Launch of International Black Sea Day

30 Nov 2010

International Black Sea Day Activities

Your Excellency Ministers, Undersecretaries, Governors, Mayors, Rector,
Distinguished Guests from Governmental Institutions,
Dear Representatives of the Academia, Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations,
Dear Members of the Media

It is a great pleasure and honor for me to deliver an opening speech in this important event dedicated the general theme to the International Year of Biodiversity: as a "BIODIVERSITY IS LIFE", and organized by the Commission on The Protection of The Black Sea Against Pollution and The Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

I am pleased that the Event have attracted such a distinguished participation from public to private sectors as well as academia to civil society which is a clear indication of Black Sea Region’s determination to contribute to the  regional efforts to protect the environment to reach democratic and equally use rights for public that in return ensures sustainable development.

I will share with you some remarks on why regional cooperation and marine and coastal ecosystems’ management are critical to human development as well as on the positioning of the UN agencies in area of climate change, protected areas, biodiversity, and land degradation globally, regionally as well as here in Turkey. I will also touch briefly upon the achievements of our long term partnership with the Government of Turkey.

The Millennium Development Goal 7 on environmental sustainability is critical to the attainment of the other MDG goals. In particular the overarching goal of reducing poverty by half by 2015.

In line with the MDG goals, focusing on the marine, coastal ecosystems and related protected areas:
•    Marine ecosystems are the least understood and protected areas of our planet.
•    75% of marine fish stocks are already exploited up to or beyond their biological limit; and
•    25% of these stocks are already endangered. The marine environment and its biological diversity are suffering from a multiple range of mounting pressures. We; therefore, have to move away from the still prevailing sectoral approach and understand the ecosystem in an integrated manner. We urgently have to apply the ecosystem approach and develop coherent policies and integrated frameworks for the management of all human activities.

In the case of the Black Sea region;
The main challenges of the region are listed as three-fold:
•    Combating pollution from land-based sources and maritime transport,
•    Achieving sustainable management of marine living resources,
•    Pursuing sustainable human development.

Because of these challenges, the Bucharest Convention (The Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution) for the Black Sea Region have pointed out that actions to be taken to:
•    Pollution reduction Conservation of biological diversity, expansion of protected territories, promotion of responsible fisheries,
•    Introduction of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, promotion of Environment Impact Assessment environmental audit, ecologically sound technologies, public involvement in environmental decision making, green tourism and sustainable livelihood.

For the attainment to these targets, UNDP contributed to the Black Sea community within the GEF Framework under Multi Focal and International Waters focal areas with the Black Sea Environmental Management, Developing the Implementation of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan, and Control of Eutrophication, Hazardous Substances and Related Measures for Rehabilitating the BLACK SEA Ecosystem, Danube/Black Sea Basin Strategic Partnership on Nutrient Reduction Projects.

In the case of Turkey: vulnerable eco-system has been placed under increasing stress by high population growth, rising incomes and energy consumption. As sustainable development has become a worldwide concern, it has also gradually been reflected in Turkey's policy debates. As an example, since 1991, Turkey's National Development Plans include environmental strategies.

In Turkey, the UNDP being one of the GEF implementing agency, has been close partner to numerous national and international institutions to find practical solutions to Turkey's development challenges within the scope of developing local strategies for environment and sustainable development. UNDP Turkey was also responsible for the GEF international water intervention in the Black Sea region from 1993 to 2008. The key focus of this project was nutrient load reduction, policy/legislative reforms and institutional strengthening, capacity building, research, investment program promotion and development, public participation. The support was also provided to celebrate 31 October, International Black Sea Day.

As an instrument for the protection of marine biodiversity, UNDP together with the Turkish Environmental Protection Agency for Special Areas have been carrying out a “Turkey’s Strengthening the Marine and Coastal Protected Areas Network Project”  since 2009.

Moreover, though the Turkey’s Strengthening the Marine and Coastal Protected Areas Network Project has been executed along the Turkish Aegean and Mediterranean Coasts, the experience gained from this project we hope that the lessons learned will be replicated along the Black Sea coasts of Turkey as well where no Marine and Coastal Protected Areas exist. Therefore, I am very happy to see the Event program also host a special session on the Marine and Coastal Protected Areas to allow further discussions in this regards.

With this occasion, I am very happy to inform you about the new GEF International Water Project for the Black Sea Countries.

During the 22nd Regular Meeting of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution, Istanbul, 19 – 21 January 2010, the Black Sea countries requested UNDP to help them with the development of the new GEF project for the Black Sea.

“The Commission welcomes the opportunity for development of a regional project under the framework of GEF 5 and requests the UNDP to work with the countries in the development of the project.”

The proposed objective of the project is: To support the littoral states' efforts to restore depleted living resources, including fish stocks in the Black Sea and to fully operationalize and make sustainable the Black Sea’s regional environmental governance framework.

The project will deal with Ecosystem based management and conservation of aquatic bio-resources, including: Marine spatial planning, Conservation of transboundary species or communities of interest across borders around the Black Sea, increase efficiency of mariculture and emphasize natural spawning habitats and their protection, rehabilitation and/or expansion, Management of established invasive species in Black Sea. The project will work with local stakeholders and will ensure that the Local coastal communities livelihoods is improved.

It is expected that the new project will strengthen the existing Regional Environment Governance in the Black Sea by supporting the work of the Secretariat of the Bucharest Convention and National Convention entities. On the other hand the project will support the initiative of the Black Sea countries to establish a new legal regime for the sustainable management of the shared living resources, especially fishery.

In the same time the new project will address the issue of the climate change in the Black Sea and assist the coastal communities to adapt to the climate change as well as the government to adjust their environmental strategies accordingly.

The draft project concept was presented to the Convention Fishery WG last week in Istanbul and received full support for the technical experts from all Black Sea states, it will be now presented at this conference and hopefully receive your full support in order for UNDP to continue to work with the Black sea countries on the development of this very important and we think very timely project to help our common heritage – the Black Sea.

To conclude: I hope that the INTERNATIONAL BLACK SEA DAY will facilitate common efforts to protect the Black Sea for our wellbeing and the wellbeing of future generations. With this in mind, I wish you all a very fruitful and successful meeting.