Caspian Sea




Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea
The Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (Teheran Convention) was signed in November 2003. [ZIP FILE !]

According to a UN press release on the signing of the Convention, "the Caspian Sea is under severe stress from industrial pollution, toxic and radioactive wastes, agricultural run-off, sewage, and leaks from oil extraction and refining. Other threats include uncontrolled fishing of caviar-producing sturgeon, the overexploitation of other marine resources, and the destruction of the region’s biological diversity, which includes some 400 species unique to the Caspian.  On top of this, water levels are currently rising, threatening coastal communities and ecosystems. [- - -]

The Convention will commit its member governments to preventing and reducing pollution, restoring the environment, using the Sea’s resources in a sustainable and reasonable manner, and cooperating with one another and with international organizations to protect the environment. [- - -]

Specific issues addressed by the Convention include pollution from land-based sources, seabed activities, vessels, dumping, invasive alien species, environmental emergencies, marine living resources, sea-level fluctuation, environmental impact assessments, monitoring, research and development, and the exchange of information" [- - -]

The Convention will strengthen and support the Caspian Environment Programme, which was established by the governments concerned in 1995, following an environmental assessment by UNEP, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank".

Caspian Environment Programme • Programme Coordinating Unit
The Caspian Environment Programme (CEP) is a regional programme developed for and by the five Caspian littoral states, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Turkmenistan. The aim of the programme is to halt the deterioration of environmental conditions of the Caspian Sea and to promote sustainable development in the area, to assist the littoral states to achieve the goal of environmentally sustainable development and management of the Caspian environment for the sake of long-term benefit for the Caspian inhabitants. CEP is funded by the international community through the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) as well as through the European Union/ Tacis, and increasingly through the growing participation of the private sector.

The programme addresses multiple environmental and bioresource issues, falling into various thematic areas:

  • effective regional intersectoral (public and private sector) coordination and environmental management;
  • public awareness and involvement in the CEP, including the National Caspian Action Plans (NCAP) and regional Strategic Action Programme (SAP),
  • regional data and information management systems;
  • regional assessment of contaminant levels;
  • transboundary biodiversity priorities;
  • sustainable management of fish resources and other commercially exploited aquatic bioresources;
  • integrated transboundary coastal area planning and management; combating coastal desertification and land degradation;
  • sustainable human development and health;
  • regional emergency response actions;
  • institutional, legal, regulatory and economic frameworks for SAP implementation;
  • strengthened contaminant abatement and control policies and procedures;
  • priority investment portfolios for transboundary priorities.

The first four years (1998-2002) of activities were focused on:

  • the establishment of the PCU and the CRTCs/ Themes;
  • the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis;
  • the National Caspian Action Plans;
  • the Strategic Action Programme:
  • the Priority Investment Portfolio; and
  • the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea.
A large number of Caspian and national reports – technical reports and studies, project documents, progress reports, reports on sustainable coastal development, fisheries, pollution abatement and monitoring, legal, economic and social studies, emergency response, and biodiversity – can be downloaded from the CEP site. Please note that reports are available as Zip Files.
The Programme Coordinating Unit (PCU) is located at Baku and coordinates and manages the development and implementation of the Caspian Environment Programme.

Caspian Regional Thematic Centres
There are eleven Caspian Regional Thematic Centers (CRTCs) to address different environmental and natural resource issues. These CRTCs assess the key issues and determine the priority action plans for each thematic region. For data on oil pollution and measures, see for example:
  • CRTC for Pollution Control based in Azerbaijan has as its task to identify and analyze pollution risks from coastal industries and municipal discharges. The major portion of the pollution load is being carried to the sea by the rivers. The scope of the CEP tasks is limited to the sea itself and the coastal zones, which allows no in depth analysis of the situation in the river basins. Nevertheless, the pollution from rivers has been screened by using obtainable data and estimates.
  • CRTC for Emergency Response, based in Iran, will co-ordinate identification and development of mechanism for the original and international response to accidents involving the extraction, maritime transport and storage of oil and hazardous chemicals.

Each CRTC is active in its thematic field and is contributing to the overall programme:

  • Planning and implementing activities in their respective thematic area;
  • Assistance in the development of Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA);
  • Assistance in the identifying of priority investment needs for the Priority Investment Portfolio Project (PIPP); and
  • Assistance in the development of the National Caspian Action Plans (NCAP) and the Strategic Action Programme (SAP).

UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) organizes seminars and workshops on various issues relating to water resources, including: Water resources assessment; Integrated water resources development and management; Protection of water resources, water quality and aquatic ecosystems; River basin development and management; Promotion of infrastructure development and investment for drinking water supply and sanitation; Water pricing and promotion of private investment in the water sector; Water demand management, water saving and economic use of water; and Mitigation of water-related natural disasters, particularly flood loss reduction.

UNEP Regional Office for Europe
UNEP's Regional Office for Europe promotes intergovernmental policy dialogue and regional cooperation, increases national capacity for environmental management and response emergencies, raises awareness and enhances information exchange, and translates global policies into regional action.

Initiative for Social Action and Renewal in Eurasia
The Initiative for Social Action and Renewal in Eurasia (ISAR) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to "strengthen the ability of citizens and social change organizations in Eurasia, and their colleagues in the U.S., to influence decision-making, advance social justice and promote environmentally sound stewardship of the Earth's resources". The ISAR Caspian Programme has been working with NGOs in the Caspian region since 1998 to protect the unique ecosystem of the Caspian Sea. The goal and principles for the programme were developed at the ISAR conference at Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1999, which was attended by over 50 environmental NGO representatives. See also the Photo Gallery.

International Institute for Caspian Studies
The International Institute for Caspian Studies (IICS) is a nongovernmental research and consultancy institute based in Teheran. It is aimed at "promoting and undertaking scholary studies regarding political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and legal issues of the Caspian region." Founded in 1998, IICS "seeks to build a comprehensive research and information center capable of encouraging researchers and other interested parties to follow the multifaceted issues of the regional countries and bring new perspectives to regional problems."