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GC Today - 16 February 2009

Special Events:

GEF support to the Stockholm Convention in Africa

The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) held a special event to review chemical and waste issues in Africa. International delegates as well as journalists and UNEP staff attended the event, The Chemical Challenge: Maximum benefits, minimum risks - A GEF Programme for African LDCs and SIDS.

During the event, keynote speakers discussed the fact that Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face disproportionate chemical exposure risks. Participants agreed that meeting their needs to implement international chemicals and wastes agreements will require strong partnerships. The United Nations Environmental Programme, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and GEF are initiating a programme in Africa to enhance and sustain Stockholm Convention implementation, with particular emphasis on human health and the informal sector.

Natural Answers to Climate Change: Biosequestration and REDD

The Nobel Peace Price Winner, Prof Wangari Maathai, the Minister of Environment for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Jose’ Endundo Bononge and the Climate Change Ambassador for Papua New Guinea, Kevin Conrad discussed the role of Biosequestration and the Reduction of Emissions through Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in moving forward towards the Green Economy.

The meeting was opened by UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director, Angela Cropper and co-chaired by the Green Economy Initiative Project Leader, Pavan Sukhdev, and Director of the Division of Environmental Policy Implementation, Ibrahim Thiaw. It focused on 1) the importance of Biosequestration and REDD to mitigate climate change, 2) the policies needed to increase the contribution of Biosequestration to mitigation and 3) how can these policies make an additional contribution to the Green Economy.

Whilst Prof Maathai voiced her disappointment with the lack of action that has taken place, Endundo Bononge urged the international community to help the DRC preserve its ecosystem and Kevin Conrad highlighted the importance of providing incentives for the conservation of the rain forests in developing countries. All panelists concluded that REDD played a key role in mitigating Climate Change and called for action before it is too late.