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, Busan, Republic of Korea, 2 November 2004
It is my great pleasure to be here today in this beautiful city of Busan for the formal opening of the Regional Coordinating Unit of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan.
I would like particularly to thank the Government of the Republic of Korea, and the city and people of Busan for your warm hospitality.
This Unit, which is being co-hosted by the Republic of Korea, here in Busan, and by Japan, in Toyama, 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.
Yesterday, we inaugurated the Regional Coordinating Unit in Toyama.
Today we will 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 Toyama, 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.
I would like to close by again expressing UNEP’s thanks to the Government of the Republic of Korea.
Korea has a growing relationship with UNEP. We all have fond memories of this year’s meeting of the UNEP Governing Council and the Global Ministerial Environment Forum, which produced the Jeju Initiative.
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.