1.1 Description of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme
1. The UNEP Regional Seas Programme was initiated in 1974 as a global programme implemented through regional components. It has been repeatedly endorsed by the UNEP Governing Council as a regional approach to the management of marine and coastal resources and control of marine pollution. The Regional Seas Programme at present comprises 10 regions, while three more regional Programmes, including NOWPAP, are being developed. There are over 140 coastal States and Territories participating in the Programme. It is an action-oriented Programme having concern not only for the consequences but also for the causes of environmental degradation and encompassing a comprehensive approach to corn-batting environmental problems through the integrated management of coastal and marine areas.
2.The fulcrum for each regional programme is the Action Plan. All action plans are structured in a similar manner and designed to link assessment of the quality of the marine environment with the causes of its deterioration, leading to activities designed for rehabilitation and improvement in the short term and comprehensive protection and management for sustainable development in the longer term. Action plans usually include the following elements:
Environmental Assessment which comprises baseline studies, research and monitoring of the quality of the marine environment and the factors that may influence it. It is not to be confused with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.
Environmental Management which includes cooperative training in assessment methodologies, ecosystem management, control of wastes from industrial, agricultural and domestic sources, and the formulation of contingency plans for dealing with pollution emergencies.
Environmental Legislation which seeks legal commitments in the form of conventions, protocols and similar instruments on a regional basis as well as ratifying and implementing legislation at the national level.
Institutional Arrangements which determine the frequency of meetings, setting of objectives, reviewing progress and approving activities and budgets, as well as providing a secretariat to coordinate activities.
Financial Arrangements through which UNEP often provides "seed financing" until the participating Governments are able to assume full responsibility for budgetary requirements, at which stage UNEP usually assumes responsibility for administering trust funds that are set up.
3. The initial Objectives and Goals adopted by the various regions do have a common thread. However, there is sufficient flexibility in the system to allow for particular emphases and priorities as perceived by the Governments concerned. While Action Plans are fashioned on a similar mould for all regions, the priorities differ from region to region. There could even be differences within the same region over time, through the merging of some objectives and the lessening in importance of others.
4. The key to the success of any regional action plan is a common understanding and a mutual commitment by the participating governments to act collectively or individually towards shared regional goals. This commitment is usually in the form of conventions and protocols.
1.2 The Northwest Pacific Action Plan
5. The Governing Council of UNEP at its Fifteenth Session (Decision 15/1: "Strengthening the role and effectiveness of the United Nations Environmental Programme", part VI.3) approved the "preparation of new action plans for seas not yet covered by the regional seas programme (Northwest Pacific, Black Sea)" as one of the activities listed within the "Supplementary Programme of Environment Fund Activities for the Biennium 1990-1991" attached as an Annex to the above-listed decision. The countries that make up the Northwest Pacific region are: China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Russian Federation.
6. As a first step in this process, UNEP initiated a series of consultations with representatives of the governments of the region and With other organizations within the United Nations system. This culminated in the First Meeting of Experts and National Focal Points on the Development of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan which was held in Vladivostok from 28 to 31 October 1991 in cooperation with the Centre for International Projects and the Pacific Oceanological Institute.
7. Experts and National Focal Points presented reports on the aspects of the marine environment in their region. They also agreed on the scope and format of national reports which they undertook to prepare and which were to review the state of the marine environment and the coastal areas within the countries, comment on national policies, measures and relevant activities dealing with marine pollution problems, make proposals on ways and means for solving environmental problems, and finally propose activities for the Action Plan. The meeting also agreed on a workplan and timetable towards the preparation of a draft Action Plan and a draft Regional Overview.
8. At the Second Meeting of Experts and National Focal Points on the Development of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan, held in Beijing from 26 to 30 October 1992, in cooperation with the National Environmental Protection Agency, the first draft of the Action Plan was discussed. Subsequently, UNEP arranged for revisions and improvements to the draft and a final draft was discussed and agreed to by the participants at the Third Meeting of Experts and National Focal Points on the Development of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan, which was held in Bangkok from 10 to 12 November 1993.
1.3 Geographic coverage
9. The geographical scope of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan will cover the marine environment and coastal zones of the following States:
[Democratic People's Republic of Korea;]
People's Republic of China;
Republic of Korea; and
From about 121°E to 143°E longitude, and from approximately 52°N to 33°N latitude, without prejudice to the sovereign right of any State.
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