Remarks by the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Mr. Shafqat Kakakhel, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP) Regional Coordinating Unit, Toyama, Japan, 1 November 2004
It is my great pleasure to be here today in this beautiful city of Toyama for the formal opening of the Regional Coordinating Unit of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan.
I would like particularly to thank the Toyama Prefectural Government, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the people of Toyama for your warm hospitality.
This Unit, which is being co-hosted by Japan, here in Toyama, and by the Republic of Korea, in Busan, is the physical embodiment of the spirit of cooperation that exists among the four countries of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan to protect and sustainably manage the marine and coastal environment of this region.
Tomorrow, we are going to inaugurate the Regional Coordinating Unit in Busan, and also participate in the signing ceremony on the Regional Contingency Plan for Oil Spill Emergencies. This will be another landmark event in the Northwest Pacific Action Plan’s life.
This vast and diverse sea area is critically important, economically and culturally, to the people of China, Japan, Korea and Russia.
Its fertility as a breeding ground and its role as a migration route also give it a global environmental significance.
Recognition of the region’s importance, and the growing environmental challenges it faces, led the four countries bordering these seas to develop the Northwest Pacific Action Plan, which was adopted in 1994.
Over the past decade, UNEP has been proud to provide the Plan’s interim secretariat and support its implementation and strengthening.
The opening of this office, and its counterpart in Busan, is a major step forward.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Northwest Pacific Action Plan has entered the next phase of its development.
This Unit will now serve as the Action Plan’s nerve centre.
It will take over the Plan’s secretariat functions, and the responsibility for implementing the decisions of the four governments.
Using the regional Action Plan as a platform, the Unit will also facilitate the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, and ensure the smooth and efficient operation of the four Regional Activity Centres—in Beijing, Daejon, Toyama and Vladivostok—through which the Action Plan will be implemented on the ground.
One of these Centres is based here in Toyama. The Special Monitoring and Coastal Environmental Assessment Regional Activity Centre, and its host, the Northwest Pacific Region Environmental Cooperation Centre, were integral to the establishment of this new Regional Coordinating Unit, and I would like to thank their directors and staff for that.
I would like to close by again expressing UNEP’s thanks to the Government of Japan, especially the Ministry of Marine Affairs, the Ministry of Transport and Land Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Environment.
Japan has always been a generous and steadfast supporter of UNEP’s many activities, and we look forward to strengthening these bonds in the coming years.
Finally, I would like to welcome the new staff of this Unit to the UNEP family.
You face many important challenges.
I am confident that you will rise to them, and that your professionalism and dedication will contribute significantly to the sustainable development of this region for the benefit of the people of China, Korea, Japan and Russia, as well as the world at large.