Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia
Encouraged by the principles and resolutions of the United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development in June 1992, six temperate countries, located
primarily south of the Tropic of Capricorn, agreed that it was timely for
them to examine ways of enhancing cooperation on environment and related
science issues of common interest.
Following a proposal by Australia that such cooperation would be mutually
beneficial, the six countries - Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand,
South Africa and Uruguay - met in the city of Valdivia, Chile on 9-10 March
1995 and established the "Group of Temperate Southern Hemisphere Countries
on Environment" (known as the Valdivia Group).
Basis for the Southern Hemisphere Coalition
The Valdivia Group offers the prospect of a group of countries pursuing
common environmental interests across the traditional boundaries that characterise
many international environmental meetings, and in underpining these common
interests with credible scientific research.
It has long been recognised by the scientific community that countries in
the temperate zone of the southern hemisphere share much in common. All
of the continents support similar temperate environments and their climate
systems are linked through large-scale oceanic and atmospheric processes.
In addition, and there is shared concern in matters such as the effects
of climate change, ozone depletion, desertification, temperate forest management,
coastal zone management and biodiversity conservation.
In contrast to the broadly similar environments and environmental issues
facing Valdivia countries, many of the scientific colaborations in the southern
hemisphere have been with northern hemisphere countries, and little formal
southern hemisphere cooperation has been undertaken.
Aims of the Valdivia Group
The Group has two broad aims:
To achieve the first aim, the Group has met in a range of international
environmental forums in order to exchange views and identify common interests
on matters of mutual concern. During 1995, the Group met in the context
of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting (March
1995), the 3rd session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)
(April 1995), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing
Council meeting (March 1995), the International Whaling Commission (IWC)
(March 1995), the Experts Meeting on Biosafety (July 1995), two Desertification
Convention meetings (August 1995 and January 1996) and the second meeting
of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention Biological Diversity
(November 1995). These meetings have provided many useful opportunties for
Valdivia countries to work together, and the Group made official statements
at some of these meetings (see attachments).
- to enhance member countries' capacities to pursue southern hemisphere
interests by identifying common interests relevant to current and future
international environment negotiations,
- to provide cost effective opportunities for in-depth collaboration on
environment and relates scientific and technical issues of common concern.
To achieve the second aim, five expert working groups have been established
in order to promote scientific cooperation on a range of environmental issues.
The five working groups are:
Each working group establishes procedures for building more effective and
regionally coordinated lines of communication among the scientific and environmental
management communities in Valdivia countries with a view to sharing relevant
information and identifying research programs of common interest to the
region. Working groups will be taking advantage of the Internet in their
- Biological Diversitv - coordinated by Australia,
- Climate Change - coordinated by Argentina,
- Forests - coordinated by Chile.
- Ozone - coordinated by New Zealand and
- Desertification - coordinated by South Africa.
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