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B - Subject selected for in-depth reporting to the council at its sixth session

210. The Importance of IRPITC was underlined by many delegations, Who pointed out that chemicals had become a priority Issue In a number of International and national environmental programmes aimed at combating the problem of pollution, which was one of the most important of environmental problems and was linked with most, If not all, areas of human activity. In that connexion, it was stressed that unnecessary duplication of work should be avoided since, for example, testing procedures for the multitude of chemicals Involved were long and costly. The Importance of uniform testing procedures In different countries, and the need to conduct research In order to achieve comparability of data from different sources, were however stressed. It was felt that IRPTC itself should not be involved in the evaluation process proper, but should make full use of established services. One delegation suggested that IRPTC should serve primarily as a central repository of information on sources of data on chemicals and their effects on man and the environment, and as a source of Information about national, regional and global policies, regulatory measures-and standards for the control of potentially toxic chemicals. The Information should be disseminated as appropriate. One delegation suggested that a periodic Index of data accessible through IPPTC would be helpful. A step-by-step approach was envisaged in dealing with particular chemicals; one delegation said It was Imperative that the limited resources of IRPTC be used wisely, and suggested that as a first step, work be confined to a selection of chemicals from among the priority pollutants Identified by UNEP in co-operation with IM. Some delegations opposed that approach, arguing that, as the Register was so important, the range of chemicals dealt with should be expanded as rapidly as possible. One delegation, supported by another, said that the development of the study of potentially toxic chemicals would be facilitated by the use of flow diagrams describing the various stages from the Initial production of a chemical through to its ultimate disposal.

211. The importance of the role of IRPTC In the prompt dissemination of information following early-warning announcements of potential hazards from chemicals was also emphasized. Several delegations stressed that the Information on potentially toxic chemicals disseminated to policymakers and the general public, especially in developing countries, should be clear, readable and concise.

212. Several delegations spoke of the pressing need to widen the network of correspondents with IRPTC mentioned in the proposed activities. 48/ The proposals to amend the objectives and strategies 49/ were commended

by some delegations as being sensible and realistic, 7though others felt that better definitions were needed for some objectives and considered the proposals were not sufficient. One delegation stressed that the need for close co-operation, especially with WHO and the ILO, should be taken fully into account, when the question of the location of the IRPTC unit was considered. Another delegation expressed concern that non-governmental environmental Interests were not represented on the IRPTC advisory committee.

213. The Publication of the IRPTC Bulletin was commended by all speakers, and one delegation suggested that it be published more often.

214. The close links between IRPTC, human health and the Industry and environment programme were noted. it was suggested that It was essential for IRPTC to maintain Its close relationship with WHO, and several delegations expressed concern over- the apparently decreasing financial commitments of WHO as shown In the planned expenditure of organizations within the United Nations system In the field of potentially toxic chemicals.

215. Several delegations pointed out that full Information should be made available on potentially toxic chemical products destined for export markets, whether tested or not, which were not regarded as acceptable for use In the exporting country. Others called for action on the social and economic factors to be taken into consideration when evaluating chemicals, and one delegation said that consideration should be given to Including In the Register Information on toxic wastes and recycling. Reference was also made to Governing Council decision 53 (IV) of 13 April 1976 on "Chemical substances and physical agents whose effects on the environment are unknown", as Indicating Important elements which should be taken into account in the work of IRPTC,

216. Several delegations both from Industrialized and developing countries announced their countries' willingness to participate In particular facets of the potentially toxic chemicals work programme.

217. The representative of WHO, referring to the concern expressed by several delegations regarding the apparent decrease In WHO budget support for IRPTC-related activities, said that preliminary plans likely to Increase funding In that and other areas were before the current session of the world Health Assembly.

218. At the conclusion of Its debate on IRPTC, the Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision on the Register, submitted by the delegations of Belgium, Canada, Iran, Kenya, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and United Republic of Cameroon.

Action by the Governing Council

219. At the 14th plenary meeting of -the session, on 24 may 1978, the Governing Council adopted by consensus, as orally amended by the President, the draft decision recommended by Sessional Committee I (decision 6/3 B). 50/

2. Health of people and of the environment

220. It was widely recognized that human health and a sound environment were inseparable concepts The progress and plans of UNEP In the area were generally endorsed, although one delegation observed that the

segregation of the components of the work plan according to the various participating agencies and UNEP did not contribute to a sense of an Integrated co-operative effort. Several speakers emphasized that UNEP must be constantly aware of the need to avoid duplication of the work of other international organizations; the effort at coordination which was evident from the programme document should continue. One delegation said that some elements of the proposed work plan were optimistic. Others emphasized that the close link between health and socioeconomic conditions must be made evident in the programme. One speaker, after informing the Committee about the World Conference on Primary Health Care to be held In his country In 1976, announced that his Government was prepared to host a seminar or symposium related to the subject. The prevention of food contamination was felt by some delegations to merit higher priority in the programme, In view of Its Importance to both developing and developed countries. Several other delegations referred to the Importance of training programmes, especially on the carcinogenic and mutagenic effects of chemicals, and stressed the need for more regional-seminars and workshops for training toxicologists and pathologists. It was proposed that, In response to paragraph 3 of Governing Council decision 85 (V) of 25 t4ay 1977, the strategies dealing with the environmental hazards from drugs, cosmetics and other chemicals should be revised.

221, In the area of pest management, some delegations suggested that UNEP should give more priority to vector-borne or pest-related diseases other than malaria and schistosomiasis. One delegation, supported-by several others, said that UNEP should focus more or the promotion of environmentally sound approaches to pest control, and added that while emphasis on cotton pests was understandable, such approaches must also he applied to other pests of choice of Importance to the rural poor, thus establishing a link with other eco-developement efforts. Another speaker referred to her Government's policy, which was economical, safe, effective and non-polluting, of making prevention the first step in pest control management, followed by Integrated methods of control.

222. The representative of WHO said that the Organization welcomed the selection by the Governing Council of health as one of the subjects for In-depth review in 1978. Sound control of the environment was In the view of WHO the most effective and lasting technology for protection of human health; the Organization was active In that field, particularly In the areas or water supply and sanitation, arid he hoped that the co-operation between WHO arid UNEP would continue,

223. The representative of UNESCO, noting the views expressed by several 50/ delegations about the need for training toxicologists, and also for Improving chemical testing methods, Indicated the willingness of the Organization to develop a programme of action In that field, with the support of LINEP and in co-operation with WHO,

224. At the conclusion of it's discussion, the Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision on health of people

and the environment, submitted by the delegations of Belgium, Canada, Iran, Kenya, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and United Republic of Cameroon.

The Governing-Council

225. At the 14th plenary meeting of the session, on 24 May 1978, the Governing Council adopted by consensus the draft decision recommended by Sessional Committee I (decision 6/4,N. 51/

3. Arid and semi-arid lands ecosystems

226. In view of the close link between arid lands, soil, water and the follow-up to the United Nations Water Conference and the United Nations Conference on Desertification, delegations welcomed the fact that "o action plans adopted by the two conferences had been taken fully Into account In the preparation of the chapter on arid and semi-arid lands ecosystems, and of the chapters on soils and water, In the programme document.

227. Many delegations commended the programme on arid and semi-arid lands ecosystems, and endorsed the proposed objectives and strategies. 52/ Several singled out Individual activities as excellent examples of what the role of UNEP should be. However, some delegations were of the view that some of the objectives and strategies were still too general. While supporting the proposed UNEP activities, particularly those on Integrated approaches to arid lands planning and management, a number of delegations Indicated that they still reserved their position on the transnational projects to combat desertification, which some found ambitious and sweeping In scope- It was pointed out that the trees programme lacked detail, and was unclear. One delegation referred to Its country's efforts to plant I million trees and requested UNEP co-operation and assistance In that respect. Several others gave examples of how their Governments Integrated tree planting and protection in their own desertification control programmes.

228. Many delegations noted that the co-ordination role of UNEP was apparent in the arid lands programme, and stressed Its Importance. Some delegations said that a merger of the Desertification Unit with the Task Force on Ecosystems, which was responsible for arid and semiarid ecosystems, should be seriously considered as a means of ensuring that efficient and effective work; such a merger was not necessarily In conflict with General Assembly resolution 32/172, and the Governing Council could make a recommendation concerning It to the General Assembly.

229. Another delegation stated that technology was an important tool in combating desertification, and Invited Interested countries to send to the secretariat an account of their Indigenous technologies, for analysis and evaluation by a group of experts and subsequent reporting to the Governing Council at its seventh session; the report, with the comments of the Governing Council, would constitute a UNEP Input to the Conference on Science and Technology for Development.

and evaluation by a group of experts and subsequent reporting to the Governing Council at its seventh session; the report, with the comments of the Governing Council, would constitute a UNEP Input to the Conference on Science and Technology for Development.

230. A number of delegations referred to the Integrated Protection of Arid Lands (IPAL) and the Ecological Management of Arid and Semi-Arid Rangelands (EMASAR) programmes, which they felt were complementary and fairly successful. Some delegations urged extension of IPAL, with UNEP support, to North and Sudano-Sahellan Africa. One delegation expressed regret that the IPAL report was not available for the Information of delegations.. Several delegations hoped UNEP could support the Ecotheque mediterranidenne and the Regional Centre on Pastoralism, but another cautioned that documentation centres were expensive and UNEP support would require careful consideration. One delegation called on the Executive Director to take the necessary steps for Immediate Implementation of the UNEP/FAO project on rangeland monitoring In West and Central Africa, since the countries concerned had already given their support to the project. It was indicated that the green belt project was an Interdisciplinary effort, and was not just concerned with reafforestation.

231. Many delegations agreed on the Importance of training In relation to arid and semi-arid lands, and a number offered training facilities In Institutions In their countries to personnel from developing countries. One delegation said that consultants were available to assist interested countries their expenses could be met by Its Government's contribution to the UNEP Fund.

232. The representative of UNESCO thanked delegations for the Interest shown In the development of IPAL projects In different regions, which would use the experience to be acquired In Kenya, and expressed appreciation of the establishment by the Kenyan Government of a biosphere reserve In the project area. The IPAL network of Integrated pilot projects constituted a valuable conceptual basis for concrete action on the problem of desertification and rational management of arid lands ecosystems by the populations concerned. With reference to semiarid lands In the Mediterranean climatic zone, he expressed the hope that the extension of the services of the Ecotheque mediterranian to all countries concerned would receive UNEP support In the near future.

233. The representative of FAO said that the absence of figures for FAO In the budgetary tables was a result of the difficulty of Identifying with an acceptable degree of precision the figures for environmental activities In differently structured programmes and budgets; it did Indicate lack of action and Interest on the part of FAO. Everything possible would be done in co-operation with UNEP, to Improve the level of budgetary Information. FAO hoped that the soil degradation map would be completed soon, and also hoped to Intensify activities on biological fertilizers In the biennium 1978-1979.

234. The representative of ESCAP stated that the Commission had Initiated action on regional follow-up to the Desertification Conference; several countries had been consulted on, and were agreeable to, the transnational project on monitoring In south-west Asia, and arrangements were under way for a workshop on desertification monitoring and the technology for combating desertification.

235. At the conclusion of its discussion, the Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision on the Ecotheque Mediterrannee. submitted by the delegations of France and Tunisia. Th-e Committee agreed to Include Its additional recommendations on arid and semi-arid lands ecosystems in the general draft decision on programme matters (see para. 287 below).

Action by the Governing Council

236. At the 14th plenary meeting of the session, on 24 May 1978, the Governing Council adopted by consensus the draft decision recommended by Sessional Committee I (decision 6/5 A). 53/ For other action by the Council on the Committees recommendation regarding arid and semi-arid lands ecosystems, see paragraph 29t below.

4. Soils

.237.' The programme on soils was generally commended as an Improvement on earlier Initiatives; many delegations considered the programme to be clear and concise. One delegation, however, felt that the chapter on soils, which had been severely criticized at the Councils fifth session, was still Incomplete, and In particular did not adequately reflect the specific proposals for activities made by scientists from a number of countries In December 1977; more work was required on such areas as world soil mapping and assessment, preparation of manuals to combat various forms of soil degradation and preparation of a map on biogeochemical provinces many other speakers also expressed the hope that maps of soil degradation would be completed In the near future. A few other delegations felt that there was no justification for restricting soil reclamation to mined areas: other degraded soil, such as saline and alkaline soils, should be given attention as well. The concept of integrated soil management was viewed as basic to the future activities of-the soils programme. Several delegations approved the objectives and strategies; others, however, considered them too broad, and called for some modification to make them more specific.

238. Several delegations said that United Nations activities In relation to soils seemed fragmented, an6 emphasized the need for coordination; one delegation suggested that thematic joint programming was necessary* and stressed that emphasis should be given to soil loss and to research to minimize It. The need to apply research findings particularly for the benefit of small-scale farmers was urged.

239. Training, particularly of personnel from developing countries, received general support, and the Importance of public participation in efforts to control soil loss was widely emphasized.

240. A number of delegations referred to the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, and particularly stressed preventive and corrective measures to control sol I loss. It was proposed that UNEP give top, priority to the formulation of guidelines on soil degradation which would assist Governments In the formulation of much-needed soil policies for Incorporation In their development plans, and modifications were suggested to the Fund supported activities for the biennium In order to give that aspect prominence. One delegation, In referring to the seventh of the Executive Directors goals for 1982, 54/ stressed the Importance of training and extension work to encourage We application of sounder so the management policies in the field.

241. At the conclusion of its discussion, the Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision on soils policy, submitted by the delegations of Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. The Committee agreed to Include its other recommendations regarding soils In the general draft decision on programme matters (see para. 287 below).

Action by the Governing Council

242. At the 14th plenary meeting of the session, on 24 May 1978, the Governing Council adopted' by consensus the draft decision recommended by Sessional Committee I (decision 6/5 C). 55/ For other action by the Council on the Committees recommendations regarding soil, see paragraph 291 below.