Multilateral Environmental Agreements
MEAs are international instruments states enter into, addressing particular environmental issues. They play a vital role in the development of overall environmental frameworks from the global, regional, national to sub-national levels of governance and cooperation. Some MEAs are legally-binding such as Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Some are voluntary agreements among nations, among these are the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), and the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention).
Most of these MEAs are outcomes of international conventions that parties (governments), and non-parties (civil society, scientists, private sector, indigenous people, etc.) participate in. Together, they forge agreements and pledge to take action to solve environmental issues. International frameworks are adopted at country level resulting into policies, plans, programs and activities implemented across sectors of the society.
The Philippines’ Wildlife Act (RA 9147), National Integrated Protected Areas System (RA 7586 and 11038), Clean Air Act (RA 8749), Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003), the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (8371), Philippine Plant Variety Protection Act (RA 9168), Toxic Substances & Hazardous & Nuclear Wastes Control Act (RA 6969), are some of the policy outcomes arising from our country’s commitments in various global treaties.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) represents the Philippines in many of these MEA meetings. Other government agencies participate in international conventions related to trade, transboundary crime, sustainable development, health, human rights, geopolitical matters, among others.
Multilateral Environmental Agreements in Biodiversity
The Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) of the DENR is the focal agency representing the Philippines in several MEAs related to biodiversity conservation. It negotiates on the country’s behalf, measures and actions that aim to tackle drivers of biodiversity loss. Country positions and commitments are drafted in consultation with various stakeholders, including scientific and technical experts.
1. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
The Convention on Biological Diversity provides a global legal framework for action on biodiversity. It brings together the Parties in the Conference of the Parties (COP) which is the Convention’s governing body that meets every two years, or as needed, to review progress in the implementation of the Convention, to adopt programmes of work, to achieve its objectives, and provide policy guidance.
The COP is assisted by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), which is made up of government representatives with expertise in relevant fields, as well as observers from non-Party governments, the scientific community, and other relevant organizations. SBSTTA is responsible for providing recommendations to the COP on the technical aspects of the implementation of the Convention.
It has 3 main objectives:
• The conservation of biological diversity
• The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
• The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources
* Philippines is a Party since January 6, 1994
a. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 and entered into force on 11 September 2003.
* Philippines entry into force on January 3, 2007
b. Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. It entered into force on 12 October 2014, 90 days after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification.
* Philippines is a party since December 28, 2015
2. Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
As an environmental treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, CMS provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. CMS brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.
Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Besides establishing obligations for each State joining the Convention, CMS promotes concerted action among the Range States of many of these species.
Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. For this reason, the Convention encourages the Range States to conclude global or regional agreements.
* Philippines is a Party since February 1, 1994
3. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system. Each Party to the Convention must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species.
The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need:
Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade. Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party’s is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.
* Philippines is a party since November 16, 1981
4. The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention)
The Convention on Wetlands is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.
Under the “three pillars” of the Convention, the Contracting Parties commit to:
• work towards the wise use of all their wetlands;
• designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management;
• cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.
The Philippines has seven (7) Ramsar sites:
1) Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary
2) Naujan Lake National Park
3) Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary
4) Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
5) Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
6) Las Piñas- Parañaque Critical Habitat And Ecotourism Area
7) Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area
5. Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI)
The CTI-CFF is a multilateral partnership formed by the governments of the six Coral Triangle countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste) in 2009 to address the growing threats to the Coral Triangle. Under the CTI-CFF, the six countries signed a declaration to protect the Coral Triangle and committed to implement a Regional Plan of Action (RPOA) with five goals: designation of effectively managed seascapes; application of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management; establishment of a fully functional marine protected area system; strengthening climate change adaptation and resilience; and improving the status of threatened marine species. The six countries then developed their respective CTI-CFF National Plans of Action to adopt the regional goals to their local conditions.
The Coral Triangle encompasses 647 million hectares of land and sea located within the territories of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. The Coral Triangle is a geographical term that refers to a roughly triangular shape of marine waters between the Pacific and Indian oceans. For more details, see the CTI-CFF Regional Map.
The Philippine CTI-CFF National Coordinating Committee was established in 2009 to provide guidance for the overall implementation of the Philippine CTI-CFF National Plan of Action (NPOA) and to serve as the country focal point for the implementation of the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action. The NCC is led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources under the Department of Agriculture. Its members include representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Finance, the National Economic and Development Authority, the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, non-government organizations, academic institutions and the business sector.
* CTI was enforced on 2009
6. ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB)
Recognising the benefits of collective action towards achieving sustainable development as well as promoting clean and green environment, the ASEAN Leaders resolved to intensify cooperation in addressing problems associated with conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity through the establishment of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB). The AWGNCB is a consultative platform that aims to further strengthen regional coordination and cooperation in addressing problems associated natural biodiversity, and to undertake concrete actions in ensuring that the regions rich biological diversity is protected, conserved and sustainably managed. The AWGNCB also monitors and develops a common ASEAN stand/s applicable to international and regional conventions and agreements on nature conservation and biodiversity.
7. ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME)
Recognizing the importance of coastal and marine resources for the livelihood of ASEAN people, ASEAN Leaders resolved to foster the conservation and sustainable management of coastal and marine ecosystems. The commitment of the ASEAN Leaders is reflected in the Blueprint for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC Blueprint) 2025 that shall serve as the guiding mandate of ASEAN Working Group on Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME).
AWGCME aims to ensure ASEANs coastal and marine environment are sustainably managed; representative ecosystems, pristine areas, and species are protected; economic activities are sustainably managed; and public awareness of the coastal and marine environment instilled.
AWGCME also functions as a consultative forum to promote coordination and collaboration among various relevant ASEAN and other regional marine-related initiatives to ensure a well-coordinated and integrated approach to the conservation and sustainable management of the coastal and marine environment.