Israel Environment Bulletin Winter 1994-5754, Vol. 17, No. 1


Fourth Session of the Working Group on the Environment
Cairo, November 14-16, 1993

A significant breakthrough was made at the fourth meeting of the working group on the environment (within the framework of the multilateral peace talks): the parties agreed to cooperate in combating sea pollution and oil slicks in the Gulf of Aqaba. The operative significance of the agreement lies in the readiness of Jordan, Israel and Egypt to place pollution control equipment at each other’s disposal in case of an oil spill. The equipment, to be purchased with international funds, will be placed in Aqaba, Eilat (in the existing pollution control station) and Nueiba. Agreement on the project is believed to be the first operative achievement within the framework of the multilateral talks.

Participants also devoted special attention to desertification, a subject of interest not only to the region but to the entire world community. The World Bank proposed the creation of an $8 million fund to finance a coordinating unit on desertification during a four-year period and the Japanese expressed willingness to contribute $1/2 million toward establishment of the unit. The coordinating unit, to operate out of one of the countries in the region, will establish a network of cooperation between academic and other bodies dealing with combating desertification. The effort will concentrate on four main issues: management of pastureland and livestock, use of secondary sources of water (effluents) and rehabilitation of saline soils, economic development of forested and planted areas and development of plants and species for arid areas. Israel’s wide experience in this field should prove of special value in this cooperative effort.

Still another discussion item revolved around a Jordanian proposal to establish a regional center for environmental education. The proposal elicited an Israeli suggestion to declare 1994 as the Year of the Environment in the Middle East. Several ideas were generated with regard to possible activities, from a massive beach cleanup along the eastern and southern coasts of the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aqaba to a festive concert on behalf of the environment to be broadcast on all television stations in the area.

Other subjects on the agenda included: sewage treatment in small local authorities; solid waste treatment; a seminar on industrial waste treatment to be held in Japan; coastal planning; establishment of a monitoring system; a Canadian proposal on environmental impact assessment; and a European Community working paper on the specific environmental problems of the southeast Mediterranean Coastal region.

Forty-two delegations participated in this round of the talks, twelve from the Middle East. The Israeli delegation, headed by Dr. Israel Peleg, included representatives of the Ministries of the Environment, Foreign Affairs and Defense.

World Coast Conference 1993
Noordwijk, Netherlands, November 1-5, 1993

Participants from more than 90 nations, 19 international organizations and 23 non-governmental organizations attended the World Coast Conference, which represented the culmination of work carried out over several years in the area of integrated coastal zone management. While the idea for the conference was catalyzed by the need for coastal states to address the impacts of global climate change and sea level rise, the orientation of the conference was on a wide array of coastal management issues including: habitat loss, degradation of water quality, changes in hydrological cycles and depletion of coastal resources.

The conference focused on scientific-technical issues (e.g. vulnerability assessment studies and development of tools and institutions) as well as on the policy-making side of coastal zone management. It was widely agreed that vulnerability varies from place to place, that some areas are particularly at risk (i.e. small island states, coastal wetlands and deltaic settings) and that in many cases, impacts associated with climate change cannot be separated from other short-term problems. There was wide consensus, however, that integrated coastal zone management is an appropriate response strategy to address both long-term and present-day problems.

Participants of the conference drafted a statement for the consideration of governments, institutions and organizations on the need for strengthening national and international responses by such means as information, education and training; improved methodologies, concepts and tools; continued research, monitoring and evaluation; strengthening of national and international mechanisms and institutional arrangements; and increased funding.

Israel’s contribution to the Conference is presented in this issue of the Bulletin.

Interregional Meeting of Experts to Discuss Guidelines for Integrated Coastal and Marine Areas Management
Rome, November 29-December 1, 1993

Due to the special importance of integrated management of coastal areas, UNEP’s Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme Activity Centre (OCA/PAC) was asked to prepare guidelines for professionals and decision makers on the implementation of coastal management in the areas covered by the Regional Seas Programme of OCA/PAC. In the wake of consultations and meetings held during 1991 and 1992, a group of experts (including Ms. Valerie Brachya of Israel) was engaged by the Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC) to prepare the draft guidelines.

The Rome meeting, hosted by FAO, was called in order to review the final draft of the document. It was attended by 30 participants, evenly divided between national experts from various parts of the world and representatives of international organizations. Its objectives were:

  • to present experiences on the integrated management of coastal and marine areas (ICAM) in various Regional Seas;
  • to present, discuss and make suggestions for the final editing of the guidelines; and
  • to present and discuss the Annotated FAO Guidelines on the Integration of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Integrated Coastal and Marine Areas Management.

    During the course of the meeting, it was pointed out that ICAM should be viewed as a flexible and continuous management process, which users can adapt to the conditions prevailing in a given coastal area. The process proposes mechanisms for harnessing resources for sustainable development without causing the degradation of the environment, in a multidisciplinary framework. The importance of the institutional framework, which is the basic requirement for achieving successful integrated management, was stressed along with the need for supporting legal and financial arrangements.

    Fifth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
    Bangkok, November 17-19, 1993

    The meeting, attended by 88 national delegations and by representatives of numerous organizations, adopted 28 decisions. Following are some of the more significant decisions:

  • Approval of a $510 million three-year budget for the Multilateral Fund, which provides assistance to developing countries in phasing out ozone-depleting substances ($55 million of which represent surplus funds carried over from 1993);
  • Phasing-out of halon production in developed countries by the end of 1993 due to the fact that technically and economically-feasible alternatives and substitutes exist for most applications, and since halon is available in sufficient quantity and quality from existing stocks of banked and recycled halon;
  • Request for the submission of nominations by the parties for production and consumption exemptions for substances other than halon for 1996;
  • Financing of a limited number of methyl bromide projects for data collection and information exchange as well as for methyl bromide alternative demonstration projects from the Multilateral Fund.
  • Use of the Industry and Environment Programme Activity Centre of UNEP as a clearing-house for information relevant to international halon bank management;
  • Approval of a budget of $2.8 million for 1994 and $3.4 million for 1995 for the Montreal Protocol Trust Fund.

    Dr. Israel Peleg, on behalf of the Israeli delegation, informed the meeting that an agreement was reached to implement international instruments relating to the protection of the ozone layer in the Middle East within the framework of the multilateral peace talks on the environment, Israel joined a number of states in a declaration to reduce consumption of methyl bromide by at least 25% by the year 2000 and to phase out the consumption of methyl bromide as soon as technically possible. However, Dr. Peleg also emphasized the need for international efforts to concentrate on the minimization of emissions of methyl bromide to the atmosphere and not solely on a total ban.

    Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
    Bangkok, November 23-24, 1993

    The Vienna Convention, adopted in March 1985, has thus far been ratified by 131 countries. During the course of the meeting, special attention was focused on the need to set up more ozone observing stations, especially in tropical areas, and to further investigate UV-B radiation and its environmental effects. Participants heard a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) concerning the Global Ozone Observing System, now comprising more than 100 stations, which provides information on total ozone content, its vertical distribution and its trends.

    Dr. Israel Peleg, on behalf of the Israeli delegation, proposed two amendments for the consideration of the parties: a requirement for global monitoring of ground-level UV-B and the addition of partially halogenated alkanes of bromine substances such as HBr and methyl bromide to Annex I which deals with chemical substances which are thought to have the potential to modify the chemical and physical properties of the stratospheric ozone layer. Dr. Peleg called upon the participants to follow up on research concerning global changes and if need be, to amend the convention and protocol accordingly.