Israel Environment Bulletin Autumn 1994-5755, Vol. 17, No. 3

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – Asian Regional Meeting
Jerusalem, March 14-19, 1994

The CITES Asian Regional Meeting was hosted by the Nature Reserves Authority, Israel’s Management Authority under the convention. Twenty-two countries were represented.

Discussions focussed on a new initiative for law enforcement cooperation. The meeting approved a draft resolution, proposed by Israel, which calls for a nine-step program for enforcement of CITES throughout the Asian region based on a network of law enforcement officers. Another Israeli-sponsored draft resolution related to the return of confiscated live specimens of species listed on the CITES Appendices to their countries of origin. The meeting also discussed the proposed new criteria for amending CITES and recent developments concerning trade in both rhinoceros and tiger. Participants took part in a number of field trips and field exercises including the release of a tawny eagle to the wild as an expression of the meeting’s consensus that return to the wild should be the first priority for confiscated live specimens, a visit to the port of Haifa to demonstrate techniques for discovering attempted smuggling of CITES-listed specimens, and incineration of more than 700 contraband wildlife products which had been confiscated from smugglers in various countries.

Ministerial Conference on Drinking Water and Environmental Sanitation
Noordwijk, March 19-23, 1994

The ministerial conference, coinciding with World Day for Water, was preceded by a Senior Civil Servants Meeting of all participating countries. The objectives of the conference were to promote concrete action on Chapter 18 of Agenda 21 (the protection of freshwater sources), to enhance pressure at the international political level to put drinking water supply and environmental sanitation much higher on the political agenda, and to support improved coordination and cooperation between governments, institutions, NGOs and the private sector, both nationally and internationally.

Some 60 states were represented at the conference along with international organizations and NGOS. Participants approved a political statement and an action program which was presented to the second session of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development in May 1994.

Second Meeting of the Conference on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
Geneva, March 21-25, 1994

Some 116 delegations were represented at the conference along with representatives of 24 international organizations. Israel, one of the original signatories to the Basel Convention, is currently completing the necessary steps toward ratification.

The focus of the meeting was a decision to immediately ban all export of hazardous waste for final disposal from member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to non-OECD states. Waste exports for recycling or recovery are to be banned by the end of 1997. Other decisions touched on such issues as a liability and compensation protocol, an emergency fund, a model of national legislation for enforcement purposes, implementation mechanisms and prevention of illegal traffic in hazardous wastes.

Fifth Session of the Working Group on the Environment
The Hague, April 6-7, 1994

Further progress in advancing environmental projects in the Middle East was achieved in the fifth round of talks within the framework of the multilateral peace talks.

Discussions focussed on environmental management and public awareness, sewage and solid waste disposal, emergency preparedness and prevention of marine pollution, and desertification control.

A major focus of the conference was desertification. The World Bank, by means of five regional experts (Israel, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt and the Palestinians), submitted a proposal for a regional multi-million dollar project for cooperation on combating desertification which would include five thematic centers, each to be organized by a different region (pasture and fauna, saline water, afforestation and plantations, development of species for and areas, and capacity building in the administered territories).

The European Union surveyed progress on the establishment of marine pollution combating centers, the American delegation presented its work on a sensitivity map for the Gulf of Aqaba which will aid in marine emergencies, the Palestinians announced that the "environmental profile" of the Gaza area, which was prepared by the Dutch, has been updated, Japan announced a substantial monetary contribution for institutions, technical training and manpower to the Palestinians in the administered territories, while the World Bank announced a contribution targeted at coastal planning in Gaza.

Other subjects related to several initiatives which are being implemented within the framework of workshops and seminars, including: the development of an environmental code of conduct, environmental monitoring for the purpose of developing information networks and cooperation between laboratories, a Canadian initiative on environmental impact assessment

(which included a Canadian environmental impact assessment mission to the region), desertification, solid waste, wastewater treatment and reuse in small communities, and the Gulf of Aqaba project.

Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States
Barbados, April 25-May 6, 1994

Representatives of some 100 governments gathered in Barbados to seek agreement on an action plan and budget for the sustainable development of small islands. The Barbados Conference, the first large-scale conference on sustainable development after the 1992 Earth Summit, was called for in Agenda 21 in recognition of the ecological and economic vulnerabilities of small islands.

The conference emphasized the need for the creation of a partnership between developing and developed nations in order to finance common goals. A Barbados Declaration was drafted as well as an Action Plan.

Israel’s representative to the conference related Israel’s experience in cooperating with developing countries through international courses, technical assistance and experts. Israel also expressed its willingness to share its experience with small island developing states on such topics as agriculture, regional planning, community development, health, wastewater treatment, education and environmental management.

International Arid Lands Consortium Workshop on Arid Lands Management – Towards Ecological Sustainability
Jerusalem and the Negev, June 19-22, 1994

Participants from 17 countries, including China, India, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uzbekistan, Kazachstan, Mexico, Holland, the Dominican Republic, Spain and Egypt, took part in the first international workshop on arid lands management, hosted by the Jewish National Fund JNF) in Jerusalem. The workshop was initiated by the International Arid Lands Consortium, established three years ago by the JNF, the United States Forest Service and five American universities (Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico State, South Dakota State and Texas A & M).

The program focused on ecological processes and sustainability in and and semiarid lands and on various approaches to the management of and and semiarid land systems. In addition to papers and discussions on various aspects of and lands research and management, participants took part in a study trip to the Negev where they observed some of JNF’s achievements in desert afforestation, the development of man-made savannah and desert parks, settlements in and areas and other aspects of and lands management.

International Summit on Environmental Assessment
Quebec City, June 12-14, 1994

The June Summit constituted a landmark in the evolution of Environmental Assessment as a tool for decision makers. Following 25 years of its use, managers and practitioners of EIA systems from 25 states and 6 international organizations gathered for the first time to discuss areas of common concern and prospects for greater cooperation. The Summit was organized by Canada’s Federal Environment Assessment Review Office and the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA), and was held in conjunction with the IAIA’s 14th Annual Conference.

Organized in the form of policy "round table" discussions, the Summit focused on three issues: strengthening existing EA systems, new dimensions

(especially the challenges of applying EA at strategic levels of decision making and the relations of EA to environmental sustainability) and future cooperation.

Summit participants expressed their commitment to continued meetings on either an annual or biennial basis. They agreed to move forward in three interrelated areas: endorsing and expanding the support for the International EA Effectiveness Study; taking steps to formalize an International Network for EA managers to ensure better coordination and exchanges; and more active coordination and input into efforts to promote EA capacity building.

International Association for Impact Assessment Conference
Quebec, June 14-17, 1994

Over 600 people participated in the conference representing professionals from government, local authorities, academic and research institutions and private consultancy firms.

Major issues related to the most promising assessment methods for the future, the role of public participation and its effect on the decision- making process and the impact of EA on the Third World. Among the major subjects discussed were experience in applying EIA at the level of policy

(strategic EIA), experience in relating to cumulative impacts (cumulative EIA), public participation in EIA, experience in social impact assessment, EIA in the Middle East, and transboundary impacts.

Meeting of the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC)
Bordeaux, August 9-12, 1994

The Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC) was established by the parties to the Montreal Protocol to review issues related to methyl bromide use. The committee consists of some 65 members from over 20 countries (including Israel) representing scientists, users, manufacturers, NGOs and government. The Bordeaux meeting was the final in a series of five meetings of the MBTOC. The committee’s report reviews existing uses of methyl bromide, surveys global consumption, estimates emissions, and assesses the technical availability of chemical and non-chemical alternatives for the current uses of methyl bromide.

Israel provided MBTOC with data on methyl bromide use in Israel and surveyed some of the steps already taken to reduce methyl bromide doses in soil fumigation including reduced doses in conjunction with solar fumigation and lower doses in conjunction with gas-tight plastic sheets. As a major exporter of methyl bromide, Israel is according high priority to the subject. An expert committee appointed by Minister of the Environment Yossi Sarid in September 1993 presented its report on methyl bromide use in Israel and worldwide and on means of reducing emissions and introducing alternatives in February 1994. The committee’s recommendations include a wide range of suggestions on reduction of doses, use of alternatives, accelerated research, development of methods for collection, neutralization and recycling and increased training and information.

First Meeting of RAC/ERS Focal Points
Palermo, September 9-11, 1994

The meeting was convened in the wake of a decision by the contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention to establish a new Regional Activity Center for Environmental Remote Sensing (RAC/ERS) in Italy within in the framework of MAP. Focal points were nominated and invited to attend the first meeting of the center in Palermo.

The meeting surveyed ongoing activities of RAC/ERS in the Mediterranean region including the classification and monitoring of vegetation in the Mediterranean area and a Remote Sensing Activities Inventory System (RAIS) which aims at creating an archive of remote sensing centers in the area.

Recommendations related to specific projects, information bases and training courses. Participants reaffirmed the important contribution that remote sensing techniques can provide to the implementation of the scientific and socioeconomic activities of MAP.