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Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Tehran Convention on the Protocol on Monitoring, Assessment and Information Exchange

18 Dec 2018
Tuesday 18 Dec - Wednesday 19 Dec
Ashgabat , Arçabil şaýoly 54

 

On 4 November 2003, in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, the five littoral states of the Caspian – Republic of Azerbaijan; IR of Iran; Kazakhstan; Russian Federation; and Turkmenistan -   Sea concluded the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, named Tehran Convention after the city in which it was signed.  One of the underlying principles mentioned in article 4 of the Convention was to secure the accessibility of information on the pollution of the marine environment of the Sea according to which the Contracting Parties provide each other with relevant information in the maximum possible extent. Article 19 instructed the establishment and implementation of regular exchange of information and the need to ensure public access to measures to prevent, control and reduce pollution of the Sea.

Upon its entry into force on 12 August 2006, four Protocols to the Convention were developed prescribing how to collaborate and address oil spills, pollution from land-based sources, the need to protect marine biodiversity and procedures for conducting environmental impact assessment of activities with potential adverse transboundary effects. The oil spill Protocol, named Aktau Protocol, after the city where it was concluded on 12 August 2011, entered into force on 25July 2016. The Protocol addressing pollution from land base sources was concluded in Moscow on 12 December 2012, whereas the biodiversity protection Protocol is known as the Ashgabat Protocol after it was adopted in Ashgabat on 30 May 2014.  An extra ordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Moscow, on 20 July 2018 witnessed the adoption and signing of the Protocol on environmental impact assessment in a transboundary context, which became part of the proceedings of the Summit of the Presidents of the Caspian States who, on 12 August 2018, in Aktau reached a historic agreement on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. All four Protocols mentioned monitoring, information access and exchange as basic requirements for their successful implementation.

From the moment the Convention entered into force, the Contracting Parties instructed and provided guidance to the Secretariat ad interim hosted by the Regional Office of UNEP in Geneva as to the work and activities needed to establish a basis and operational platform for the collection, analysis and exchange of data and information needed for the full and successful implementation of the Convention and its Protocols. The result of that work as of today can be summarized as follows:

  1. A unified reporting format was developed and adopted as the mutually comparable framework for the preparation and submission by the Parties of their periodic national Convention implementation reports;
  2. An Environmental Monitoring Program was adopted and a Working Group on environmental Monitoring and Assessment was established to develop and ensure coordinated monitoring of the water quality of the Caspian Sea on the basis of commonly agreed standards;
  3. Two State of the Caspian Sea Environment reports were developed with the second report in its final stage of preparation;
  4. National public participation strategies were developed by all Contracting Parties as part of their national Convention implementation plans, and stakeholders’ meetings and consultations were held to promote and ensure adequate public information and participation in the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols;
  5. The twelfth of August – date of entry into force of the Convention - was announced as Caspian Day and is celebrated each year in all five Caspian States through public information and participation campaigns;
  6. A Caspian Environment Information Centre was created as the thesaurus for all data and information pertaining to the marine environment of the Caspian Sea, and designated National Information Officers were trained to manage and periodically update the information.

The activities in the field of monitoring, assessment and information exchange benefitted highly from the collaboration with and support from the Coordinating Committee on Hydrometeorology and Pollution Monitoring of the Caspian Sea (CASPCOM), British Petroleum Exploration (Caspian Sea) Limited, and GRID Arendal, a UNEP collaborating centre.

Convinced of the usefulness of a legal framework for information sharing in support of the Tehran Convention and its Protocols, the Contracting Parties, at their fifth Meeting in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, on 30 May 2014, invited the Secretariat to initiate and service intergovernmental consultations related to the development of such a framework, in consultation with the Working Group on environmental monitoring and assessment. Consequently, the draft Protocol on Monitoring Assessment and Information Exchange was developed and underwent three review readings at meetings of the representatives of the Parties in Baku.

The Government of Turkmenistan, as the organizer of a range of  Caspian ecological forums and  participant of meetings on development and negotiation of the text of the draft Protocol on monitoring, assessment and information sharing, and the  supporter of the process on discussion and information exchange on   protection of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea between politicians, scientists and the international community , invited Contracting Parties to meet in Ashgabat on December 18 and 19, 2018 to discuss and reach agreement on the text of the Protocol.

The outcome of the meeting will be presented to the Ministers of Environment of the Caspian littoral States when they gather in Baku early 2019 for the sixth Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Tehran Convention and its Protocols.