NGO Documents for the Earth Summit, 1992
Non-Governmental Organization Alternative Treaties
at the '92 Global Forum
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Treaty 30. Pollution of the Marine Environment
1. Point and non-point source pollution continue globally, resulting in the steady
degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems. Over 80% of all marine pollution originates
from land-based sources which are primarily industrial, agricultural and urban.
2. The continued discharge of industrial wastes including PCBs (polychlorinated
biphenyls), heavy metals and other toxics, and the indirect release of nitrates,
phosphates and pesticide products often result in toxic accumulations in the marine food
chain. Excessive urbanization of the coastline continues unabated in many parts of the
world, resulting in eutrophication and reduction of marine resources. Radioactive
contamination from a variety of sources and the growing problem of plutonium buildup in
sediments of some estuaries also invoke concern. The operational, deliberate and
accidental pollution originating from ships and offshore installations continues, often
with disastrous consequences.
3. The world's oceans also receive pollutants from or through the atmosphere, although
knowledge of transportation processes and quantities, and comprehension of the physical
interaction between the oceans and the atmosphere is presently insufficient.
4. The non-governmental organization (NGO) community recognizes that the above sources
of marine pollution pose grave health risks, not only to humans, but to all aquatic
organisms and the environments in which they live. Immediate attention must be given to
reducing these sources of pollution if we are to save our oceans, their life forms and
5. In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and
global and regional instruments, all States have an obligation to prevent, combat and
control marine pollution.
6. The polluter pays principle is rapidly receiving global acceptance and requires
further expression in international and national laws and regulations.
7. The precautionary principle calls for anticipatory management actions, particularly
for substances that are toxic, bio-accumulative and persistent, and this should find
strong expression in national laws and regulations.
8. In addition to States, NGOs should be allowed standing in international tribunals
regarding environmental matters, in order to provide representation and assistance to
victims of pollution and to seek appropriate compensation on their behalf.
Pollution from land-based sources
9. Insist that industries review their waste disposal practices with the aim of
minimizing and eventually eliminating harmful waste discharge. NGOs also urge national and
international authorities to regulate this activity and to enact and strictly enforce
environmental laws and regulations based on the precautionary and polluter pays
10. Study how ecologically acceptable biological and organic substances can
increasingly be utilized so as to minimize and eventually phase out the use of
non-biodegradable chemical substances currently in use.
11. Recognize that when treated and managed properly, wastes can be usefully recycled
for agricultural and industrial purposes.
12. Act to encourage and assist United Nations (UN) members to draft and ratify a
convention to discourage transboundary pollution in marine waters that identifies
liability procedures so that nations adversely affected by transboundary pollution will be
compensated for loss and the costs of clean-up.
13. Encourage and assist the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to undertake a
study of regional and worldwide accumulation of toxics in marine species and their
habitats within exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and in international waters; establish
global lists of persistent toxic substances that should not be discharged into the marine
environment; and to this end, develop a treaty among member States to ban the release of
persistent toxic chemicals that accumulate in marine species and their habitats.
14. Encourage and assist UNEP, through its Regional Seas Program, to renew its effort
toward the development and implementation of regional agreements to limit land-based
sources of marine pollution, especially from non-point-sources.
15. Lobby the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to support appropriate regional and
national governmental and nongovernmental organizations to monitor marine pollution within
16. Encourage and assist governments to regulate and monitor marine ecosystems and
river systems that empty into marine waters for persistent toxic substances with the aim
of achieving zero discharge levels.
17. Encourage and assist governments to develop and implement plans for reducing
non-point sources of pollution of the marine environment.
18. Pressure States whose industries export waste products for disposal in waters of
other nations to cease such activities.
19. Develop and disseminate innovative ideas concerning the utilization or recycling of
Vessel source pollution
20. Call upon governments to ratify international conventions and implement legislation
concerned with vessel source pollution. In particular, we call upon coastal States to
fulfill their commitment to establish reception facilities in accordance with the
International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) 73/78 and for
developed countries to assist developing countries in this process.
21. Encourage and assist States to rigorously monitor and enforce provisions of MARPOL
for ships registered under their jurisdiction, owned by their citizens or that use port
facilities in their national waters. In particular, NGOs should consider:
a. introducing a polluters' register for vessels known to discharge wastes or
substances in violation of MARPOL 73/78
b. initiating an education and information campaign for seafarers and deck officers
aimed at promoting responsible management of wastes on board.
22. Encourage and assist the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in developing
international laws to regulate actions to minimize marine pollution in international
23. Oppose offshore oil and gas drilling in marine areas where such activities pose
serious risks to the local marine ecosystem. Where development of offshore fields does
take place, NGOs will urge governments to take appropriate action to prevent the discharge
of any harmful substances into the marine environment by ensuring that drilling and
production comply with the strongest environmental standards.
24. Urge operators of nuclear propelled vessels to publish the amount and composition
of radioactive discharges. Accidents to such vessels or to nuclear reactors must be
reported in line with regulations for nuclear reactors on land.
Pollution from the atmosphere
25. Urge national and international scientific institutions to develop scientific
models to enhance our level of understanding of transportation processes of airborne
pollutants, and the interaction between the oceans and the atmosphere.
26. Encourage and support the World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),
World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Oceanographic Commission
(IOC) to assist member nations in studies on the impact of conventional air pollutants and
global atmospheric changes on marine species and ecosystems, and disseminate existing
analyses to nations that are likely to be harmed by these pollutants and their effects.
Commitment of Resources
27. Initiate regional workshops, with assistance from international NGOs, in order to
exchange and share scientific information and procedures to deal with environmental
28. Form an electronic network to share information. This will be organized by NGOs
with computer technical support and should include programs to train and assist NGOs in
less developed countries.
29. Develop a complete list of NGOs with names of contact persons and areas of interest
and expertise, organized by region, to encourage regional network-building and meetings.
30. Initiate a newsletter among ourselves to inform each other of actions taken to
implement this NGO treaty.
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