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IGR of the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based activities


Excellencies, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen

- On behalf of the United Nations Environment Programme, I am delighted to welcome you all to the high level segment of the first Intergovernmental Review (IGR), of the "Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities". Known to most of us as the GPA.

- Special thanks goes to the Government of Canada, our host for this important meeting, and in particular the Canadian International Development Agency for its financial support. Our thanks also to the other governments who provided funding for the meeting - these include: Belgium, Finland, Iceland, Norway and the United States.

- Canada's relationship with UNEP is unique and Canada has long been a vocal supporter of the GPA.

- Two of my predecessors, Maurice Strong and Elizabeth Dowdeswell, are Canadian. Two important UNEP Secretariats, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Multi-lateral Fund are hosted by Canada. Mr. David Anderson, Minister of the Environment is the current President of the UNEP Governing Council.

- Canada also recently hosted the final negotiations on the Biosafety Protocol, and played a pivotal role in the PIC/POP treaty negotiations - and of course Canada has long been a vocal supporter of the GPA.

- In addition to hosting this GPA Intergovernmental Review Meeting, the Government and Minister Anderson will be hosting the Fourth Meeting of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Group of Ministers, or their representatives, on International Environmental Governance - it will begin later this week.

- The Steering Group's contribution to the conference, and its preparation has been substantial - thanks to the Group.

- The preparations also benefited from the contribution of participants in a large number of preparatory meetings and activities.

- The private sector, International Financial Institutions, civil society, the Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment (Globe), and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives(ICLEI) have also been actively preparing for this event. We are grateful to them.

- The statements prepared for this meeting by all the major partners are valuable and will assist us greatly in our deliberations.

- We also appreciate the work of our colleagues earlier this week during the first segment of the conference.

- All these inputs pave the way for success in our discussions over the coming days

- I am deeply impressed by the commitment to the GPA demonstrated throughout the preparatory process. I look forward to harnessing this commitment and energy and using it to push the GPA forward - pushing it forward more quickly than before to address the serious problems facing world's marine environment.

- I see this meeting as giving birth to a new era of the GPA. The meeting should work like the Harry Potter "Enervate" charm, a spell, which re-energises a person.

- Having looked at the achievements of the past, the impetus of the meeting will increase the awareness of the GPA, and mobilise political will. I am confident that the pace for the future implementation of activities will be stepped up.

Let us remind ourselves of the VALUE of the Marine Environment?

- In terms of economic goods and services coastal ecosystems contribute 38% of the world's total GDP - as much as the whole of all terrestrial ecosystems - open ocean areas provide another 25%.

- The oceans of the world are interlinked - an action on one side of the ocean can have far-reaching repercussions.

- For instance, in 1991 a British scientist, when walking the beach of an isolated island in the South Pacific recorded 1,000 items of bizarre and familiar junk - these included scotch bottles and light bulbs. This island is 4,000 km from the nearest continent!

Land-based activities are the source of great harm to the world's oceans and seas.

The major causes of damage are:

- Alteration and destruction of habitats and ecosystems, including sediment flow.

70% of coral reefs are threatened - 27% are at high risk of degradation (especially due to sediment mobilisation from soil erosion or deforestation, and direct physical destruction such as blasting to make way for ports or navigation)

- greatly REDUCED annual sustainable fisheries yield

- loss of tourism and the income it generates

- Nutrients flowing into the sea from land-based activities, causing excessive growth of phytoplankton (eutrophication)

e.g advances in personal hygiene and the use of phosphate based detergents have produced a contaminant which affects seas such as the Adriatic causing foul-smelling green tides

- penetration of sunlight into the sea is reduced - Natural ecosystems, such as reefs are being damaged

- Sewage

Since the Romans sewage has been flowing into the world's oceans - Although the Romans built great water systems for their cities, they did not give so much thought to what happened when the water and waste flowed further afield

Man's behaviour continues to ignore the fact that as far back as the Old testament, Deuteronomy 23, the world has had instructions for the correct disposal of human waste

- Although there have been some successful municipal wastewater management projects - we have failed to deal with the problem - too much sewage in too little space

- Large areas are ruined for fishing, recreation and tourism - economic loss

- Bathers and consumers of sea food are affected


- half the world's population lives within 200 km of the coast.

- Two thirds of the world's cities with more than 2.5 million inhabitants are coastal

- The pressures are particularly acute along the coasts of many developing countries - rapid population growth combined with persistent poverty, is a deadly cocktail.

e.g 39% of Africa's coastline and 69% of its marine protected area are under threat from development

- Activities are poorly planned - explosive growth of coastal cities, increases in industrialisation, tourism, development of ports and the expansion of aquaculture -the activities take little account of the cost to the environment of development.

- The link between economic growth and protection of rich marine ecosystems is often ignored - Development sacrifices the environment in an attempt to create wealth quickly.


- The adoption in 1995 of the GPA was a great start

- Much progress has been made.

- Identification of problems and action required

- Adoption of The Protocol (concerning pollution from land-based sources)to the Cartagena convention by the Wider Carribean - The Mediterranean region revised its protocol on the same matter, as well as implementing its action Plan

- Recommendations for Decision-making on Municipal Wastewater

- Action at national level, such as the adoption of the Integrated Coastal Area Management and Environmental Impact Assessment

We can congratulate ourselves.

- But it is not enough. We must build on this success

- All partners must review the plan and the remaining obstacles to full implementation. We must use this meeting to formulate recommendations - recommendation upon which we will act to put in place solutions to the problems, which continue to flow into and around the world's oceans.

I see four areas where action is required urgently:

Developing countries

Adoption of an integrated and responsible approach


Trans-boundary initiatives

Developing countries -

(special initiatives to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable economic development)

- All too often there may be a temptation, especially in developing countries, to welcome with open arms any project which seems to promote economic development - The cost is not fully evaluated - this has to change

- Fighting poverty with economic development has to go hand-in-hand with sustainable management of the coastal and marine environment - otherwise the benefit reaped today will be a cost in the future - as people become ill and have no income because their fishing grounds have been destroyed beyond repair

Development decisions must be based on a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis

e.g The shrimp farming industry has often been blamed for destroying habitats, damaging wild populations and effluents - but now it has recognised its mistakes and is taking action to minimise the damage it causes

Adopt an Integrated and responsible approach

- All partners should practice environmental accountability - sharing the burden and benefit of resource protection - application of the polluter pays principle

e.g. Brazil Espirito Santo Water and Coastal Pollution project - shared responsibility between municipalities and industries - credit schemes co-financed by heavy polluters

- Appropriate financial instruments can be used to promote technology and investment in cleaner and more resource efficient technology

- E.g: In Sydney Australia a sewage treatment plant practises on-site drying of biosolids - they are reduced to dry, pathogen free pellets that can be used in agriculture, forestry and land rehabilitation

- Coastal development has to be linked to river basin management - lessons for the future can be learned from our experiences in places such as the Black Sea water system - there chronic over-fishing, high-levels of pollution and alien introduced species are causing the decline of the water quality

- There is a need to bridge the divide between the river basin authorities and the authorities responsible for coastal area management

- There must be close co-operation between

- decision-making bodies and fora dealing with freshwater

- bodies involved in sustainable development

- Bodies dealing with marine issues

Ensure Good Governance

- I welcome the efforts made in all regions to develop new instruments for environmental protection

- Coherent regulation is required at all levels: local, national, regional and global level.

- You, as the governments of the world, are best-placed to ensure that appropriate legislation is developed - implemented - and enforced. Legislation serving the interests of all.

- Regulation must be backed up by strong and well-coordinated institutional structures

Support and promote Trans-boundary Action

- As I have mentioned we have seen already some progress in the regions which must be commended - Such success must be repeated in other regions

- Over the past two decades the Regional seas programme has been successfully tackling many of the problems. I encourage governments to reconfirm the important role of the Regional Seas programmes (and the related Regional seas conventions and action plans) and their support of them.

- Effective Regional Seas Programmes are essential for the implementation of the GPA. They should continue to be strengthened because of the central role they can play in the control of land based activities

- Co-operation with other regional organisations must also be improved e.g. UNESCO-IOC's Regional Commission, regional fisheries management organisations

The success of action depends on:

- Assumption of responsibility - All stakeholders, including the general public, must recognise that they have a role to play - they have to shoulder their responsibility

- Funding

- Although some financial arrangements with international financial institutions have been used to enhance governments - the GPA has been weak in the mobilisation of resources - this must change.

- Funding is required to solve existing problems and avoid problems in the future. Investment should be made by a variety of stakeholders, not only governments

- I urge governments to reach the target of allocating 0.7% of GDP to ODA

- Fiscal measures, such as subsidies or taxation on potentially harmful land-based activities or marine recreation should be considered and put in place

(A tax of just one-tenth of one percent on industrial and recreational ocean activities would generate $500 million a year - New Zealand and Iceland charge fishers user fees and Mozambique and Bonaire charge tourists diving fees.)

- Private sector support and investment, into projects which are environmentally sustainable should be encouraged

- e.g Ecotourism: Ecuador Biodiversity Protection Project, contribution of in-kind support to marine park conservation by private concerns

- Partnerships between public and private sectors are valuable and necessary

e.g. Unilever SWIM project: helps Unilever companies identify and improve problem areas, and develop further appropriate practices that will benefit water quality and supply for the community

- Regulation and voluntary codes of conduct adopted by individual companies or groups of private entities can be effective

- investment in the environment

- helping clean up existing pollution

- avoiding future problems

E,g East Asian countries where private enterprises are required to build facilities for treatment of effluent

- Cooperation and Coherent Action

- the GPA should not and cannot function in isolation - it must be linked to other ongoing processes, such as international governance initiatives

- The results of deliberations here should feed into other conferences on related matters e.g. Freshwater, Oceans and coasts

- The outcomes of this meeting should contribute to the implementation of Agenda 21 and preparations for both the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in September 2002 and the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto in 2003.

- I think that we all know what needs to be done - we just need to have the courage to do it.

According to Confucius, "To see what is right and not do it is want of courage."

Let us be courageous

- I can assure you that I am wholly committed to more rapid progress in the implementation of the Global Progamme of Action over the coming years. The COST of delaying implementation it is too high

- Your support is vital to the success of this project. I urge you to adopt the work programme presented to this meeting and I look forward to reporting to you on it.

- I commend us all to the task ahead; simply put, we can not afford to fail. We must have positive and action-oriented outcomes from this meeting.

- Remember the words of Lech Walesa (Polish Nobel Prize winner)

"Words are plentiful; deeds are precious."