Although the first year of the second phase of the ACP-MEAs project was shorter for the AH given that the Cooperation Agreement was signed in June 2014, almost all planned activities were implemented. Negotiators in biodiversity and mercury-related conventions received support for the preparation of the COP-MOP of the CBD in South Korea in October 2014 as well as the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC6) in Thailand in November 2014. Both groups of negotiators showed high level of participation in the negotiations at the COP-MOP of the CBD and at INC6 in Thailand in November 2014, respectively. As a result, robust strategies of negotiations and common positions were developed for the Africa region. The strategies developed by the negotiators of biodiversity were re-enforced by the coordination mechanism on biodiversity negotiations whose development was initiated in a workshop organized in August 2014. The mechanism was tabled to the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) of February 2015 for review and there was recommendation for further work.
From December 3-5, 2014, the ‘Parliamentarian Colloquium on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)-Biodiversity and Chemical/Waste Clusters’ took place in Addis Ababa, bringing together national and regional Parliamentarians, including those of the Pan African Parliament, MEAs experts, civil society organizations, AU Member States, United Nations Environment Programme, European Commission, Regional Economic Communities, (RECs), NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), international organizations, MEAs Secretariats, and other partners.
The purpose of the Entebbe colloquium was to raise awareness of Parliamentarians in environmental management, environmental policy and mainstreaming of MEAs in sustainable development plans and policies. Parliaments are crucial enablers for promoting sustainable development, environmental governance and for advancing law and policy in their capacities as legislative bodies of states. The keen interest shown by Parliamentarians to engage their governments and constituencies in the promotion of sound management of biodiversity and chemicals/wastes was indicative of the success of the event. The main output of the Entebbe colloquium was a source book on MEAs mainstreaming for African Parliamentarians. The colloquium also resulted in two important outcomes namely; a Decision of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) urging Governments to work closely with Parliamentarians in MEAs development, and the establishment of a network of African Parliamentarians called “Green Bird-Africa” (GBA). The objective of the network is to promote environmental sustainability in Africa.
In 2014, the CARICOM Secretariat continued to build on the achievements of ACP-MEAs Phase I to deliver support and capacity-building services to Caribbean countries and regional partners. In September 2014, in Georgetown, Guyana, the Caribbean Hub organised a regional preparatory workshop, including refresher training on MEAs negotiations, for the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-12). In advance of COP-12, the Hub, in co-operation with the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development, also developed and disseminated a series of guidance briefs on negotiating MEAs. A national MEAs enforcement workshop for Customs and Border Control personnel was held in St. George’s, Grenada, in November 2014.
In addition, the Caribbean Hub engaged with the IUCN, CBD Secretariat, ABS Capacity Development Initiative (ABS-CDI) and the Secretariat of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States concerning ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing. Activities in this regard included the production of a fact sheet on the Nagoya Protocol, partnering with the CBD Secretariat on the delivery of a workshop for CARICOM Member States on the Nagoya Protocol (May 2014) and with the ABS-CDI on the delivery of the 3rd Caribbean Access and Benefit-Sharing workshop (November 2014).
The National Environment Management Strategies (NEMS) formulation process began in Tuvalu, Fiji and Vanuatu, to fully integrate national implementation plans for MEAs (through NBSAPs, National Action Plans, National Adaptation Programme of Action) into a single national planning document – the NEMS. Additionally, Fiji and Cook Islands completed capacity building efforts for their respective State of Environment Reports. SPREP also organised the training for Pacific Island countries for their negotiations with users of genetic resources under the Nagoya Protocol. The access and benefit sharing workshops were held in Nadi and Sydney from August 5-8, 2014 to support Pacific Island Countries’ understanding and potentially becoming members of ABS. It was expected that at least four extra Pacific ACP countries would become party to particular MEAs and benefit from SPREP’s advice on benefits of becoming party. Moreover, considerable efforts were made to mainstream MEA considerations to be factored in at all levels, whether it is through Environmental Impact Assessments, Strategic Environmental Assessment, or Integrated Environmental Assessment.
Focus areas of FAO’s support
1. Identification of regional proprieties to enhance the implementation of target MEAs on chemicals: In 2014, the focus of work was the validation of priorities in the three ACP regions and the exploration of institutional structures for implementation of the synergic activities on agriculture-biodiversity. This was done through three regional planning workshops that allowed key stakeholders to discuss needs and update priority areas of work at the regional level:
a. In the African region, priorities identified included the harmonisation of pesticide legislations and regulations, training on pesticide registration and risk assessment; identification and risk reduction strategies for Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).
b. In the Caribbean region, it was agreed to prioritize updating of national legislations to meet the requirements of target MEAs, regional harmonization of pesticide legislation, regulation and registration, including adopting of a common pesticide labelling system; training on risk evaluation and remediation of contaminated sites.
c. In the Pacific region, priorities identified were the preparation of a regional harmonized registration system for pesticides; the establishment of a Regulators Forum to facilitate information sharing among regulators in the islands; support in developing strategies for container management and remediation of contaminated sites; promotion of alternative agricultural practices, e.g. IPM and organic agriculture.
2. Capacity building of regional and national authorities was planned to enforce the MEAs chemical cluster and the CBD. Training and workshops of pesticide regulators and Designated National Authorities on Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions enforcement, pesticide risk assessment, and safeguarding and disposal operations were planned for the three regions.
3. Provision of tools and databases to better support the implementation of the target MEAs. Four technical working groups met during 2014 to start the process of developing a pesticide registration toolkit, aimed at assisting pesticide registrars in the evaluation and authorization of pesticides. The existing Pesticide Stock Management System (PSMS) web-based tool, developed to assist countries in management of obsolete stocks in locust-affected countries, was also upgraded in 2014, and a first demo version was released for review and discussion.