3. ACTIVITIES AND TASKS
14. Within the framework of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP), it was decided to undertake a number of activities and tasks in pursuit of their chosen goals and objectives and provide for the exchange of as much data and information as national legislation and regulations permit. These activities and tasks are listed below according to the specific objective they support.
3.1 Objective 1:
To assess regional marine environmental conditions by coordinating and integrating monitoring and data-gathering systems on a regional basis, making the best use of the expertise and facilities available within the region on a collective and consistent basis.
15. The wise use, development and management of resources requires a sound information base, adequate knowledge of natural processes, an understanding of the interrelationships between resources and between them and their environment, as well as their range of tolerance to environmental stress. This assessment and recording of resources, environmental characteristics, as well as human uses, is needed on a comprehensive, regional basis, according to agreed, consistent and compatible procedures. It is also important to establish a baseline against which the NOWPAP activities can be evaluated. Such an evaluation will be a continuing process and comprises monitoring, sampling and review.
16. The following tasks, involving investigative research, resource surveys and documentation of human needs will contribute towards this Objective, and have been selected for implementation:
- Prepare and publish a Directory of Marine Environmental Institutions in the NOWPAP Region, including a list of the leading scientists and other workers together with their areas of interest and expertise;
- Assess the capabilities of national scientific, academic and other research institutions to investigate and record environmental processes, resources and their characteristics. Such an assessment will involve the identification of institutions which can serve as regional activity centres, and the degree to which they may need to be strengthened in order to assume such a role;
- Develop collaborative research projects on aspects of environment, resources, and their uses; facilitate sharing of certain special equipment and facilities such as laboratories and research vessels; exchange scientists, technicians and other specialists between institutions within the region;
- Establish a collaborative, regional monitoring programme, targeted to specific indicative parameters, and undertaken according to agreed, consistent procedures, following intercalibration to ensure regional and international compatibility;
- Emphasize research, survey and monitoring of environmental characteristics which extend beyond national boundaries, and resources which are shared on a regional basis, without prejudice to the relevant existing and future national legislations and intergovernmental agreements; research and survey of socio-economic activities, human needs and quality of life.
3.2 Objective 2:
To collate and record environmental data and information to form a comprehensive database and information management system which will serve as a repository of all relevant available data, act as the sound basis for decision-making, and serve as a source of information and education for specialists, administrators and others throughout the region.
17. The countries of the Northwest Pacific Region are rich in data and information. Other data systems have also been developed by UNEP and by other international agencies such as IOC and FAO on a regional basis. The above activity will generate even more data on a region-wide basis. This information and data are most useful if they are properly organized and managed in a manner which will make them readily accessible by those who need them most.
18. The development of a cooperative regional approach to databases and related tools which will overcome these difficulties comprises the following tasks:
- Develop and establish a Regional Information Referral System (RIRS) on projects related to the protection and management of the marine and coastal zone environment;
- Develop a digitized map base for the entire region at a scale no less than 1:250,000, to serve as the base for an electronic database in the form of a Geographic Informatiorv System (CIS). The GIS will become the repository for environmental and resource information and serve as the basis for decision-making on resource use. Each country GIS will be complete and self-contained, but each would be compatible and in harmony with as well as contribute to the region as a whole;
- Review and give due consideration to similar electronic databases developed on a sectoral basis by a number of international agencies, as a starting point for the development of a comprehensive regional GIS;
- In order to ensure that the responsibility of maintaining and updating the GIS passes quickly to an in-country institution, appropriate equipment and training must be made available in each participating country;
- Since the number of users of a GIS will be somewhat limited for the foreseeable future, the GIS Database will be used to produce and publish a printed Atlas of Coastal and Marine Resources for each country. Such an atlas will reach planners and managers, students, special interest groups, tourists and members of the general public.
3.3 Objective 3:
To develop and adopt a harmonious, approach towards coastal and marine environmental planning on an integrated basis and in a pre-emptive, predictive and precautionary manner;
19. Environmental planning is an orderly and rational process which prepares for the protection, management and wise use of the environment, its resources, and the actions of those who live in it. The aim of environmental planning is to predict the likely consequences of decisions and actions on the wide environment and provide an opportunity to eliminate or minimize them. The process of environmental planning sets or underscores existing goals and objectives, identifies and helps resolve conflict, provides a framework for rational and purposeful decisions, guides the deployment of finite resources, and provides a mechanism by which the performance of environmental managers can be measured.
20. In their endeavour to achieve regional harmony in the management of the coastal and marine environment and its resources, regional States have recognized that wise management must be based on adequate planning. A number of tasks towards achieving such an objective are listed below :
- Survey national environmental goals, objectives, strategies and policies, and identify aspects which require strengthening in order to enable the environmental perspective to be incorporated in all developments from the early planning stage;
- Provide advice and assistance where needed for the development of environmental planning procedures including conflict resolution and multiple use strategies and, where appropriate, facilitate public involvement in this process;
- Provide advice and assistance where needed for the establishment of an Environmental Impact Assessment Process which will apply to all proposals and developments which are likely to have consequences for the environment. Such a Process must not only identify the potential impacts, but it must also evaluate alternative options, seek ways and means of reducing impacts, propose mitigation measures, plan monitoring procedures, set in place contingency plans, and identify which party is responsible for what activity;
- Provide professional training for environmental planners and managers at universities and other institutions both within the region and outside. Those institutions within the region which have the potential should be developed into specialized centres of excellence to serve the region;
- In zoning areas of coast and seabed, selected special areas should be set aside as marine parks and recreation reserves for the continued enjoyment by local people and visitors;
- Set aside and protect representative examples of the regional environment as genetic reserves. Protect the best of the remaining resources that give the region its distinctive ecological character.
3.4 Objective 4:
To develop and adopt a harmonious approach towards the integrated management of the coastal and marine environment and its resources, in a manner which combines protection, restoration, conservation and sustainable use.
21. The NOWPAP region is among the most highly-populated regions of the world, and the pressures and demands that this large population brings to bear on the environment are considerable. It is possible to strike a wise balance between providing for human needs, the use of resources, and development on one hand, and protection, enhancement and sustainability of the environment on the other hand. Such a balance will be struck through an effective management system that in turn relies on good planning. The components of good management for environmental protection, restoration, conservation, and sustainable use in the Northwest Pacific region, include the following tasks:
- Survey and monitor human health, in particular the incidence of conditions related to pollution. The results of the marine environmental regional assessments, repeated regularly, will provide an important indicator of the success or otherwise of NOWPAP;
- Zone bodies of water for particular purposes according to mutually-agreed and pre-determined criteria, and control discharges and other inputs to ensure that water quality is maintained at levels such that it can be used for whatever purpose it has been set aside for; to introduce compulsory environmental impact assessment accordina to national criteria:
- In an effort to improve water quality throughout the region, cooperation to control and reduce the total discharges from land-based sources of domestic wastes, industrial effluents and those from agricultural non-point sources is required;
- In an effort to improve w'ater quality throughout the region, cooperation is also necessary in the prevention, control and combatting of marine pollution from sea-based sources, inter alia, through the implementation of existing international conventions concerned;
- Cooperate in the enhancement of national and regional capacities to prepare for and respond to marine pollution emergencies;
While encouraging tourism development as a source of income and employment in the region, exercise control over the adverse impacts of development of hotel accommodation and other facilities in coastal areas;
- In managing the coastal environment, special efforts should be made to protect as far as possible, all estuarine systems, saltmarshes, wetlands, and other coastal margins. Endeavour to maintain them as functioning systems.
3.5 Objective 5:
To develop and adopt a regional framework for collaboration in the management of contiguous bodies of water, and cooperation in the protection of common resources as well as in the prevention of coastal and marine pollution:
22. The depth of the commitment to act collectively or individually towards agreed common goals is best demonstrated by relying on the regional capabilities to cope with marine and coastal emergencies, many of which transcend national boundaries.
23. The following tasks will be undertaken as and when appropriate:
- Survey national environmental legislation, assessing in particular provisions for the control of pollution, provisions for the prevention of environmental damage caused by the exploration and exploitation of non-renewable resources, maintenance of the quality of life, protection of critical habitats and species at risk, and ensuring sustainability;
- Establish a meaningful dialogue on effective protection and management of the coastal and marine environment and its resources;
- Develop and adopt effective measures for regional cooperation in combatting pollution resulting from accidental causes;
- Seek and obtain advice and assistance to enable regional States to harmonize environmental legislation and to facilitate their participation in, and compliance with, existing relevant international agreements;
- Take measures, cooperate, coordinate and facilitate exchange of relevant information and conduct joint surveys with a view to implementing, in the Northwest Pacific Area, relevant international agreements, such as the 1972 London Convention, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto as amended (MARPOL 73/78), and the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, 1990 (OPRC Convention).