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Statement by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, read at the Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

Opening Statement

To be delivered by

Bakary Kante, Director, Division of Environmental Law and Conventions

On the behalf of Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
4 - 8 May 2009

Geneva, Switzerland - Mr. President, Mr. Executive Secretary, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

As this fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties opens, I offer my apologies for not being able to deliver this address in person. But please know that I will be regularly updated on the forthcoming discussions and welcome what I am sure will be a fruitful meeting during the coming days.

Let us be reminded that the overarching objective of the Stockholm Convention is its focus on minimizing the impact of hazardous chemicals and pesticides on human and the environment. Your deliberations during this meeting will be critical in this regard. There is an ambitious programme of work before you and I look forward to the outcomes of these deliberations.

Since its inception, the Stockholm Convention has focused on the 12 persistent organic pollutants or POPs. Today, and in the discussions during the days to come, marks a turning point in this focus. Before you are nine new chemicals to be considered for listing. This marks a new chapter in the history of the Stockholm Convention.

Distinguished Delegates, we need no reminding that chemicals connect with almost every facet of life. We have seen how the environmental narrative is played out on the world stage: replete with climate change, habitat loss, deforestation, droughts, melting polar ice caps, floods, hurricanes and depleting fossil fuels. Events in which the effects of hazardous chemicals play no small part - POPs know no boundaries - and are to be found around the world. Today, we have arrived at a crossroads. A moment in time where our deliberations can make a real and tangible difference. Together we can act to minimize our chemical footprint for the benefit of our children and future generations.

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