United Nations


General Assembly

27 June 1997


          Note verbale dated 23 June 1997 from the Permanent Mission
          of Maldives to the United Nations addressed to the        

     The Charge' d'affaires a.i. of the Republic of Maldives to the
United Nations presents his compliments to the Secretary-General of
the United Nations and in his capacity as the Chairman of the South
Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has the honour to
forward herewith a copy of the 1997 New Delhi Declaration of
Environment Ministers on a common position before the special session
of the General Assembly on the implementation of the Agenda 21, with
the request that the Declaration be circulated as a document of the
nineteenth special session of the General Assembly.


            1997 New Delhi Declaration of Environment Ministers on
            a common position of the South Asian Association for  
            Regional Cooperation before the special session of the
              General Assembly on the implementation of Agenda 21

     We, the Environment Ministers of the member countries of the South
Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), having met at New
Delhi on 2 and 3 April 1997,

     Recalling the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development, held at Rio de Janeiro in June 1992,

     Recalling the Declaration of the Heads of State or Government
during the seventh and eighth SAARC summit meetings held at Dhaka in
1993 and Delhi in 1995,

     Noting the outcomes of major world conferences on social
development, population, women, habitat, food security and sustainable
development of small island developing States,

     Rededicating ourselves to the task of economic development, social
progress and environmental protection,

     Concerned that poverty is the main contributing factor to
environmental degradation in the SAARC region, which has low levels of
industrialization, widespread illiteracy, malnutrition and inadequate
health care and housing,

     Considering that more people live in poverty today than was the
case at the time of Rio summit, and reiterating that the overriding
priority of developing countries is the eradication of poverty so that
sustainable development can be achieved within the context of
sustained economic growth,

     Mindful that the daily needs of the majority of the people of
these countries are met mainly through direct dependence on the
natural resources of the region, and that despite economic hardships,
the countries of the region accord high priority to the conservation
of the natural environment, inter alia, through the simple lifestyles
that characterize them,

     Noting with satisfaction the initiatives taken by the countries of
the region for preservation and preservation of the environment while
meeting the developmental needs of people through broad-based economic

     Reiterating the importance of intensifying regional cooperation in
all spheres of environment and development to fulfil basic human

     Concerned that the principle of common but differentiated
responsibilities for global environmental degradation having been
accepted by all, there is little evidence to indicate a major shift in
attitudes and behaviour on the part of industrialized countries,

     Also considering that in spite of the commitments made at Rio by
the industrialized countries to facilitate transfer of environmentally
sound technologies to developing countries and to provide new and
additional financial resources that are both adequate and predictable,
the progress has been very disappointing,

     Acknowledging that although the primary responsibility for the
implementation of Agenda 21 rests with national Governments, the
absence of adequate support and assistance from the international
community for the efforts of developing countries has hampered their
effective action in this field,

     Noting that much of the environmental degradation results from
unsustainable lifestyles in the industrialized world or poverty and
underdevelopment in developing countries, which itself is the result
of inequitable growth patterns, unfavourable terms of trade and
investment flows, and a global macroeconomic environment that is not
supportive of the development of developing countries,

     Noting with concern that developing countries are finding it
difficult to address their legitimate environmental and development
goals in a situation characterized by rising protectionist tendencies
against competitive imports from developing countries,

     Noting with satisfaction the successful conclusion of the four
international conventions relating to biodiversity, climate change,
desertification and straddling and highly migratory fish stocks,
emanating from the Rio Conference,

     Concerned that several developed countries are yet to ratify these
conventions which are of primordial interest to the developing
countries in this region,

     Recognizing that low-lying countries of SAARC are likely to be the
worst affected if the present trends in climate change are to

     Concerned that a large number of people in the SAARC countries are
affected by the fragility of the Himalayan Mountain ecosystem,

     Noting the importance of effective information-sharing and
networking in the SAARC region in environmental areas, strategies and
technologies to promote effective cooperation among member States for
sustainable development,

     Welcoming the progressive development of environmental law in the
South Asian countries,

Agenda 21

     1.   Reaffirm that environment is a matter of common concern, and
commit ourselves to support international cooperation in this field;

     2.   Commit ourselves to intensifying greater regional cooperation
in all spheres of environment and development;

     3.   Stress that the special session of the General Assembly
should focus on the fulfilment of the international commitments
undertaken at the United Nations Conference on Environment and

     4.   Reaffirm our strong opposition to conditionalities on
international trade and financial flows in the form of "environmental
clauses", and stress that environmental protection cannot be isolated
from the general issues of development;

     5.   Stress that trade policy measures for environmental purposes
should not constitute a means of arbitrary or disguised restrictions
on international trade;

     6.   Emphasize that trade and environment policies should be
mutually supportive in a manner that contributes to sustained economic
growth and that positive measures such as financial flows, technical
and technological assistance are preferable to trade measures for
tackling environmental measures;

     7.   Stress that protection of the environment requires sustained
efforts to change consumption patterns, especially in industrialized

     8.   Emphasize the importance of the peaceful application of
nuclear technology in overcoming the concerns of developing countries
relating to energy, self-sustained growth and environment;

     9.   Urge developed countries to transfer environmentally sound
technologies and technical know-how on concessional and preferential
terms and also to contribute to endogenous capacity-building measures
in the developing countries;

     10.  Strongly urge the developed countries to provide predictable,
adequate, new and additional financial resources and to achieve the
target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product as official
development assistance immediately;

     11.  Urge the developed countries and all relevant international
and regional funding agencies and financial institutions to provide
adequate funds on concessional terms and/or as grants for micro-credit
programmes in the SAARC region to strengthen the role of women and
their empowerment for eradication of poverty and for sustainable

     12.  Commit ourselves to securing the participation of all actors
of civil society, in particular women, youth and children, and
voluntary organizations, in the national efforts towards
implementation of Agenda 21, and decide to promote regional camps for
schoolchildren and encourage their active participation in
environmental protection and sustainable management of natural

     13.  Urge developed countries to assist the low-lying SAARC
countries most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change in
meeting the costs of adaptation and in capacity-building;

     14.  Agree to cooperate in mitigating the adverse impact of
climate change and sea level rise in the member countries of SAARC and
in identifying appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures;

     15.  Stress that special attention should be paid to the
protection and preservation of the Himalayan region to minimize the
vulnerability of people dependent on the mountain ecosystem;

     16.  Agree to establish effective information networking
mechanisms to assist member countries to protect and manage the
environment in order to attain sustainable development.


     Noting that all the member countries of the SAARC region are
parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and that the three
main objectives of the Convention, namely, the conservation of
biological diversity, sustainable utilization of the components of
biological diversity and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of
the utilization of biological resources, read with other provisions of
the Convention, offer an opportunity to SAARC countries rich in
biodiversity to realize the economic value of their biological
resources while conserving them in the interest of inter-generational

     Noting also that the Convention on Biological Diversity is founded
upon the principle of equity, which is sought to be secured by
recognizing the rights of the countries of origin of biological
resources to the benefits arising out of the utilization of their
resources and the rights of the local people and indigenous
communities to shares in the benefits arising out of the utilization
of their system of knowledge, innovation, practices and technologies,

     Noting that the developed country parties to the Convention have
an obligation to provide additional financial resources to developing
country parties to enable the developing countries to meet their
obligations for implementing the Convention, and noting also that
developed countries have a responsibility to create a facilitating
environment for transfer of technologies, including biotechnologies,
to the developing countries,

     Acknowledging that biological resources could also be region-
specific or shared by more than one member country, and acknowledging
also the difficulties in securing fully effective enforcement of
regulations of transfer, particularly because very small quantities of
genetic material are sufficient for research and development purposes
and that there is the possibility that these can cross borders

     Recognizing the difficulties that may be encountered by national
Governments in enforcing national legislation and regulations for
facilitating access to their biological resources on mutually agreed
upon terms based on prior informed consent for the above-noted

     Noting the need to have a common approach on access to genetic
resources and other related issues for cooperation in research and
development, training and capacity-building,

     1.   Express concern at the dwindling of official development
assistance and that the developed country parties to the Convention
should provide new and additional financial resources to enable
developing country parties to fulfil their obligations under the
Convention     ;

     2.   Urge developed countries to enhance their support and
cooperation to the developing countries and create a facilitating
environment for transfer of technology, including bio-technology, to
the developing countries and for equitable sharing of benefits arising
out of the utilization of biological resources with the countries of

     3.   Agree that SAARC member countries will make efforts to
formulate a common approach for access to genetic resources that are
common to more than one member country in the region;

     4.   Also agree to expand cooperation in the region for the
protection and conservation of biodiversity;

     5.   Further agree to cooperate closely in developing a common
stand on IPR-related issues and other issues during negotiations at
the multilateral forums under the Convention on Biological Diversity;

     6.   Agree to cooperate in taking action for capacity-building of
member countries in taxonomy, bioinformatics, and research and
development, making use of the existing institutional strengths of
member countries.

Hazardous wastes management

     Recognizing the risk of damage to human health and the environment
caused by handling of hazardous chemicals and wastes,

     Considering that countries of the region import hazardous
chemicals and raw materials for recycling, which are hazardous waste
products generated by developed countries,

     Noting that most of the member countries are parties to the Basel
Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous
Wastes and Their Disposal,

     Taking into account that there is a need to accelerate the
industrial development process in the member countries of the SAARC
region in an environmentally sound manner,

     Aware that the environment of the member countries of the SAARC
region are being seriously threatened owing to accelerated trade in
hazardous waste and eventual dumping, by some parties and non-parties
to the Basel Convention,

     Recognizing the need to protect human health and the environment
by imposing strict control on transboundary movement of hazardous
chemicals and wastes,

     1.   Stress the need for collection and dissemination of
information on commonly used chemicals and sharing knowledge on risk

     2.   Underscore the importance of regulation of transboundary
movement of chemicals and wastes in accordance with internationally
adopted agreements and guidelines and the obligations of developed
country parties in this regard;

     3.   Agree to take all feasible steps for sound management of
hazardous chemicals and waste as well as promote cooperation in
bringing out appropriate national legislation, sharing of information
and training;

     4.   Stress the need to develop an understanding among member
countries in the SAARC region regarding transfer of wastes for
recycling and reuse, taking into account existing national regulations
in this regard;

     5.   Emphasize the need for an effective mechanism and procedure
to prevent movement of hazardous wastes and toxic chemicals in
disguise or in the name of useful products;

     6.   Decide to work towards evolving principles based on sound
management of hazardous wastes so as to develop national policies to
phase out toxic agricultural and industrial chemicals and trade in
hazardous waste;

     7.   Pledge to strive to contract regional and bilateral
agreements for the adoption of cleaner technology and transfer of
appropriate technologies.

South Asian Seas

     Reaffirming the importance of all positive actions taken to
protect the ocean, all kinds of seas, including enclosed and semi-
enclosed seas, and coastal areas and the protection, rational use and
development of their living resources,

     Welcoming the South Seas Regional Programme of the United Nations
Environment Programme, which aims to protect and manage the marine
environment and related coastal ecosystems of the region, and promote
sustainable development and sound management of regional marine and
coastal resources, taking into account the social and economic aspects

     Recalling the adoption of the action plan for this Programme at
the meeting of the plenipotentiaries held in March 1995 at New Delhi
with reference to the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of
the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities considered during
the Intergovernmental Conference on the subject held in Washington in

     1.   Request all SAARC countries to take the necessary action to
make the South Asian Seas programme operational;

     2.   Urge United Nations environmental agencies and institutions
like the Global Environmental Facility, the United Nations Development
Programme and the Asian Development Bank to extend all assistance to
efforts taken to protect and preserve the marine environment in our

     3.   Stress that no discriminatory environmental instrument or
agreement should be enforced regarding elimination of persistent
organic pollutants in the absence of viable inputs vital for sustained
increase in food production in all developing countries, including the
SAARC countries, and that all efforts should be made to provide
alternative chemicals and technology for production of these
alternatives on non-commercial terms to enable developing countries to
phase out the elimination of such persistent organic pollutants;

     4.   Urge all SAARC countries to preserve rare, fragile,
ecologically sensitive coastal and marine ecosystems, such as
mangroves, coral reefs, sea-grass beds, etc., for conservation and
sustainable use of the resources under national jurisdiction.

     In the light of the above common SAARC position highlighted in the
present Declaration, to be known as the 1997 New Delhi Declaration of
the SAARC Environment Ministers, pledge to maintain regular
interaction during the process of preparation for the special session
of the General Assembly on the implementation of Agenda 21 and to
coordinate positions of the SAARC countries at the special session to
project and secure effectively the interests of our countries.



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Date last posted: 15 January 2000 16:15:30
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