Policy and integrated management Environment

Posted June 1996

FAO's Contribution to the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities


FAO is the largest specialized agency within the United Nations system. Since it's inception it has worked to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural development, improved nutrition and the pursuit of food security. The Organization offers direct development assistance, collects, analyses and disseminates information, provides policy and planning advice to governments and acts as an international forum for debate on food and agriculture issues.

FAO is active in land and water development, plant and animal production, forestry, fisheries, economic and social policy, investment, nutrition, food standards and commodities and trade. It also plays a major role in dealing with food and agricultural emergencies.

A specific priority of the Organization is encouraging sustainable agriculture and rural development, a long-term strategy for the conservation and management of natural resources. In this context, it promotes an integrated approach, with environmental, social and economic considerations included in the formulation of development projects.

The areas in which FAO could contribute to the implementation of the GPA for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities would include:

Identification and assessment of problems related to pesticides

FAO's Plant Protection Service (AGPP) is actively involved in helping countries establish and strengthen their plant protection capabilities, advising on organisation and management, providing operational guidelines and training scientific and technical personnel. AGPP assists in several actions relevant to the implementation of the GPA, including specifically:

The International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides

The Code was developed to address a number of difficulties associated with the use of pesticides in developing countries where adequate regulatory infrastructures are frequently lacking. The code incorporates the principle of Prior Informed Consent (PIC) on the basis of which countries are provided with detailed information on the chemical in question and on reasons for bans or severe restrictions in the form of Decision Guidance Documents. In the light of this information, countries are asked to assess their position and the risk associated with pesticide, and to make timely and informed decisions as to the importation and use of the chemical concerned. The import decisions are transmitted to all other participating countries every six months.

Activities on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Based on its vast experience in the sound management and evaluation of pesticides, and the overlapping character of pesticides subject to the Prior Informed Consent procedure and the activities on Persistent Organic Pollutants, AGPP has contributed and continues to provide the following information on POPs: toxicological profiles; evaluation of pesticide residues in food; information concerning possible alternative pesticides; and collection of data on production and consumption of pesticides qualifying for POPs in collaboration with the Statistical division of FAO.

Pesticide Disposal

In many developing countries, considerable stocks of outdated pesticides have accumulated which represent a potentially significant hazard to human health and the environment. A series of technical guidelines are being developed, in cooperation with UNEP and WHO, relating to the disposal of pesticide containers and pesticide waste as well as how to more effectively manage pesticide stocks in order to prevent the accumulation of obsolete stocks in the future.

2. Identification and assessment of problems related to nutrients

The Plant Nutrition Management Service (AGLN) is responsible for all activities related to plant nutrition management and the supply of plant nutrient sources to farmers. AGLN proposes the following objectives as basis for action to control, prevent and reduce the transfer of loads of nutrients to the marine environment: In pursuing these objectives, AGLN has presented project proposals to several donors for a better management of plant nutrient cycles and the recycling of organic wastes in agriculture. A regional project is ongoing with the support of Japan on Effective Management of Nitrogen Fertilizers in irrigated rice fields and the environment in South-East Asia.

3. Identification and assessment of problems related to sediment mobilization

The Soil Resources, Management and Conservation Service (AGLS) is responsible for development and application of integrated land resources planning and management; the inventory, evaluation, development and improvement of soil resources, their management and conservation in close cooperation with regional and field staff. This service also promotes soil and land use classification and correlation at world and regional levels and the creation of regional and national soil and terrain databases.

In relation to the problem of sediment mobilization, AGLS has contributed to the development of a common consolidated erosion mapping methodology for Mediterranean coastal areas. This instrument provides two types of information:

This mapping methodology is coupled with parallel measurement operations which aim to evaluate actual soil loss by measuring discharges in experimental plots and/or subwatersheds affected by specific and well representative erosion constraints. Erosion mapping identifies and describes dynamic processes in a 6qualitative way, including extreme situations such as overall irreversible degradation on one hand, and stable, non-affected areas on the other. Experimental measurement data would be of particular need and relevance to all intermediate and typical cases where land degradation, and specifically soil erosion, need to be quantified and assessed in terms of priority after having been identified and located by means of systemic mapping.

4. Forest management in coastal areas

FAO's Forest Resources Division (Forest Resources Development Service and Forest Conservation Research and Education Service) is responsible for the assessment, management, conservation and development of forest resources of all types: within this programme many activities are developed that contribute to minimizing effects of land based activities on marine ecosystems: prominent among them are the conservation, management and development of mangrove ecosystems and the management of coastal watershed.

Managing and conserving mangrove forests

Mangrove forests play key functions including: The conservation of mangroves and their sustainable management contribute to protecting the coastal areas and marine systems. This involves assessment of resources through specific projects and studies or the 10 year global forest resources assessment exercises; effective management of mangrove systems to secure normal utilization of the forest; and facilitating regeneration of mangrove on depleted areas. At the moment FAO, with the support of the Netherlands, is launching the formulation of an important project on the conservation and development of Mangrove forests of West Africa which if implemented will contribute much to the protection of marine areas in a region where erosion is taking billions of tons of material to the sea.

Watershed management in coastal areas

Managing Plateau or mountain watershed in areas close to the sea is essential to curbing the inflow of sediments to the sea. The contribution of the Forest Conservation, Research and Education Service in this area involves the coordination of work on chapter 13 of Agenda 21 (Sustainable Mountain development and on upland watershed management).

5.Aquaculture management in inland and coastal areas

The Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service (FIRI) of the FAO Fisheries Department is in charge of all activities related to inland fisheries and aquaculture, including planning, conservation and management of resources, monitoring of status and trends of the two sub-sectors, development of technologies for sustainable enhancement of inland fisheries, and integrated resource management in aquaculture. FIRI is active in several technical areas relevant to the scope of the Global Plan of Action. A summary of major relevant activities is given as follows:

Responsible aquaculture development

FIRI has contributed to the formulation of Article 9 - "Aquaculture Development" of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries which was adopted by the 28th Session of the FAO Conference in October 1995. This Article contains provisions for the responsible development of aquaculture including culture-based fisheries in areas under national jurisdiction and within transboundary aquatic ecosystems, for the use of aquatic genetic resources, and for responsible aquaculture practices at the production level. Currently, efforts are being undertaken to prepare aquaculture specific guidelines in support of the implementation of the provisions given in the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

Environmental assessment and management of aquaculture development in Asia-Pacific

During 1992-1994, technical assistance was provided by FIRI to 18 countries in Asia-Pacific through a regional project on the environmental assessment and management of aquaculture development, which helped identifying major environmental interactions of aquaculture as well as possible actions to ensure sustainable development of aquaculture through sound conservation and management of resources utilized by the sector.

Promotion of environmental management of coastal aquaculture development

In relation to coastal aquaculture, including both land- and seabased practices, FIRI has produced technical guidelines for the promotion of environmental management of coastal aquaculture development, published in 1992. FAO is the lead agency for GESAMP Working Group on Environmental Impacts of Coastal Aquaculture for which FIRI provides the technical secretariat. Two major reports have been produced by this GESAMP Working Group: "Reducing environmental impacts of coastal aquaculture" (1991) and " Monitoring the ecological effects of coastal aquaculture wastes" (in press). Currently, this expert group is working on environmental hazards and safe use of chemicals in coastal aquaculture.

FIRI will continue to provide technical and policy advice to FAO Member Countries on options for environmental management of aquaculture operations covering aspects such as efficient utilization of resources (land, water, seed, feed, etc.), sustainable expansion of aquafarms (with particular emphasis on appropriate allocation of space with a view of conserving valuable habitats and endemic living resources), and opportunities and constraints of intensification of aquaculture practices.



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