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MEDIA REPORTS

WATER, OCEANS AND WETLANDS

This page was updated on: 01/12/10

2009

 

Water, Oceans and Wetlands Media Report Archives: 2010; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002

 

DECEMBER 2009

UNEP PROVIDES TRAINING TO YEMENI RESEARCHERS TO COMBAT WATER SCARCITY
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has extended the Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) project to Yemen, with a view to transferring scientific knowledge that may contribute to fighting climate change, food crises and water scarcity. UNEP, the World Health Organization, Yemen’s Environmental Protection Authority and the Ministry of Water and Environment trained 30 Yemeni researchers, scientists, planners and lecturers in the use of OARE to support the country as it faces increasing environmental challenges due to climate change. According to a recent World Bank report, Yemen, whose economy largely depends on the fishing and oil industries, is facing a steep decline in fish stock and production.

The OARE project started in 2007, when UNEP, in partnership with the WHO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Yale and Cornell Universities, international publishers and private sector groups built one of the largest electronic collections of scientific knowledge in environmental and related areas.

Link to further information
UN press release, 30 December 2009

FAO ADVISORY PANEL RECOMMENDS LIMITING TRADE IN CERTAIN SHARK SPECIES
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) convened an advisory panel of independent experts to formulate recommendations regarding six proposals to limit international trade in a number of commercially exploited aquatic animals under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The advisory panel, which consisted of 22 international fishery experts from 15 different countries, determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant controlling trade in the following species: the Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus); Porbeagle (Lamna nasus); the Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini); the Great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran); and the Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena). The panel did not reach consensus regarding the proposed ban in trade of the Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), but there was consensus that the evidence available supports the control in trade of this species. Finally, the panel assessed that Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and all species of the coral family Coralliidae did not meet the CITES criteria required to control their trade. The proposals will be considered for listing at the 15th Conference of CITES parties, scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar, from 13-25 March 2010.

Link to further information

FAO press release, 14 December 2009

NOVEMBER 2009

CITES LISTING PROPOSED FOR BLUEFIN TUNA, POLAR BEARS, SHARKS
Listing proposals submitted to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for consideration at its 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) address, among other species, Atlantic bluefin tuna, polar bears, sharks, corals and elephant ivory. The proposal on Atlantic bluefin tuna submitted by Monaco has already attracted considerable attention, after causing controversy within the European Union. Scientists of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) met from 21-23 October 2009, in Madrid, Spain, to develop scientific advice for the ICCAT Commissioners on the condition of Atlantic bluefin tuna with respect to the biological criteria applied for listing commercially-exploited aquatic species under CITES Appendices. According to media reports, the scientific meeting indicated that a global ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna fishing is justified. A decision will be taken by the 21st Regular Meeting of ICCAT, to be held from 6-15 November 2009, in Recife, Brazil.

Links to further information
Environment News service, 29 October 2009
CITES proposals
Mongabay.com, 29 October 2009

ICCAT scientific meeting report

OCTOBER 2009

SOUTH AFRICA AND MOZAMBIQUE CREATE AFRICA’S LARGEST MARINE PROTECTED AREA
Mozambique has declared its first Marine Protected Area (MPA) at Ponta do Ouro. The MPA links with South Africa's iSimangaliso Wetland Park and represents the largest, and first, transboundary marine conservation area. The MPA stretches from St. Lucia in the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal to Ponta do Oura, Mozambique.    

Link to further information
Environmental news service, 29 October 2009

WATER THINK TANK INITIATIVE AGREEMENT SIGNED
On 10 October 2009, a Partnership Agreement regarding the Water Think Tank Initiative was signed by the four founding members in Monaco: Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco, United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), Veolia Environnement and Plan Bleu. The initiative is an outcome of the Zaragoza conference, which took place during the Water Expo in 2008, and was initiated and announced by Prince Albert II of Monaco and the other partners during the 5th World Water Forum, which convened in Istanbul, Turkey, in March 2009. The initiative will seek to promote integrated and sustainable water resource management in the Mediterranean region, focusing on designing tools and methodologies that take into consideration the needs of Local Authorities in the region.

Link to further information
UNITAR press release, 10 October 2009

NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR 2010 LEE KUAN YEW WATER PRIZE
The Singapore International Water Week is calling for nominations for the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2010.The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize is an international award that recognises outstanding contributions towards solving global water problems, through applying groundbreaking technologies or implementing innovative policies and programmes that benefit humanity. The Water Prize will be the highlight of the Singapore International Water Week 2010 and the winner will receive S$300,000, a gold medallion and an award certificate.

Link to further information
Singapore International Water Week website

NEW RAMSAR SITES DESIGNATED IN ARGENTINA AND US
Two new Ramsar sites have been designated in Argentina and the US. The Government of Argentina has designated a new Wetland of International Importance in the province of Tierra del Fuego. The US Government has listed its 25th Ramsar site, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, in Florida.

Link to further information
Ramsar website - Argentina press release
Ramsar website - US press release

GPA REGIONAL TRAINING WORKSHOP CONVENES IN ECUADOR
A regional training workshop to enhance national capacities to mainstream coastal and marine environmental management issues into the national planning and budgetary processes convened in Guayaquil, Ecuador, from 1-3 September 2009. The workshop was organized by UNEP’s Coordination Office for the GPA, in cooperation with the UNEP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Secretariat of the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS). The workshop was attended by 19 senior government officials of the Ministries of Environment, Maritime Authority, Aquatic Resources and Finance from five member states of the CPPS (Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru), as well nongovernmental representatives. At the workshop, each country developed a national mainstreaming strategy including identification of the key institution to take the lead in mainstreaming coastal and marine issues, outlining the roles and responsibilities of other participating institutions and sectors, including the accountability framework.

Link to further information
GPA website

TWELVE NEW RAMSAR SITES DESIGNATED IN BURKINA FASO
The Government of Burkina Faso has completed the process for designating twelve new Ramsar sites of extraordinary interest. In varied locations, from the Sahel region in the north, to the Cascades region in the southwest, to the central and eastern regions, these new areas of natural as well as artificial lakes and both permanent and seasonal rivers present a wide array of ecosystem types. They are of great importance to the wildlife of the region, the livelihoods of the human population in these areas, and the hydrological and climatic stability of many parts of the country. Three of the sites are located at borders with neighboring countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Mali.

Link to further information
Ramsar website

IMO CELEBRATES WORLD MARITIME DAY 2009
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) celebrated the 32nd World Maritime Day on 24 September 2009, under the theme “Climate change: a challenge for IMO too!” The IMO launched a short film highlighting the situation of the world’s international merchant fleet with regard to its energy efficiency and carbon footprint, as well as the challenges faced by IMO in its efforts to effectively control greenhouse gas emissions from ships engaged in international trade.

Link to further information
IMO website

SEPTEMBER 2009

EU COUNTRIES REJECT BLUEFIN TUNA LISTING PROPOSAL
EU Member States were unable to reach the qualified majority needed to adopt the European Commission’s proposal to co-sponsor Monaco’s attempt to list bluefin tuna under appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as a result of opposition from Spain, Malta, Italy, France, Greece and Cyprus. EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas regretted the decision, while Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg said it was now up to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to assume its full responsibility to ensure the recovery of bluefin tuna.

Links to further information
EurAct.com, 22 September 2009
Environment News Service, 30 September 2009

WORLD’S LARGEST MARINE PROTECTED AREAS LINKED IN CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP
The two largest marine protected areas in the world are now linked in a partnership to enhance the management and conservation of almost 300,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean. The two sites, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and the Phoenix Islands Protected Areas in Kiribati, encompass nearly 25 per cent of all marine protected areas on Earth. Under the agreement, the two sites will now enjoy a “sister site” agreement, the details of which will be formalized in French Polynesia in November. 

Link to further information
Environmental News Service, 29 September 2009

MEDITERRANEAN EU COUNTRIES BLOCK BLUEFIN TUNA BAN
A proposal from Monaco to ban trade in blue-fin tuna has been blocked by six Mediterranean countries (Malta, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, France and Greece), despite support from 21 EU governments. If the EU had voted for the ban at an international forum next March, fishing for bluefin tuna would have been at least temporarily outlawed. Bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean is thought to be approaching extinction, with stocks below 18% of 1970 stocks.

Link to further information
The Guardian, 22 September 2009

NEW RAMSAR SITE DESIGNATED IN CHINA; BOLIVIAN SITE ENLARGED
The Ramsar Secretariat announced that China designated its 37th Wetland of International Importance, Hangzhou Xixi Wetlands. The site is important for nine threatened species of birds. In Bolivia, the government announced the extension of the Laguna Colorada Ramsar site, designated in 1990, from 51,000 hectares to nearly 1.5 million hectares.

Link to further information
Ramsar website, 22 September 2009

ASSESSMENT OF ASSESSMENT REPORT LAUNCHED AT UNHQ
The Expert Group of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) launched the “Assessment of Assessments” report, a comprehensive overview of the marine assessment landscape, which also considers socio-economic factors, on 31 August at UN Headquarters New York, US.

The launch took place during the meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole, a meeting established through UN General Assembly Resolution 63/111, in order to recommend a course of action to the General Assembly at its 64th session.

The Group presented a set of options and recommendations for governments to consider, on ways to move the envisioned "Regular Process" forward. If established, the Regular Process for the reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment will “serve as the mechanism to keep the world's oceans and seas under continuing review by providing regular assessments at global and supra-regional levels.” The Group also presented the proposed relationship of the “Regular Process” to the UN at the intergovernmental level; and the establishment of a management oversight body, a new expert group; secretariat support mechanisms; and a set of financing options which could average between US$4 million and $5.6 million a year.

Link to further information
Press release, Eurocean. 21 September 2009

IMO SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS SYRIA AND IRAN
During a four-day visit to Syria and Iran, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos, discussed issues of piracy, seafarer shortage and climate change. At a presentation to the Syrian branch of the Arab Academy for Technology and Maritime Transport, Mitropoulos promoted the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) “Go to Sea!” campaign. In Iran Mitropoulos discussed the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, along with the need for full compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. He also urged Iran to expedite the Iran to expedite its ratification of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments.

Link to further information
IMO website

NEW RAMSAR SITES DESIGNATED IN CHILE, KAZAKHSTAN AND UK OVERSEAS TERRITORIES
New Ramsar sites have been designated in Chile, Kazakhstan and the UK Overseas Territory of St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha. In Chile, two high altitude Wetlands of International Importance were designated and are both centered on saline lakes that are extraordinarily important for Western Hemisphere migratory birds, and also support appreciable populations of mammals. Kazakhstan named two arid steppe lake systems  in the Kostanay Oblast. The United Kingdom has designated two new, large marine areas in its Overseas Territory of St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean. The new sites are centered on Gough Island and Inaccessible Island, respectively, with surrounding waters.  

Link to further information
Ramsar website

EU DISCUSSING ENVIRONMENTALLY HAZARDOUS SHIP DISMANTLING
Under the Swedish Presidency of the European Union (EU), discussions are being held to establish what measures the EU may take to improve the situation of environmentally hazardous ship dismantling. According to the European Commission (EC), in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, where most of the dismantling industry is located, hundreds of workers are killed or injured. The condemned ships also contain large amounts of hazardous waste including asbestos, PCBs and oil sludge, which is released into the environment.

In 2008, the EC presented a proposal calling for increased cooperation between authorities in the EU member states, improved control and lists on environmentally friendly ship dismantling facilities and condemned vessels. Negotiations over the position of the Council of Ministers will commence on 21 October 2009. The EC will then present EU legislation proposals, based on the Council’s viewpoints.

An EU ban on exporting environmentally hazardous materials already exists, but compliance with the ban is poor, especially regarding ships, due to the difficulty in establishing exactly when a ship should be demolished. The overarching objective of the Commission’s strategy is to ensure that the dismantling of ships sailing under EU flags will be safe and environmentally friendly by the year 2015.

Link to further information
Swedish Presidency of the EU website

 

AUGUST 2009

GLOBAL WATER ROUNDTABLE CREATED
A new initiative, the Global Water Roundtable, has been launched by the Alliance for Water Stewardship and its organizing members, to establish global standards for water stewardship with the goal of addressing the global threat of water stress, the increasing pollution of rivers and a decline in freshwater wildlife species. The Roundtable’s primary objective is to bring together stakeholders from government, science and industry to evaluate and establish a clear set of standards and a certification system for efficient water use. When completed, these new standards will seek to recognize and reward water users who take steps to minimize the impacts of their water use on people and the environment.

Organizing members of the Alliance for Water Stewardship include WWF, the Pacific Institute, The Nature Conservancy, Water Witness International, The Water Stewardship Initiative, the Water Environment Federation and the European Water Partnership. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) accepted a four-year US$1 million grant from JohnsonDiversey, Inc. to support this work.

Link to further information
Press release, 20 August 2009

 

JULY 2009

 

FAO WARNS ABOUT DISEASE DECIMATING FISH STOCKS IN ZAMBEZI RIVER VALLEY

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that a killer disease is decimating fish stocks in the Zambezi River Valley, threatening the food security and livelihoods of rural populations in an area shared by seven African countries. The disease, called Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS), is caused by a fungus forming deep lesions on fish and results in high mortality rates. Although fish infected with EUS do not normally pose a threat to humans, the lacerations caused by the disease render them unmarketable, threatening some 25 million people dependent on agriculture or fishing and fish farming in the Zambezi River basin with serious economic loss.

Link to further information
UN press release, 21 July 2009

FISHING NATIONS CALL FOR GLOBAL BLUEFIN TUNA BAN
Monaco, France, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany have announced that they would support listing
the endangered Northern Bluefin Tuna under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties will be held in Doha, Qatar, from 13-25 March 2010, and parties are to submit proposals for additions to its lists by 17 October 2009 in order to be eligible for consideration. Monaco was the first to communicate its willingness to sponsor a proposal to ban international trade in the species and has launched a formal CITES consultation process to seek the support of other range States. Bluefin tuna’s dramatic decline is caused by, inter alia, overcapacity of fishing fleets, pirate fishing, the use of illegal spotting planes to chase tuna, under-reporting of catch, fishing during the closed season, and  management measures that disregard scientific advice.

Link to further information
Traffic press release, 16 July 2009

JUNE 2009

 

UNDOALOS ACCEPTS APPLICATIONS FOR 2010/11 FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMME
The UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS) is accepting applications for the 2010-2011 session of the UN–Nippon Foundation of Japan Fellowship Programme. The main objective of the Programme is to provide funded opportunities for advanced training in the field of ocean affairs and the law of the sea, or related disciplines, to government officials and other mid-level professionals from developing coastal States so that they may obtain the necessary skills to assist their countries in the formulation of comprehensive ocean policies and to implement the legal regime set out in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and related instruments. The deadline for submissions has been set for 15 August 2009.

 

Links to further information
Fellowship programme webpage
UN press release, 9 June 2009

WORLD OCEANS DAY CELEBRATED
On 8 June 2009, the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS) celebrated World Oceans Day for the first time and around the theme “Our Oceans, Our Responsibility.” In a message to mark the Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the impacts of human activities on oceans, highlighting over-exploitation of vulnerable ecosystems, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing practices, invasive alien species and marine pollution, especially from land-based sources. He also emphasized that climate change causes sea temperature increases, sea-level rise and ocean acidification, thereby posing a further threat to marine life. The activities organized by UNDOALOS for the Day included a panel discussion on the theme “Our oceans, our responsibility,” and a documentary film screening of “A Sea Change.”

Links to further information
UN press release, 8 June 2009

UN Secretary-General’s statement

UNDOALOS RELEASES INFORMATION ON WORLD OCEANS DAY
The UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS) has released preliminary information on the upcoming observance of World Ocean Day. In 2008, the UN General Assembly decided that, beginning in 2009, 8 June would be designated by the UN as “World Oceans Day” (resolution 63/111, paragraph 171).  Before this official designation and since the Rio Earth Summit, many countries had celebrated World Ocean Day, which offers an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans. The inaugural observance of the Day by the UN will be organized around the theme “Our Oceans, Our Responsibility.” Activities at UN Headquarters in New York, US, will include: a statement by the UN Secretary-General; an expert panel discussion on the Day’s theme; and a documentary screening on ocean acidification titled “A Sea Change.”

Link to further information
World Ocean Day Programme

 

MAY 2009

IMO DEVELOPS DRAFT SHIP RECYCLING CONVENTION
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has completed the draft International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. The draft will be considered for adoption at the International Conference on the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, scheduled to take place in Hong Kong, China, from 11-15 May 2009. The draft convention aims to ensure that ship recycling is carried out in a way that does not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety and the environment. It was developed over the past three years, with input from IMO member States and relevant industry organizations, and in cooperation with the International Labour Organization and the parties to the Basel Convention.

Link to further information
IMO press release, 7 May 2009

IMO PRESENTS IMLI AWARD
On 5 May 2009, International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Mitropoulos presented the “IMLI Award for Meritorious Contribution towards the Dissemination, Harmonization and Implementation of International Maritime Law” to Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation. Under Sasakawa’s leadership, the Nippon Foundation has, inter alia, been involved in a project with IMO in the development a new framework to enhance navigational safety, security and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

Link to further information

IMO press release, 6 May 2009

 

MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT SYSTEM DEPLOYED IN BLACK SEA

The EnviroGRIDS project, a state-of-the art monitoring and assessment system aimed at assisting governments and communities track and respond to environmental trends, was deployed for the Black Sea on 27 April 2009. This approximately €8 million project, to which the European Commission is contributing €6.2 million, will be coordinated by the University of Geneva and the UN Environment Programme in cooperation with 26 national and international partners. The partners in the project will provide new data to the planet-wide Group on Earth Observations under the supervision of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River and the Black Sea Commission. EnviroGRIDS’s areas of focus include monitoring and assessing trends in climate change, habitats and ecosystems, and water quality, and their likely impacts on the economic and social lives of the Black Sea region.

 

Links to further information
UNEP press release, 27 April 2009
EnviroGRIDS project’s website

 

APRIL 2009

EC ADOPTS GREEN PAPER ON REFORM OF THE EU COMMON FISHERIES POLICY
On 22 April 2009, the European Commission (EC) adopted a Green Paper on the Reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, which shows that radical reform of the policy and a serious commitment from governments is needed to save Europe’s fish stocks and create a profitable fisheries sector. The Green Paper opens a consultation with all involved parties that will last until 31 December 2009. Following the consultation, the EC will present a proposal for a reformed policy, which is expected to be adopted in 2012 and to enter into force in 2013.

 

Link to further information
EU press release, 22 April 2009

WORLD BANK STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF VALUING COASTAL AND MARINE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
The World Bank has launched a publication titled “Valuing Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Services.” This study argues that, while we recognize that the ocean provides vast quantities of food, offers enormous recreational values and stores carbon, these services have been treated as “free goods,” and the ecosystems that provide them are rapidly deteriorating through overuse, pollution and physical destruction. The review suggests that properly valuing coastal and marine ecosystem services is critical to sustainable development.

Link to further information
World Bank press release, 8 April 2009 

UNECE INAUGURATES NEW INTERNATIONAL WATER ASSESSMENT CENTRE
On 7 April 2009, in Bratislava, Slovakia, Ján Kubiš, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and Ján Chrbet, Minister of Environment of Slovakia, inaugurated the International Water Assessment Centre (IWAC), which is the operational arm of the 1992 UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. The IWAC will complement and strengthen the work carried out under the UNECE Water Convention by focusing on projects on transboundary waters in countries with economies in transition. These projects will address issues such as monitoring and assessment, adaptation to climate change and development of innovative financing tools such as payments for ecosystem services, taking into account the specificities and challenges of transboundary cooperation.

Link to further information
UNECE press release, 7 April 2009

WORLD WATER DAY CELEBRATES “SHARED WATERS, SHARED OPPORTUNITIES”

On the occasion of World Water Day, which was observed on 22 March 2009, around the theme: “Shared Waters, Shared Opportunities,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that climate change is making less water available in many regions as glaciers recede, rainfall becomes less predictable, and floods and droughts become more extreme. He stressed the need to carefully manage water and urged all stakeholders to recognize that “our collective future depends on how we manage our precious and finite water resources.”  To mark the Day, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) highlighted the potential benefits of investing in the world’s freshwaters, and underscored the opportunities for businesses, noting that the market for supply, sanitation and water efficiency is expected to be nearly US$660 billion by 2020, and that global economic benefits of US$38 billion annually could be reaped from investing US$15 billion annually in halving by 2015 the number of people without sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation.

 

Also on the occasion of World Water Day, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Luc Gnacadja, released a message noting that prudent water management “means solving at the same time two of the most crucial challenges that dryland communities face and that go hand in hand: the reversal of land degradation processes and the simultaneously unsustainable management of water resources.”

 

Links to further information
UN Secretary-General’s Speech

UNEP press release

UNCCD Executive Secretary’s statement

World Water Day Website

 

US AND CANADA PETITION IMO TO CREATE EMISSIONS CONTROL AREA AROUND THEIR COASTLINES

The US and Canada submitted a joint proposal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on 27 March 2009, requesting that specific areas of their coastal waters be designated an Emissions Control Area (ECA). The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), which announced the submission, indicated that, by 2020, the ECA designation could prevent between 3,700 and 8,300 premature deaths annually, and avoid approximately 3.4 million instances of respiratory ailments, such as asthma, by reducing by 96% the sulfur in ships’ fuels, as well as cut emissions of PM by 85% and NOx by 80%. The IMO is expected to begin reviewing the proposal in July.

Links to further information
USEPA Oceangoing Vessels webpage

ENS news report, 30 March 2009

NEW GLOBAL WATER STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM ANNOUNCED
On 17 March 2009, during the Fifth World Water Forum that took place in Istanbul, Turkey, The Nature Conservancy, The Water Stewardship Initiative of Australia, Water Witness, the Water Environment Federation, the Pacific Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund launched a new global water stewardship program to recognize and reward responsible water managers, corporations, the agriculture industry, cities and water authorities for sustainable use of water resources. These partners have created the “Alliance for Water Stewardship” in order to develop common standards to manage water in a way that enables social and economic development while maintaining environmental sustainability.

 

Links to further information
Alliance for Water Stewardship
Tree Hunger press release, 21 March 2009

 

MARCH 2009

EU DISCUSSES BAN ON IMPORT AND SALE OF SEAL PRODUCTS
The EU member States are currently discussing a proposal to regulate import, export, transit and trading of seal products within, into and from the EU. Further to a declaration of the European Parliament that the Commission should ban the import of seal products from countries where seals are hunted using inhumane and unethical methods, the Commission submitted a draft regulation in July 2008. The text now under discussion is a follow-up to the Directive concerning the importation into the member States of skins of certain seal pups and products derived therefrom, according to which the member States are to prohibit the import of products of the furs of newborn pups of two species of seals.

Link to further information
EU Presidency press release, 31 March 2009

IMO PUBLISHES REVISED REGULATIONS AND TECHNICAL CODE ON AIR POLLUTION FROM SHIPS
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has published the revised Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) containing the Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, and the revised nitrogen oxides (NOx) Technical Code 2008, which were adopted by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in October 2008, and that will enter into force on 1 July 2010.

Link to further information
IMO press release, 31 March 2009

ITALY PROPOSES G8-AFRICA WATER ALLIANCE
Ahead of the G8 Summit, scheduled to be held on the island of La Maddalena, Italy, from 8-10 July 2009, the Italian G8 Presidency is working on a proposal to set up an alliance between the G8 and Africa to address the issue of the availability and certainty of water in the world. The alliance would foster the right conditions for guaranteeing certainty in water supplies to countries at risk, while putting in place consultation mechanisms at the institutional, technical and professional levels in an effort to come up with more rational solutions for the use of water.

Link to further information
G8 Summit press release, 17 March 2009

UN-HABITAT AND INTERNATIONAL WATER ASSOCIATION TO STRENGTHEN COOPERATION TOWARDS THE MDGs

The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and the International Water Association have signed an agreement to strengthen their cooperation in a renewed effort to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular target 10, which calls on governments to “reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water” by 2015. The agreement was signed at the Fifth World Water Forum, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey, from 16-22 March 2009, and recognizes the importance of promoting partnerships among water operators at all levels, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

 

Link to further information
UN-HABITAT press release, 25 March 2009

PROJECT TO STRENGTHEN WATERBIRD AND WETLAND CONSERVATION IN NORTH AFRICA
A new three-year project on “Strengthening waterbird and wetland conservation capacities in North Africa (WetCap)” is embarking on its first year of implementation. Within the framework of this project, capacity-building activities will take place in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania. The WetCap project is linked to the ongoing UNEP-GEF African-Eurasian Flyway Project (“Wings over Wetlands”). It will be implemented under the umbrella of the UNEP Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), in cooperation with BirdLife International, SEO/BirdLife, Wetlands International and the Ramsar Convention.

Link to further information
UNEP press release, 23 March 2009

UNGA PRESIDENT HIGHLIGHTS RIGHT TO WATER AT HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Speaking at the 10th session of the UN Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2-27 March 2009, Miguel D’Escoto, UN General Assembly President, warned that the economic and financial crises threaten poorer nations’ ability to attain basic human rights, such as the right to food and access to water and sanitation. He underlined the linkages between access to safe drinking water and sanitation and the enjoyment of the right to life or health, adding that “access to water is indispensable for a life in dignity and a prerequisite for the enjoyment of other human rights.”

 

Link to further information
UN Press Release, 4 March 2009

IMO AND UNDP LAUNCH BIOINVASIONS ALLIANCE
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN Development Programme, the Global Environment Facility and four private shipping corporations launched the Global Industry Alliance (GIA) on 2 March 2009, at IMO headquarters in London, UK, to tackle the threats of marine bio-invasions caused by the transfer of alien plants and animals in ships’ ballast tanks. According to the IMO, approximately 10 billion tons of ballast water are carried around the globe each year, and over 3,000 species of plants and animals are transferred daily. The GIA aims to harness the skills and expertise of its partners to develop concrete solutions to this global environmental hazard and develop cost effective water treatment technologies and new ship design options.

 

Links to further information
GIA Website
IMO Press Release, 2 March 2009

 

FEBRUARY 2009

EU LAUNCHES PLAN TO PROTECT SHARKS IN EUROPEAN WATERS
The European Commission has recently released a plan of action for the conservation of sharks. The first-ever conservation plan for one of the world’s most vulnerable predators aims to improve information about shark fisheries, end shark overfishing, pay special attention to threatened shark species and close loopholes in the EU ban on shark finning. It includes actions at national, EU and international levels. EU Fisheries Ministers are expected to agree “Council Conclusions” on the Plan at the Fisheries Council meeting in April 2009. Negotiations on a memorandum of understanding on migratory shark conservation are currently ongoing under auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

Links to further information
Shark Alliance press release, 5 February 2009
The Guardian, 6 February 2009

JANUARY 2009

 

LEADING SCIENTISTS AT UN FORUM CALL FOR ACTION TO HALT RISING ACIDITY IN WORLD’S OCEANS
Prince Albert II of Monaco urged political leaders to take notice of the Monaco Declaration on Ocean Acidification, which was developed by participants attending a UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) symposium on “The Ocean in a High-CO2 World,” which took place from 6-9 October 2008, in Monaco. The Declaration notes that levels of acidity are accelerating and that its negative socio-economic impacts can only be limited by cutting back on the amounts of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere. The Declaration was released in January 2009, with a call from over 150 leading marine scientists from 26 countries for immediate action by policymakers to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions so as to avoid widespread and severe damage to marine ecosystems from ocean acidification. James Orr, UN Marine Environment Laboratories, a Monaco-based subsidiary of the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated that “the chemistry is so fundamental and changes so rapid and severe that impacts on organisms appear unavoidable.”

 

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UNESCO Press Release, 30 January 2009

OCEAN FERTILIZATION EXPERIMENT PROCEEDS DESPITE PROTESTS
Despite concerns voiced by environmental organizations and the German Environment Ministry, the German Minister of Research decided to re-authorize the LOHAFEX ocean fertilization expedition, and the German vessel RV Polarstern is reported to have began dumping six tons of iron sulphate in the Scotia Sea near Antarctica to induce an algal bloom. The German Environment Minister “took note with regret” of the re-authorization decision, noting that the project is not compatible with the decision taken at the ninth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) since it is not carried out in coastal waters and independent monitoring is not guaranteed.

In related news, a study published in Nature three days after the German Ministry of Research granted its approval, measured the amount of carbon dioxide that is sequestered in the deep ocean by plankton when it dies, and found the amount to be 80 times lower than estimated during an earlier study. The researchers say the results reveal the complexity of the ocean carbon cycle.

Links to further information
German Environment Ministry press release, 26 January 2009
ETC Group press release, 28 January 2009
The Independent, 29 January 2009

Mongabay.com, 29 January 2009

OCEAN FERTILIZATION EXPERIMENT SUSPENDED
An Indo-German iron fertilization experiment (LOHAFEX) near Antarctica has been suspended, pending an independent assessment of its environmental impact. The suspension follows intervention by the German Ministry for Education and Research following pressure from environmental groups. The Montreal-based ETC Group, the Indian Biodiversity Forum and others had protested against the experiment on the ground that it was fraught with severe ecological consequences and violated the moratorium on ocean fertilization decided upon by the ninth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The experiment envisaged dumping of about 20 tonnes of iron sulphate in the Scotia Sea near Antarctica to induce an algal bloom.

Links to further information
ETC Group news release, 8 January 2009
ETC Group news release, 13 January 2009
Environment News Network, 10 January 2009
The Hindu, 17 January 2009
Nature, 9 January 2009

FAO SIGNS AGREEMENT TO COLLABORATE IN MEDITERRANEAN REGION
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced a new partnership with a Mediterranean intergovernmental organization to promote crops and improve fisheries, among other activities. The collaboration is with the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), which was founded in 1962 and has 13 Mediterranean member countries: Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey. Among the activities envisioned for the partnership will be efforts to: expedite the modernization of irrigation in the region; prevent forest fires; and control pest entrance and spread in the region by introducing harmonized protocols of pest monitoring.

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UN News Centre, 8 January 2009

INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED MANAGEMENT SEEKS NOMINATIONS

Swiss Re, the world's leading reinsurer, has launched the �ReSource Award 2010,� which is an annual competition for innovative watershed management projects, with a total value of US$150,000. The award seeks to recognize projects that seek to contribute to raising awareness of the ecological, social and economic significance of water sources and watersheds in developing and emerging countries. NGOs, private, scientific or public institutions and similar bodies are encouraged to submit an application prior to 30 April 2009.

Link to further information
ReSource Award website

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