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Sustainable Development Month at the World Bank

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen

- Today, I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk to you about an area where considerable advances have been made since Rio - sound management of chemicals (Chapter 19, Agenda 21)

- Chemicals reach us all, we can never escape from them - they are part of our lives - many of them, developed originally for the greater good, to control disease or increase food production, have now been shown to threaten biodiversity, and human health.

- Perhaps, the clue to why progress in this area has been significant lies therein.

- The international community has recognized the importance of the issue, and the urgency of addressing it - evident in the intergovernmental agreements

- Stockholm Convention on POPS -protection of human health and the environment from POPs -UNEP welcomes the MOU with the bank on this Convention - I very much hope that this successful co-operation is a framework upon which we can build

- Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent(PIC) Procedure - first line of defence in controlling the risks from hazardous pesticides and chemicals, mechanism to prevent dangerous chemicals from being imported into developing countries

- Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes

- Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer

- There is a shared understanding that the threat posed by chemicals is a global one, which knows no boundaries

- It is now imperative that these agreement are ratified and implemented - We urge governments to set themselves a deadline, and do this before WSSD - It would be an enormous contribution to sustainable development

- These initiatives must be further supported and strengthened and attention must be given to environmental governance, compliance and capacity building

- The poor are most likely to suffer from exposure to chemicals - chemicals which erode their health, draining energy and finances, and becoming an additional obstacle to a better life

- Poor people often have no real choice - Malaria or DDT - Which would you choose?

- (UNEP has promoted the implementation of Chemicals Conventions, the reduction of reliance on DDT(with WHO), and the environmentally sound management of chemicals)

- But much more needs to be done to safeguard the health of the poor - (e.g. there is an estimated 100,000 tonnes of stockpiled pesticides in Africa alone) - I congratulate the World Bank on its leadership in the African Stockpile Project (to clean up obsolete stocks of pesticide in Africa). UNEP actively support this, along with FAO. GEF will co-finance.

- Life-cycle management of substances from the moment of creation to their disposal, is required.

- Financial and technical assistance is needed by developing countries to ensure that they are able to manage chemicals.

- The financial commitments made through the Global Environmental Facility, and the financial and technical assistance of donors are vital to progress - but this is not enough, more resources are needed.

- As GEF implementing agencies, the bank and UNEP, are playing their part in ensuring that funds are used to ensure maximum results.

- Increasing globalization means that safety programmes must be strengthened - further integration of action into sustainable development

- In addition to playing a role in relation to financial mechanisms, initiatives such as the Capacity Assistance Network, under the Stockholm Convention, to facilitate development-related activities on chemicals, would benefit greatly from the support and involvement of the bank.

- At a recent meeting of UNEP's Governing Council in Cartagena, nations requested a strategic approach to chemicals, including a stock taking exercise to pin point crucial gaps in mankind's knowledge on chemicals and waste, to ensure an efficient and cost-effective approach to chemicals management.

- The meeting also decided that chemical safety and health issues should be linked with development and identified concrete proposals for strengthening capacity.

- The decisions will go forward for endorsement by the WSSD

- The mandate given by environment minister (through GEF) to promote "clustering", enhanced synergies among the chemicals related conventions, must be supported-it aims to ensure more seamless management of chemicals and will complement the initiative coming from Cartagena

- Chemicals are essential for development and everyday life - increase food production and serve medicine

Nevertheless we must all continue to support action which will change the fate of people like the Inuits, who currently experience 10 -20 times the level of POPs in their bodies than others- their source of life, traditional food, is poisoning