protecting public health and the environment

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs) travel long distances, accumulating in the environment and the food chain. Problems like POPs demonstrate the urgent need to protect public health and the environment from toxic chemicals. UNEP’s Chemicals unit is the main catalytic force in the United Nations system for concerted global action on the environmentally sound management of hazardous chemicals. One of the principal global instruments for environmental protection today is the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. UNEP, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, provides secretariat services for the Convention. UNEP Chemicals also serves as the secretariat for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee now developing a legally binding treaty on POPs. Additional information on the Rotterdam Convention (www.pic.int) and on the POPs negotiations (www.chem.unep.ch/pops) is available on the Internet. The core – and growing – focus of UNEP Chemicals is assisting developing countries to build the capacity for the sound management of chemicals. It is expanding access to information on chemical safety and working directly with governments, through such avenues as awareness-raising workshops, training, and hotline support to assist them in taking national actions to protect the health of their citizens and their environment

James B. Willis, Director, UNEP Chemicals

PHOTOGRAPH: Mark Edwards/Still Pictures

Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Celebration and challenge | Informal diplomacy | Being in earnest | International Declaration on Cleaner Production | Clean = competitive | Not on Planet Earth! | The Basel Convention | At a glance | Competition | It’s a waste | Move these poisonous mountains | Broad, global and dynamic | A monumental challenge | UNEP Chemicals | Latin lessons | Sasakawa Environment Prize | Of potholes and ozone holes | Will we learn?