The adoption today, in Tehran, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, is a significant step forward for the region. The countries that share responsibility for the largest inland body of water on Earth –Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan –are sending a message to their people and to the world that multilateral cooperation for sustainable development is not only essential, but possible.
Today's signing ceremony marks the culmination of a process that began nearly a decade ago, and has been supported throughout by the United Nations. The Caspian Environment Programme, established by the five countries in 1998, has given us a clearer idea of the threats faced by the region's ecosystems. The Framework Convention now provides a mechanism to address those challenges.
The Secretary-General commends the governments of the Caspian Sea states for their bold initiative and their commitment to sustainable development. Once it has been ratified, this landmark treaty –which is the first legally binding agreement between all five nations that share the Caspian Sea -- will benefit the health and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.