Environmental concerns on agenda as IMO and UNEP heads meet
IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Klaus Topfer met in London today (6 January 2005) to discuss items of common interest between the two UN bodies.
The two Executive Heads took the opportunity of the launch at IMO Headquarters of a series of reports by UNEP, released in advance of an international meeting on small island developing states (SIDS) to be held in Mauritius next week, to talk over some of the issues contained in the reports and to discuss the on-going relief and recovery operations in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.
The UNEP reports draw attention to the vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters of the world's small island developing states and highlight this among a range of emerging issues challenging their health and wealth.
The sustainability of the maritime and coastal environment is seen as crucial to the development of small island states, many of which have economies that depend disproportionately on fishing and tourism.
Among a number
of key issues relevant to the work of IMO specifically highlighted in the UNEP
reports is the threat to the health and well-being of the islands and low-lying
countries of the Caribbean region from pollution generated by cruise ships and
other vessels. IMO has already agreed that, in light of the high level of cruise
ship and pleasure craft activity in the area, the wider Caribbean region should
benefit from the Special Area status accorded to it under MARPOL annex V - regulations
for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships. Despite the importance
of such a step, so far, insufficient countries in the region have declared or
put in place the required reception facilities for the Special Area to enter
into force. The need to ensure the early ratification and entry-into-force of
the 2004 International Convention on Ballast Water Management was discussed
6 January 2005