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Chapter Three: Policy Responses - The polar regions

Common policy instruments

Several global international instruments make special provision for polar areas. For example, the 1992 Earth Summit and Agenda 21 led to the adoption of a Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities in 1995. This has been given an Arctic focus through the Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities, endorsed by Arctic Council Ministers in the Iqaluit declaration (Arctic Council 1998).

Similarly, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea includes a special provision for ice-covered areas, applicable to pollution from vessels. An International Code of Safety for Ships Navigating in Polar Waters, setting specific safety and anti-pollution standards, is being drafted under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) (Brigham 1999).

A Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Management and Utilization of Marine Mammals (MMAP) has been developed by UNEP and FAO together with the International Whaling Commission and the World Conservation Union (IUCN). UNEP serves as the secretariat for MMAP and continues to support activities that promote and assist countries to achieve sound conservation and management of marine mammals.

Neither the Arctic nor the Antarctic is covered by the UNEP Regional Seas Programme but the UNEP-led Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee is preparing an MEA on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) - negotiations are expected to be completed by the year 2000. POPs are found in both polar regions as a result of long-range transport.


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Previous: The policy background 
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