Multilateral Environmental Agreements
UNEP-Administered Global Conventions in 2014
In 2014, the international community scaled up front line efforts to eradicate the illegal wildlife trade, and further raised the political profile of the issue, within the CITES framework as previous efforts began to show results in key areas.
The year started with the first public destruction of confiscated elephant ivory in China, with 6.15 tonnes of ivory crushed in Dongguan, while national ivory action plans by eight key countries of primary concern in the poaching of elephants and the illegal trade in ivory began to bear fruit. For example, the number of seizures made in Africa rose—with 80 per cent of large-scale ivory seizures occurring in Kenya, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania. National ivory action plans for a further 11 countries were called for by the CITES Committee.
Another key step forward came in September, when CITES international trade regulations for five shark species and all manta ray species—including their meat, gills and fins—entered into force after a global collective effort to prepare CITES Parties for these new listings.
Many events also took place to bolster the political will to tackle wildlife crime. The London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, hosted in London mid-February by the UK government and the British Royal Family, brought together high-level representatives from 46 countries and 11 international organizations to recognize the detrimental economic, social and environmental consequences of the illegal trade in wildlife. On March 3, the anniversary of the 1973 adoption of CITES, people around the world celebrated UN World Wildlife Day for the first time—including in Geneva, where the Wild and Precious exhibition, featuring photos by renowned nature photographers, was unveiled at the Palais des Nations in the presence of many dignitaries.
In late April, over 300 scientific experts gathered for meetings of the CITES Animals and Plants Committees in Veracruz, Mexico, and expressed concern about the sustainability of international trade in a number of species, including polar bears, pangolins, tortoises and turtles, and butterflies.
The 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in November 2014, in Quito, Ecuador was the largest in CMS history. Thirty-one species were added to the CMS Appendices with a clear focus on sharks, rays, and sawfish. The world's largest apex predator, the polar bear, was added to Appendix II. In addition, the Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Red-fronted Gazelle, White-eared Kob, European Eel, and five species of birds (the Semipalmated Sandpiper, Great Knot, European Roller, Great Bustard, and Canada Warbler) were listed.
The COP adopted resolutions to address threats to migratory species, such as marine debris, and for the first time the importance of "cetacean culture" was recognized in conservation policy. Countries also agreed to stop the live capture of cetaceans. A key success came when nations agreed to take action against illegal hunting, which threatens migratory birds. Poisoning of migratory birds will be addressed by phasing out lead shot over the next three years.
Poaching, habitat degradation and barriers to migration resulting from large infrastructure also pose increasing threats to migratory wildlife in Central Asia. The Central Asia Migratory Mammal Initiative was adopted to protect 15 large mammal species (including the snow leopard and Asiatic cheetah) in a region that hosts one of the largest intact ecosystems in the world. Additionally, tailored action plans were designed for marine turtles in the Pacific and the largest wild sheep, the Argali. The Saker Falcon Global Action Plan, which involves falconers for the first time in an initiative of this sort, was adopted.
Finally, CMS welcomed the Kyrgyz Republic as the 120th Party in the year of the Convention's 35th anniversary.
The 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP 12) and the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (COP-MOP 1) convened in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, in October.
At COP 12, governments agreed on the financial resources to support achievement of the Strategic Plan, reaffirming their agreement made at COP 11 to double biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries, in particular least developed countries and Small Island Developing States, as well as countries with economies in transition, by 2015, and at least maintain this level until 2020. Governments also agreed to increase domestic financing for biodiversity and identified a set of actions to allow the increased mobilization of financial resources from all sources. COP 12 also saw the launch of the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, which indicated that while progress was being made in conserving biodiversity, governments needed to increase their efforts.
Key decisions—including those on resource mobilization, capacity building, scientific and technical cooperation linking biodiversity and poverty eradication, and on monitoring of the Strategic Plan—formed the "Pyeongchang roadmap for the enhanced implementation of the Strategic Plan and achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets". These actions will increase support for countries and stakeholders to implement their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans. These decisions were bolstered by the Gangwon ministerial declaration to link implementation of the post-2015 development agenda to other relevant processes such as the UN Development Assistance Framework and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.
While science published in 2014 showed the ozone layer is on track to recovery, demonstrating the efficacy of almost 30 years of hard work under the Montreal Protocol (see The Montreal Protocol section for details), the Protocol kept up the pace by targeting the remaining ozone-depleting substances (ODSs).
During the Joint 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and the 26th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Paris in November 2014, parties committed funds of $507 million to the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol for the 2015-17 triennium to ensure the continued phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in developing countries.
During the meeting, the 197 Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol parties also agreed to address the management of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in a workshop and an additional meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in April 2015. HFCs are used in refrigerant and air conditioning equipment as a replacement for ODSs, HCFCs and chlorofluorocarbons. However, HFCs have high global warming potential.
The first workshop on the management of HFCs was convened in July 2014 and attended by more than 300 participants who discussed financial, legal, technical, policy and technology transfer issues associated with managing HFCs to bring out the key concerns of all stakeholders, including industry associations from various regions.
Under the Vienna Convention, the parties stepped up their support for systematic observation of atmospheric parameters, both ozone and climate whenever possible, and capacity-building in developing countries.
Another significant landmark was reached in December 2014, when Mauritania ratified the Beijing Amendment, which tightened controls on HCFCs. This means that the Montreal Protocol and its four amendments have now been universally ratified, demonstrating the truly global participation in the work of the Montreal Protocol.
As parties prepare for the Triple Conferences of Parties (COPs) in May 2015, a look back on 2014 shows a productive year for the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, which are managed jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UNEP. Highlights include a host of implementation tools developed and tested across the globe, which together build capacity for the sustainable management of chemicals and waste. Also reinforced was the importance of the science-policy interface in environmental decision-making, which forms the theme of the upcoming COPs: From Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow.
In particular, the three conventions have taken significant steps to support and facilitate Parties' efforts towards environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes, with important draft products ready for approval at the COPs under the Basel Convention, a series of technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes have been developed. These include revised guidelines for transboundary movements of e-waste, updated guidelines for mercury waste, and a series of new or updated guidelines on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The Basel Convention also developed an updated manual for the implementation of the Convention, and guidance on the development of inventories of hazardous waste, control systems and how to take back illegally trafficked shipments of wastes.
The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention recommended the listing of three new chemicals, namely chlorinated naphthalenes, hexachlorobutadiene, pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters, while the Chemicals Review Committee of the Rotterdam Convention recommended the listing of trichlorfon, methamidophos, and fenthion formulation, in addition to paraquat dichloride formulation and chrysotile asbestos; all of which will be considered at the meetings of the COPs in May 2015.
UNEP also administers many regional conventions, on land and sea, which are covered in the relevant sub-programme chapters.