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Langkawi Declaration

Langkawi Declaration

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The Langkawi Declaration on the Environment was a declaration
Declaration may refer to:* Declaration , specifies the identifier, type, and other aspects of language elements* Declaration , when the captain of a cricket team declares its innings closed...

 issued by the assembled Heads of Government
Commonwealth Heads of Government
The leaders of the nations with membership in the Commonwealth of Nations are collectively known as the Commonwealth Heads of Government. They are invited to attend Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings every two years, with most countries being represented by either their Head of Government...

 of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 on the issue of environmental sustainability. It was issued on 21 October 1989 at Langkawi
Langkawi, officially known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, some 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia. The islands are a part of the state of Kedah, which is adjacent to the Thai border...

, Malaysia, during the tenth Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, , is a biennial summit meeting of the heads of government from all Commonwealth nations. Every two years the meeting is held in a different member state, and is chaired by that nation's respective Prime Minister or President, who becomes the...


The declaration covers a wide range of topics related to the environment, blaming 'past neglect in managing the natural environment and resources'. It lists what the Heads of Governments perceived to be the main environmental problems: the greenhouse effect
Greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface, energy is transferred to the surface and the lower atmosphere...

, damage to the ozone layer
Ozone layer
The ozone layer is a layer in Earth's atmosphere which contains relatively high concentrations of ozone . This layer absorbs 97–99% of the Sun's high frequency ultraviolet light, which is potentially damaging to the life forms on Earth...

, acid rain
Acid rain
Acid rain is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, meaning that it possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions . It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen...

, marine pollution
Marine pollution
Marine pollution occurs when harmful, or potentially harmful effects, can result from the entry into the ocean of chemicals, particles, industrial, agricultural and residential waste, noise, or the spread of invasive organisms. Most sources of marine pollution are land based...

, land degradation
Land degradation
Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by one or more combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land....

, and species extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

. These, the declaration affirmed, were issues that transcended national borders, and hence required the involvement of international organisations, such as the Commonwealth, to coordinate strategies to solve them.

A key agreement in the formulation of the agreement was the pledge by developed countries
Developed country
A developed country is a country that has a high level of development according to some criteria. Which criteria, and which countries are classified as being developed, is a contentious issue...

 not to connect future international development aid
Development aid
Development aid or development cooperation is aid given by governments and other agencies to support the economic, environmental, social and political development of developing countries.It is distinguished...

 to commitment to environmental sustainability or introduce trade barrier
Trade barrier
Trade barriers are government-induced restrictions on international trade. The barriers can take many forms, including the following:* Tariffs* Non-tariff barriers to trade** Import licenses** Export licenses** Import quotas** Subsidies...

s. This, the developing countries argued, would prevent economic growth (described as a 'compelling necessity'), and hence reduce their ability to develop sustainable natural environments. In exchange, the developing countries conceded to the Commonwealth's developed members (particularly Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

), their interest in protecting the environment.

Amongst the commitments made by members in the Langkawi Declaration were:
  • Support the development of an international sustainable development funding mechanism.
  • Support the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body which provides comprehensive assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and...

     and recommend the Commonwealth's own report on climate change
    Climate change
    Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

  • Promote energy efficiency
    Efficient energy use
    Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal of efforts to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature...

  • Promote afforestation
    Afforestation is the establishment of a forest or stand of trees in an area where there was no forest. Reforestation is the reestablishment of forest cover, either naturally or artificially...

     and sustainable forest management in developing countries, and the conservation of virgin forest
    Old growth forest
    An old-growth forest is a forest that has attained great age , and thereby exhibits unique ecological features. An old growth forest has also usually reached a climax community...

     to protect biodiversity
    Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

  • Restrict non-sustainable fisheries
    Sustainable fisheries
    Sustainability in fisheries combines theoretical disciplines, such as the population dynamics of fisheries, with practical strategies, such as avoiding overfishing through techniques such as individual fishing quotas, curtailing destructive and illegal fishing practices by lobbying for appropriate...

    , including banning tangle nets and pelagic driftnet fishing, as part of a general trend amongst international organisations.
  • Prevent dumping of toxic or hazardous materials in the oceans or in developing countries.
  • Promote public awareness of environmental risks and issues.

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