Executive Secretary – 5th Assembly of the GEF

Statement by Kerstin Stendahl, Executive Secretary ad interim of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, to the fifth meeting of the Assembly of the GEF

Cancun, Mexico, 28 May 2014

Honourable Minister and Chair, Excellencies, esteemed CEO of the GEF, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and honour for me to address the Assembly today on behalf of the secretariat of the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants and its sibling conventions, the Basel and Rotterdam conventions.

I would like to extend a warm thank you to the Government of Mexico and the Global Environment Facility for hosting this important meeting.

The GEF Assembly’s deliberate and committed support to the work of the GEF and the purposes it serves is commendable.

Also the Council through its successful and record breaking 6th replenishment with a funding of more than US$ 4.43 billion has sent a very strong signal.

It tells us in no uncertain terms that the global community attaches significant importance to addressing urgent environmental problems and challenges in developing countries.

It tells us that protecting the global environment is key in achieving our common goal of sustainable development.

Collective global action agreed to in our multilateral environmental agreements coupled with implementation supported by the Global Environment Facility is helping to reduce threats posed by the use of chemicals.

It is noteworthy that the increase in funding accorded to the chemicals and waste focal area from GEF-5 to GEF 6 is almost 130 million USD.

For the Stockholm Convention this means continued assistance to support Parties in the implementation of the Convention.

Honourable Chair, this year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Stockholm Convention.

The Convention embarks upon its second decade as relevant as ever in its goal to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants. 23 POPs have now been listed, and three more are in the pipeline for decisions at the 2015 COPs.

Every dollar pledged to address POPs chemicals must now be put to work in the most efficient and effective way to defeat the scourge of persistent organic pollutants.

However, this is no time to rest on our laurels.

During these past few days we have heard of the challenges faced by countries in their efforts to tackle threats posed by chemicals to the environment and human health.

These challenges are many and require solutions. We will need to increase awareness of sound management of chemicals and waste, we will need to learn how to substitute unsound use with safer alternatives, and build capacity in countries.

A siloed response to these challenges will not suffice. The chemicals and waste area is a crosscutting and multifaceted one, and solutions should be sought through engaging actors and stakeholders within the cluster as well as from other fields, such as biodiversity, desertification or climate change to share experiences gained and disseminate best practices.

I remain confident that the GEF will in the future be able to continue to address the growing financial and technical assistance needs of Parties to the Stockholm Convention, taking into account the increasing number of chemicals listed under the Convention and the growing number of parties it serves.

I am also convinced that we will be able to tackle the ever more complex problems through a concerted effort and that we will achieve our shared goals of protecting human health and the environment and the future we want.

Honourable Chair, I would like to thank all delegates for the success of this meeting.

And finally, allow me also to express a thank you from one secretariat to another.

Dear Naoko, a very special thanks you to you and your team. We have enjoyed and benefitted from a good working relationship. It is only through continued dedicated collaboration that we will achieve results that are so much more than the sum of its parts.

Thank you.