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Our Planet News





ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

In support of the first Conference of the Parties' decision to establish a pilot phase for activities implemented jointly (AIJ) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNEP will convene an international Conference in Costa Rica from 20-24 May, 1996. The Conference will provide the first global opportunity for the exchange of experience and information about AIJ projects and studies that are being developed around the world as the pilot phase gets under way. Conference participants will examine opportunities for leveraging additional financial resources and facilitating technology cooperation through AIJ, as well as other practical issues relating to the design, funding, implementation and evaluation of AIJ projects under the Convention. The Conference also will provide the opportunity for in-depth practical examinations of cost-effective ways that AIJ can bring about real, measurable and long-term environmental benefits related to the mitigation of climate change.







African water

THE SPECIAL INITIATIVE ON AFRICA: A COLLECTIVE EFFORT BY THE UNITED NATIONS

On 15 March, the United Nations officially launched the United Nations System-Wide Special Initiative on Africa, a multibillion dollar programme of concrete actions which was created to support African development. As chair of the Initiative's Working Group on Water, UNEP is promoting a fair share approach to water resources management. All future water policies, plans and programmes in Africa will be assessed in terms of their economic viability, environmental sustainability and equitable use. It is also planned to assist governments in improving water basin management and access to drinking water and to address the seriously deteriorating conditions of household water security. The main goal is to expand water and sanitation services throughout Africa. Freshwater assessments will be undertaken as well as concerted actions on the use of water for food production, with UNICEF, WMO and FAO playing key roles in the collective efforts envisaged.






UNEP/ICC/FIDIC Environmental Management System Training Resource Kit

The environment has become a major consideration for company decision-making. This UNEP/ICC/FIDIC kit provides trainers and managers with the necessary tools to conduct their own training courses in environmental management systems. It offers guidance on adapting the kit to local regulations, conditions and cultures, and includes elements that are common to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) environmental management system standard, ISO 14001. The kit is available from UNEP's distributor, SMI (Distribution Services) Ltd., PO Box 119, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 4TP, UK (Fax: +44 1438 748 844; tel: +44 1438 748 111) at $190 per copy or $150 per copy for 10 copies or more.






SPORTS, ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

At the Forum on Sport, Environment and Development, held in Norway in February, 190 participants from 30 countries - representatives of Olympic hosting and bidding cities, sports associations, environmental organizations and industries - explored ways to link sport, environment and development concerns. Recognizing the need for more exchange on this pioneering initiative, participants decided to convene a similar event on an annual basis. Atlanta, GA has already expressed interest in convening the 1997 Forum.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UNEP are developing environmental guidelines for bidding and hosting cities of Olympic games and other major sporting events. Guidelines which take the perspectives of developing countries into account also need to be produced. The IOC and UNEP are planning two seminars on sport and environment in Asia and Africa and intend to organize sports and environment conservation activities in critical areas such as urban slums and refugee camps.






GLOBAL HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS
AGREEMENT ON ITS WAY

Governments from more than 80 countries have made remarkable progress in the development of a legally binding agreement on internationally traded pesticides and hazardous chemicals.

At the first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an International Legally Binding Instrument for the Application of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, held in Brussels in March under the auspices of UNEP and FAO, strong commitment to the negotiation process was demonstrated by the speed with which the meeting identified the potential elements to be included in the PIC Convention. A Working Group also made progress in the identification of chemicals that the Convention could cover.

Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean all stressed the urgent need for technical assistance to implement such a convention, especially in the development of relevant legislation and chemical management infrastructures. The interrelationship between economic development and environmental protection was considered to be critical, particularly for developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The meeting recognized the need to ensure that industrial chemicals and pesticides are appropriately managed at the global level while contributing to economic growth.

The second negotiation session led by UNEP and FAO on the PIC Convention will be held later this year. UNEP's actions on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) taken in the context of the Washington Conference on Marine Pollution as well as those of the International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals will continue to complement the decisions taken during this negotiation process. In addition, a government-designated expert meeting, held in Denmark in April, prepared recommendations for the next Governing Council on further measures beyond the PIC procedure that may be needed for the sound management of chemicals. The results of these global efforts will be vital to the protection of human health and the environment from chemical and pesticide hazards.






ASSESSMENT OF PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS IN PROGRESS

At a meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on POPs of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) on behalf of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals, in March, UNEP presented the results of a trade survey which demonstrated that POPs are still in use in many countries although they have been banned for several years. UNEP was requested to ensure coordination between the ongoing POPs assessment and the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Environment from Land-based Activities. Sweden presented its project on substitutes for selected POPs which is providing substantial input to the global POPs assessment.

The Working Group discussed the key issues to be addressed by the assessment for the elaboration of international actions. The following were identified as major concerns, particularly for developing countries: information exchange; capacity-building; trade impacts; technology transfer; food production; public health considerations; and financing. The Working Group also discussed two forthcoming meetings in the Philippines in June which will elaborate recommendations based on the assessment for the 19th session of the Governing Council. Reports on potential international actions on POPs will be prepared for the second meeting - Nordic countries and the United States expressed particular interest in participating in this work. One of the recommendations to be included is the development of a legally binding instrument on POPs.






LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: JOINT EFFORTS ON DRYLANDS

The first regional Consultation for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Convention to Combat Desertification brought together government-designated experts from 14 countries in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in January.

The Consultation provided an opportunity for the region to assess its needs. The prompt ratification of the Convention, as well as the strengthening of regional cooperation and information exchange were among the priority actions identified. Participants also stressed the need to promote the participation of civil society in the implementation of the Convention at the national level.

During the meeting, FAO supported UNEP's programme of activities to combat desertification and is planning to financially support inter-agency efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, it was decided with the Interim Secretariat of the Convention to establish cooperation mechanisms to support activities for the regional implementation of the Convention.

Participants recommended the creation of a steering committee composed
of organizations such as UNEP, UNDP/UNSO, FAO and the World Bank, to strengthen collaboration, information exchange and inter-agency coordination of desertification control activities. It was also proposed to convene a meeting on desertification exclusively for the Caribbean countries.


A full list of UNEP publications, as well as the publications themselves, is available from SMI (Distribution Services) Ltd., PO Box 119, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 4TP, UK (Fax: +44 1438 748 844; tel: +44 1438 748 111).


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