Renowned for its caviar among the world's epicureans, the Caspian Sea boasts much more wildlife than its famous sturgeon fish. The world's largest enclosed body of water is a unique ecosystem and home to over 400 endemic species. But for the last two decades, the Caspian Sea is increasingly exposed to the threat of pollution from agricultural run-off, oil and gas exploitation and industrial waste.
Today, five countries are celebrating 'Caspian Day' to highlight the environmental risks faced by the sea and their effect on the wider region.
Beach-cleaning activities, conferences, thematic workshops, and concerts will be held throughout the day in Azerbaijan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation and Turkmenistan. The events aim to show that protecting the marine environment of the Caspian Sea is essential for improving of the living conditions of the 15 million people living in the region.
The celebrations will also mark the contribution made by the protection of the Caspian Sea environment to peace and stability in a region of global importance for oil and gas exploration, exploitation and transport.
Caspian Day marks the entry into force of the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea. Known as the Tehran Convention, the agreement was concluded on 4 November 2003. and is still the only legally binding agreement between the five states.
The first two protocols of the Tehran Convention have already been negotiated and are ready for adoption. They will introduce cooperation on preparation and response measures for oil spills, as well as common rules for dealing with the environmental impact of activities with potential trans-boundary effects.
It is expected that the protocols will be ready for signature when the Contracting Parties to the Tehran Convention meet for the third time in Kazakhstan in November 2010.