The Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connections (GLOC) and the Third Intergovernmental Review (IGR3) Meeting on the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment ended with a high note with the adoption of the "Manila Declaration” by 381 delegates, including 17 environmental ministers, from 65 governments and the European Commission Thursday (Jan. 26) at the EDSA Shangrila Manila.

At the same time, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director Amina Mohamed commended Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and the Philippine government for the “excellent preparations and hosting of the 3rd Intergovernmental Review.”

DENR Secretary Paje said the adoption of the Manila Declaration reaffirms the commitment of member-countries to step up their efforts, particularly on priority areas identified in the GPA, such as the reduction, control and prevention of marine litter, wastewater and pollution from fertilizers.

He also said that what transpired during the four-day conference was a “giant leap” in the sustainable development of coastal and marine environment “within the prism of green economy in a blue world”.

“I strongly believe that what transpired the past four days is a giant leap towards the improvement of our coastal and marine environment … provide us (with) directions on our way towards the development of our coastal and marine environment within the prism of the green economy,” Paje said.

He also said that while the conference output is non-binding, he stressed that “what is binding is our responsibility to our people who depend on our marine resources for employment, income and subsistence.”

The Manila Declaration on Furthering the Implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities contains 16 provisions centering on programs to be undertaken for the period 2012-2016 at the international, regional and national levels, and within the framework of integrated coastal management, on GPA’s priority areas such as marine litter, wastewater, pollution from fertilizer and biodiversity loss.

The Declaration also calls on member-countries to engage and step up their efforts to develop strategies and policies on the sustainable use of nutrients so as to improve nutrient use efficiency with attendant economic benefits for all stakeholders, including farmers, and to mitigate negative environmental impacts.

The document also indicated an agreement among the delegates to improve cooperation and coordination at all levels in dealing with issues related to oceans, coasts, islands and their associated watershed by applying integrated management such as “ridge to reef” approaches, as well as strengthen and promote the implementation of existing Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, including other relevant global and regional arrangements, agreements and programs for the protection of the marine and coastal environment.

The delegates also indicated in the Manila Declaration their decision to invite the United Nations agencies, inter-agency groups and multilateral environmental agreements to strengthen the integration of the GPA into their policies, plans and programs.

They also call on the Global Environment Facility, other global and regional financial institutions, development partners, and donor countries to make coordinated efforts to support developing countries as well as countries with economy in transition in the GPA implementation through financial and technical support and capacity building.

Through the Manila Declaration, the delegates also conveyed their request to the UNEP Executive Director to forward the document as a contribution by the GPA IGR3 to the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012, as well as to convene the next IGR meeting in 2016.