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C - Emerging environmental issues

8. One representative said that one of the selected issues described in the report of the Executive Director on emerging environmental issues (UNEPIGC.1517/Add.3), health risks from diesel vehicles, was hardly new, since such risks had been generally known for some 15 years. The new issue was rather the development of cleaner diesel engines and filters. Furthermore, he could not agree with the suggestion in paragraph 21 of the report that further studies were an essential prerequisite to formulating adequate measures for reducing the impact of acid fog. He felt that some measures could be introduced immediately, as was being done in his country.

9. A number of topics were proposed with regard to environmental issues that had emerged during 1987-1989. One representative suggested the Arctic region, where there was a problem of food chain contamination common to all Arctic countries. Another representative suggested municipal wastes, plastics, recycling, and waste exchange and waste elimination; those proposals were endorsed by another representative.

10 During the discussion several representatives drew attention to the importance of algal bloom and one reported an outbreak of algal bloom in the Mediterranean - a rare occurrence which had also been witnessed by nationals of other Mediterranean countries.

11. There was support for the topic of new technologies and the environment.

One representative, while welcoming the inclusion of biotechnology, urged that

the approach should be prudent and scientific, but not stifling. Several

representatives expressed their interest in organizing exchanges of

information on new technologies between countries.

12. There was considerable opposition to the inclusion of Antarctica as a topic and to the text of paragraph 38 in the Executive Director's report. Representatives stated that the environmental health of Antarctica was well protected by the contracting parties to the Antarctic Treaty, as was shown by the measures that had already been agreed to conserve the flora and fauna, seals and marine living resources. one representative pointed out that the damage to the ozone layer over the Antarctic region was due to outside influence and that at a recent consultative meeting, the contracting parties

to the Treaty had agreed to convene a world conference to discuss the formulation of principles and a code of conduct to protect the region. Another representative said that IUCN was already developing a strategy for the region; a reference to that might have been made in paragraph 38. Another representative said that his Government had long advocated environmental assessment of the build-up of pollutants, and yet another said that his country intended to press for the area to be established as a wilderness park.

13. The question of the legal position of Antarctica was raised. A number of representatives considered that the reference in paragraph 38 to the "common heritage of all mankind" was unacceptable should be deleted because the special legal and political status of the continent was defined in article 4 of the Antarctic Treaty, which provided for the position both of countries claiming sovereignty and of those which did not recognize such claims. Another representative pointed out that it was open to any country to become a contracting party to the Treaty. A number of those representatives stated that they preferred not to make the Antarctic a substantive issue and strongly recommended that the topic should not be included among those for the Executive Director's next report on emerging environmental issues.