of the Sea Convention
on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which entered into force
in 1994, embodies and enshrines the notion that all problems
of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be addressed
as a whole. Today it is the globally recognized regime dealing
with all matters relating to the Law of the Sea.
Oceans and Law of the Sea web
site includes the full text of the Convention, as
well as information on Marine Resources and Marine Environment.
There is also information on Settlement of Disputes; links to
Documents and Publications; Education and Training; and a search
function to all Oceans and Law of the Sea documents.
21 Commission on Sustainable Development Johannesburg
2002 Summit (WSSD)
21 is the comprehensive plan for global, national and local
action by organizations of the United Nations system, governments,
and major groups in every area in which human impacts on the
environment. Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and
Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable
Management of Forests, were adopted by 178 Governments at the
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED),
held in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro.
17 of Agenda 21 deals with the protection of the oceans,
all kinds of seas (including enclosed and semi-enclosed seas,
and coastal areas and the protection, rational use and development
of their living resources). Chapter
18 deals with freshwater (including the management of rivers
and lakes). Chapter
21 deals with solid waste ("all domestic refuse and
non-hazardous wastes such as commercial and institutional wastes,
street sweepings and construction debris. In some countries,
the solid wastes management system also handles human wastes.
Environmentally sound waste management is concerned not just
with safe disposal or recovery but also with the root cause
of the problem, such as unsustainable production and consumption
on Sustainable Development: The UN
Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created
in 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of the UNCED; to monitor
and report on implementation of the Earth Summit agreements
at the local, national, regional and international levels.
also more information on the Sustainable
Development Web Site, including information on ocean
and seas; freshwater
2002 Summit (WSSD): Issues related to the protection
of the marine environment are included in the Johannesburg
Plan of Implementation adopted by the World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD), held in 2002 at Johannesburg.
22 deals with prevention and minimization ofwaste and maximization
of reuse, recycling and use of environmentally friendly alternative
materials, in order to minimize adverse effects on the environment
and improve resource efficiency. Paragraph 32 deals with land-based
sources: that the implementation of the UNEP GPA should be advanced.
Paragraph 33 deals with marine pollution from shipping: that
relevant international conventions should be ratified and implemented.
73/78 Convention International Maritime Organization
Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL
73/78), adopted in 1973 and modified by the Protocol of 1978,
is the main international convention aimed at controlling pollution
from the shipping sector. It covers all the technical aspects
of pollution from ships, except the disposal of waste into the
sea by dumping, and applies to ships of all types, although
it does not apply to pollution arising out of the exploration
and exploitation of seabed mineral resources. The Convention
regulates what kind and quantities of polluting substances that
ships may discharge into the sea, taking into account the ecological
sensitivity of different sea areas. Plastics are in no case
allowed to be disposed of at sea.
Annexes cover regulations for specific kinds of pollution. Annex
V deals with garbage/litter. It has been ratified by 108 states
corresponding to 89 per cent of the world tonnage (July 2002).
The North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Wider Caribbean regions
have all been designated as so-called Special Areas with regard
to Annex V. In accordance with the regulations for Special Areas,
discharges of garbage (except food waste) into the sea are prohibited.
However, food waste can be discharged into the sea no less than
12 nautical miles from the nearest land.
Annex V it is further required that all ships of 400 gross
tons and above, or ships certified to carry more than 15 persons,
develop and follow a written garbage management plan. Such
a plan should have been developed by 1 July 1997 and include
of the collection, processing, storage and disposal of each
type of waste generated by the ship (as listed in Annex
V), and waste that may be further categorized by local requirements,
e.g., hazardous and medical waste;
list of waste management techniques/equipment available
and to be employed by the ship;
for the discharge of garbage in compliance with Annex V;
of the person responsible for carrying out the plan.
The UN International
Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for improving
maritime safety and preventing pollution to water and air from
ships. IMO serves as the Secretariat for the International Convention
for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, MARPOL 73/78, and
for the 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Maritime Pollution
by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (LDC).
1996, the UN General Assembly called upon "governing
bodies of relevant international organizations and programmes
so as to ensure that these organizations and programmes take
the lead in coordinating the development of the GPA clearing-house
mechanism with respect to the pollutant source categories".
IMO took on the role as leader of the work related to oils
(hydrocarbons) and marine litter.
for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Dumping of Wastes
the London Convention (formerly referred to as the London
Dumping Convention, LDC) was signed in 1972. It is a
global agreement concerned solely with the control of dumping
of wastes at sea. Annex I of the Convention lists wastes and
other matters which must not be dumped. In LDC it is recognized
that plastic materials and other materials which may cause problems
of entanglement and ingestion by marine organisms constitute
an environmental hazard. As a consequence, dumping of such materials
is prohibited. However, LDC does not address wastes that have
been generated during the normal operation of ships. The Convention
is only applicable to wastes which are loaded onto the ship
from land-based sources for the deliberate purpose of dumping
them at sea. UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) serves
as the Secretariat of the Convention.
Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity is part of the
on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Jakarta Mandate is a
global consensus on the importance of marine and coastal biological
diversity and part of the work to implement the CBD. The work
programme is focused on five key elements: Marine and coastal
biodiversity resource management; Sustainable use of marine
and coastal biodiversity; Marine and coastal protected areas;
Mariculture; and Alien species. The issue of marine litter is
relevant for the thematic areas marine and coastal biodiversity
(smothering of the seabed, and the effects of entanglement and
ingestion of litter on fish, marine mammals and seabirds), and
alien species (litter as a vector for transport of species).
on Migratory Species: Agreement on Albatrosses and Petrels
on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, an Agreement
to the global Convention on Migratory Species, the problem of
marine debris is specifically refereed to under Management of
human activities: 3.3 Pollutants and marine debris. The Parties
shall take appropriate measures, within environmental conventions
and by other means, to minimise the discharge from land-based
sources and from vessels, of pollutants which may have an adverse
effect on albatrosses and petrels either on land or at sea.
Convention the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous
Wastes and their Disposal
is a global agreement for addressing the problems and challenges
posed by the uncontrolled movement and dumping of hazardous
wastes, including incidents of illegal dumping in developing
nations by companies from developed countries. When it is dumped
indiscriminately, spilled accidentally or managed improperly,
hazardous waste can cause severe health problems, even death,
and poison water and land for decades. The aims for the coming
decade are active promotion and use of cleaner technologies
and production methods; further reduction of the movement of
hazardous and other wastes; the prevention and monitoring of
illegal traffic; improvement of institutional and technical
capabilities -through technology when appropriate - especially
for developing countries and countries with economies in transition;
and further development of regional and subregional centres
for training and technology transfer. Solid plastic waste is
included as a waste category in Annex IX, List B, of the Convention.
(The Secretariat of the Basel Convention is administered by
Environment Programme (UNEP): GPA Regional Seas Programme
Environment Programme (UNEP) is built on a heritage of service
to the environment. Established as a follow-up to the 1972 UN
Conference on the Human Environment, UNEP is the environmental
conscience of the United Nations system, and has been creating
a basis for comprehensive consideration and co-ordinated action
within the UN on the problems of the human environment. Its
mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnerships
in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling
nations and people to improve their quality of life without
compromising that of future generations.
Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment
from Land-based Activities (UNEP GPA) was adopted by 108
countries in 1995 (Washington Declaration). The Programme is
a global recognition of the fact that the major threats to the
health, productivity and biodiversity of the marine environment
result from human activities on land in coastal areas
and further inland. Much of the pollution load in the oceans
originates from land-based activities, including municipal,
industrial and agricultural wastes and run-off, as well as atmospheric
deposition. These contaminants affect the most productive areas
of the marine environment, including estuaries and near-shore
coastal waters. The marine environment is also threatened by
physical alterations of the coastal zone, including destruction
of habitats of vital importance to maintain ecosystem health.
One of the major objectives of the GPA is to support and facilitate
the implementation of land-based sources/activities components
of the various UNEP Regional Seas Conventions and Action Programmes.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible
for co-ordinating and catalysing the implementation of the Programme.
For this purpose UNEP has established a GPA Co-ordination Office
located in the Netherlands.
has recently published a series of reports with regional overviews
of land-based sources and activities. These are available on-line
on the GPA document
Regional Seas Programme: The UNEP
Regional Seas Programme was initiated in 1974 as a global
programme implemented through regional components. It includes
14 regions and five partner seas with more than 140 coastal
states and territories. It is an action-oriented programme and
focuses not only on the mitigation and elimination of the consequences
but also on the causes of environmental degradation. The focus
of work has gradually shifted from protecting the marine environment
from pollution to striving for sustainable development of the
coastal and marine environment through integrated management.
An important accomplishment is the creation of regional mechanisms
(conventions and action plans) for cooperation between governments
and commitment to shared goals.
Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters Projects
Facility (GEF) is an independent, multilateral financing
mechanism created in 1991 to address global environmental issues
that do not normally get funded through national, bilateral,
and international finance. With GEF funds, developing countries
and nations transitioning to market economies can carry the
added costs of making planned projects environmentally friendly
and finance regional approaches to multinational problems.
funds projects in four programme areas: Climate change; Biological
diversity; The ozone layer: and International
waters (go to Focal Area: International Waters). GEF is
the leading multilateral entity working to reverse the degradation
of aquifers, basins, lakes, oceans, rivers, and wetlands of
international significance. In the GEF Operational Strategy,
four major areas of concern related to international waters
are identified: Degradation of the quality of transboundary
water resources; Physical habitat destruction; Introduction
of non-indigenous species; Excessive exploitation of living
and non-living resources.
UNDP - one of the GEF implementing agencies:
the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, the UN
Development Programme (UNDP) has focused on assisting countries
in realizing the goals of Agenda 21 by "helping countries adopt
integrated approaches that focus on managing natural resources
to improve the livelihoods of people living in poverty".
UNDP is one of the GEF implementing agencies, primarily responsible
for implementing technical assistance and capacity building
programmes. UNDP also manages the Small Grants Programme which
supports community-based NGO projects related to the GEF's global
concerns. UNDP-GEF programmes under International
Waters include a large number of regional and global projects.
See also the UNDP brochure
on international waters.
World Bank - one of the GEF implementing agencies:
views the management of freshwater, coastal and marine resources
as a continuum from the upper reaches of a watershed,
flowing into rivers and to the confluence with the coastal zone
and the sea. The integration of the "environmental dimension"
of these connected resources has been an important aspect of
the Bank's work, which is realized through strategic studies,
regional programs, projects and advisory services. At the regional
level the World Bank, in cooperation with a range of partners,
is undertaking activities to support management of a number
of sea areas. At the national level, coastal zone management
activities are being supported in a diversity of countries.
The World Bank is also a founding member of the International
Coral Reef Initiative, and other initiatives for coral reef
and mangrove habitats, marine protected areas and integrated
Bank is a GEF
implementing agency, with the primary responsibility of
developing and implementing investment projects, including
a number of projects under GEF International
Waters (> go to Focal Area: International Waters).
of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental
Protection (GESAMP) is a multidisciplinary body of independent
experts nominated by the Sponsoring Organizations (IMO, FAO,
UNESCO-IOC, WMO, WHO, IAEA, UN, UNEP). Its mission is to provide
advice to the Sponsoring Organizations, at their request, on
pollution and other problems that face marine and coastal environments.
activities include the preparation of an assessment report "The
State of the Marine Environment: Current Major Issues and Emerging
Problems", which considers the degradation of coastal ecosystems
and habitats, over-fishing and fishing of "under-utilised
species", threats from alien species, aquaculture as a
source of environmental problems, pressure from tourism and
a reduction of marine biodiversity.
report on land-based
sources and activities affecting the quality and use of
marine, coastal and related freshwater environments has recently
been published, as well as a report on threats to the marine
Sea of Troubles).
Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
mandate of the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is to raise levels
of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural
productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations.
The FAO Fishery
Department: FAO's Major Programme on Fisheries, is aimed
at promoting sustainable development of responsible fisheries
and contributing to food security.
of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries was adopted in 1995.
Management Objectives include that appropriate measures
should be taken to provide, inter alia, that "pollution,
waste, discards, catch by lost or abandoned gear, catch
of non-target species, both fish and non- fish species,
and impacts on associated or dependent species are minimized,
through measures including, to the extent practicable, the
development and use of selective, environmentally safe and
cost-effective fishing gear and techniques" (7.2.2.
measures include that states should take appropriate measures
to "minimize waste, discards, catch by lost or abandoned
gear, catch of non-target species, both fish and non-fish
species, and negative impacts on associated or dependent
species, in particular endangered species" (7.6.9).
fishing gear selectivity, states should require that "fishing
gear, methods and practices, to the extent practicable,
are sufficiently selective so as to minimize waste, discards,
catch of non-target species, both fish and non-fish species,
and impacts on associated or dependent species" (8.5.1).
should take measures to protect the aquatic environment
in accordance with the MARPOL 73/78 Convention, and owners,
charterers and managers of fishing vessels "... should
consider fitting a shipboard compactor or incinerator to
relevant classes of vessels in order to treat garbage and
other shipboard wastes generated during the vessel's normal
service. [...] ...minimize the taking aboard of potential
garbage through proper provisioning practices" (8.7).
Conservancy: International Coastal Cleanup
Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is a global project co-ordinated by
the Ocean Conservancy (formerly Center for Marine Conservation,
CMC), a U.S. non-governmental organization. ICC is an international
network of environmental and civic organizations, government
agencies, industries, and individuals working with the objective
to remove marine litter (marine debris) and collect valuable
information on the amounts and types of litter. This information
serves to educate the public on marine litter issues and to
encourage positive changes that will reduce litter and enhance
the quality of aquatic environments. The mission of the International
Coastal Cleanup is to:
litter from the shorelines, waterways, and beaches of the
world's lakes, rivers, and the ocean;
valuable information on the amount and types of litter;
people on the issue of marine litter; and
the information collected from the cleanup to effect positive
change on all levels, from the individual to the
international to reduce marine litter and enhance
other things, the ICC web site provides information on the
problem of marine
debris, the problem of entanglement,
of marine litter (debris), results
of the most recent international coastal cleanups (by items,
sources and places of collection), and contacts in countries
all over the world (look for your country!). There is also
a Worldwide Top Ten Items Collected. See also more information
the year 2002 International Coastal Cleanup, over 390,000
volunteers in 100 countries took part, removing litter from
over 12,000 miles of coastline and waterways, collecting more
than 6.2 million pieces of litter, weighing over 8.2 million
58 per cent of the litter/debris found can be attributed to
shoreline and recreational activities such as beach-picnickers
and general littering.
up the World
Up the World (UNEP) is an initiative where cleanup activities
are organized in areas such as beaches, waterways, parks, markets,
roadsides and schools.
Up the World (Australia) is the global outreach program
of Clean Up Australia, in conjunction with the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP). As pointed out by UNEP in 2003:
"Clean Up the World is a true example of community spirit
and international cooperation, and UNEP is very proud to have
been associated with it since its inception 11 years ago. In
the short period since this annual event was launched, it has
succeeded in mobilizing more than 40 million people in 120 countries
in a dynamic clean up effort. The results of the campaign have
been wide-ranging, not just in terms of public participation,
increased awareness and the removal and disposal of garbage,
but in helping to bring about long-term improvement to waste
management and in influencing national policies. "
Clean up the World It "brings together businesses, community
groups, schools and individuals in a range of activities and
programs that positively improve local environments". Local
organizer in participating
countries can be found in a searchable database.
objectives are to bring together citizens from every corner
of the globe in a simple activity that will positively assist
their local environments, and to share with all nations and
cultures the information and practical experience. An idea born
through the development of Clean Up Australia Day, which began
The cleanup of designated sites is undertaken by volunteers
who join forces to safely remove garbage for more responsible
and healthier disposal and, where possible, arrange for the
recycling or reuse of the material retrieved. Local cleanups
are now complemented by initiatives aimed at producing longer-term
environmental solutions. With the annual event now attracting
a diverse range of countries and cultures, clean up activities
vary between communities from rubbish collections to education
campaigns, environmental concerts to photographic displays,
tree planting projects to the establishment of recycling centers
and waste minimization programs.
Up the World coordinators include community and environmental
groups, schools, scouts and guides, government departments
and officials, consumer and industry organizations, sponsors
and many dedicated individuals. The responsibility for carrying
out local cleanups lies with individual organizing committees,
that are encouraged to involve all sectors of their local
community and to address issues beyond the removal of discarded
Up the World emphasizes the importance of establishing long-term
sustainability and implementing strategies to recycle and
reuse waste materials, as well as to reduce waste at its source.
Island Developing States Network
Island Developing States Network (SIDSnet) was initiated
as a follow up to the Barbados
Programme of Action from 1994. It was recognised that all
islands share common issues and SIDSnet was initiated with UNDP
Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP)
and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
SIDSnet provides tools for virtual discussion forums chat conferences,
focused searching, document submission and storage, mailing
lists, events calendar, and links to relevant BPoA web sites.
Six particular themes have been identified - sustainable tourism,
coastal and marine resources, biodiversity, climate change,
energy and trade. SIDSnet also mirrors several web sites.
The Water Resources Management and Small Island Developing States
Branch of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
currently administer the project.
present, 41 small island developing States and territories
are included in the monitoring of the progress in the implementation
of the Barbados Programme of Action. These states and territories
often work together through the AOSIS, which also includes
some small low-lying coastal States. The General Assembly
convened a Special Session on SIDS in 1999.