senegal)
assisted by: Mr. Mahmoud Abdulraheem (Kuwait)
C. Organization of work
15. The Conference decided that it would work in plenary sessions assisted by two substantive working groups. It further decided that Working Group A would consider chapter IV of the draft Global Programme of Action, and that Working Group B would consider chapters II and III as well as chapters I and V, as deemed necessary.
16. The Conference also adopted its programme of work on the basis of a proposal submitted by the Secretariat (UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/INF.3).
III. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
17. At the suggestion of the Chairperson, the Conference adopted the following agenda on the basis of the provisional agenda (UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/1), which had been prepared by the Secretariat on the basis of the draft provisional agenda approved by the Meeting of Government-Designated Experts to Review and Revise a Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, held at Reykjavik, from 6 to 10 March 1995:
1. Opening of the meeting.
2. Organization of the meeting:
(a) Rules of procedure;
(b) Election of officers;
(c) Organization of work.
3. Adoption of the agenda.
4. Review of the draft Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.
5. Future activities.
6. Institutional arrangements.
7. Other matters.
8. Adoption of the Conference proceedings:
(a) Report of the Conference;
(b) Global Programme of Action.
9. Closure of the meeting.
IV. REVIEW OF THE DRAFT PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT FROM LAND-BASED ACTIVITIES
18. In considering agenda item 4, the Conference had before it the draft Global Programme of Action (UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/3 and Add. 1-7 containing the comments on the Global Programme of Action received by the secretariat prior to the Conference). The Conference was also provided with a working paper on "Financial and capacity-building aspects of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities" (UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/4) and other information documents. The full list of documents before the Conference is contained in annex I below.
Work of the Working Groups
19. As agreed by the Conference at its 1st plenary meeting, the draft Global Programme of Action was considered by the Working Groups established for that purpose, as per paragraph 15 above.
20. Under the chairmanship of Mr. Magnus Johannesson (Iceland), Working Group A held 10 meetings, from 23 to 30 October 1995, to consider chapter IV of the draft Programme of Action. At its 1st meeting, the Working Group elected Mr. Alan Simcock (United Kingdom) as Rapporteur by acclamation.
21. Under the chairmanship of Mr. Salif Diop (Senegal), Working Group B held 13 meetings, from 23 October to 1 November, to consider chapters I, II, III and V of the draft Programme of Action. At its 1st meeting, the Working Group elected Mr. M. Abdulraheem (Kuwait) as Vice-Chairman and Mr. J. Karau (Canada) as Rapporteur by acclamation.
22. At its 2nd plenary meeting, on 26 October, the Conference heard a progress report from the Chairmen of the Working Groups.
23. Working Group A presented its final report to plenary on 2 November 1995, together with a revised text of chapter IV of the draft Programme of Action (UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/L.2 and annex).
24. Working Group B presented its final report to plenary on 2 November 1995, together with a revised text of chapters I, II, III and V of the draft Programme of Action (UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/L.3 and Add. 1-3). In reviewing section D of chapter II of the revised text the representative of Chile indicated that the term "best available techniques" should be replaced by "best applicable technology". However, the Conference subsequently agreed that throughout the Global Programme of Action, the term "best available techniques" is understood to include socio-economic factors.
25. As decided by the Conference at its 1st plenary meeting, the High-Level Segment of the Conference was held on 31 October and 1 November 1995. At the 1st session of the High-Level Segment of the Conference, statements were made by Mr. Strobe Talbott, Deputy Secretary of State of the United States; Mr. Wang Yuquing, Deputy Administrator of the National Environmental Protection Agency of China; Mr. Ulrich Klinkert, Parliamentary State Secretary, Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, of Germany; Mr. Gudmundur Bjarnason, Minister of the Environment of Iceland; Ms. Phyllis Mitchell, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Housing, of Jamaica; Mr. Bernard Blaszczyk, Deputy Minister for Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry, of Poland; Mr. Joaquin Perez Villanueva, Minister-Counsellor, European Union Presidency, of Spain, on behalf of the European Union; Mr. Lee Ki Choo, Ambassador for Economic and Trade Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea; and Mr. Antonio Dayrell de Lima, Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil. Ms. Christina Amoako-Nuama, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, of Ghana submitted a statement in writing to the secretariat.
26. After the statements, the Conference heard a presentation by the Earl of Lindsay (United Kingdom), Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office, on institutional follow-up and preparations for consideration of oceans issues by the Commission on Sustainable Development.
27. Subsequent sessions of the High-Level Segment were devoted to: the mobilization of resources/finance, with presentations by Mr. Anders Wijkman (United Nations Development Programme), Mr. Stephen Lintner (World Bank), Mr. Ian Johnson (Global Environment Facility), Mr. Lopez Ocana (Inter-American Development Bank) and Mr. Curley (FINEX); persistent organic pollutants (POPs), with presentations by Mr. Huggett, Assistant Administrator for Research and Development, Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America, Mr. Paje, Assistant Secretary, Department of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines and Mr. Ritter of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and the Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres; and sewage and waste water, with presentations by Dr. Herbert L. Windom, Acting Director of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and Mr. Henry Salas, Advisor in Water Pollution Control at the Pan American Center for Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Sciences. At each of the sessions, the presentations were followed by a general discussion on the topics concerned.
28. At the 3rd session of the High-Level Segment, the Conference had the privilege of hearing an address by United States Vice-President Albert Gore, who stressed the importance of the oceans and the marine environment, which were indispensable for life on Earth, and the serious degradation afflicting them, stating that Homer's "wine-dark sea" was taking on more ominous colours. Protection of the marine environment from land-based activities was a major element of the remedial action required, and the work of the Conference was thus both important and timely. He gave examples of successful actions that have been carried out, in the United States of America and elsewhere, based on partnership between the sectors, local involvement, a comprehensive approach and innovative financing, mentioning that, in many cases, they had produced very beneficial economic effects. He ended by wishing the participants well in their deliberations which, he hoped, would result in an effective, affordable and sustainable Global Programme of Action.
29. At the closing session of the High-Level Segment, the Washington Declaration on Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities was adopted on the basis of a proposal introduced by the United Kingdom on behalf of a number of delegations. The final text of the Declaration is contained in annex II to the present report.
V. FUTURE ACTIVITIES
30. At its 3rd plenary meeting, on 30 October, the Conference heard a statement from Mr. Jorge Illueca, Assistant Executive Director, Division of Environmental Management Support, on UNEP plans for the implementation of the Programme of Action in the period 1996-1997.
31. The Assistant Executive Director said that, during the first two months of 1996, the secretariat would review the status of activities dealing with the protection of the marine environment from land-based activities in all 13 regions of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme and other regional seas and activities. Based on that review, a series of regional workshops would be organized to identify the particular activities and projects that individual nations and regions would both have to carry out to develop and begin implementation of regional strategic programmes. The workshops would agree on timetables and work programmes, considering the following steps identified in the Global Programme of Action for developing systematically action programmes dealing with land-based activities:
(a) Identification and ranking of public health, ecosystem health, and socio-economic/cultural problems;
(b) Identification of contaminants of concern;
(c) Identification of forms of physical alteration;
(d) Identification of areas (units) of special concern;
(e) Identification of public health and ecosystem health and biodiversity management objectives;
(f) Identification of relative contributions from land-based sources;
(g) Identification, evaluation and selection of strategies for the management of land-based sources; and
(h) Management strategy evaluation criteria.
32. The Assistant Executive Director further indicated that the implementation plan that UNEP would be requested to prepare under the adopted Programme of Action would cover the secretariat's structure, modalities of operation, and three basic functions: coordination; clearing-house role; and mobilization of resources. A first draft would be prepared by the end of 1995 for submission to an inter-agency consultation in January 1996. The paper would be finalized in January 1996, taking into consideration the outcome of that consultation, and would be available for the inter-sessional meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development in February.
VI. INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
33. Agenda item 6 was not taken up separately in plenary, since the Conference considered that the subject-matter was adequately covered by the discussion on chapter IV in Working Group A, which focused on:
(a) The need for a series of interlinked steps to develop the international institutional framework for the implementation of the Global Programme of Action, which should be based upon concerted action by States within the relevant organizations and institutions to accord attention and priority to impacts on the marine environment from land-based activities and concerted action by States to ensure effective coordination and collaboration among such organizations and institutions;
(b) The functions of UNEP, as the coordinator and catalyst of environmental activities within the United Nations system, in the implementation of the Programme of Action;
(c) The need for UNEP to fulfil its role, including the secretariat function, in an efficient and cost-effective manner, supported largely by the existing resources, expertise and infrastructure available in all components of UNEP's programmes, and the need for UNEP to be flexible and responsive to the evolving needs of the Programme and the availability of resources, e.g. from trust funds;
(d) The need for UNEP, in facilitating the implementation of the Programme of Action, to maintain a close partnership with other organizations and bodies, and the importance of an appropriate division of tasks for the efficient and cost-effective implementation of the Programme;
(e) The terms of reference of periodic intergovernmental review meetings to be convened by UNEP, in close collaboration with the relevant organizations and institutions;
(f) Reporting on the implementation of the Programme of Action;
(g) The steps required to establish the clearing-house mechanism;
(h) The steps for developing the institutional arrangements, including the preparation by UNEP of an implementation plan for submission to the Commission on Sustainable Development, and the preparation of a draft resolution setting forth the provisions of the Programme of Action for consideration and adoption by the General Assembly at its fifty-first session.
34. The text of the agreed international institutional framework is included in section C of chapter IV of the Global Programme of Action as adopted (UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/7).
VII. OTHER MATTERS
Statement by Australia on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Samoa and Vanuatu
35. The representative of Australia indicated that South Pacific environment ministers had met in Brisbane, Australia, in August 1995 and had called for an immediate end to all nuclear testing in all environments. Consistent with the outcome of that meeting, Australia wished to make the following statement on behalf of the South Pacific Forum countries participating in the Conference:
"Forum countries reiterate their profound concern and dismay over the continuation of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, against the unambiguous and concerted opposition of the countries of the region.
"Such testing is environmentally irresponsible and encourages scepticism about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"We call for the immediate cessation of nuclear testing and for all States, particularly nuclear weapon States, to commit themselves to concluding a zero-threshold comprehensive test-ban treaty no later than the end of 1996."
36. Many other representatives expressed their support for the statement by Australia.
37. The representative of India expressed her Government's belief that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), in order to be meaningful as a disarmament treaty, must be considered as part of a step-by-step process leading towards the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons within a specified timeframe.
VIII. ADOPTION OF THE CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS
A. Report of the Conference
38. At the final plenary meeting, on 3 November 1995, the Conference adopted its report on the basis of its draft report contained in document UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/L.1/Rev.1.
B. Global Programme of Action
39. The Conference adopted the Global Programme of Action, on the basis of the draft Global Programme of Action, as amended by the Working Groups (documents UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/L.2 and L.3 and Add.13). It decided that the annex to the draft Global Programme of Action (UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/3, pp. 50-59) should not be attached to the adopted Programme but should be used for further elaboration by the UNEP secretariat in its future work of developing the Programme.
40. The Global Programme of Action as adopted is contained in document UNEP(OCA)/LBA/IG.2/7.
41. The Conference decided that the footnote to paragraph 26 (a) (i) a of the Global Programme of Action should also be deemed to apply to paragraph 16 of the Washington Declaration.
42. The representative of Australia made a statement supporting the Conference decision on persistent organic pollutants.
43. The representative of the Netherlands, supported by many other representatives, indicated that paragraph 88 of the Global Programme of Action did not reflect the urgent need to develop an international legallybinding instrument on persistent organic pollutants. However, UNEP Governing Council decisions 18/31 and 18/32 would enable work to start on the elaboration of elements for inclusion in such an instrument.
44. The representative of Greenpeace, also speaking on behalf of the Advisory Committee on Protection of the Sea (ACOPS), Friends of the Earth, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), said that those organizations supported the statement by the Netherlands.
45. The representative of the United States indicated that paragraph 6 of the Global Programme of Action should be interpreted in a manner consistent with the language of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
46. The representative of India indicated that the current approach of her Government, which had always been in the forefront of efforts and negotiations to achieve nuclear disarmament, was in line with that adopted by the non-aligned countries at their recent Cartagena meeting, namely that the process must be a step-by-step and time-specific one resulting in complete nuclear disarmament.
47. The representative of Ecuador expressed the hope that the new and additional resources proposed in the Programme of Action would assist in addressing the serious problems of river pollution in his country as a result of the use of pesticides in agricultural areas. He also reaffirmed his Government's willingness to collaborate with all countries at the regional and international levels to reduce pollution of the marine environment, including its support for the policy of ending nuclear tests such as those being conducted in the Pacific Ocean.
48. The representative of France stated that his delegation had joined in the consensus for the adoption of section C of chapter V of the Global Programme of Action. However, it regarded paragraph 107 of the Global Programme of Action, citing nuclear testing as among the potential sources of pollution of the marine environment, as referring exclusively to atmospheric tests.
49. The representative of Greenpeace stated that three reports published under the auspices of the French Government outlined the existence of significant longterm risks in connection with underground testing at Mururoa and Fangataufa. It was the view of Greenpeace that the only responsible course of action consistent with the precautionary principle was an immediate end to underground nuclear testing.
50. The representative of Peru expressed the hope that the developing countries would receive support from the developed world in their efforts to combat pollution of the marine environment.
51. The representative of Colombia said that issue of marine pollution from land-based activities was a global one. The Programme of Action would be helpful for both developing and developed countries and represented a positive step for the future.
52. The representative of Sri Lanka expressed the hope that all countries would take the necessary action for the implementation of the Programme of Action.
53. The representative of Brazil said that there could be no turning back from the agreements reached at the Conference. The Programme of Action would be a very important part of the coordination work on oceans by the Commission on Sustainable Development.
54. The representative of Poland stressed the importance his Government attached to the Programme of Action.
IX. CLOSURE OF THE MEETING
55. The Conference expressed its sincere gratitude to UNEP for organizing the Conference and to the Government of the United States of America for having acted as host. Several participants also thanked the Chairperson for the gracious and expeditious way in which she had guided the Conference.
56. The Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, Professor Reuben Olembo, speaking on behalf of the Executive Director, made a closing statement in which he expressed UNEP's satisfaction with the outcome of the Conference, and thanked the host Government, the Chairperson and all those involved in the organization and conduct of the Conference.
57. The Chairperson, in her turn, thanked all delegations for their active participation and cooperation and UNEP secretariat for its efficient organization of the Conference which, in her opinion, had been a great success. She then declared the Conference closed at 11 a.m. on 3 November 1995.