SOUTH ASIA CO-OPERATIVE ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME

STATEMENT BY MR. MAHBOOB ELAHI, DIRECTOR GENERAL
AT THE NINTH PLENARY MEETING OF
THE WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
ON 29 AUGUST 2002 AT JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Mr. President,


Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentleman:


It is my honour to address this august Plenary of the WSSD on behalf of the South Asia Co-operative Environnent Programme (SACEP), an Intergovernmental Organisation set up by the Governments of South Asia, back in 1982, to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of the environnent and for ensuring sustainable development of the region. It is also the Secretariat of the South Asian Seas Programme as of 1995 covering the five marine states of South Asia namely Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Three land-locked countries of SACEP, namely Afghanistan, Bhutan and Nepal are important watersheds draining into South Asian Seas and are thus important stakeholders to this Seas Programme.


The governance structure of SACEP includes Governing Council, Consultative Committee, National Focal Points and the Secretariat Based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Governing Council Meetings are generally attended by the Environnent Ministers of the member countries with the High Commissions and Embassies in Colombo, constituting its Consultative Committee.


SACEP is thus truly an initiative of the country governments of South Asia and the organisation truly an indigenous one. The country governments make basic contributions to the running of this organisation. Besides this, the government of Sri Lanka also provides a host country contribution of about Sri Lankan Rs. 3 Million annually to meet local cost of running the SACEP Secretariat.- We are grateful to Honourable Rukman Senanayake, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources of Sri Lanka and the Present Chairman of the Governing Council of SACEP for making this financial assistance available to us regularly. He has also promoted and supported SACEP with his cabinet colleagues in the member Governments and donors for making this organisation as the true representative of the region in matters relating to environmental protection and sustainable development.


SACEP's work programme decided by the country governments, is also supported by several bilateral and multilateral donors. Here, 1 must mention the useful contributions that have been made available to this organisation by the Royal Governments of Norway, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), UNEP-GPA office in The Hague, Regional Seas Programme of UNEP and its outreach office in AIT, Bangkok, IMO, ESCAP and many others. We are grateful to these agencies and organisations for choosing to work with SACEP in this region. We will continue to work hard to win their confidence as partner in the region.

Over the period of its existence, SACEP has added value to the work and achievements of the national Governments, especially in the area of environmental education, environmental law, national and regional environmental assessments, publication of reports, data bases, training, joint programmes and projects for shared resources, development of Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan and projects of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the South Asian Seas Coastal States in the region. ,j It has also contributed to the work of several international organisations, such as International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), Coral Reef Degradation in the Indian Oceans (CORDIO) and Global Coral Reef Monitoring Networks (GCRMN). We believe that these modest contributions had helped the region in addressing its endemic problems such as poverty, degradation of the natural resources base and indicators of social and economic development.


Mr. President:


We have also been working with other governmental and non-governmental organisations and private sectors to complement and supplement national efforts for the protection of environment and for achieving goals of sustainable development.

We have also made a modest contribution to the preparatory works of WSSD. We therefore, co-organised Sub-regional Consultations for WSSD for South Asia in Colombo in 2001. These Consultations among others were attended by Prof. Emil Salim, Chairman, Preparatory Committee of WSSD. We have also organised a Subregional Meeting for South Asia Position for WSSD and the decisions arrived at this meeting are appropriately followed up by the member states of South Asia in the negotiations for WSSD which are concurrently in progress. We intend to continue this suit in future as well as by strengthening partnerships in our region to follow up recommendations to be agreed at the WSSD.


While the Country Governments of SACEP are closely following the WSSD deliberations on their part, we in SACEP are equally keen to fully partake in this process. To this end, we have already formulated 12 Type II Interventions/Proposals in collaboration with UNEP's GPA office/Regional Seas Programme and its ICRAN Division. In addition, we have also posted additional Type II Proposals in the areas of (a) Harmonising Environment and Development through Environmental Co-operation within the South Asian Region (b) Implementation of GPA's Office Partnership Programme 2002-2006 and (c) Development of GCRMN Node in South Asian Seas with a view to work with the interested partners.


In addition we would also like to work with United Nations University (UNU) in two of three additional Type II Partnerships being announced at WSSD relating to (a) Inter-inkages between Multilateral Environmental Agreements in collaboration with ASEAN, SPREP, UNEP, ECA and FAO (b) International Partnership for Sustainable Development in Mountain area in collaboration with FAO, UNEP and Swiss Agency for Environmental Co-operation. We think that SACEP is a very relevant partner in these two Type II Interventions and will enrich the project outcome for equal benefits to all concerned. I hope this request will be given a favourable consideration by UNU.

To conclude Mr. President;


We are an indigenous local environmental programme with inherent advantages of local knowledge, networks and resources and will like to work as partners with any government or other agencies keen to work in South Asia for environmental protection and sustainable development as part of the follow up activities of WSSD. We shall be grateful to any such opportunity that will be so offered to SACEP.


I thank you Mr. President.