Sunday, 27 November 2016

ACCOBAMS COP6 The final curtain

Some modest yachts in Monaco Marina facing the castle opposite on 'The Rock'.

So the final day at ACCOBAMS CoP 6 here in the lovely little principality of Monaco starts quite early; in fact at 07.30, so that we can get back on track and finish on time.

All resolutions now receive their final checks and are fully endorsed (except for those that have been removed). One hour later, the meeting breaks and the Secretariat and report writer team is left to finalise the minutes of the meeting,which will be reviewed in the afternoon. Whilst they work in peace, many of us are packed onto a coach and treated to a tour.

We are sent to a famous local perfumerie (no really) where, under the tutelage of an expert, we spend a happy hour creating perfume ('Eau de Simmonds' - very special). Then we walk up into the pretty medieval village of Eze, which stares out across the Mediterranean from its ancient ramparts and twisted cobbled streets.

In the perfume school.
The lab of many fine smells.

The view from Eze looking towards Nice

We return to the principality via a high road that provides stunning views of Monaco - driving along the same road where Princess Grace of Monaco had her tragic car accident and died.

View of Monaco

Back at the Novotel which is hosting CoP6, we  are corralled for yet another sumptuous lunch and then move back into the meeting room for the final session.

The minutes are swiftly concluded with few comments and we move to the closing session. 

During this final session the ancient and grey representative of HSI - who spotted a photo of his younger self during a slide show of ACCOBAMS across the years last night - offers salutations from this younger self; He notes that more than twenty years ago, he had been involved in the 'conception' of both ACCOBAMS and [its sister agreement] ASCOBANS when he had been working at the time for Stichting Greenpeace Council, which was involved in the early negotiations of these agreements with first the Bonn and then the Berne Conventions. He recalls that the aspiration at that time from civil society was to make the world a better and safer place for cetaceans and to ensure not just their survival but also their good health and that of their habitats and ecosystems. Since that time we, he added, we have learned a lot more about these remarkable animals, their intelligences, capabilities, vulnerabilities and their cultures, and more than two decades later the aspirations remain irrevocably the same.

Then the 'grandad' of the NGOs passes the microphone to young Nicolas Entrup who provides the following comment:

Dear Chair, dear Madam Executive Secretary, dear Representatives of the Parties to ACCOBAMS,

Niki delvers joint-statement
This statement is provided on behalf of EcoOcéan Institut, GIS3M, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Mare Nostrum, NRDC, OceanCare, Oceanomare Delphis Onlus, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, WWF

First of all, we would like to thank Monaco for its hospitality and for providing excellent facilities to make us all feel comfortable and welcome during this 6th Meeting of the Parties of ACCOBAMS.

We would like to use the opportunity of providing a closing remark - a kind of reflection about the purpose of why we have met and why we celebrate the 20th anniversary of ACCOBAMS. 

When ACCOBAMS was originally developed, it was a reaction to the fact that cetaceans in the region were in trouble. A spirit rose to take on the challenge to protect these important marine mammals that contribute to the health of the Mediterranean and Black Seas and the people that depend on these ecosystems.

Twenty years are now gone, dozens of decisions have been adopted; plans developed; and actions defined. We still believe in this Agreement; we believe that we have jointly made progress and achieved successes. And that “success” is only defined by one parameter: that the situation for the animals improved.

And yes, there are many examples for such successes. And this is the reason why we celebrate the existence of this Agreement, the only reason. 

At the same time, there is also an important reason why we continue to meet. Because we still witness that some species and populations are still in peril and decreasing; new threats are arising and old ones are returning.

For us, though the two decades of its life, ACCOBAMS has been a friendly and cooperative agreement – built on parties working hand in hand with their NGO friends and Partners. However, in our discussions this week, we fear something significant may have been lacking.

Yes, procedure, provisions, sound preparation and rules are important and are the framework and solid platform for the professional delivery of work. However, we are concerned that there was very little time available during this MOP to explore, debate and discuss the substance of many of the very important issues affecting cetaceans and their environment, leaving many documents and plans provided for us largely “untouched”.

We note that the ACCOBAMS observer organisations have spent many hours volunteering whether in the field or within the bodies of the Agreement, and contributed a significant amount of funds to the objectives of the Agreement. Indeed, the bodies of the Agreement rely to a certain extent on these contributions to cope with their tasks.

To conclude: Yes, we do appreciate many of the decisions adopted and progress being made, but at the same time we would like to remind all here that it is the conservation of cetaceans that the shared purpose of this gathering, and the motivation to continue engaging in this fora.

So, we encourage everyone here to rekindle the spirit which established the Agreement; find again our enthusiasm, our energy and again join forces to prevent whale and dolphin populations from continuing to decrease or even disappear. 

Thank you.
The meeting chairman, Xavier Sticker, French Ambassador for the Environment, next provides his concluding thoughts, saying first that he was moved by the vibrant speeches that he has just heard; he too would like to make it a better world for the animals and he speaks about the need at the meeting of parties to put in place the mechanisms that allow work to go forward. He then summarizes the matters that have been agreed upon giving emphasis to the big survey project which has been discussed for ten years but will now come to fruition. 

 Next the Executive Secretary, Florence, thanks everyone including the report writers for their contributions .... she clearly is moved and she also has to say goodbye to Anne Tappa one of her staff has been with the team for ten years and is retiring. There is a presentation and applause.    

The Secretariat say farewell to Anne
Finally we close - there is a group photograph (perhaps something for a future generation to admire in another twenty years) and we disperse back around the world. 

I will provide a summary of main conclusions next. 

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