Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia


Valdivia Group


Background

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 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 work programs.





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