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New impetus to protect Caspian Sea

Littoral countries have met in Geneva to boost cooperation for the Caspian Sea and its environment under the Tehran Convention which UN Environment provides a Secretariat for.

The Caspian Sea is home to numerous endemic species – such as the Caspian Seal and sturgeon - and vulnerable habitats. It is at the same time especially vulnerable to the effects of harmful substances due to a long history of industrial activity, dense coastal populations and the long amount of time water spends in the sea before continuing around the hydrological cycle.

During the event, held on 7-10 November, representatives from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan prepared for the Convention’s sixth Conference of the Parties due to take place next year.

The countries also made progress in agreeing on institutional arrangements for the Convention’s permanent Secretariat, which is planned to be established in the region on a rotational basis.

Steps for ensuring that the Aktau Protocol – one of four under the Tehran Convention - become a reality on the ground were furthermore reviewed by national representatives and experts.

The Protocol entered into force on 25 July and requires countries to assist one another in the event of oil spill incidents and coordinate on contingency plans. The exploitation of oil and gas is a major commercial activity in the Sea.

The Tehran Convention is the first legally-binding agreement between all of the Sea’s littoral states. It has been described as “a major step forward for the region” by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, to “benefit the health and livelihoods of millions of people”.

Read more on the Caspian Sea and the environmental challenges it faces on pages 271-272 of the sixth Global Environment Outlook for the pan-European region here.

More information on the Tehran Convention can be found by clicking here. For further details please write to





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