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Countries Adopt Manila Declaration to Strengthen Protection of Global Marine Environment
27/ 01/ 2012

Countries Adopt Manila Declaration to Strengthen Protection of Global Marine EnvironmentRepresentatives from 65 countries have agreed to step up efforts to protect the world's oceans from land-based activities, while underlining the central role played by the marine environment in the transition to a green economy.

Manila/Nairobi, 27 January 2011 - Representatives from 65 countries have agreed to step up efforts to protect the world's oceans from land-based activities, while underlining the central role played by the marine environment in a transition to a low carbon, resource-efficient green economy.

The Manila Declaration was adopted at the Third Intergovernmental Review Meeting (IGR-3) on the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), hosted by the Government of the Philippines and organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The event brought together environment ministers, marine scientists, NGOs, representatives of financial institutions and other organizations, with the aim of delivering new policies and actions to improve the sustainable management of oceans and coasts.

Under the Manila Declaration, signatories reaffirmed their commitment to develop policies to reduce and control wastewater, marine litter and pollution from fertilizers.

The agreement contains a total of 16 provisions focusing on actions to be taken between 2012 and 2016 at international, regional and local levels.

Among these is a call for countries to develop guidance and policies on the sustainable use of nutrients to improve the efficiency of fertilizers such as nitrogen or phosphorous. This would bring economic benefits for farmers, while mitigating negative environmental impacts such as algal blooms caused by agricultural run-off.

"The Manila Declaration signals a new way forward for all of us," said UNEP Deputy Executive Director Amina Mohamed, who led the UNEP delegation at the conference.

"The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June is an excellent opportunity to take the Manila Declaration to a global audience and initiate action to reduce the impact of land-based activities on the marine environment. It is essential that we sustain our momentum to achieve on-the-ground improvements in the health of ocean and coastal ecosystems, for which the continued and co-ordinated effort of the international community is vital," added Ms. Mohamed.

The recommendations in the Manila Declaration focus on furthering the implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment (GPA), which is hosted by UNEP.

The GPA - the only global initiative directly addressing the connectivity between terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems - targets major threats to the health, productivity and biodiversity of the marine and coastal environment which result from human activities on land.

"I strongly believe that what transpired the past four days is a giant leap forward towards the improvement of our coastal and marine environment," said Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines, Ramon J. P. Paje.

"[The Manila Declaration] will provide us with directions on our way towards the development of our coastal and marine environment within the prism of a green economy", added Secretary Paje.

Signatories to the Manila Declaration underlined the importance of healthy oceans and coasts in supporting livelihoods and food security - especially in Small Island Developing States.

The Declaration calls for collaborative action to reduce the vulnerability of coastal communities to climate change and to tackle biodiversity loss, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and ocean acidification resulting land-based activities.

Prior to the signing of the declaration, UNEP and partners launched the Green Economy in a Blue World report, which outlines pathways for a green economy transition across six marine-based economic sectors.

The report argues that the health and productivity of marine and coastal ecosystems, which are currently in decline around the globe, can be boosted by shifting to a more sustainable economic paradigm that taps their natural potential - from generating renewable energy and promoting eco-tourism, to sustainable fisheries and transport.

Recommendations include targeted financial support from governments for marine-based renewable energy projects (wind and wave power) in order to harness the considerable opportunities for green job creation in the sector.

For more information, please contact:
Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk on Tel. +254 20762 3088 or E-mail: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Further Resources
Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connections
Green Economy in a Blue World
UNEP Regional Seas Programme
Press Release: Green Economy in a Blue World report
Manila Declaration (full text)
Third Intergovernmental Review Meeting on the Implementation of the GPA

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