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MEDIA REPORTS

WATER, OCEANS AND WETLANDS

This page was updated on: 01/12/10

2008

 

Water, Oceans and Wetlands Media Report Archives: 2010; 2009; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002

 

DECEMBER 2008

UNGA PRESIDENT HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE ON WATER AS A HUMAN RIGHT
In a press conference held at UN Headquarters in New York, US, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann (Nicaragua) said one priority for the Assembly during his tenure would be to define the role of corporations in the area of water in a manner that does not contradict the human right to clean water.  Maude Barlow, Senior Adviser to the UNGA President on water issues, underlined that more children die from water-borne disease every day than from HIV/AIDS, war and traffic accidents combined. Speaking at the 9 December 2008 event, on the eve of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she called for honoring those with the original vision to create the Declaration, and taking “the next step by adding water as a full covenant to it.” She urged the creation of a binding instrument that would declare water a human right and public trust belonging to all people. Barlow stressed that humanity’s abuse of water through pollution and displacement was among the major causes of climate change and has enormous human health impacts. 

Link to further information
UN Press Release, 9 December 2008

 

OCTOBER 2008

WTO TUNA-DOLPHIN CASE RENEWED
Seventeen years after the original complaint by Mexico to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on US restrictions to imports of tuna (which were based on environmental standards related to fishing practices), Mexico has filed a new request for WTO consultations. The request, filed on 24 October 2008, contests the US refusal to allow the dolphin-safe label to be used on Mexican tuna products fished using encircling or “purse-seine” nets. Mexico claims that the trade restrictions are illegal and discriminatory, and have resulted in a loss of more than a third of its tuna fleet due to its hampered ability to market Mexican tuna effectively in the US.

Links to further information
WTO Dispute Settlement News, 31 October 2008
ICTSD Bridges, 30 October 2008

RAMSAR CONVENTION, IUCN AND DANONE GROUP PARTNER AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

On the sidelines of the 10th Conference of Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which took place in Changwon, Republic of Korea, from 28 October to 4 November 2008, the Ramsar Secretariat, the Danone Group and IUCN have entered into a partnership targeting climate change.

 

The partners plan to highlight the importance of carbon capture in wetlands, particularly mangrove swamps. Danone has committed to minimize its emissions and, in partnership with Ramsar and IUCN, to offset its remaining emissions through wetlands restoration. The Danone Fund for Nature, administered by all three partners, will accomplish the latter goal by supporting projects combining water resources management, biodiversity conservation, improving wetland food quality, and strengthening the capacity for carbon capture. Speaking about the new partnership, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General, noted that the project was consistent with the organization’s mission of “promoting biodiversity as a fundamental pre-requisite for ecosystems to be able to support the fight against climate change and poverty.”

Link to further information
UNEP Press Release, 29 October 2008

ITLOS CHAMBERS RECONSTITUTED
The Chambers of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) were reconstituted by the Tribunal at a meeting held on 2 October 2008. These Chambers are: the Seabed Disputes Chamber; the Chamber of Summary Procedure; the Chamber for Fisheries Disputes; the Chamber for Marine Environment Disputes; and the Chamber for Maritime Delimitation Disputes.

Link to further information
ITLOS Press Release, 23 October 2008

NEW CONVENTION ON SHARED TRANSBOUNDARY AQUIFERS SUBMITTED TO THE UNGA
On 27 October 2008, the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) submitted to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) the draft Convention on Transboundary Aquifers, which applies to underground aquifers, most of which straddle national boundaries, and that represent 96% of the planet’s freshwater resources. Many shared aquifers are under environmental threats caused by climate change, increased population pressure, over-exploitation and human-induced water pollution. The draft articles for an international framework convention on transboundary aquifers were adopted by the International Law Commission (ILC) in August 2008. These draft articles represent six years of work by the ILC with the assistance of experts from UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme, and are intended to fill a gap in the law on the protection and management of groundwater resources, which have been neglected as a subject of international law despite the social, economic, environmental and strategic importance of groundwater. The draft treaty requires that aquifer States cause no harm to existing aquifers and cooperate to prevent and control their pollution.

Link to further information
UNESCO Press Release, 22 October 2008

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT SUPPORTS EMPHASIS ON CHALLENGE OF WATER SCARCITY AND DROUGHT IN UNCCD AND UNFCCC
The European Parliament adopted an own-initiative report on water scarcity and droughts in the EU on 9 October 2008. In doing so, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) urged the European Commission and Member States to acknowledge that deforestation and unrestrained urban development are contributing to growing water scarcity. The Parliament also emphasized that any supply of water, regardless of the purpose of its consumption, must comply with the principle of fair water tarification. MEPs also supported the view that the environmental value of forests and agricultural production must be reassessed in a context of climate change, and supported the Commission's commitment to continue to highlight the challenge of water scarcity and drought at the international level, in particular through the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Link to further information
European Parliament Press Release, 9 October 2008

NEW ITLOS SWORN IN, PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENT ELECTED
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has announced that Boualem Bouguetaia (Algeria) and Vladimir Vladimirovich Golitsyn (Russian Federation) were sworn in as members of the Tribunal on 1 October 2008. The two judges were elected on 13 June 2008 at the 18th Meeting of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to serve a term of nine years, commencing 1 October 2008. Golitsyn previously served as Director, UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, from 2004–2007. On the same day, Judge José Luis Jesus was elected as President of ITLOS for the period 2008–2011 by the 21 members of the Tribunal. The President is elected for a period of three years and may be re-elected. Furthermore, on 2 October 2008, Judge Helmut Tuerk (Austria) was elected as Vice-President for the same period.

Links to further information
ITLOS Press Release, 1 October 2008
ITLOS Press Release, 1 October 2008

ITLOS Press Release, 2 October 2008

SEPTEMBER 2008

 

WORLD MARITIME DAY CELEBRATED
World Maritime Day was celebrated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on 24 September 2008, under the theme “
IMO: 60 years in the service of shipping.” On the occasion, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos noted that “It is because of the extensive network of global regulations that IMO has developed and adopted over the years that shipping is, nowadays, a safe and secure mode of transport, clean, environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient.” The IMO was created in 1948 to address the needs of a world hugely dependent on naval passage for transporting goods. More recently, the Organization has focused on environmental concerns and has attempted to address the challenges posed by climate change.

Link to further information
IMO Press Release, 25 September 2008

FAO URGES GLOBAL FISHING INDUSTRIES TO CURB SEABIRD KILLINGS

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has urged regions using fishing techniques such as trawl nets and gillnets, to implement safeguards in areas where seabirds are at greatest risk. The call follows the success of strategies to protect seabirds from longline fishing activities. The FAO has indicated that the number of birds killed as a result of Chilean longline fishing dropped from 1,600 in 2002 to zero in 2006, while the number in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica was reported to have fallen from 6,500 in 1996 to zero last year. Following an expert consultation held in Bergen, Norway, in September 2008, best practice guidelines have been outlined that work to extend the International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries – developed by FAO and approved by member countries in 1999 – to include trawl and gillnet fisheries in areas of high seabird density.

Link to further information
FAO Press Release, 22 September 2008

WWF REPORTS THAT ICCAT PERFORMANCE REVIEW CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CLOSURE OF MEDITERRANEAN BLUEFIN TUNA FISHERY
The international conservation NGO WWF has reported that a review commissioned last November by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to assess its own performance concludes that its management of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery is “an international disgrace.” The still confidential review calls for an immediate suspension of fishing, which should remain in force until the fishing nations that make up the members of ICCAT show that they “can control and report on their catch.” Failing that, WWF reports that the review recommends that ICCAT's own secretariat take over the responsibility for catch auditing and inspection.


Link to further information
WWF press release, 12 September 2008

 

AUGUST 2008

 

SEA-LEVEL RISE THREATENS MANGROVES

Initial results of research carried out by IUCN and three universities show that mangrove ecosystems are under threat from climate change, as their sediment surface level generally does not keep pace with sea-level rise. The greatest impact is expected to be on those mangroves where there is limited area for landward migration, such as Pacific Island mangroves. IUCN notes, however, that adaptation measures can offset these anticipated mangrove losses and increase resilience to climate change. Some management options to this end include: adaptive coastal planning; better control of activities within the catchment that affect long-term trends in the mangrove sediment levels; rehabilitation of degraded mangrove areas; and designation of protected area networks that include mangroves and functionally linked ecosystems.

Link to further information
IUCN press release, 29 August 2008

IUCN RED LIST UPDATE: SOME BIG WHALES RECOVERING
According to the cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List, some large whale species such as the humpback, minke and southern right whale are recovering from a threat of extinction, helped by curbs on hunts since the 1980s. However, a quarter of the cetaceans reviewed, mostly small species, are in danger. A global moratorium on all whale hunts was imposed in 1986 after many species were driven towards extinction by decades of exploitation for meat, oil and whalebone. Japan, Norway and Iceland still hunt minke whales. Whales are under threat in many areas from ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, habitat deterioration, declining prey and noise disturbance.

Link to further information
IUCN press release, 12 August 2008

JULY 2008

SPECIAL AREAS DISCHARGE REQUIREMENTS TAKE EFFECT
Special Areas, in which the discharge of wastes from ships is prohibited as an additional protection from pollution from shipping under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), entered into force on 1 August 2008 in the "Gulfs area" and off southern South Africa. The "Gulfs area" was established as a Special Area in 1973, but the discharge requirements could not take effect until States in the area had ratified MARPOL and provided adequate reception facilities. Following a ten-year regional project on the implementation of MARPOL, this requirement has now been completed. The Southern South African waters Special Area was adopted in 2006, and a resolution was adopted in 2007 by the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, establishing 1 August 2008 as the date on which the discharge requirements take effect.

Link to further information
IMO press release, 31 July 2008

PHILIPPINES SEEKS IMO’S GUIDANCE ON SALVAGE PLANS
The Government of the Philippines has requested the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to provide guidance on assessing the technical aspects of the salvage proposals being considered in the case of the Princess of the Stars. The ferry was carrying 861 passengers and crew when it went aground and sank on 21 June 2008 in the Philippines. Almost all those on board lost their lives. The ferry was carrying various hazardous materials, including 10 metric tonnes of endosulfan, a toxic pesticide. After an initial request from the Government of the Philippines, IMO consulted salvage experts and consolidated technical information that was shared with the Government and the UN Country Team. Based on the technical information provided by IMO, the Philippines requested IMO to mobilize a salvage expert to provide guidance in this complex salvage process.

Link to further information
IMO press release, 17 July 2008

US SENATE PASSES LEGISLATION ON AIR POLLUTION FROM SHIPS
The US Senate has passed a new bill aimed at reducing toxic air pollution from ships, which would enable the country to join the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and its Annex VI that governs air pollution from large ocean-going ships. “The Marine Pollution Prevention Act of 2008” was passed by the US House of Representatives last year. The US Government has proposed protective measures for international adoption as part of the MARPOL treaty that would make progress in reducing high emissions from these ships. This clean air blueprint will be considered at the next meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in October 2008.

 

Link to further information
Environmental Defense Fund, 8 July 2008


PLUMMETING PENGUIN POPULATIONS INDICATE CHANGES IN OCEANS -- STUDY
A study published in the journal Bioscience indicates that penguin populations have plummeted in Argentina, mirroring declines in many species of the marine flightless birds due to climate change, pollution and other factors.
Dee Boersma, a University of Washington professor who led the research, noted that since 1987, the population of the largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins located at Punta Tombo on Argentina’s Atlantic coast has decreased by 22 percent. She listed warming climate, oil pollution, depletion of fisheries, becoming entangled in fishing nets, and coastal development that eliminates breeding habitats as causes of this decline.

Link to further information
Reuters, 1 July 2008

EUROPEAN COURT REJECTS CLAIM TO CLOSE AZORES’ WATERS TO FISHING 
The European Court of First Instance has ruled in favor of a 2003 decision by the Council of Ministers to open the waters of the Azores to the fishing fleets of all EU member States. Previously, these waters were only fished by vessels from the Azores and a few from mainland Portugal. Three environmental organizations, Greenpeace, Seas at Risk and WWF, had filed a claim to overturn a Council decision that provides open access to one of Europe’s best preserved deep-sea environments. The environmental organizations expressed their disappointment with the decision. They noted that it will lead to a significant increase in commercial fishing in a region that supports a diverse range of marine life, including turtles, sharks, whales and dolphins and deep-sea corals, and that is especially vulnerable to intensive fishing activities like trawling and longlining.

Links to further information
Judgement of the Court of First Instance
WWF press release, 1 July 2008

JUNE 2008

EC ANNOUNCES EARLY CLOSURE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN BLUEFIN TUNA FISHERY
In a new regulation, the European Commission (EC) announced the closure of the bluefin tuna fishery on 16 June 2008 for the purse seine fleets of France, Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Greece. The closure for the six seiners that make up the Spanish fleet will be delayed until 23 June. From these dates forward, it will be prohibited to retain on board, place in cages for fattening or farming, tranship, transfer or land bluefin tuna caught by these vessels. The fishery’s closure had originally been planned for 1 July 2008, according to the measures put in place by the Bluefin Tuna Recovery Plan adopted by the EU. The European Commission emphasized the fact that member States have not complied with community legislation for this threatened species.

Link to further information
European Commission press release, 13 June 2008

OCEAN DAY FOCUSES ON CLIMATE CHANGE
World Ocean Day, celebrated on 8 June, was first proposed in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit by the Government of Canada.  Although not yet officially designated by the UN, a number of countries mark 8 June each year to raise awareness of issues related to the protection of the marine environment. This year’s celebrations revolved around the theme “helping our climate/helping our ocean,” with a special focus on coral reefs, to take advantage of International Year of the Reef 2008.

Link to further information
World Ocean Day website

 

EUROPEAN PROJECT ON OCEAN ACIDIFICATION LAUNCHED

The European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) was launched on 10 June 2008. This EU research project is a consortium of over 100 scientists from 27 organizations in nine countries to address ocean acidification. Its goal is to document ocean acidification, investigate its impact on biological processes, predict its consequences for the next 100 years, and advise policy-makers on potential thresholds or tipping points that should not be exceeded.  

Link to further information
EPOCA website

GPA COORDINATION OFFICE TO RELOCATE
In a letter dated 30 May 2008, Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, officially communicated the relocation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Sources (GPA) Coordination Office from The Hague, the Netherlands, to Nairobi, Kenya.  In his letter, Steiner emphasizes the multiple benefits of this move and extends UNEP’s gratitude to the Government of the Netherlands for their invaluable support. The move is expected to take place in August 2008 (IISD RS Sources).

European Maritime Day celebrated
To celebrate the achievements and potential of Europe's oceans, the EU has declared 20 May “European Maritime Day.” The official launch ceremony was held in Strasbourg, France, on 20 May 2008,  with the presidents of the Parliament, Commission and Council. The aim of European Maritime Day is to highlight the crucial role that oceans and seas play in the everyday life of not only of coastal communities, but all EU citizens, and their importance for Europe’s sustainable growth and jobs at large.

Link to further information 
European Maritime Day website

MAY 2008

NEW ZEALAND PLANS TO PROTECT RARE DOLPHINS
Hector’s dolphin is endemic to the coastal waters of New Zealand, where it is threatened by fisheries bycatch, pollutants and boat disturbances. The New Zealand government has announced plans to ban commercial fishing near its coast and set up marine reserves to protect this species. One of its sub-species, the Maui dolphin, is said to be the rarest in the world and facing extinction with as few as 111 animals left.

Link to further information
Reuters, 28 May 2008

MARSHALL ISLANDS ACCEDES TO FIVE UN TREATIES ON MARINE POLLUTION AND SAFETY
The Marshall Islands, one of the world’s major shipping nations, has acceded to five International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions that aim to prevent marine environmental pollution and promote safety on the high seas. The Pacific island nation has acceded to: the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter of 1972; the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships of 2001; the Protocol of 2005 to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation; the Protocol of 2005 to the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf of 1988; and the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage of 2001.

Link to further information
Marine Link, 12 May 2008

Oxygen depletion in oceans threatens sea life

A study in the publication Science shows that oxygen-depleted regions of tropical oceans are expanding, restricting habitats for fish and other marine life. Continued expansion of these zones could have dramatic consequences for both sea life and coastal economies. The study was carried out as part of a long-running programme on climate variability and predictability led by the World Climate Research Programme, which looks at climate through the interaction of ocean and atmosphere.

 

Link to further information

Science article abstract, May 2008
AFP, 1 May 2008

UK GOVERNMENT proposes network of MPAs
The UK Government has released a draft Marine Bill that sets out plans for a new network of marine conservation zones. The country aims to meet the goal of having an ecologically coherent network of well-managed marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2012. Currently 2.2% of UK waters are in MPAs, according to government figures. Release of the draft Marine Bill, which also includes a proposed marine planning system and other measures, is the latest in a series of steps taken by the Government to revise its approach to ocean management. In 2007, the Government released a white paper that introduced several of the proposals now included in the draft Marine Bill.

Link to further information
The draft Marine Bill

SOUTH AFRICAN COURT RULES ON PRE-PAID WATER METERS AND WATER QUANTITY
On 30 April 2008, the High Court of South Africa ruled that the city of Johannesburg’s forced prepayment water meters scheme in Phiri, a township in Soweto, is unconstitutional, on the basis of differentiation between low-income, historically black townships and wealthy, historically white suburbs. The Court also ordered the city to provide residents of Phiri with 50 liters of free water per person per day, on the basis of the needs of the residents, the availability of the water and financial resources to do so. The Court also indicated that the State is obliged by the constitutional protection of the right to water to provide free basic water to the poor.

Link to further information
Full judgment

BUSINESS LEADERS HIGHLIGHT WATER AND SANITATION CRISES
In a letter circulated by the UN Global Compact Office, the CEOs of 19 corporations have called on the Group of Eight (G8) countries to urgently address the emerging global crisis in water and sanitation during their upcoming Hokkaido Toyako Summit on 7-9 July 2008 in Japan. The letter states that the lack of access to clean water and sanitation in many parts of the world has major adverse humanitarian, social, environmental and economic implications, and seriously undermines development goals. In addition, the business leaders urge the G8 leaders to work more actively with the international business community, through initiatives such as The CEO Water Mandate. UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate is a voluntary call to action, as well as a strategic framework, for companies seeking to incorporate water sustainability in their operations.

Link to further information
The UN Global Compact letter
The CEO Water Mandate

APRIL 2008

UK announces new financial contribution to the International Seabed Fund
The UK Government has announced a new financial contribution to increase the activities of the International Seabed Authority Endowment Fund. The Fund aims to expand research opportunities in the deep-sea environments for the participation and inclusion of developing country scientists and other technical and research personnel. The UK announced the funding during the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group of the General Assembly to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, convened from 28 April - 2 May 2008, at UN headquarters in New York.

Link to further information
International Seabed Authority press release,

AustraliaN REQUEST FOR jurisdiction over larger seabed area approved
The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has approved, at its meeting in April 2008, in New York, US, the request of Australia for jurisdiction over an additional 2.5 million km2 of its continental shelf, extending beyond the previous 200-nautical mile limit of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The added area is equal to five times the size of France. The Commission’s decision provides the country with exclusive rights on the seabed, including oil, gas and biological resources. Government officials expressed hope the extension would yield oil and gas reserves, but also noted that it offered opportunities for designating new marine protected areas.

Link to further information
Geoscience Australia press release, 22 April 2008

ADB SETS UP JOINT VENTURE FOR CHINA WASTEWATER TREATMENT

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced a joint venture firm with three Singapore partners, which will address wastewater issues in China. The Bank will contribute four million dollars for a 40 percent stake in the new company, Asia Infrastructure Project Development Co., which will help local governments develop projects in water supply, sanitation and wastewater treatment.

 

Link to further information
AFP, 16 April 2008

Japanese whaling catch smaller than intended
According to the Japanese fishery agency, its whaling fleet is to return to port after killing about 550 whales over a five-month period. The catch is just over half the intended number, 1000 whales in the Antarctic, that Japan announced when the fleet set out. This lesser catch has been attributed to the harassment of the Japanese fishing vessels by conservation activists. Japanese Vice-Minister for Agriculture Toshiro Shirasu indicated that the government would continue to catch these mammals for research.

Link to further information
AFP, 14 April 2008

Istanbul Urban Water Consensus launched
During the celebration of World Water Day in Istanbul, Turkey, which will host the fifth World Water Forum in 2009, the Istanbul Urban Water Consensus was launched. The Mayor of Istanbul appealed to leaders of cities around the world to better manage their water resources and to facilitate access to water and sanitation for all citizens. The Istanbul Water Consensus contains a series of commitments to improve urban water management. The document has been released in draft version for comments. After being finalized in October 2008, it should be ready for signature by cities worldwide.

Link to further information
Fifth World Water Forum website

CEO WATER MANDATE MEETING RELEASES SUMMARY REPORT
The UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute have issued a summary report from the working conference of the CEO Water Mandate, which convened from 5-6 March 2008 at UN headquarters in New York, US. Some of the key points offered in the report include: that business water strategies should entail innovation to increase product efficiencies as well as invest in the restoration of ecological systems that affect water flows. The report also underlines the challenges of setting corporate-wide standards for implementation, due to countries’ varying hydrological, cultural and political environments. The CEO Water Mandate was launched in 2007 by the UN Global Compact and is designed as a learning and action platform for companies and other stakeholders committed to making water sustainability a priority. 

Link to further information
The CEO Water Mandate summary report

The CEO Water Mandate

MARCH 2008

FAO SUPPORTS PROJECT TO MANAGE WATER RESOURCES IN AFGHANISTAN
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced the launch of a new hydrological station at the Qargha Dam near Kabul on 26 March 2008, as part of an effort to better manage water resources in Afghanistan. The hydrological station is one of a network of 174 hydrological stations and 60 snow gauges and meteorological stations being erected around Afghanistan, attributable to a joint endeavor of FAO, the World Bank and the national Ministry of Energy and Water, to measure water levels, precipitation, temperature and water quality.

Link to further information
The Frontier Post, 26 March 2008

WORLD WATER DAY CELEBRATED
The international observance of World Water Day, on 22 March, is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. Events around the world recognized WWD on 22 March 2008, including the creation of the “world’s longest line for a loo” by the Prince of Orange and the UN Water team in New York, US, in order to raise awareness for the 2.6 billion people who do not have access to sanitation.

Links to further information
World Water Day website
US Committee for the UN Development Program’s website

FIVE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS DEVELOP NEW AGRICULTURAL WATER STRATEGY
Five international organizations (the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the International Water Management Institute) have launched a new agricultural water initiative. The “Initiative for Agricultural Water in Africa” was prepared for the New Partnership for Africa (NEPAD), and launched during the First African Water Week, held in Tunis, Tunisia, from 26-28 March 2008. The Initiative aims to provide a platform to support agricultural water in the region and will bring together financing instruments including loans, grants and other multilateral and bilateral funding in order to aid governments in improving water management.

Link to further information
World Bank press release, 28 March 2008

2008 STOCKHOLM WATER PRIZE AWARDED TO “VIRTUAL WATER” PIONEER
Professor John Anthony Allan from King’s College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies has been awarded the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize in recognition for his work in education and raising the awareness internationally of interdisciplinary relationships between agricultural production, water use, economies and political processes. In particular, Allan introduced in 1993 the “virtual water” concept, which measures how water is embedded in the production and trade of food and consumer products.

Link to further information
Stockholm International Water Institute press release, 19 March 2008

compliance committee created TO PROMOTE WATER PROTOCOL IN EUROPE
The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Regional Office for Europe of the UN World Health Organization have created a new and independent Compliance Committee to promote the prevention, control and reduction of water-related diseases and to increase the number of Europeans with access to adequate sanitation. The Commission will comprise nine experts, including scientists and environmental lawyers, and is to ensure compliance with the London Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, which seeks to increase access to safe water. UNECE has reported that over 100 million Europeans still lack access to safe drinking water, resulting in the deaths from diarrhea of nearly 40 children every day.

Link to further information
UN Economic Commission for Europe press release, 14 March 2008

SWISS RE INVITES ReSOURCE AWARD 2009 APPLICATIONS
Swiss Re, the world's leading reinsurer, has invited applications for its “ReSource Award 2009.” The award was established in 2002 as an annual competition for innovative watershed management projects and is worth US$150,000, which will be granted to one or several projects selected by an international jury. NGOs, private, scientific or public institutions and similar bodies are invited to apply by 31 May 2008.

Link to further information
Swiss Re ReSource Award webpage

US Navy bound by environmental laws on sonar EQUIPMENT

A US federal court has ruled against US President Bush�s bid to exempt the US Navy from environmental laws when it uses sonar equipment that is considered potentially harmful to whales and other marine life. The federal appeals court held that the Navy is to take safety precautions to reduce possible harm to whales and other marine mammals when it employs sonar for training exercises off the coast of California.

 

Link to further information
Agence France Presse, 1 March 2008


FEBRUARY 2008

SHARK SPECIES FACE EXTINCTION
The scalloped hammerhead will be listed on the 2008 IUCN Red List as globally endangered due to overfishing and high demand for its fins, according to a member of the IUCN�s shark specialist group. The number of many other large shark species has been greatly reduced due to increased demand for their fins and meat, shark fisheries and bycatch. Currently, fishing for sharks in international waters is unrestricted.

Links to further information
Environment News Network, 17 February 2008
The Guardian, 18 February 2008

PROTECTED AREAS UPDATE: UGANDA, RWANDA AND CONGO ESTABLISH TRANSBOUNDARY RESERVE, KIRIBATI CREATES WORLD�S LARGEST MARINE RESERVE
In a declaration signed during the Third World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Madrid, Spain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda have launched an initiative to create a transboundary biosphere reserve to safeguard their shared biodiversity, providing the habitat of the great apes.

In related news, the Pacific island nation of Kiribati has created the world�s largest marine protected area: the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, covering 410,500 square kilometers, is one of the planet�s last intact coral archipelagos and is threatened by over-fishing and climate change.

Links to further information
UNESCO press release, 5 February 2008
Reuters news, 14 February 2008

NORWAY SETS QUOTAS FOR 2008 WHALING
The Government of Norway has authorized its whalers to harpoon 1,052 whales in the 2008 season. The Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs stated that the quota was within an interval that researchers believe provides satisfactory security in regard to protecting the minke whale stocks.

Link to further information
Terra Daily, 7 February 2008

WORLD WETLANDS DAY CELEBRATED
World Wetlands Day was celebrated on 2 February, the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. The 2008 event was organized around the theme �Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People,� which will also be the theme for Ramsar�s 10th Conference of the Parties in October-November 2008 in the Republic of Korea. During the day, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens undertook actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular. For instance, the Government of Congo designed a new Wetland of International Importance, the world�s second largest internationally recognized and protected significant wetlands reserve.

Link to further information
World Wetlands Day 2008 website

JAPAN RESUMES WHALING

The Japanese fleet began whaling again, after two protest ships left the area to refuel, and was reported to have killed five minke whales. An Australian Customs ship, the Oceanic Viking, is monitoring the Japanese fleet to gather evidence for a possible international legal challenge to end Japan�s whaling programme.

Link to further information
Terra Daily, 1 February 2008

JANUARY 2008

STUDY WARNS AGAINST RISING MEDITERRANEAN SEA LEVELS
According to the study Climate Change in the Spanish Mediterranean, released by the Spanish Oceanographic Institute, the level of the Mediterranean is rising rapidly and could increase by another half meter in the next 50 years unless climate change is reversed. The salinity of the sea has also risen, in part due to the reduced rainfall in the region. The study also notes that these trends are global phenomena.

Link to further information
TerraDaily, 18 January 2008

FRENCH COURT FAULTS TOTAL FOR ERIKA OIL DISASTER
A French court found the oil company Total guilty of negligence and ordered it to pay a fine of a fine of �375,000 and, with three other parties, to pay nearly �200 million in damages for the 1999 Erika oil spill, one of France�s worst environmental disasters. Establishing a legal precedent, the court ruled that some of the plaintiffs, including environmental groups, fishermen, local associations and hotel owners, had the right to compensation for damages from the oil spill.

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EurActiv.com/WBCSD, 17 January 2008

ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT REACHED TO PROTECT COZUMEL
A conservation agreement has been signed by Conservation International, Cozumel�s Department of Tourism and the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, as part of the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative. The agreement comes as the culmination of the 12-month partnership including representatives from government, the private sector, civil society and cruise lines. This initiative aims to help preserve some highly endangered biodiversity in Cozumel, Mexico, which is the world�s most visited cruise destination.

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UnderwaterTimes News Service, January 15, 2008

NEW ISO STANDARDS ON WATER PUBLISHED
The International Standardization Organization (ISO) has published three new standards on service activities relating to drinking water supply systems and wastewater sewerage systems: ISO 24510 - Guidelines for the assessment and for the improvement of the service to users; ISO 24511 � Guidelines for the management of wastewater utilities and for the assessment of wastewater services; and ISO 24512 � Guidelines for the management of drinking water utilities and for the assessment of drinking water services.

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ISO Press Release, 3 January 2008

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