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D - Outline of 1990 state-of-the environment report:"Children and the environment"

14. Several representatives had suggestions for additional material to be Included in the 1990 report: one suggested a subsection on institutional structures to protect the health of children; another suggested additional subsections on the special nature and role of female children and the particular risks to which female children were exposed at home and at work, environmental awareness in childhood, as well as the role of the educational system in that regard; another suggestion concerned the effects of drugs and smoking by children.

15. The observer for UNICEF said that the UNICEF Executive Board had endorsed a resolution which included a number of policy proposals to protect the environment and sustain development, while meeting the urgent needs of children and mothers. Projects with strong environmental components were to be given priority by UNICEF when seeking supplementary funding.

Environmentally oriented actions would soon become regular components of UNICEF's country programmes. Child survival, protection and development, water and sanitation, women in development, food and nutrition, education, urban basic services and appropriate technology were some of the areas where UNICEF could strengthen programme components with environmental impact. In collaboration with UNEP and the Government of Kenya, UNICEF was translating the new child and environment policies into practical interventions in two districts to ensure a cleaner, safer environment and to teach children how to preserve or enhance the environment in which they would live as an adult.

16. The observer for the International Youth Federation for Environmental Studies and Conservation (IYF) said that his organization had assisted UNEP in activities to observe International Youth Year. Those activities were not matched by an appropriate level of concern for youth in the speeches of the members of the Governing Council at its current session. It should be recognized that youth organizations made a remarkable contribution in stimulating public concern for the environment and in eco-restoration programes. as was demonstrated by UNEP-sponsored IYF activities. Youth claimed the right to be heard when decisions were made on matters that concerned the future. He urged the Council to give the UNEP secretariat a mandate to catalyse youth activities around the world as part of a broad NGO programme. When the programme of the proposed 1992 United Nations conference on environment and development was formulated, a youth forum should be included, similar to that held as part of the preparations for the Stockholm Conference. The outcome of discussions for a convention on biodiversity should not, he warned, be the creation of an instrument to legitimize gene robbery by some privileged nations. He expressed the view that inadequate political will was being shown to protect the most vital ecosystem of the planet - the tropical forests - and commented on the irony that some countries in the low-income group would experience an unduly high share of the world-wide sufferings that climate change might cause.

17. Replying to some of the comments made in the discussion, the Executive Director said that there appeared to be no disagreement with the general thrust of his 1988 and 1989 state-of-the-environment reports. With regard to the publication of the findings of the public opinion poll, he was currently in contact with the 14 countries involved in the survey to seek agreement for a wide dissemination of its main findings. The outline for the 1990 report, on children and the environment, had been formulated after intensive consultations with UNICEF. The proposals by representatives for additional material would be included. One representative had challenged the topicality of health risks from diesel vehicles; it was true that the problem had been known for a number of years but it had not been addressed in any forum until he had brought it to the attention of the Governing Council two years previously. There had been support for the proposal on new technologies and the environment, subject to a note of caution from one representative about stifling inventiveness in biotechnological research. That had never been the intention: such research had positive and negative aspects and the question was how to handle the latter without impeding the former. Representatives had given relatively little attention to the topic of algal bloom. With regard to the Antarctic, the same objections had been expressed by contracting parties to the Antarctic Treaty during a similar discussion in 1976. He was glad, however, that his proposal had been better received during the current session than in 1976, when there had been a move to use language which would have inadvertently eliminated some ongoing projects near the outer limit of Antarctica. He wished to put it on record that UNEP did not play politics: the phrase to which exception had been taken was not to be construed as having any political connotation and should be understood in the context of the preceding paragraphs. The damage to the ozone layer was caused by pollution from outside the Antarctic and the contracting parties to the Treaty alone could not avert the danger. It had been the intention to call on the other countries to help the Treaty parties. Representatives could rest assured that he had no other intention.

18. Issues proposed during the discussion for his next report on emerging environmental issues had included municipal wastes and plastics and the critical situation in the Arctic. He wondered whether the remaining proposals for recycling wastes and for waste elimination might not more properly come under the heading of emerging solutions rather than problems. He therefore recommended the first two topics he had mentioned and he promised to report on the other two matters among positive developments.

19. The Council then proceeded to consider and adopt three decisions on state-of-the-environment reports, the text of which is contained in annex I to the present proceedings. Comments made at the time of their adoption may be found in chapter II above