The Second Intergovernmental Review Meeting of the Global Programme of Action

The Second Intergovernmental Review Meeting (IGR-2) of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) was held in Beijing, China on 16-20 October 2006. The meeting was attended by over 400 delegates, representing governments, international and regional organisations, and non-governmental organisations.

 

The Intergovernmental Review Meetings are a forum where Governments and other stakeholders meet to review the status of the implementation of the GPA and decide on action to be taken to strengthen the implementation of the GPA. The First Intergovernmental Review Meeting (IGR-1) was held in Montreal, Canada in November 2001. IGR-1 was instrumental in furthering the implementation of the GPA such that it is now recognised as a valuable tool for furthering ecosystem approaches to coasts, oceans and island management.  Building on the outcomes of the IGR-1, the objectives of the IGR-2 were:

  • To strengthen the implementation of the Global Programme of Action at national, regional and global levels;
  • To contribute to the achievement of specific targets of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) as they relate to the GPA, ecosystem approach, and sanitation; and
  • To provide guidance on the programme of work for the UNEP/GPA Coordination Office for the period 2007-2011.

 

Since the adoption of the GPA and the Washington Declaration in 1995, progress has been made in strengthening regional mechanisms for implementation and in translating the GPA from words into actions through the development and implementation of over 60 National Programmes of Action. The IGR-2 emphasized the need to build on this progress by increasing action at the national and local levels to further the implementation of the GPA. A particular emphasis was placed upon the need to mainstream the GPA into national development planning and budgetary mechanisms.  The IGR-2 discussions focused on sharing experiences and ideas for furthering the implementation of the GPA, particularly in relation to the furthering of national programmes and supporting partnerships. 

 

The IGR-2 opened on Monday 16 October with a focus on the theme of ‘National Programmes - Implementation in Action’Day 2 was Partnerships Day, during which delegates participated in 19 partnership workshops presenting new or existing partnerships which are implementing the GPA. The focus of Day 3 of the IGR-2 was Building a Common Agenda. Delegates discussed numerous documents including the proposed programme of work for the UNEP/GPA Coordination Office for the period of 2007-2011 and the draft Beijing Declaration. The Ministerial Segment of the IGR-2 took place on Days 4 and 5, during which Ministers and other high level officials discussed the importance of oceans, coasts and islands, and their associated watersheds and the way forward.

 

Sharing Experiences and Ideas for Furthering the Implementation of the GPA

 

National Implementation: Day 1 of the IGR-2 focused on furthering the implementation National Programmes of Action (NPAs) by identifying normative practices that can be replicated on a large scale. National experiences of the implementation of NPAs were shared during a panel discussion. Discussions were then held in three working groups on Mainstreaming the GPA into National Development Planning; Financing the implementation of the GPA; and, Strengthening Legislative and Institutional Frameworks. Several key elements for improved implementation of the GPA at the national level were identified, including:

  • Political will and the endorsement and engagement of all levels of government;
  • Linkages between ministries of the environment and other ministries;
  • Creation of an enabling environment through the drafting of legislation and policies;
  • Participation of communities, civil society organizations and an independent judiciary in the monitoring and enforcement of implementation;
  • Promotion of an ecosystem-based management approach
  • Realistic and standardized valuation of the goods and services produced by ecosystems and the cost of inaction;
  • Promotion of strategic partnerships;
  • Promotion of the use of appropriate technologies;
  • Engagement with regional development banks to encourage them to focus more intensively on environmental considerations in investments decisions.

 

Partnerships: Day 2 of the IGR-2 aimed to provide a forum for highlighting the important role of multi-stakeholder partnerships in implementing the GPA, benchmarking their success to date, discussing lessons learned and charting a course of action for the coming five years.  19 partnerships were presented in parallel workshops. Existing partnerships, such as the White Water to Blue Water Partnership and the China-Africa, China Arabic Partnerships for Environmental Cooperation shared their experiences to date.  New partnerships, including a partnership to establish a globally accessible oceans library and a partnership to enhance cooperation and implementation of the Global Initiative on Marine Litter, were presented. 

 

Partnerships Day affirmed the crucial role of robust and targeted multi-stakeholder partnerships in implementing the GPA at the national, regional and global levels.  The workshops highlighted the effectiveness of partnerships as a means to: engage stakeholders; rally organizations to adopt coordinated and innovative approaches; exchange information; overcome obstacles and foster successful practices; facilitate systematic collaboration; leverage policy, legal or institutional reform; share resources and secure additional investments; prioritize activities; increase political support; and expand the reach and effectiveness of programmes. In addition, Partnerships Day was successful in providing impetus for the establishment of numerous new partnerships. 

 

Where the Day fell short, however, was in identifying obstacles and constraints to furthering the work of partnerships and developing policy recommendations to overcome them.  Such a balanced analysis is crucial to furthering our understanding of partnerships, their contributions to the implementation of the GPA, and the support they require to ensure their potential contribution is realized. 

 

Ministerial Segment: The Ministerial Segment was held on Days 4 and 5.  Ministers and other high level officials discussed the importance of oceans, coasts and islands, their associated watersheds and the way forward. They shared, based on national experiences, a range of strategies to implement the Programme at various levels of government.  The Ministerial Segment was important for reinforcing high-level attention and political will for furthering the implementation of the GPA.   

 

IGR-2 Outcomes

 

The main outcomes of the IGR-2 included a Beijing Declaration on furthering the implementation of the GPA and a Programme of Work for the UNEP/GPA Coordination Office for the period of 2007-2011. In the Beijing Declaration, which outlines numerous national, regional, and international actions, Governments resolved to commit themselves to furthering the implementation of the GPA by:

  • Applying ecosystem approaches;
  • Valuing the social and economic costs and benefits of the goods and services that oceans and coasts can provide;
  • Establishing partnerships at the national, regional and international levels;
  • Cooperating at the regional and interregional levels;
  • Mainstreaming of the GPA into national development planning and budgetary mechanisms; and
  • Supporting the UNEP/GPA Coordination Office in undertaking its task of facilitating, furthering, and promoting the implementation of the GPA.

 

The Programme of Work for the UNEP/GPA Coordination Office for the period 2007-2011 outlines the Office’s activities towards: furthering the promotion the GPA at the international, regional and national levels; strengthening the implementation of the GPA through the Regional Seas Programmes and other regional mechanisms; and mainstreaming the implementation of the GPA into national development planning and budgetary mechanisms. 

 

Stakeholders and the IGR-2

 

The crucial role of non-state actors, including Major Groups and other stakeholders, was a theme which permeated discussions at the IGR-2. Several delegates stressed the need for collaboration between stakeholders at all levels, and the Beijing Declaration committed governments to actively promote the involvement and participation of stakeholders, particularly at the local level.  Partnerships Day was planned to highlight the role of non-state actors in the implementation of the GPA.  It is ironic then, that the most disappointing aspect of the IGR-2 was the notable absence of Major Groups and other stakeholders, who attended the meeting only in very small numbers. The participation of stakeholders was limited by extensive accreditation difficulties coupled with a lack of funding to support stakeholder participation in the IGR-2.  It is clear that if the potential of stakeholders to contribute to the implementation of the GPA is to be realized, they must be engaged in processes at the global level. 

 

Despite the difficulties in attending the IGR-2, Major Groups and other stakeholders did make their voices heard at the IGR-2. Building upon stakeholder consultations held during the Preparatory Process of the IGR-2, stakeholders prepared a submission for inclusion in the report of the meeting.  The submission emphasised stakeholder concern with the state of the marine environment, and outlined stakeholder commitments to furthering the implementation of the Global Programme of Action.  It called on governments and other bodies to take specific actions to realize their commitments made under the Global Programme of Action. The stakeholder submission was presented to the Chairman by Dr Awni Behnam, International Ocean Institute, during the Ministerial Segment. Stakeholders were also consulted on the Beijing Declaration, with many stakeholder suggestions incorporated into the final document, including commitments to:

  • Improve scientific understanding and environmental education
  • Promote the involvement and participation of local and regional authorities, communities and other relevant stakeholders in the development and implementation of programmes of action and strategies
  • Develop and implement national plans of action for the GPA in close coordination with the national integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans, as set forth in the JPOI.

IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin Daily Coverage of the IGR-2