June 30/July 7, 2003

Latest G8 Summit produces action plans for marine environment, cleaner technologies

Representatives from Canada and the other G8 nations, meeting in Evian-les-Bains, France, recently drafted action plans addressing the marine environment and tanker safety, as well as science and technology for sustainable development.

Global sustainable development and poverty reduction requires healthier and more sustainably managed oceans and seas. The fisheries sector provides between 5 and 10% of the world's food supply and the marine environment is under growing pressure. The G8 officials expressed grave concern about the decline in marine biodiversity and the depletion of fish stocks, as well as the use of flags of convenience, especially for fishing vessels, as a means to avoid management conservation measures.

The Summit participants pledged to work towards sustainable fisheries and marine conservation by acting in accordance with the relevant United Nations Conventions.

Specific commitments included ratifying (or acceding to) and implementing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides the overall legal framework for oceans; and ratifying and effectively implementing the relevant UN and, where appropriate, associated regional fisheries agreements or arrangements, in particular the UN Fish Stocks Agreement. The G8 nations also reaffirmed previous commitments regarding the reform of fisheries subsidies that damage the environment and are otherwise incompatible with sustainable development.

Other measures in the marine environment/tanker safety action plan call for:

*the urgent restoration and maintenance of fish stocks;

*development and implementation of international plans of action under the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;

*maintenance of the productivity and biodiversity of important and vulnerable marine and coastal areas, including those on the high seas;

*strengthening of regional fisheries organizations, including through improved data collection and compliance with their measures by their member states;

*building capacity in marine science, information and management, through promotion of the use of environmental impact assessments and environmental evaluation and reporting techniques, for projects or activities that are potentially harmful to the coastal and marine environments and their living and non-living resources; and

*development and facilitation of the use of diverse approaches and tools, including the ecosystem approach, for the management of human activities in order to protect oceans and seas and their resources, drawing on the work in progress under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the FAO.

The G8 nations also agreed to take all necessary and appropriate steps to strengthen international maritime safety, including supporting the efforts of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). They pledged to take the lead within the IMO in order to, among other things:

*work towards further accelerating the phasing out of single hulled tankers;

*address, through appropriate measures, the special risks posed by the carriage of the heaviest grades of oil in single hulled tankers; and

*enhance compensation funds to benefit the victims of oil pollution, and review the international compensation regime.

The G8 officials emphasized their commitment to act on the significant environmental threat posed by large cargo vessels and their bunkers. They encouraged the adoption of liability provisions through measures such as the ratification of relevant international liability conventions, in particular the 2001 International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (Bunker Convention) and the 1996 International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea.

With regard to science and technology for sustainable development, the G8 action plan is intended to help meet the objectives of last year's World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). G8 Summit participants reaffirmed the commitment made at the WSSD to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition through international co-operation in enhancing their research capacities. Accordingly, the G8 action plan will focus on three areas that present great opportunities for progress: co-ordination of global observation strategies; cleaner, sustainable and more efficient energy use; and agricultural sustainability, productivity and biodiversity conservation.

Measures to strengthen international co-operation on global observation include:

*building on existing work to produce reliable data products on atmosphere, land, fresh water, oceans and ecosystems;

*improving the worldwide reporting and archiving of these data, and filling in gaps in the observational coverage of existing systems;

In an effort to accelerate the research, development and diffusion of energy technologies, the G8 nations have agreed to:

*promote energy efficiency of all sources and encourage the diffusion and uptake of advanced energy efficient technologies, taking pollution reduction into account;

*promote rapid innovation and market introduction of clean technologies, in both developed and developing countries;

*support efforts aimed at substantially increasing the share of renewable energy sources in global energy use:

*accelerate the development of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies (power generation, transportation, hydrogen production, storage, distribution, end use and safety):;

*expand significantly the availability of, and access to, cleaner, more efficient fossil fuel technologies and carbon sequestration systems, and pursue joint research and development and expanded international co-operation, including demonstration projects;

*develop codes and standards for next-generation vehicles and for cleaner diesel and biodiesel fuels, while recognizing differences in social needs for fuel quality among G8 countries;

*promote, in accordance with respective national procedures, clean and efficient motor vehicles, including next-generation vehicles; and

*work in consultation with industry to raise the energy efficiency of electrical and electronic equipment.

The action plan measures relating to agriculture and biodiversity call, in part, for:

*promoting sustainable agricultural technologies and practices, including the safe use of biotechnologies among interested countries;

*helping developing countries improve their agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner; and

*using modern technologies such as satellite imaging technologies to help combat illegal logging and promote sustainable forest management, agricultural biodiversity and conservation.

Finally, the Summit participants agreed to convene senior G8 policy and research officials and their research institutions to compare and link programs and priorities and to assist in more effective planning and potential linkage of future programs addressing research on global observation, cleaner energy, agriculture and biodiversity. The G8 Summit also produced action plans on water and health. Details may be viewed on-line at www.g8.fr/evian/english/home.html.

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