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Recent Meetings

Water, Oceans and Wetlands


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December 2008

UNGA CONSIDERS 34 DEVELOPMENT-RELATED RESOLUTIONS FROM SECOND COMMITTEE

Among the 34 development-related actions put forward by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), the UN General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted resolutions regarding the economic ramifications of climate change, and addressing the need for a more equitable international financial system and to bolster developing countries' resilience to financial risk. Resolutions related to water pollution included a resolution regarding the oil slick on Lebanese shores. By a vote, the Assembly requested that Israel compensate Lebanon and Syria for the costs of repairing the environmental damage caused by the destruction of oil storage tanks near Lebanon's Jiyah electric power plant, including restoration of the marine environment. It decided to set up a voluntary trust fund for an eastern Mediterranean oil spill restoration to support integrated, environmentally sound management of the environmental disaster resulting from the destruction. Further, the UNGA adopted a text titled “Towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations,” calling on the UN and the international community to help Caribbean countries and regional organizations protect the sea from degradation due to pollution from ships, illegal dumping or hazardous waste, and to provide them with aid for long-term disaster relief. Link to further information UN Press Release, 19 December 2008
UN-ESCWA'S COMMITTEE ON WATER RESOURCES HOLDS EIGHTH SESSION

The eighth session of the Committee on Water Resources of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA) took place from 17-19 December 2008, in Beirut, Lebanon, and gathered representatives of member countries, international, regional and civil organizations, as well as experts on water resources. Participants focused on the potential impacts of climate change on the water resources sector in the ESCWA region, possible adaptation measures, and domestic actions by member countries to deal with those impacts. Participants also reviewed: progress made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and water quality management in the ESCWA region; follow-up on the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee on Water Resources at its seventh session; and progress made in carrying out water resource-related activities between the seventh and eighth sessions of the Committee on Water Resources under the ESCWA programme of work. Link to further information ESCWA Press Release, 17 December 2008
FAO CONFERENCE ADDRESSES WATER IN AFRICA IN THE CONTEXT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

The conference on “Water for Agriculture and Energy in Africa: The Challenges of Climate Change,” took place in Sirte, Libya, from 15-17 December 2008. The conference was organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as the Chair of UN Water, together with the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Government, and in collaboration with stakeholders including the African Union, the African Ministers' Council on Water Development, the African Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Africa. In preparation for the event, a series of individual Country Investment Briefs were prepared, based on short-, medium- and long-term assessments and considering investment in water control at the village level, extensive irrigation systems and major river basins, both for agriculture and for hydro-electric power generation. During the event, ministers from 53 African countries considered a “Blue Revolution” programme designed to harness Africa's largely untapped water resources for its development. The $65 billion, 20-year programme details the irrigation and hydroenergy investments required in each country in the context of climate change, which is expected to have a considerable impact on Sub-Saharan Africa. At the end of the three-day event, delegates adopted the Sirte Declaration supporting water development in order to fully exploit the potential of Africa's agriculture and energy sectors, to ensure the food security of the continent and to meet its increasing food and energy needs. Links to further information FAO Press Release, 15 December 2008 Conference Website
SADAC WATER AND SANITATION MEETING CONSIDERS INNOVATIVE APPROACHES

A seminar on “Water and Sanitation in Southern Africa Development Community (SADC): Innovative Approaches for Resource Mobilization and Policy Implementation” took place from 10-13 December 2008, in Lusaka, Zambia, to discuss how to mobilize resources and strengthen awareness on water and sanitation (WASAT) issues, in order to accelerate the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and sustainable development commitments in Southern Africa. The meeting brought together water experts from government institutions and subregional bodies, the private sector, SADC institutions, civil society and development partners. The event was jointly convened by the African Union-Southern Africa Regional Office, the African Development Bank and ECA Southern Africa Office. The seminar facilitated consultation among stakeholders on the strategic role of WASAT in the attainment of national, sub-regional, regional and global sustainable development commitments to assess the progress accomplished in promoting access to safe WASAT, identify issues and challenges, increase awareness and define a strategy to accelerate the attainment of the related MDGs through effective resource mobilization. The event also served as a consultative and preparatory meeting for Africa's participation at the Fifth World Water Forum, to be held in Turkey in 2009. Link to further information UNECA Press Release, 9 December 2008
CIFAA ENDORSES PROGRAMME FOR AQUACULTURE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

The 15th session of the Committee for Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture of Africa (CIFAA) of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) took place from 9-11 December 2008, in Lusaka, Zambia. The session brought together 41 participants representing: 14 member States; two States with observer status; the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa; the Economic Community of West African States; the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization; the Southern African Development Community; the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development; the WorldFish Center; the Sustainable Aquaculture Research Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa; and Swedmar. Among other actions, participants agreed to: an amendment to the rules of procedure; the postponement of the abolition of the CIFAA Sub-Committee for Lake Tanganyika; the endorsement of the Special Programme for Aquaculture Development in Africa; the creation of an Ad Hoc Working Group to develop an inland fisheries development strategy for Africa; and revised terms of reference of the CIFAA. Delegates also adopted the report of the meeting, which contains a summary of the plenary discussions and the seminar. Link to further information IISD RS coverage
CMS/ACCOBAMS MEETING ON MARINE ENVIRONMENT HELD

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) together with its Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS) facilitated the International Summit on the Marine Environment, which convened from 9-11 December 2008, in Heraklion, Greece. Part of the Year of the Dolphin, participants agreed on first steps for urgent measures to stop the further degradation of marine ecosystems caused by overfishing in Greek waters. Draft recommendations will be submitted to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs for implementation. Link to further information UNEP Press Release, 11 December 2008
CMS COP 9 CONCLUDES, LISTS SHARKS AND CHEETAH ON THE APPENDICES

The ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) was held from 1-5 December 2008, in Rome, Italy. COP 9 was preceded by several associated meetings from 27-30 November: the first Meeting of the Parties (MOP1) to the Gorilla Agreement; the seventh UN Environment Programme (UNEP)/Global Environment Facility (GEF) Siberian Crane Wetlands Project Steering Committee meeting; the 34th CMS Standing Committee meeting; and the Aridland Mammals meeting. Delegates considered CMS COP 9 to be a successful meeting, touching upon a range of institutional, key policy and species conservation issues. The meeting adopted 17 resolutions and five recommendations. It listed 11 species on Appendix I of the Convention, including three dolphin species and the West African manatee, as well as the cheetah, with the exception of the populations of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia for which quotas are in place under the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Species listed in Appendix II include the African wild dog, saiga antelope and several dolphin populations. Following intense negotiations, mako sharks, the porbeagle shark and the northern hemisphere population of the spiny dogfish were also listed on Appendix II. The proposal to list the saker falcon on Appendix I was eventually withdrawn, but a resolution was adopted that sets out the direction for future work on this species, and proposes listing it at COP 10 unless its conservation status improves significantly. Other highlights of the meeting included: the adoption of a modest but flexible core budget for the next triennium representing a 3.3% increase compared to the 2006-2008 budget; resolutions on climate change impacts on migratory species, ocean noise, by-catch and marine species; and the establishment of an intersessional process on the future shape of CMS, aiming to address a series of institutional issues. COP 9 was followed by the second Meeting to Identify and Elaborate an Option for International Cooperation on Migratory Sharks, held from 6-8 December. Link to further information IISD RS coverage

November 2008

AMCOW MEETINGS DISCUSS SHARM EL SHEIKH DECLARATION AND COMMITMENTS ON WATER AND SANITATION

The Executive Committee of the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) met from 24-28 November 2008, at the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya, under the theme “Carrying forward the Sharm El Sheikh Declaration and Commitments on Water and Sanitation (adopted by the African Union Summit, Egypt, June 2008).” The meetings included those of the: AMCOW Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), from 24-25 November; AfricaSan Taskforce on the eThekwini Declaration, on 26 November; Steering and Coordination Committees for the African Preparatory Process for the Fifth World Water Forum, on 26 November; G8 and AMCOW Dialogue session, on 26 November; and AMCOW Executive Committee (ExCom), from 27-28 November. The ExCom adopted recommendations made by the TAC on: elements of the plan of action for the implementation of the Sharm El Sheikh Declaration and commitments on water and sanitation; a proposed Pan-African mechanism for the monitoring and evaluation of progress in the water and sanitation sector at the country, sub-regional and regional levels; implementation and coordination of commitments relating to water; proposals by the Kenyan government for the hosting arrangements of African Water Week; AMCOW's strategy for strengthening the AMCOW/G8 partnership; AMCOW's strategy for the high level conference on water for agriculture and energy; Africa's roadmap for the World Water Forum; the strategy and roadmap for implementation of the eThikweni Declaration; the roadmap for accelerating implementation of the decisions of the sixth session of AMCOW; measures for restructuring the AMCOW Executive Committee, strengthening AMCOW's sub-regional presence and bringing into full operation the secretariat of AMCOW located in Abuja, Nigeria; the chairmanship of the African Ground Water Commission and related arrangements; and the outcomes of the ninth meeting of the Governing Council of the African Water Facility. Link to further information IISD RS coverage
REGIONAL SEAS GLOBAL MEETING ADOPTS STATEMENT ON IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON COASTAL AND MARINE ECOSYSTEMS

The 10th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans convened from 25-27 November 2008, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and addressed issues related to: climate change, including adaptation to climate change vulnerability and sea-level rise; preparations for the Regional Ministerial Forum on Climate Change; ecosystem management; cooperation with Multilateral Environmental Agreements; sustainable financing and legal instruments to further the implementation of the Regional Seas' work programme; and operational considerations. At the end of the meeting, delegates adopted a statement regarding climate change that recognizes that its consequences will be profound and long term. The statement underlines the need for multidisciplinary efforts to adapt to, and mitigate the impacts of, climate change on coastal and marine ecosystems, and the services they provide to human well-being. The statement further underscores the importance of collaboration and coordination among international and regional organizations, governments, civil society and the private sector. The meeting concluded that there is an urgent need to strengthen political will, secure sustained financial support, develop the necessary frameworks, and coordinate existing conventions, programmes, projects and activities to ensure effective adaptation to, and mitigation of the impacts of, climate change. The meeting also stressed the importance of incorporating climate change as a cross-cutting issue in sustainable development processes. Recognizing that the global impacts of climate change will need to be dealt with on a regional basis, participants supported the initiative of the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific to convene a high-level regional conference on climate change and its impacts on the coastal and marine environment of the Southeast Pacific. Link to further information Meeting website
SECOND COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT RESOLUTIONS

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), at its 63rd session on 24 November 2008, approved by consensus a draft resolution calling for urgent global action to address climate change. In the draft resolution, the UNGA would, inter alia, stress the seriousness of climate change, call for full implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and recognize the need to provide financial and technical resources. The Second Committee also approved a draft resolution that calls for the effective implementation of the commitments adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and as contained in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, invites Member States to express their views on the possibility of convening a high-level event on sustainable development and calls for the Secretary-General to report back to the UNGA on these views, and reaffirms the need for financing to support the implementation of Agenda 21. The Second Committee also approved, on 26 November 2008, draft text on small island sustainable development, desertification, and oceans. On oceans, the Committee approved by consensus a draft resolution titled “towards the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea for present and future generations.” The draft calls on the UN and member states to help Caribbean states and regional organizations to protect the Caribbean from pollution due to ships, illegal dumping and hazardous wastes, and to become parties to relevant multilateral agreements. On small island developing states (SIDS), the Committee approved a draft resolution urging the UN, member states, and the Global Environment Facility to implement the Mauritius Declaration and the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, as well as to help SIDS in their adaptation efforts. On desertification, the Second Committee recommended that UNGA call for the integration of desertification and land degradation into sustainable development plans and strategies, encourage affected States parties and donors to take into account civil society's participation in Convention processes when setting priorities in national development strategies, and urge the Committee on Science and Technology to expedite efforts to create links with scientific communities in order to fully use relevant initiatives in sustainable land and water management. On disasters, a draft text was agreed that calls on the international community to provide predictable resources to vulnerable developing countries and stresses the importance of the Hyogo Declaration and the Hyogo Framework for Action in disaster risk reduction. Another draft resolution was agreed that calls for the implementation of the Hyogo documents, institutional strengthening, and contributions to the UN Trust Fund for Disaster Reduction. Links to further information Press Release on GA/EF/3233, 25 November 2008 Draft resolution A/C.2/63/L.62, 25 November 2008 UN Press Release on SIDS, Desertification, Disasters, 26 November 2008
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON WATER RESOURCES AND ARID ENVIRONMENT ADDRESSES IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

The International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environment and the First Arab Water Forum took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 16-19 November 2008. Participants discussed: water resources; water conservation; climate change and its impact on water resources and arid environments; utilization of new technologies in the study of arid environments and their natural resources; the advancement of Arab water policy towards development; and management of water crises in the Arab world. In his inaugural speech, Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz pointed to the possibility that terrorism targets water resources and called for a water summit similar to the world economic summits. Links to further information Conference website Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia Press Release, 16 November 2008 Saudi Press Agency, 16 November 2008
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SEEKS TO IMPROVE WATER MANAGEMENT IN CENTRAL ASIA

The international conference “Water Unites – Strengthening Regional Cooperation on Water Management in Central Asia” took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 17-18 November 2008, and was organized by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Government of Germany, the Executive Committee for the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and the UN Development Programme. Topics addressed included: the shrinking of the Aral Sea; lack of agreement between upstream and downstream countries on water release regimes and water distribution; competition between energy and irrigation sectors; deterioration of water ecosystems; and impacts of climate change on water availability. The conference is a follow-up to the first “Water Unites” conference (Berlin, 1 April 2008), during which the “Berlin Water Process” was launched by the German Federal Foreign Minister. The Almaty conference aimed to assess the short- and long-term challenges in cooperative water management in Central Asia and to generate more coherent, efficient and better targeted actions to meet these challenges. Link to further information UNECE Press Release, 14 November 2008
FIRST WORLD CONFERENCE ON MARINE BIODIVERSITY HIGHLIGHTS RAPID MIGRATION OF INVASIVE SPECIES

The First World Conference on Marine Biodiversity, which took place in Valencia, Spain, from 11-15 November 2008, was organized by the Spanish Council of Scientific Research and the European Network of Excellence on Marine Biodiversity, and brought together over 500 scientists from 45 countries. Participants announced research results on the rapid, climate change-induced northern migration of invasive marine species, noting that invasive species of marine macroalgae spread at 50 km per decade, a distance far greater than that covered by invasive terrestrial plants. Other research results reported relate to the impacts of the pressure of climate change and the abrupt deterioration of the Arctic and coral reefs. Conference topics included: the loss of marine biodiversity and its consequences; the exploitation of marine living resources; and the discoveries of novel ecosystems in extreme ecosystems, particularly in the deep sea. Links to further information EurkAlert, 10 November 2008 Conference Website
UNESCO-IHP, THE CHIRAC FOUNDATION AND THE FRENCH DEVELOPMENT AGENCY ORGANIZE CONFERENCE ON WATER AND PEACE

The conference on “Water for Peace – Peace for Water: Lessons from the Past and Current Challenges,” jointly organized by the UN Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization's (UNESCO) International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and the Chirac Foundation, with the support of the French Agency for Development, took place on 13 November 2008, at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. The conference featured two roundtables on: transboundary water and cooperation; and access to water in fragile States. The Conference brought together representatives from international organizations, NGOs, governments and the media from different regions of the world. The outcome of the roundtable deliberations will contribute to the Political Process of the Fifth World Water Forum, to be held in Istanbul from 15-22 March 2009. Link to further information Conference website and programme
INTERNATIONAL WASH FAIR ADDRESSES LACK OF ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION

The Second International WASH Practitioners' Marketplace and Fair took place in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh, from 11-13 November 2008, and was organized by STREAMS of Knowledge, a global coalition of resource centres engaged in capacity development in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) – and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The Fair addressed: the fact that almost half of Asia's population lack access to sanitation; integrated water resource management; community participation; and sanitation entrepreneurship. The Fair was part of ESCAP's Pro-poor Water and Sanitation in Small Towns project, which assists local governments and their partners to extend water and sanitation services to the urban poor, through the documentation and sharing of innovative practices through workshops, pilot projects and advisory services. Link to further information Fair website
CCMLR PROTECTS TWO SOUTHERN OCEAN SEABED AREAS

The 27th meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) took place in Hobart, Australia, from 27 October to 7 November 2008, and gathered 200 representatives from the 25 signatory States. During the meeting, delegates voted in favor of an Australian proposal to protect two 400 square kilometer areas of seabed by designating them vulnerable marine ecosystems in which certain damaging fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, are prohibited. Significantly, the protection agreement is structured so that other areas with similar ecological qualities can also be made off limits to fishing when identified. Another outcome of the meeting was the adoption of a notification scheme for transshipments and a classification code for Antarctic krill products. The European Commission expressed disappointment that delegates had opposed the Community's trade measure proposals, noting that such measures can play an important role in tackling illegal fishing. CCAMLR was created in 1982 and is responsible for the conservation and management of marine living resources and their rational use in the Southern Ocean. The main commercial fisheries in the Convention area are for krill and Patagonian toothfish. Links to further information EU Press Release, 14 November 2008 The Daily, 8 November 2008
RAMSAR COP10 CONCLUDES IN CHANGWON

The 10th meeting of the contracting parties (COP 10) to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat was held from 28 October to 4 November 2008, in Changwon, Republic of Korea. The meeting took as its theme, “Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People.” Over 2000 participants attended, representing 158 parties, international organization partners of the Ramsar Convention, UN agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. COP 10 adopted 33 resolutions, including on: wetlands and climate change; wetlands and biofuels; wetlands and extractive industries; wetlands and poverty eradication; wetlands and human health and well-being; enhancing biodiversity in rice paddies as wetland systems; and promoting international cooperation on the conservation of waterbird flyways. The COP also adopted the Convention's budget for 2009-2013 and Strategic Plan 2009-2014. Most participants expressed satisfaction with the outcomes of the Conference, highlighting the public attention it received in the host country and the Asian region as an important step towards raising the Convention's profile. A number of resolutions provide guidance for further streamlining reporting and monitoring under the Convention as well the Convention's own operations. However, the main issue of institutional reform – the legal status of the Convention's Secretariat – was deferred to an intersessional working group. While many delegates welcomed the fact that the decisions on wetlands and climate change and on wetlands and biofuels remained focused on aspects relevant to wetland conservation and wise use rather than broadening the issues beyond the Convention's scope, some felt that COP10 had missed an opportunity to make the Convention more visible at the global level. Link to further information IISD RS coverage, November 2008

October 2008

UN LEGAL COMMITTEE ADDRESSES PROTECTION OF GLOBAL WATER RESOURCES

The UN Sixth Committee (Legal) debated draft articles elaborated by the International Law Commission on transboundary aquifers on 28 October 2008, at UN headquarters in New York, US. While some speakers attending the Sixth Committee discussions argued that the draft articles should become treaty obligations in the near future, others said a convention on the matter could not be elaborated quickly without the consensus of States, and recommended using the draft articles as guidelines for bilateral or regional arrangements. Link to further information UN Press Release, 28 October 2008
RAMSAR COP10 UNDERWAY

The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP) to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) opened on 28 October 2008, in Changwon, Republic of Korea, under the theme “Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People.” The meeting, which will conclude on 4 November 2008, will consider over 20 agenda items, including the Convention's Strategic Plan 2009-2014 and its budget for the triennium 2009-2011, as well as reports and recommendations submitted by parties and by the Convention's Standing Committee. Participants are also expected to adopt a “Changwon Declaration” and will address substantive issues relating to the Convention's implementation, including: communication, education, participation and awareness; future implementation of scientific and technical aspects; partnerships and synergies with multilateral environmental agreements and the business sector; and the status of sites in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. Regarding monitoring, assessment and data needs, the meeting will address, among other items: a framework for data and information needs; harmonized guidance for describing the ecological character of wetlands and data needs and formats for core inventory; a framework for detecting, reporting and responding to change in wetland ecological character; and updated guidance on environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment. The COP will also address the relationship between wetlands conservation and other international issues, such as human health and well being, climate change, biofuels, extractive industries, urbanization, and poverty reduction. Link to further information IISD RS Coverage
EU TO REINFORCE TUNA PROTECTION

EU Fisheries Ministers meeting in Luxemburg on 27 October 2008 have called for greater protection measures for the dwindling population of bluefin tuna. Ministers requested the European Commission to push for stricter controls and lower quotas at the next meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in Morocco from 17-24 November 2008. Conservation groups have been calling for a fishing ban. European ministers also agreed that fishing for deep-sea sharks should be banned from 2010 and that quotas on cod, herring and salmon in the Baltic Sea will be reduced from this year. Links to further information EU Observer, 28 October 2008 WWF Press Release, 30 October 2008
EUROPEAN FOREST WEEK FOCUSES ON CLIMATE CHANGE, WATER AND ENERGY

Delegates from 45 countries met in Rome, Italy, from 20-24 October 2008, to discuss collaboration on sustainable forest management issues during the first European Forest Week (EFW), held in conjunction with the joint meeting of the Sixty-sixth session of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Timber Council and Thirty-fourth session of the FAO European Forestry Commission. A variety of stakeholders shared perspectives and solutions to global challenges relating to forests and climate change, energy and water, covering aspects such as improving forest law enforcement and governance in the European neighborhood policy, the new forest policy of the Russian Federation, gender and forestry, the role of wood products in climate change mitigation, and adaptation of forest trees to climate change. At the conclusion of the European Forest Week, the joint meeting adopted its report and annexes reflecting the Chairs' summaries of the discussions on the central themes. The meeting also adopted the Joint Timber Committee and European Forestry Commission Market Statement reflecting the outcome of the market discussions. Concurrent to the events in Rome, over 100 EFW events were organized in 30 countries across Europe, including a one-day conference of the European Economic and Social Committee held in Brussels, Belgium. The European Forest Week was held in fulfillment of a Ministerial Statement adopted by the fifth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe in Warsaw in November 2007, which declared 20-24 October 2008 the Pan-European Forest Week 2008. Links to further information IISDRS coverage of the meeting European Forest Week Website
INTERNATIONAL COAST DAY PROMOTES SUSTAINABLE BEACH MANAGEMENT

“International Coast Day” was celebrated, on 24 October 2008, in several countries of the Mediterranean region under the theme “sustainable beach management.” The event seeks to promote the value of beaches as the most important coastal ecosystems that plays a key role in economic coastal tourism. “Coast Day” was first launched on 24 October 2007 by the Short and Medium-Term Priority Environmental Action Programme (SMAP III) partner and the UN Environment Programme, Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre. This year, a wide range of events took place in different countries of the region, all aimed at raising the awareness of policy makers and the general public about the value of the Mediterranean coast. The Mediterranean Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management, which was signed in Madrid in January 2008, was also promoted at all levels as a legal instrument that allows the countries to better manage their coastal zones, as well as to deal with emerging coastal environmental challenges. Link to further information International Coast Day Press Release
MEDITERRANEAN MARINE TURTLE CONFERENCE EMPHASIZES THE VALUE OF REGIONAL COOPERATION

The Third Mediterranean Conference on Marine Turtles, which took place in Hammamet, Tunisia, from 20-23 October 2008, brought together field biologists, conservationists, government administrators and other professionals from all Mediterranean countries, involved in sea turtle research and conservation. The event was a joint initiative of: the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean; the Protocol on Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity; the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals; the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats; and IUCN's Marine Turtle Specialist Group, Mediterranean Region. During the conference, participants were presented with the most recent scientific findings and developments associated with sea turtle research management and conservation aspects in the Mediterranean region. Link to further information Conference website
FAO'S COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES DISCUSSES CHALLENGES FACED BY AQUACULTURE

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Committee on Fisheries (COFI), Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, met in Puerto Varas, Chile, from 6-10 October 2008. At the meeting a report prepared by the FAO outlining issues facing the future of fish farming was presented. In the report, the FAO expresses concern that the aquaculture industry may struggle to meet future world demand for fish as a rising global population consumes an increasing quantity of fish and small farmers in poor countries face difficulties in exporting their produce. During the meeting, participants discussed: the Technical Guidelines on aquaculture certification; improving progress reporting on the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, in particular the provisions relevant to aquaculture and culture-based fisheries; improving governance in aquaculture; and opportunities for addressing the challenges in meeting the rising global demand for food fish from aquaculture. Links to further information COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture - 4th Session website FAO Press Release, 6 October 2008
IMO ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE MAKES PROGRESS ON EMISSIONS FROM SHIPS, BALLAST WATER MANAGEMENT AND SHIP RECYCLING

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) held its 58th session from 6-10 October 2008, in London, UK. During the meeting, the Committee made progress on, inter alia: harmful emissions from ships; environmentally-friendly recycling of ships; ballast water management; and greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The MEPC unanimously adopted amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI regulations to progressively reduce emissions of sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter from ships. On recycling of ships, the MEPC conducted an article-by-article and regulation-by-regulation review of the draft new convention on this matter, which will be circulated for consideration and adoption by a diplomatic conference to be held in Hong Kong, China, from 11-15 May 2009. The Committee also adopted guidelines for ballast water sampling and revised guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems, aimed to assist in the effective implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments. On greenhouse gases from ships, the MEPC maintained momentum on the issue and made substantive progress in developing technical and operational measures to address such emissions, including the development of an energy efficiency design index for new ships and an energy efficiency operational index, with associated guidelines for both; an efficiency management plan suitable for all ships; and a voluntary code on best practice in energy efficient ship operations. Links to further information IMO Press Release, 13 October 2008
NEW CMS MOU ON WEST AFRICAN MARINE MAMMALS SIGNED

During the second inter-governmental meeting on Western African and Macaronesian aquatic mammals (WATCH-Western African Talks on Cetaceans and their Habitats), which took place in Lomé, Togo, from 2-3 October 2008, 15 countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) to protect over 30 small cetacean species in an area that stretches from Macaronesia, through Morocco to South Africa. The new instrument contains two action plans to conserve marine species and will help facilitate transboundary cooperation by providing an international platform to negotiate and coordinate research and conservation measures. The countries that signed the agreement are Angola, Benin, Cape Verde, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Togo. Link to further information UNEP Press Release, 7 October 2008
AFRICAN SEMINAR ON SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT HELD

The African Water Facility (AWF) has held a seminar on sustainable water resources management. The seminar, which took place in Tunis, Tunisia, in late October 2008, was held under the chairmanship of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group's Water and Sanitation Department. The seminar was organized around the theme “Towards equitable and sustainable water resources use and management: Progress on contribution of current AWF portfolio.” During the seminar, participants reviewed current water issues in Africa and examined how initiatives supported by the Facility are responding to the African Water Vision 2025 of “An Africa where there is an equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for poverty alleviation, socio-economic development, regional cooperation and the environment.” Participants also heard thematic presentations highlighting progress made in the implementation of specific ongoing projects, and showcasing how specific issues are being addressed through interventions supported by the AWF. The AWF is an initiative of African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW), was created to promote the development of the water sector in Africa and to mobilize the necessary financial resources for the implementation of its activities. Link to further information ADB Press Release, 30 October 2008

September 2008

WORLD OCEAN COUNCIL INAUGURATED

Representatives from the shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, cruise ship tourism, aquaculture, ports and other ocean industries from around the world gathered at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 30 September 2008, for the inaugural World Ocean Council (WOC) meeting to develop a global alliance on sustainability. The event was kicked off by Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, and Vaclav Mikulka, Director of the UN Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea. The WOC aims to improve dialogue and understanding between those industrial sectors whose livelihood depends on the responsible and sustainable use of the world's oceans. The WOC will coordinate efforts to reduce risk and increase stable and responsible ocean use by facilitating industry engaging in international ocean policy processes and collaborating on practical solutions. Link to further information WOC website
BAN OUTLINES STRATEGY TO REACH WATER AND SANITATION MDG

An event titled “One World One Dream: Sanitation and Water for All” was held at UN headquarters in New York, US, on 24 September 2008, and focused on the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) calling for reducing by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. Speaking at the event, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for accelerated efforts to expand access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and warned against the instability of a world short of water. Noting that current trends are “disturbing,” he added that the world faces an “uphill battle.” Ban underlined that the challenge is exacerbated by extreme weather phenomena associated with climate change and outlined the necessary steps to reach the MDG, including: taking concrete measures to build infrastructure, transfer technology and scale up good agricultural practices; improving management of water resources; and expanding investment. The event brought together leaders from civil society, the private sector and governments, including Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and high-level officials from Tajikistan, Germany, Japan and Tanzania. Link to further information UN Press Release, 24 September 2008
WORLD EXPO OPENS ON THE THEME “WATER AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT”

The international Expo 2008 opened on 14 June in Zaragoza, Spain. Over seven million guests are expected to visit the exhibition, which is organized under the theme water and sustainable development. Around 2,000 experts from across the world are to take part in the debates, which will conclude on 11 September with an International Symposium on Water and Sustainable Development. Link to further information World Expo's website
WORLD WATER CONGRESS FOCUSES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The World Water Congress convened from 1-4 September 2008, in Montpellier, France, under the theme “Global Changes and Water Resources: confronting the expanding and diversifying pressures.” The event was organized by the International Water Resources Association and aimed to provide a platform for open discussions and debates between scientists, practitioners and policy-makers from developed and developing countries, who are interested in the advancement and application of knowledge to solve global water-related problems. Participants addressed the following topics: water availability, use and management; water resources and global changes; climate change and disasters; development of water resources and infrastructure; water governance and water security; water conservation and demand management; financing water development; and capacity building. Link to further information Conference website
Water Operators Partnership of Africa Convenes

September 2008: Approximately 100 representatives from African water utilities met in Dakar, Senegal, in September 2008, to discuss areas in which they could share information. The workshop was sponsored by the Water Operators Partnership (WOP) of Africa, a concept that was initiated in 2006 through a process organized by the UN Division for Sustainable Development (DSD). The WOP of Africa was created in 2008. Participants identified areas in which to share technology and experiences, with a view to creating a joint database. [DSD 2006 WOP Workshops] [AllAfrica.com News Story, 18 September 2008] [AllAfrica.com News Story, 22 September 2008] [AllAfrica.com News Story, 24 September 2008]

August 2008

IAEA SHOWCASES USE OF NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY TO PROTECT WATER RESOURCES AT INTERNATIONAL EXPO

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) presented its work on water and isotope hydrology from 27-29 August 2008, at the International Expo on Water and Sustainable Development, which runs from 14 June to 14 September 2008, in Zaragoza, Spain. Over six million visitors from around the globe are expected to visit the Expo, which will feature presentations by over 2,000 international experts on water-themed exhibits, lectures, performances and concerts. The information the IAEA will showcase its work on a nuclear technique that helps experts identify the size, origin, flow and age of a particular water source, which can help planners to better manage their water resources. Through its Technical Cooperation Programme, the IAEA currently has over 80 on-going projects worldwide that map underground aquifers, manage ground and surface water, monitor dam leakage and help control pollution. Link to further information UN press release, 27 August 2008
FAO TECHNICAL CONSULTATION ADOPTS DEEP SEA FISHERIES GUIDELINES

The Second Session of the Technical Consultation on International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas took place in Rome, Italy, from 25-29 August 2008, under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The 69 participating countries adopted guidelines aimed at protecting deep-sea fish species and habitats outside national waters that are at risk from overfishing. The guidelines, which follow two years of preparation and negotiations, were needed in part because many deep-water fish species grow slowly, reach sexual maturity late and may not always reproduce every year. In addition, until now, no framework for tackling this issue existed. According to the FAO, even in national waters, few countries have addressed deep-water fishing management since it is a relatively new activity and requires considerable investment and technology. The Guidelines state that all fishing activity in deep sea areas should be “rigorously managed” and lay out measures to be taken to identify and protect vulnerable ecosystems, and provide guidance on the sustainable use of marine living resources in deep-sea areas. Links to further information FAO Press Release, 3 September 2008 The guidelines
IOSEA MARINE TURTLE MEETING HIGHLIGHTS COASTAL DEVELOPMENT AND HARMFUL FISHING ACTIVITIES

The Fifth Meeting of the Signatory States to the Convention on Migratory Species/Indian Ocean South East Asia (IOSEA) Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was held in Bali, Indonesia, from 20-23 August 2008. The meeting brought together 27 country representatives to review the implementation of the conservation and management plan contained in the MoU, with a particular focus on coastal development issues and fisheries interaction with marine turtles. Ahead of the meeting, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) had reported mixed results in attempts to protect marine turtles in the region. The Agency said that while South Africa's Loggerhead turtle population has grown in the past 40 years, the numbers in eastern Australia and Madagascar have sharply declined. Recognizing progress made by signatory States in many areas, UNEP called for their increased support to international coordination efforts. Among the threats posed to the species, UNEP identified coastal development, harmful fishing gear, degradation of critical habitats on land and excessive harvesting of eggs and for meat. Link to further information UNEP press release, 20 August 2008
STOCKHOLM WORLD WATER WEEK FOCUSES ON SANITATION

World Water Week, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden, from 17-23 August 2008, was organized around the theme “Progress and Prospects on Water: For a Clean and Healthy World with Special Focus on Sanitation.” The event was led by the Stockholm International Water Institute and brought together 2,500 experts, representing over 200 organizations. Participants included representatives from regional development banks, waste management companies, humanitarian groups, think tanks, and several international organizations. The UN has declared 2008 the International Year of Sanitation, which provided the impetus for the World Water Week theme. With a focus on the Millennium Development Goals, the theme for World Water Week drew attention to sanitation needs and the effect of poor sanitation worldwide. Five prizes, including the Stockholm Industry Water Awards, were also offered during the Week, with the Orange County Water District and the Orange County Sanitation District, California, being selected for its work in developing the world's largest water purification plant for groundwater recharge, among other recipients. Link to further information World Water Week website

July 2008

WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICAN STATES SIGN MOU ON SUB-REGIONAL COASTGUARD NETWORK

The 13th General Assembly of Ministers of the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA), which took place in Dakar, Senegal, on 30 July 2008, concluded with the adoption of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of a Sub-regional Coastguard Network for the West and Central African sub-region, aimed at improving maritime safety, security and environmental protection. The MoU follows a feasibility study undertaken by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the IMO/MOWCA forum on the establishment of an integrated coast guard function network for West and Central African Countries, held in Dakar in October 2006. The MoU provides an institutional framework for, inter alia: addressing illegal fishing, oil theft, damage to gas pipelines and maritime accident response in the sub-region; and guidelines for enforcement of international conventions, regulations and codes - principally those of IMO and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Link to further information IMO press release, 12 August 2008
EXPERTS GATHER TO PREVENT WETLAND DESTRUCTION AND CONSEQUENT CARBON RELEASES

Over 700 experts from 28 nations gathered at the eighth INTECOL International Wetlands Conference, which took place from 20-25 July 2008, in Cuiabá, Brazil, to agree on measures to better manage and slow the decline of wetlands, which are among the planet's most threatened ecosystems. The event was hosted by the Cuiabá-based Pantanal Regional Environmental Programme, a joint effort of the UN University and Brazil's Federal University of Mato Grasso. The Conference opened amidst increased concern that warming world temperatures are speeding the rates of decomposition of trapped organic material and evaporation, while threatening critical sources of wetlands recharge by melting glaciers and reducing precipitation. According to an article published in Science magazine, although wetlands cover 6% of Earth's land surface, they store 10-20% of its terrestrial carbon. Scientists warn that further destruction of wetlands through human and climate change-related causes is likely to lead to the release of carbon from these sinks. At the end of the Conference, participants adopted the Cuiabá Declaration on Wetlands, which is directed to governments, as well as international and national organizations. It draws attention to the importance of wetlands for humans and biodiversity worldwide under the special consideration of global climate change scenarios. Links to further information Science daily, 27 July 2008 Conference website
UNESCO NAMES NEW MARINE WORLD HERITAGE SITES

During its 32nd session, which was held from 2-10 July 2008, in Quebec, Canada, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee inscribed two new sites with marine components on its World Heritage List. The Lagoons of New Caledonia represent the main diversity of coral reefs and associated ecosystems in the French Pacific Ocean archipelago of New Caledonia, and are among the three most extensive reef systems in the world. Yemen's Socotra Archipelago in the northwest Indian Ocean is remarkable for its rich biodiversity and endemism: its marine component has 253 species of reef-building corals; 730 species of coastal fish; and 300 species of crab, lobster, and shrimp. Link to further information UNESCO press release, 7 July 2008
SADC COUNTRIES AGREE ON IUU FISHING CURBING MEASURES

During the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Marine Fisheries Ministerial Conference, which took place from 2-4 July 2008, in Windhoek, Namibia, delegates agreed on measures to curb illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the landing and marketing of such catches at their ports. The eight SADC coastal member States adopted a Statement of Commitment that includes measures on the development of national and regional port State measures, and the implementation of a progressive ban on trans-shipment of fish at sea. Ministers have also committed to set penalties for vessels caught with illegal catches and adopt measures to prohibit such vessels to enter their ports. Conservation NGOs have welcomed the Statement of Commitment. Links to further information Namibian, 7 July 2008 WWF press release, 10 July 2008

June 2008

SINGAPORE SIGNS MOUs AT SIWW

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) took place from 23-27 June 2008 and brought together experts to discuss issues related to the world's water resources. During the event, Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United Arab Emirates and one with Bahrain to collaborate on environmental issues, in particular on water management. Link to further information Singapore International Water Week website
ICP9 REACHES AGREEMENT ON MARITIME SECURITY AND SAFETY

The ninth meeting of the UN Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (ICP9) took place from 23-27 June 2008, at UN headquarters in New York, US. The meeting brought together over 400 representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. During the week, delegates met in plenary sessions and held a discussion panel on maritime security and safety. Delegates negotiated elements for consideration by the plenary and to be forwarded to the General Assembly and expressed their desire to reach consensus, especially given that ICP8 was unable to reach agreement and the ICP's mandate is set to be renewed by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) this year. Sticking points in the final hours of negotiations related to the inclusion of references to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and transport of nuclear waste, although compromise language was agreed on both of these elements and delegates forwarded their recommendations to the UNGA for consideration at its 63rd session under the agenda item “Oceans and the law of the sea.” Link to further information IISDRS coverage
GROUNDWATER AND CLIMATE IN AFRICA ADDRESSED FOR THE FIRST TIME

The first-ever international meeting to discuss the role of groundwater in improving livelihoods in Africa under conditions of rapid development and climate change and one of the first conferences in the world to discuss the impacts of development and climate variability and change on groundwater resources recently concluded. “Groundwater and Climate in Africa – an International Conference” took place from 24-27 June 2008, in Kampala, Uganda, and was organized by the University College London (UK), the Directorate of Water Development of Uganda and UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme. The Conference brought together over 300 water scientists, managers and policy makers from 23 African countries and 14 countries from the rest of the world, and featured 96 presentations and over 20 hours of discussion, including two round-table discussions. The outcomes of the Conference include a synthesis of the discussions, to be known as “The Kampala Statement - Groundwater and Climate in Africa,” which will be made available on the Conference website. Link to further information Conference website
IMO WORKING GROUP MAKES PROGRESS ON GHG EMISSIONS FROM SHIPS

The First Intersessional Meeting of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Working Group on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from Ships convened from 23-27 June 2008 in Oslo, Norway. The meeting sought to develop the technical basis for reduction mechanisms that may form part of a future IMO regime to control GHG emissions from international shipping. Participants drafted actual reduction mechanisms for further consideration by the Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). In particular, the Oslo meeting made progress on developing a mandatory CO2 Design Index for ships and an interim CO2 operational index. Once finalized, the Design Index will serve as a fuel-efficiency tool at the design stage of ships, enabling the fuel efficiency of different ship designs, or a specific design with different input. Delegates also held extensive discussions on best practices for voluntary implementation and economic instruments with GHG-reduction potential. The MEPC, which is expected to approve the proposed reduction mechanisms, will meet for its 58th session in London, UK, from 6-10 October 2008. IMO is currently working in accordance with a plan that is due to culminate in 2009, with the adoption of a binding instrument. IMO is working to have measures in place to control GHG emissions from international shipping before the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2011. Links to further information IMO's background document on the Working Group IMO press release, 1 July 2008 IMO press release, 16 June 2008
IMO COUNCIL HOLDS 100th SESSION

The International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Council held its 100th session from 16-20 June 2008, in London, UK. During the week, a number of speakers addressed the Council, including: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos; Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport, UK; Kosuke Shibata, Vice-Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan; and Binali Yildirim, Minister of Transport and Communications, Turkey. A panel discussion on IMO/industry cooperation was also held under the theme “IMO's relationship with the maritime industry.” The Council's session was also the occasion for the IMO to commemorate 60 years since the adoption of the IMO Convention and 50 years since that Convention entered into force, and to mark the 25th and 20th anniversaries, respectively, of the World Maritime University and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute. Links to further information IMO press release, 17 June 2008 IMO press release, 11 June 2008
18th MEETING OF THE PARTIES TO UNCLOS ELECTS ITLOS MEMBERS

The 18th meeting of States parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) took place from 13-20 June 2008, in New York, US. During the meeting, delegates reviewed, inter alia: the Report of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS); the information reported by the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority; and information reported by the Chairman of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. In addition, parties addressed budgetary matters and elected seven members of ITLOS for a term of nine years, commencing on 1 October 2008. Link to further information Conference website
INDIAN OCEAN TUNA COMMISSION ADVANCES SEABIRD PROTECTION

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, which met for its 12th session from 7-11 June 2008, in Muscat, Oman, has advanced seabird conservation by adopting a measure to minimize the bycatch of vulnerable albatross and petrel species. All 22 species of albatross are birds of conservation concern and 19 species are facing global extinction. Most of these seabird deaths are not intentional, and are the bycatch in the longline fishing industry. The seabird proposal was led by Australia and the European Community, and was supported by Japan and the Republic of Korea. Under the newly adopted regulation, all longline vessels fishing for tuna and swordfish in the southern Indian Ocean will be required to use a combination of at least two measures to reduce seabird bycatch. Links to further information 12th session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission website Birdlife press release, 12 June 2008
ABIDJAN CONVENTION PARTIES ADOPT SEVEN DECISIONS

The first extraordinary meeting of the contracting parties to the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West and Central African region (Abidjan Convention) convened on 10 June 2008, in Johannesburg, South Africa, to receive a report on the revitalization process of the Abidjan Convention and consider related decisions. Delegates adopted decisions on: enhancing institutional arrangements and collaboration for the Abidjan Convention; strategies for ratification/accession of the Convention; a review of the title, mandate and objectives of the Convention; transferring the Secretariat to the Cote d'Ivoire; strategies for improving contributions to the West and Central African Trust Fund; strengthening the roles of National Focal Points; and an Action Plan for the Revitalization of the Abidjan Convention. Link to further information IISD RS Coverage

May 2008

EXPERTS IDENTIFY LACK OF ADEQUATE GOVERNANCE OF TRANSBOUNDARY AQUIFER SYSTEMS IN AFRICA

The Third International Conference on Managing Shared Aquifer Resources in Africa took place in Tripoli, Libya, from 25-27 May 2008. The Conference brought together over 150 experts from 20 African countries, UN organizations and international institutions. An overview of the 38 Transboundary Aquifer Systems in Africa, which was prepared by the International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO, the Global Environmental Facility's International Waters Programme and various universities, and which takes into account hydrogeological as well as socio-economic conditions and legal frameworks, served as the basis for discussion. Participants identified the lack of adequate governance for these transboundary systems and tabled recommendations to address these issues. Participants also heard a presentation by the special rapporteur of the UN International Law Commission, Ambassador Yamada, about the set of draft articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers, and took note of the relevance of this international law instrument for the African continent. Also during the conference, the Centre on Transboundary Aquifer Resources Management in Africa and the Arab States was launched. It was established by the Libyan Government in Tripoli under the auspices of UNESCO. Participants requested UNESCO to continue its support to African countries in the study and management of Transboundary Aquifers (IISD sources).
FLOODPLAIN DECLARATION ADOPTED

An international conference on “Ecohydrological processes and sustainable floodplain management” took place in Lodz, Poland, from 19-23 May 2008. The event was organized by the European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology (ERCE) and the Department of Applied Ecology, University of Lodz, under the auspices of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme and the InterAcademy Panel Water Programme. Participants heard case studies presenting continental perspectives and discussed: hydro-geomorphological processes and ecological engineering in floodplain formation; ecohydrology – link between conservation of ecological functions of floodplains and enhancement of sustainable economical development; and sustainable management of floodplains in the face of global climate change. The event ended with the adoption of the Floodplain Declaration. Link to further information ERCE and the floodplains conference website
SOUTH EASTERN ESPOO PARTIES SIGN AGREEMENT

Seven countries of South-Eastern Europe adopted and signed an agreement in Bucharest, Hungary, to further the implementation of the Espoo Convention. Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia signed the agreement during the fourth meeting of the parties to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (also referred to as the Espoo Convention), which took place from 19-21 May 2008. Also during the meeting, Ukraine committed to reconsider its decision to fully implement the so-called Bystroe Canal Project (the Danube-Black Sea Deep-water Navigation Canal in the Ukrainian sector of the Danube Delta). In January 2008, the government of Ukraine had been found by the Convention's Implementation Committee to be in non-compliance with its obligations to notify and consult other parties on all major projects that might have an adverse transboundary environmental impact. Links to further information UNECE press releases: Environmental agreement among seven countries of South-Easte... Work on the controversial Bystroe Canal Project to be recons... Espoo Meeting website
CONFERENCE REVIEWS PROGRESS TOWARDS MEETING MPA NETWORKS TARGETS

On 16 May 2008, the Committee of the Regions, in Brussels, Belgium, hosted the Institute for European Environmental Policy and the Natural Resources Defense Council Transatlantic Conference on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The Conference's objective was to improve understanding of EU and US policies and legislation relating to MPAs with the aim of sharing best practice in the establishment and development of MPA networks. Participants considered how to build up a coherent network of MPAs in a complex and conflicting ecological, legislative, political, and social environment, and how to successfully and efficiently design, implement and manage more integrated MPAs. The outcome of the meeting includes key points emerging from three break-out sessions on: the approach for designation of MPAs; the way to integrate other activities within an MPA; and the political and legal aspects of MPA networks (IISDRS sources). Link to further information Conference website
GPPN COORDINATES CSD-16 SIDE EVENTS

During the 16th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-16), which convened from 5-16 May 2008, in New York, US, the Global Public Policy Network on Water Management (GPPN) coordinated a number of water-related side events, namely: The Global Public Policy Network on Water Management: Findings from Stakeholder Inputs to the CSD-16 Water Review; Water and Climate Change: Risk Assessment, Adaptation and Water Management; and Up to and Beyond 2015: The Challenge for the International W.... In preparation for CSD16, the GPPN has also released a number of documents on its website. Link to further information GPPN CSD16 website
WORKING GROUP CONSIDERS MEASURES TO PROTECT MARINE BIODIVERSITY BEYOND NATIONAL JURISDICTION

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, US. Over 300 participants representing governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and the fishing industry, attended the meeting. During the week, the Working Group exchanged views on the issues, agreeing to acknowledge differences of opinion over legal interpretations and the existence or nonexistence of regulatory and governance gaps. The Group concentrated on practical measures to conserve and protect marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. The informal setting and non-negotiated nature of the outcome facilitated a frank exchange of views that enabled participants to identify common ground on issues, such as the implementation deficit in existing agreements, the need for marine scientific research and the continuation of the Working Group. The outcome of the meeting – a Co-Chairs' Draft Joint Statement to be submitted to the 63rd session of the General Assembly – included issues that the General Assembly may wish to consider referring back to the Working Group. Link to further information IISD RS Coverage

April 2008

CONTINENTAL SHELF COMMISSION MEETS

The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf held its 21st session in a closed meeting from 17 March-18 April 2008, in New York, US. During the meeting, Commission members conducted a technical examination of submissions at the Geographic Information System laboratories and other technical facilities of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. Link to further information Commission's website
ADB HOLDS REGIONAL FORUM ON SMALL PIPED WATER NETWORKS

Representatives from governments, water utilities, small water providers, NGOs and development partners met at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Manila, Philippines, on 17-18 April 2008, to discuss lessons from implementing pilot projects for Small Piped Water Networks (SPWN). The Regional Forum on Innovations for Connecting the Poor: SPWN presented different approaches to deliver 24 x 7 piped water supplies to poor communities and introduced a draft SPWN toolkit, which provides detailed instructions on applying the SPWN model. SPWNs can help achieve the Millennium Development Goals on sustainable access to safe drinking water in the Asia-Pacific region. Link to further information Forum's website
FOURTH GLOBAL OCEANS ADDRESSES OCEANS MANAGEMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

The Fourth Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, “Advancing Ecosystem Management and Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management by 2010 in the Context of Climate Change,” hosted by the Government of Viet Nam, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and organized by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, took place in Hanoi, Viet Nam, from 8-11 April 2008. The event brought together over 430 participants from 71 countries representing governments, UN and other international agencies, NGOs, industry, oceans donors, organized science groups, and networks of museums and aquaria. The Conference provided a review of progress, or lack thereof, in attaining the goals adopted by the world's political leaders at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development relating to oceans management and conservation, in the context of climate change. Throughout the Conference, participants actively engaged in the plenary and discussion sessions. While there was a sense of urgency, most shared a positive outlook given the opportunities for information sharing, collaboration, and networking in and outside the meeting rooms. Links to further information IISDRS coverage
IMO ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEE CONSIDERS REVISED REGULATIONS ON SHIP EMISSIONS

The International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) finalized and approved proposed amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI regulations to reduce harmful emissions from ships, as well as to the NOx technical Code, when it met for its 57th session from 31 March-4 April 2008, in London, UK. The draft amendments had been agreed by the IMO's Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) at its 12th session in February, and are to be adopted at MEPC 58 (London, UK, 6-10 October 2008). In addition, the MEPC considered issues relating to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships. Link to further information IMO press release, 4 April 2008

March 2008

FIRST AFRICAN WATER WEEK ADDRESSES ACCELERATING WATER SECURITY

The First African Water Week (AWW-1), convened under the theme of “Accelerating Water Security for the Socio-Economic Development of Africa,” took place from 26-28 March 2008, in Tunis, Tunisia. The meeting's three objectives were to provide a forum for key actors in Africa's water sector to discuss the opportunities and challenges of achieving water security for Africa's socio-economic development, take stock of the status of the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and related targets on water in Africa, and make recommendations for consideration by the 2008 African Union and G8 summits, and the 2009 Fifth World Water Forum (WWF-5). Over 540 participants, including 30 ministers, met in plenary and several parallel working groups to deliberate on topics ranging from policy and practical constraints, to social, economic and cultural constraints, to institutional and financial matters. Participants agreed on two key outputs. The “Summary of Proceedings and Outcomes” highlights the issues and recommendations made in plenary and working groups, and the “Ministerial Declaration on Accelerating Water Security for Africa's Socio-economic Development” reflects the specific commitments that ministers agreed to act on. In addition, WWF-5 launched its regional preparatory process during the meeting. Link to further information IISDRS coverage
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ESTABLISHES INDEPENDENT EXPERT ON RIGHT TO SAFE WATER AND ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The UN Human Rights Council held its seventh regular session from 3-28 March 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. During the meeting, the Council adopted by consensus a resolution sponsored by Germany and Spain, and over 40 co-sponsors, establishing an Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The Independent Expert will work for three years on two primary tasks. First, to identify, promote and exchange on best practices related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation and, in that regard, to prepare a compendium of best practices; and second, to carry out further clarification of the content of human rights obligations, including non-discrimination obligations, in relation to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. On 28 March 2008, the Council adopted by consensus a resolution requesting the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a detailed study of the relationship between climate change and human rights, to be submitted to the Council prior to its tenth session, and thereafter to make the study, together with a summary of the debate at its tenth session, available to the Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Link to further information UN Office at Geneva press release, 28 March 2008
IMO-EC MEETING ADDRESSES SHIP EMISSIONS

On 14 March 2008, the heads of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the European Commission (EC), within the framework of cooperation between the two organizations aimed at promoting maritime safety and environmental protection, met in London, UK. Emissions from ships was among the topics addressed, with IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos briefing Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, on work progressing within the IMO in this area. Link to further information IMO press release, 18 March 2008
PROGRESS MADE TOWARDS THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A SOUTH PACIFIC RFMO

The fifth international meeting on the establishment of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO) was held from 10-14 March 2008, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Participants heard reports from the Data and Information Working Group and the Science Working Group. The Meeting strongly encouraged all participants to submit data to the Interim Secretariat in accordance with the data standards adopted at previous meetings, including catches from 2007, by 31 March 2008. It was noted that data submitted should include information on all fishing vessels and should distinguish support ships, carrier vessels and any other vessels directly engaged in fishing operations. Participants agreed that the Sixth International Meeting to discuss the establishment of the proposed South Pacific RFMO would be held in Canberra, Australia, from 6-10 October 2008. Link to further information Report of the meeting
IWRM IMPLEMENTATION IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD ASSESSED

The International Conference on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM): Lessons from Implementation in Developing Countries was held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 10-12 March 2008. The conference sought to: collect information on the level of preparedness in developing countries for the implementation of IWRM; assess progress with the implementation of IWRM, with special focus on developing countries; and identify major remaining challenges. The conference also incorporated, as a parallel session, the Second Africa Regional meeting of the National Committees of UNESCO's International Hydrological Programme. Link to further information IWRM-IHP 2008 Conference website
UN FISH STOCKS AGREEMENT MEETING AGREES TO RESUME REVEW CONFERENCE IN 2010

The seventh round of Informal Consultations of States Parties to the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNFSA) met from 11-12 March 2008, at UN headquarters in New York. The meeting was attended by some160 participants and focused on reviewing progress towards the implementation of the UNFSA, including outcomes of its 2006 Review Conference, and considered the date of the resumed Review Conference and the next round of informal consultations. The two key achievements of the consultations were the in-depth engagement in discussing the obstacles to wider participation in the UNFSA by non-parties and developing countries, and agreeing on resuming the Review Conference in 2010 and the modalities for its preparatory process. Link to further information IISD RS coverage
INTERSESSIONAL IWC MEETING SEEKS TO CALM TEMPERS

An intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) took place in London, UK, on 8 March, in an attempt to reduce the existing tensions within the organization. Participants agreed to increase the use of consensus and reduce that of votes, which tend to lead to confrontation. However, one delegate said no substantive progress on key issues was achieved, in particular on the role the IWC should play. A few days before the meeting, Japan had organized a seminar with 12 developing States that have recently joined, or plan to join, the IWC. Environmentalists accuse Japan of buying the votes in the IWC of countries that receive Japanese aid and have little tradition of whaling. Links to further information Terra Daily, 29 February 2008 Greenpeace press release, 6 March 2008 Reuters, 8 March 2008

February 2008

RAMSAR'S STANDING COMMITTEE PREPARES FOR COP 10

The 36th session of Ramsar's Standing Committee met from 25-29 February 2008, in Gland, Switzerland. Over 80 participants attended the meeting and convened in plenary sessions and sub-groups on Management, the Strategic Plan, Finance and the tenth Conference of the Parties (COP 10), which will be held in November 2008, in the Republic of Korea. Link to further information Documents for the meeting
FAO AND SEAFOOD BUSINESSES DISCUSS EMERGING ISSUES

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently met with industry representatives to discuss emerging issues affecting the seafood business. The focus of this 12 February 2008 roundtable forum in Bremen, Germany, was to exchange information on energy use in the fisheries sector throughout various stages of the value chain, and to assess efforts made to improve the industry's efficiency in light of growing concerns over carbon emissions. The outcomes of this meeting will feed into a high level conference on climate change and food security to be held at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, in June 2008. Links to further information FAO press release, 25 February 2008
BLG SUB-COMMITTEE AGREES ON PROPOSED SHIP AIR POLLUTION REGULATIONS

The International Maritime Organization's Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) held its 12th session from 4-8 February 2008, in London, UK. The Committee agreed on a draft revised Annex VI on the prevention of air pollution from ships to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and amendments to the NOx Technical Code. These will be submitted to the Marine Environment Protection Committee, which is scheduled to hold its 57th session from 31 March to 4 April 2008 in London, UK. Link to further information IMO press release, 12 February 2008
INTERNATIONAL GUIDELINES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF DEEP-SEA FISHERIES IN THE HIGH SEAS UNDER DISCUSSION

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Technical Consultation on International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas took place in Rome, Italy, from 4-8 February 2008. Participants included representatives from governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, who reviewed the draft international guidelines for the management of deep-sea fisheries in the high seas. The Consultation failed to complete a set of guidelines, but agreed to hold a follow-up meeting, scheduled for August 2008. Link to further information Deep Sea Conservation Coalition press release, 10 February 2008
RAMSAR'S STRP PREPARES FOR COP 10

The Ramsar Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) held its 14th ordinary meeting from 28 January-1 February 2008, in Gland, Switzerland. Approximately 50 thematic and regional members, representatives of International Organization Partners, multilateral environmental agreements and invited experts attended the meeting, which focused on finalizing those draft guidance and draft Resolutions that will be submitted to the Standing Committee for consideration for adoption by Contracting Parties at COP 10 (28 October-4 November 2008, Changwon, Republic of Korea). Link to further information STRP 14 agenda

January 2008

WHALE SYMPOSIUM SEEKS A WAY FORWARD

The Second Pew Whale Symposium, entitled “A change in climate for whales” and organized by the Pew Environment Group, took place at UN University headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, from 30-31 January 2008. Bringing together approximately 100 participants of 28 nationalities, representing the conservation community, scientists, policy experts, and others from the “International Whaling Commission (IWC) community” and beyond, the symposium sought to stimulate open dialogue in the heart of the main pro-whaling country. Discussions focused on: views from Japan; conflict management and biodiversity; finding a way forward; and the IWC process and its future. The meeting agreed on a few key principles, such as the need to protect endangered whales, and made some recommendations to help move the debate forward, but participants also identified areas of continuing disagreement. A Chair's summary – not a consensus document – will be presented to the upcoming IWC Intersessional Meeting on the future of the whale conservation regime, in March 2008. Link to further information IISD RS coverage
INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE REEF LAUNCHED

The first General Meeting of the current International Coral Reef Initiative secretariat and the launch of the International Year of the Reef (IYOR) took place in Washington DC, US, from 22-25 January 2008. IYOR is a worldwide campaign to highlight the importance of coral reef ecosystems and to motivate people to protect them. IYOR 2008 aims to: strengthen awareness about the ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems; improve understanding of the critical threats to coral reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats; and generate urgent action at all levels to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems. Links to further information International Year of the Reef website ICRI general meeting website
WORLD WATER FORUM PREPCOM MAKES PROGRESS ON GLOBAL ACTION PLAN

The Third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting of the Ministerial Process of the Fifth World Water Forum, hosted by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and co-organized by the World Water Council, was held at UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy, from 21-23 January 2008. The meeting gathered delegates from over 60 countries to continue negotiations on a global plan of action for adapting to global changes that affect the management of freshwater resources. Ger Bergkamp, Director-General of the World Water Council, which stages the triennial World Water Forum, stressed that with population rising, water supply is under increasing pressure, compounded by climate change. Noting that agriculture is the biggest water user, Alexander Müller, FAO Assistant Director-General, Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, stressed the need for new concepts and a strong political will to feed the world in a sustainable way while responding to the climate change challenge. Pasquale Steduto, Chief of FAO's Water Development and Management Unit and Chair of UN-Water, underlined that climate change scenarios suggest droughts will become more frequent and expressed the hope that the meeting would show world leaders that “sustainable water management is inextricably connected to food security.” The World Water Forum in Istanbul will provide input into negotiations within the Group of Eight (G8), the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Links to further information FAO Press release, 21 January 2009 World Water Forum preparatory meetings
BARCELONA CONVENTION PARTIES ADOPT PROTOCOL ON COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT

The 15th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) and its Protocols took place in Almeria, Spain, from 15-18 January 2008. Jointly organized by the UN Environment Programme/ Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) and the Spanish Ministry of the Environment, the Meeting brought together ministers and senior officials responsible for the environment and development in 21 Mediterranean countries and the European Community. A ministerial session was held on 16 and 17 January to discuss the challenge of climate change in the Mediterranean. Participants also adopted a series of decisions, including the new Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and adopted the Almeria Ministerial Declaration setting up the MAP future initiatives in the field of climate change. Links to further information Conference website UNEP/MAP Press Release, 21 January 2008
RAMSAR ORGANIZES COP 10 PREPARATORY MEETING

The Asian Regional Preparatory Meeting for the tenth Conference of the Parties (COP 10) of the Ramsar Convention took place from 14-18 January 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand. Over 150 participants focused on major challenges for wetlands, biodiversity and climate change in preparation for the October 2008 COP in Changwong, Republic of Korea. The meeting included a visit to the Bang Pu Nature Education Centre, run jointly by WWF-Thailand and the Royal Thai Army. Link to further information Meeting website