Caspian littoral states sign environment protocol
High-level representatives from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan signed the Environment Impact Assessment Protocol under the Tehran Convention during an extraordinary Conference of the Parties on Friday in Moscow, Russia. As Financial Tribune writes in the article Caspian littoral states sign environment protocol, the protocol will enter into force three months after being ratified by the signatory countries' parliaments, UN Environment's website reported.
Under the protocol, countries must follow a set of harmonized practical procedures for assessing the impact that a project will have on the environment in another state. Impacts on human health, fauna, water and soil are among factors to be accounted for when installing oil refineries, building major power plants or undertaking major deforestation, for example. Countries that stand to be affected by a project will have the opportunity to comment on plans underway. They will then be entitled to receive an explanation as to how these comments were taken into account if the development goes ahead.
"It's fantastic to see the Caspian Sea's littoral states come together and commit to the future well-being of this jewel of the region and unique ecosystem. I'm convinced this will be a big win for the region's environment, economy and long-term security," said UN Environment Head Erik Solheim. "It also sends a strong message around the world that sustainable development is one issue that we can all get behind together."
The Caspian Sea's varied levels of salinity between north and south means it hosts a unique ecosystem. Yet this is also highly threatened, with oil and gas production being one of the main factors taking a heavy toll on the environment. The sea's fossil fuel reserves are estimated to be one of the planet's largest—underlining the importance of the Environment Impact Assessment Protocol. The sea is still the source of the majority of the world's caviar, but its sturgeon population has steadily declined, while the Caspian seal is listed as endangered.
The Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, also known as the Tehran Convention, was signed in 2003. The treaty requires the five littoral countries to prevent and cut pollution, restore the environment, use resources sustainably and cooperate more to protect the environment.