The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 5-16 June 1972) adopted the Action Plan for the Human Environment, and as a result, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established to "serve as a focal point for environmental action and co-ordination within the United Nations system" (General Assembly resolution (XXVII) of 15 September 1972). The organizations of the United Nations system were invited "to adopt the measures that may be required to undertake concerted and coordinated programmes with regard to international environmental problems", and the "intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations that have an interest in the field of the environment" were also invited "to lend their full support and collaboration to the United Nations with a view to achieving the largest possible degree of co-operation and co-ordination". Subsequently, the Governing Council of UNEP chose "Oceans" as one of the priority areas in which it would focus efforts to fulfil its catalytic and co-ordinating role.
The Regional Seas Programme was initiated by UNEP in 1974 as a global programme implemented regionally. Since then the Governing Council of UNEP has repeatedly endorsed a regional approach to the control of marine pollution and the management of marine and coastal resources, and has requested the development of regional action plans. Agenda 21 and the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in June 1997 further endorsed such a regional approach to management of marine and coastal environment.
The Regional Seas Programme currently includes thirteen regions *1, with over 140 coastal States and Territories participating in it. It is conceived as an action-oriented programme for management of marine and coastal areas, addressing not only the consequences but also the causes of environmental degradation. It encompasses a comprehensive and integrated approach to combating environmental problems. It is designed to ensure that activities for the management and development of the marine and coastal environment are based on assessment of the quality of the marine environment and the causes of its deterioration. Each regional action plan is formulated according to the needs of the region as perceived by the Governments concerned. The action plans promote the parallel development of regional legal agreements and of action-oriented programmes *2.
On the initiative of the States bordering the semi-enclosed seas of the Northwest Pacific, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme, at its fifteenth session (Nairobi, 15-26 May, 1989, Decision 15/1, part VI.3) approved the "preparation of new action plans for seas not covered by the regional seas programme (i.e.. Northwest Pacific, Black Sea)".
Consequently, UNEP convened four meetings of Experts and National Focal Points on the development of the Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment in the Northwest Pacific Region:
Through these four meetings, national reports on the state of the marine and coastal environment were submitted by the States concerned, and a draft of an Action Plan was prepared based on the national reports.
The Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region (NOWPAP) and three Resolutions were adopted at the First Intergovernmental Meeting (Seoul, 14 September 1994), which was attended by Japan, People's Republic of China, Republic of Korea and Russian Federation. Paragraph 9 of the Action Plan remained to be agreed.
Resolution 1 identified five areas of priority for implementation of the Actin Plan, and invited the Executive Director of UNEP to prepare a detailed programme document, describing the operational details of projects to be developed on the basis of the identified priorities.
Resolution 2 called upon the Executive Director of UNEP to make arrangements for secretariat function for implementation of NOWPAP and to convene, subsequent to the second intergovernmental meeting, an intergovernmental meeting every year. It also decided to consider, at the second intergovernmental meeting, the establishment of a Regional Coordinating Unit. Resolution 3 decided to establish the NOWPAP Trust Fund, with the Executive Director of UNEP administering it.
The fifth Meeting of Experts and National Focal Points was held in Bangkok, Thailand in 1995, and prepared recommendations on financial implications of implementation of the Action Plan, definition of the geographical scope, and financial arrangements for contribution of the States to the Trust Fund. The Ad Hoc Meeting of Technical Experts to Discuss a Programme Document for NOWPAP was held in September 1996 in Bangkok, Thailand, and prepared a final draft programme document for five priority areas identified by the First Intergovernmental Meeting.
The Second Intergovernmental Meeting on NOWPAP was held in Tokyo on 20 November 1996. The participating States agreed on the paragraph 9 on geographical scope of the Action Plan, which had remained to be agreed at the First Intergovernmental Meeting, and the Action Plan was finalized.'
The Action Plan adopted at the First Intergovernmental Meeting in Seoul and finalized at the Second Intergovernmental Meeting in Tokyo is reproduced in this document, together with the Resolutions adopted by the participating States at the First Intergovernmental Meeting.
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