Day 1: Monday 16 October, 2006

 

The Second Intergovernmental Review (IGR-2) Meeting of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) opened on Monday 16 October in Beijing, China. Day 1 of the agenda focused on the theme of national programmes- implementation in action.

 

The Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration in China, Zhou Shengxian, emphasised the importance of the marine environment in China’s current trends of development. He outlined his country’s actions to protect the marine environment and implement the GPA.

 

The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Khalid Malik, underscored the role of United Nations in addressing environmental problems at a global level, noting the importance of cooperation between UNEP and UNDP in integrating environment into development. Veerle Vandeweerd, Coordinator of the UNEP/GPA Coordination Office, offered some thoughts on what the IGR-2 Meeting could achieve, namely the celebration and sharing of experiences, finding means of ensuring that the GPA is relevant to global challenges, and ensuring that non-governmental stakeholders are involved in the implementation of the GPA. Ian Matheson, Environment Canada, reflected on the achievements of the First Intergovernmental Review Meeting in Montreal and stressed that more domestic action is necessary to further the implementation of the GPA.   

 

Following the opening of the IGR-2, the meeting turned to organizational matters.  The IGR-2 Bureau was confirmed, comprising of China, St. Lucia, Romania, South Africa, and the US.  The IGR-2 agenda was adopted and an informal working group, Chaired by Mexico, was established to draft the a Beijing Declaration. 

 

Verlee Vandeweerd introduced the discussions on Implementation in Action, the objective of which is to further the implementation of National Programmes of Action (NPAs) and to identify normative practices that can be replicated on the large scale.  She outlined the Second Edition of the UNEP/GPA Coordination Office’s NPA Handbook. A panel discussion followed, during which Columbia, Finland, India, Mauritius, South Africa, and the United States shared their experiences in the implementation of NPAs. The meeting then broke into three working groups on Mainstreaming the GPA into National Development Planning; Financing the implementation on the GPA; and, Strengthening Legislative and Institutional Frameworks.  The outcomes of these sessions will be presented in the plenary on Day 2. 

 

The informal working group on the Beijing Declaration met during the lunch break and again in the evening. During the evening session, Felix Dodds, Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum, was invited to present the suggestions of stakeholders on strengthening the Beijing Declaration, collected at the IGR-2 and during the Preparatory Process of the IGR-2.  He emphasised that the Beijing Declaration should incorporate:

  • The varying impacts of marine pollution on different groups in society, particularly women and children
  • That at the national level, NPAs should be consistent with the basic principles of precaution, transparency, public awareness and participation, equity and the polluter pays principle
  • The value of education for sustainable development in furthering the implementation of the GPA
  • The need to improve scientific understanding and assessment of marine and coastal ecosystems as a fundamental basis for sound decision making through actions at all levels
  • The role of local and regional government in implementing the GPA and their need for appropriate support 
  • The recognition of climate change as a lresult of and-based activities, with impacts such as temperature rise, acidification, and desalinization which are degrading the ocean habitat and its marine life