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The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed water body on Earth with a unique ecosystem with some 400 endemic species, threatened by a decline in biodiversity/bioresources, coastal zone degrdation, habitat destruction and pollution in the midst of an exponential growth of oil and gas exploration and exploitation. In the absence of an agreement on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, the Tehran Convention – hailed by the UNSG as a major contribution to peace and stability in the region - is the only legally-binding instrument between the five Caspian states. Under its umbrella a lot has been achieved and the littoral states are now implementing national action plans based on a regional strategy. However, the environment remains a relatively low priority for the governments and the communities around the Caspian Sea. The scientific and management capacity of the authorities is uneven and in need of assistance. The regional cooperation process managed ad interim by UNEP in Geneva requires a solid secretariat and an established institutional implementation network in the region. The boost in oil gas exploration and exploitation has turned the oil and gas industry into major actors and engines for socio-economic growth and development; stakeholder involvement and public participation is recognized as important but still far from an automatic government concern. Quantifiable data on the state of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea – essential for sound collective decision-making - are scarce. National monitoring programmes do exist, but are conventional and focusing on compliance monitoring; they are not consistent and the data are often not available. An integrated ambient monitoring program – a mix of conventional and biological monitoring - has been agreed upon but is still lacking agreed operational instruments to become effective. The project is designed to assist in addressing these concerns, weaknesses and inconsistencies.  


The main focus of the 2017 phase of the project is to continue the arrangements and assist the Secretariat and Parties to the Tehran Convention in the implementation of the Convention Program of Work 2016-2017, expected to be approved by the 6th Conference of Parties in the first half of 2017, in particular in areas where the expertise and capacity of GRID-Arendal is solicited and can make a difference. The areas include monitoring, assessment, reporting, information exchange, back-up networking and research, and environmental management and administration related work. 


The Convention Secretariat, according to the decisions of COP5 is planned to move to Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan. Consequently, it is to be expected that by end 2017 the present ad-hoc engagement of GA with the Convention process will be turned into a more permanent support structure captured in an MOU negotiated and conclude between GA and the UNEP administered Secretariat

Tags: African biodiversity

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GRID-Arendal´s activities are nearly always a cooperative undertaking made possible through collaboration with our various partners, and donors.

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