Governments unite to step-up reduction on global DDT reliance and add nine new chemicals under international treaty
Geneva, 9 May 2009 – Nine persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were listed today under the Stockholm Convention. Over 160 Governments have just concluded a one-week conference with practical decisions that will strengthen a global effort to eradicate some of the most toxic chemicals known to humankind.
The Conference of the Parties (COP) has marked a historic week for the Stockholm Convention. For the first time, the Convention was amended to include nine new chemicals. Many of these are still widely used today as pesticides, flame retardants and in a number of other commercial uses.
"This meeting in Geneva has culminated in a momentous day for the Stockholm Convention. Its significance cannot be under-estimated. We now have a clear signal that Governments around the world take seriously the risks posed by such toxic chemicals. The tremendous impact of these substances on human health and the environment has been acknowledged today by adding nine new chemicals to the Convention. This shift reflects international concern on the need to reduce and eventually eliminate such substances throughout the global community," said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive, Achim Steiner.
In another move, a groundbreaking decision on synergies was unanimously adopted, marking the collaboration between the Stockholm Convention and its sister treaties on hazardous chemicals and wastes, the Rotterdam and Basel Conventions. This momentum will gather pace at the UNEP Governing Council Special Session of the Global Ministers Environment Forum slated for February 2010, when an Extraordinary COP will follow immediately afterwards. For the first time, the expanded Working Group will be comprised of the three chemicals and wastes treaties in sequential COPs.
A landmark decision was also reached on the endorsement of the DDT global partnership. While DDT is targeted for eventual elimination, the Convention recognizes that some countries will continue to use this pesticide to protect their citizens from malaria and other diseases.
The PCB Elimination Network was also endorsed. Countries have now strengthened efforts to phase out polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs through a cooperative framework to support countries in the environmentally sound management and disposal of these harmful substances. The Network will be tasked with establishing key data and evaluating whether the use of PCBs is indeed declining.
The Conference also reviewed the process for evaluating the Convention's effectiveness in reducing POPs over time. A global monitoring programme building on various national and regional monitoring systems will produce a worldwide picture of trends in the quantity and types of POPs in the environment and in the human body.
The message of the Conference is clear: without 'Meeting the Challenges of a POPs-free Future', the chemical footprint represented by these toxic substances will remain and the global effort to minimize their impact on human health and the environment will fail. In a big step forward, Governments worldwide have united this week under the Stockholm Convention to push chemicals issues up to the top of the global agenda.