The Caspian Environment Program (CEP)
The Caspian states together with several international organizations (World Bank, UNDP, UNEP, EU/EuropeAid, GEF, bilateral donors, multinational companies, NGOs) have been working together for over 10 years to address some of the most urgent environmental and bioresources management problems confronting the region. The Caspian Environment Program (CEP) has been a prime vehicle for intra-regional and international cooperation (see their website at http://www.caspianenvironment.org).
The CEP has produced a Framework Convention for the Caspian Marine Environment, signed by the five states in November 2003, a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) to identify and rank environmental problems, and a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) endorsed by all five littoral states. Each country has also prepared a National Caspian Action Plan (NCAP) to identify the national level investments and interventions needed to address national and regional priorities for the Caspian.
The SAP identifies the national and regional interventions needed to address four priority regional environmental concern areas:
- Sustainable fisheries management (particularly sturgeon recovery)
- Biodiversity protection and invasive species
- Sustainable coastal zone management
- Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other land-based sources of pollution
The Caspian states updated international organizations, the private sector and NGOs on their progress in implementing the NCAPs and the SAP during the Caspian Environment Program Investment and Donors’ Forum held in Baku in November 2004 (summary report and presentation available at http://www.worldbank.org/caspianenvironmentforum).
While notable progress has been made in some cases – for example, construction of a sturgeon hatchery in Azerbaijan, investments in hatchery maintenance and live fish ship transport in Russia, investments in urban wastewater treatment and sturgeon hatcheries in Iran – much remains to be done. Key obstacles to tackling the region’s environment problems include competing public policy priorities, the relatively weak voice of environmental agencies, difficulties with cross-sector, inter-agency coordination, lack of an agreed regional fisheries management plan, and continued sturgeon poaching. The states and the international partners are committed to working together to make further progress addressing these issues.
A Strategic Partnership for the Caspian is being developed by the World Bank, UNDP and GEF to spur investment and provide a regional funding mechanism for co-financing projects for fisheries management, POPs control, and coastal zone management. The Caspian Strategic Partnership would ideally engage all five Caspian states, the GEF, the World Bank Group and other lenders, bilateral donors, EuropeAid, FAO, private investors, and potentially PROFISH, the new World Bank multi-donor Global Trust Fund for sustainable fisheries.