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Supporting the Interim Secretariat with the implementation of the Convention Program of Work and the organisation of COP6.

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed water body on Earth with a unique ecosystem with some 400 endemic species, threatened by a decline in biodiversity and bioresources, coastal zone degradation, habitat destruction and pollution in the midst of an exponential growth of oil and gas exploration and exploitation.

The Tehran Convention - hailed by the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) as a major contribution to peace and stability in the region - was the first legally binding instrument between the five Caspian states. A lot has been achieved under its umbrella, and the littoral states are now implementing national action plans based on a regional strategy. However, the environment remains a relatively low priority for the governments and the communities around the Caspian Sea, and the scientific and management capacities of the authorities are uneven and in need of assistance. The regional cooperation process managed ad interim by UN Environment in Geneva requires a solid secretariat and an established institutional implementation network in the region.

GRID-Arendal has been working on two specific aspects to support the Tehran Convention

First, we focus on assisting the Secretariat and Parties to the Tehran Convention in the implementation of its Convention Program of Work, in particular in areas where the expertise and capacity of GRID-Arendal is solicited and can make a difference. These areas include monitoring, assessment, reporting, information exchange, back-up networking and research, and environmental management and administration related work.

The Convention Secretariat, according to the decisions of the previous Conference of the Parties (COP5), is planned to move to Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan. Consequently, it is to be expected that the present ad-hoc engagement of GRID-Arendal with the Convention process will be turned into a more permanent support structure captured in an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) negotiated and concluded between GRID-Arendal and the UN Environment administered Secretariat. However, this arrangement has not been confirmed and will be debated at the sixth Conference of the Parties to the Tehran Convention (COP6).

Secondly, quantifiable data on the state of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea – essential for sound collective decision-making – are scarce. National monitoring programmes do exist but are conventional and focus on compliance monitoring; they are not consistent, and the data are often not available. As a response to this issue, in 2017 and 2018, GRID-Arendal implemented a project funded by BP Exploration (Caspian Sea) Limited in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan. This project aimed to establish an upgraded and improved Caspian Environment Information Center, support the creation of a draft Protocol on Monitoring, Assessment and Information Exchange to the Tehran Convention and draft the second State of the Environment of the Caspian Sea report. The portal was launched at a consultative meeting on the Caspian Region and the Tehran Convention in the Europe Office of UN Environment in Geneva on November 8, 2018. The State of the Environment report was published in April 2020.

The process of the protocol and other tasks continue towards COP6, which is expected to happen in the near future. GRID-Arendal is continuing to support the establishment of the protocol and the implementation of the Convention in collaboration with the Secretariat and with the financial support of UN Environment.

Tags: transboundary governance biodiversity Caspian Sea agriculture air pollution environment and health fisheries infrastructure mining tourism waste and material resources water waste

Related Sustainable Development Goals

GRID-Arendal's activities support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


GRID-Arendal's activities are nearly always a cooperative undertaking made possible through collaboration with partners and donors.

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