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UNEP chemicals begins design of GEF study of persistent toxic chemicals in selected countries

Geneva/Nairobi, 26 January 2000 - Assessing national needs for managing persistent toxic substances in representative countries around the world is the focus of a project being undertaken by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Chemicals Unit in Geneva. The project is based on funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

"This project represents a direct step toward establishing national means for managing persistent toxic substances which pose a danger to human health and the environment around the world," said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director. "It will be particularly helpful because it will identify ways to strengthen existing mechanisms, rather than create new ones, and the results - including assessment guidelines - will have important application in other nations. The Earth will benefit."

Eight or more developing countries or countries with economies in transition will be selected for case studies to address problems involving persistent toxic substances and possible solutions. A central criterion will be their representativeness in experiencing persistent toxic substances. The funding agency, GEF, is a joint programme of UNEP, the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank.

The Interagency Steering Group established to assist with the study met to review project components 18-20 January in Geneva. Participants came from intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations representing environmental and industry groups. Expert workshops to refine the study design are scheduled for 6-10 March and 1-5 May in Geneva.

The next phase will be to conduct five national expert workshops in regions identified for further assessment. These workshops will review and revise the list of priority issues, and consider the validity of proposals made to date. The current activity, a Project Development Form B (PDF-B) grant, will develop a full project for possible GEF funding.

Note to journalists:
Additional data and documents are a vailable via the Internet ( and

For followup or to arrange interviews, please contact:
James B. Willis, Director, UNEP Chemicals at
tel: (+41 22) 917 8183; fax (+41 22) 797 34 60;
Linda Durkee, Policy and Communications Advisor, UNEP Chemicals,
tel: (+41 22) 917 85 11; e-mail:

In Nairobi, please contact Tore J. Brevik, Spokesman/Director of Information, Communications and Public Information, UNEP, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel. 254 2 623292; Fax 623692; email:

UNEP News release 2000/6

Wednesday 26 Jan 2000
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