Latin America and the Caribbean

Bryslie Cifuentes-Velasco Vice-Chair of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission -IATTC

Bry - Delegación de Guatemala 87 y 88 CIATThe 30th Meeting of the International Dolphin Conservation Program (IDCP), the 87th Ordinary Meeting and the 88th Extraordinary Meeting of Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) were held recently in La Jolla, California, USA.

As result of the meeting, important agreements were adopted according to the Antigua Convention. The Members adopted conservation measures for pacific bluefin tuna, terms of reference for the organizational assessment of the Commission, rules of procedures for the election of the Director, among others. Read more

Germany prepares for the ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Paris, 2nd November 2001

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he coalition partners of the recently elected federal government of Germany have agreed to start the process of becoming party to the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Paris, 2nd November 2001 (hereafter: CPUCH)[1].

In that regard, last September 22nd and 23rd, the “Workshop on the implementation of the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage” was held in the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin.

The objective of the event was to provide a guidance on how to implement this international instrument in Germany considering its particular legal framework. Therefore, specialists from different countries took part to explain how the implementation was done within their legislations, including best practices, obstacles and challenges.

The workshop was organized by the Federal Foreign Office and the German Archaeological Institute and was attended by national, foreign and UNESCO authorities including, archaeologists, lawyers and managers on the Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH).

Several issues were discussed, such as administrative and legal matters to be considered on the implementation of the CPUCH.

Firstly, the need to identify the competent authorities of State Parties in order to ensure the proper implementation of thWorkshop Berlinis Convention was considered as one of the prior steps of the process. It could be difficult to fulfil within states with a strong decentralized structure, as federal systems where the autonomous regions have their own cultural heritage legislation. In this sense, one of the main challenges for Germany will be to update, integrate and provide a coherent to all of its sixteen autonomous region legal frameworks, in accordance with provisions of the CPUCH.

Secondly, another issue to be considered is the logical increase in the financing and workload of the national competent authority that the participation to this means to instrument will involve. Those are expected to be limited if States take advantage of the present control of illegal activities or development projects.

In this sense, the implementation of the CPUCH, will necessarily require the coordination of activities among the different public bodies involved, to provide consistencies in the treatment of underwater cultural heritage.

The CPUCH came into in force on 2nd January 2009 and at present has 48 States Parties. It provides a means of UCH protection against looting beyond territorial sea through the implementation of an international cooperation system, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provisions (hereafter: LOSC)[2].

The CPUCH does not affect the jurisdiction of States or the definition of maritime zones within the LOSC. It provides a set of professional guidelines and principles in a consistent manner with the protection of UCH, e.g. “in situ” preservation as the first option, and the prohibition of commercial exploitation.

Thus CPUCH specifically regulates the protection of UCH, improving the contradictory and ambiguous regime established within LOSC. According to some authors specially art. 303.3 could be considered an “invitation to the looting of the heritage”[3] in accordance with a private law approach to historic wreck salvage.

An effective implementation of the CPUCH within the German legislation will help solving misunderstanding on the application of its general concepts, as “States with a verifiable link”, and the preservation of UCH “for the benefit of humanity”.

Finally, this would increase the development of Maritime Archaeology and the awareness of a cultural heritage initially “invisible”.





[1] Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Paris, 2 November 2001 (hereafter: CPUCH).

[2] United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (hereafter: LOSC).

[3] Scovazzi T., The Law of the Sea Convention and Underwater Cultural Heritage, The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 27: 753, 2012.

Global Ocean Science Report

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, in the 47th Session of its Executive Council, analysed the  review of the Global Ocean Science Report (GOSR) proposal.
The Global Ocean Science Report (GOSR) is envisaged to provide an overview on nations’ (i) investments, (ii) resources, and (iii) scientific productivity in Ocean Science. It would provide a tool for mapping and evaluating the human and institutional capacity of Member States in terms of marine research, observations and data/information management, as well as a global overview of the main fields of research interest, technological developments, capacity building needs and overall trends.

Taking other UNESCO’s publications as good examples, such as the World Science Report (2010), the idea is to take two years to compile all information from Member States and publish every 4-5 years, to match and complement the cycle of the UN World Ocean Assessment.

The information will be gathered in seven major groups, as follows:

– Marine Ecosystems Functions and Processes,
– Ocean and Climate
– Ocean Crust and Marine Geohazards
– Blue Growth
– Ocean Health
– Human Health and Wellbeing
– Ocean Technology and Engineering, and
– One overarching theme: Ocean observation and Marine Data

As an alumni directly working with Ocean Science, it is clear to me the direct impact such a publication will have in terms of identifying where are the gaps and the opportunities to fill them up. This will certainly increase collaboration between Nations.

The International Waters Focal Area in GEF – 6


[dropcap]R[/dropcap]esources for the GEF Trust Fund are replenished every four years when countries that wish to contribute to the GEF Trust Fund pledge resources through a process called the ‘GEF Replenishment. During the negotiating sessions replenishment participants discuss and come to agreement on a set of policy reforms to be undertaken and a level of resources that the GEF will aim to provide to recipient countries during the replenishment period[1]

Negotiations for the current replenishment period (the GEF Sixth Replenishment – GEF-6 – period) concluded in April 2014. These negotiations determined the resources and priorities for the following years of GEF´s work from July 1, 2014 through June 30th 2018.

In the past, GEF has been the largest provider of funds for projects to improve the global environment. Relevant aspects of this  mechanism are:

It provides Global Environmental Benefits, promotes formal co-financing, country ownership through national implementation mechanisms, and ways to measure results by specific methodologies focused on national and regional implementation.

GEF 6 is integrated by 5 focal areas that will be delivering funds in different parts of the world[2]:

  1. Biodiveristy
  2. Land Degradation
  3. International Waters (12% of total funding by focal area in GEF 5)
  4. Sustainable Forest Management
  5. Climate Change
  6. Chemicals

The GEF international waters Focal Area was established to support countries to overcome large water system tensions and risks under a framework of cooperation among different countries. The Focal Area helps countries to manage their transboundary surface water basins, groundwater basins, and coastal and marine systems to share benefits from them. It also seeks at restored and sustained freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems goods and services, including globally relevant biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as capacity to absorb carbon to reduce global warming (blue carbon sequestration), and reduce vulnerability to climate variability, and climate related risks. International Waters Focal Area also works in reducing pollution load from nutrient enrichment and other land based sources of pollution.

Relevant aspects to consider when developing an international water project are:

  1. All projects must be country driven based on National Priorities. So, if you have a marine and coastal project that could be a national priority, you could consider the International Waters Focal Area as option.
  2. GEF requires country focal points (political and operational focal points)
  3. Identify an Implementing Agency: UNEP, UNDP, World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), FAO, UNIDO, etc. The implementing agency will accompany you in the whole process of the project.
  4. The factor of time is  very important to consider when planning a new GEF project  (6 months to 1 year or even more).
  5. It is always necessary to develop the monitoring and evaluation component to find strengths and weaknesses since the first stage of any project.

Commitments to improve ocean health are rising, but actions remain slow. The challenges and consequences of inaction were reiterated by the world leaders at the recent UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). There is an urgent need to keep working on ocean and coastal issues and GEF is an effective source of financing. However, resources are limited and several countries are applying for new funding. there is a clear GEF intention to keep working on these issues, the challenge is to put international waters focal area as a priority area to allocate more resources in the future.






AIDCP Meetings

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]tates and Regional Economic Integration Organizations which have ratified or acceded to the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP) have met in Lima, Peru (July 7th and 8th 2014) to held the annual Meetings.

The AIDCP is a legally-binding multilateral agreement which entered into force in February 1999, established this program, the successor to the 1992 Agreement on the Conservation of Dolphins (the “La Jolla Agreement”). The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) provides the Secretariat for the program, which covers the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The Parties of the Agreement are: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, United States and Venezuela.