United Nations sets up green technology complex in contaminated ship yard site

Nairobi, 10 August 2009 - Hunters Point Shipyard on California's San Francisco Bay has gone through several rebirths in its more than 100 years of existence.

Established as a commercial shipyard in 1870, it was appropriated by the US Navy at the beginning of World War II and became one of the Navy's major shipyards.

After the war, it was home to the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory, the US military's largest facility for applied nuclear research.

But by the time it closed in 1994, it was a wasteland contaminated by heavy metals and radiation earning it the unsavory reputation of being one of the most polluted sites in the country.

Since the early 1990s, the shipyard has been given a US$500 million clean-up and will soon be handed back to San Francisco which hopes to turn it into a sprawling green technology complex.

The United Nations Global Compact group and the US Environmental Protection Agency are heading the project and Hunters Point Shipyard is beginning to experience a new lease on life.

When it's completed in 2012, the complex will house a climate change think tank called the "UN Global Compact Sustainability Center" which will work to find green solutions to the environmental challenges facing the world, a conference center and UN offices.

The UN Global Compact is a UN initiative that seeks to encourage businesses to be better stewards of the environment. Launched in 2000, Global Compact is supported by six UN agencies, including the United Nations Environment Programme.

"We are excited to partner with the City of San Francisco to work towards securing a sustainability center for the UN Global Compact", said Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact.

"California, in general, and San Francisco, in particular, have been at the forefront of

environmental sustainability for many years and all the right ingredients are here.

This would also have poignant significance given that San Francisco is the birthplace of the United Nations," he added.

In addition to doing major clean-ups and cracking down on its own greenhouse gas emissions, California has just announced the country's first nationwide plan to adapt to climate change and its impact.

The state's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, this week also announced a second global conference for local government leaders to discuss climate change and local solutions. The conference will take place 30 September to 2 October.


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