Executive Secretary - GEF Council - June 2009

Statement by Donald Cooper, Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention and co-Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, to the Council of the GEF, June 2009

Washington, D.C., 22 June 2009

When I last spoke to the GEF Council a year ago, I informed you that Parties are now moving from planning to action to reduce or eliminate POPs. This is now happening for the twelve POPs originally listed in the Convention.  Projects funded with support from the GEF have begun to reflect this.

These projects include PCBs management and disposal, obsolete POP pesticides management and disposal, demonstration of scaling up the use of alternatives to DDT for disease vector control, and the introduction of best available techniques and best environmental practices to demonstrate reduction or elimination of unintentionally produced POPs releases from industry.

While these projects have been very beneficial and represent a positive start, much more will be needed.  Considerable increases in financial assistance will be needed to assist developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition to enable them to meet their obligations under the Stockholm Convention.  An assessment of these needs for the 2010-2014 time-period that was prepared for the Conference of Parties, indicated roughly US$ 4.5 billion will be needed.   Although the assessment may not have been perfect, it does provide a good idea of the magnitude of the financial need.  Certainly the GEF would not be expected to provide all this funding but it is looked on for a significant percentage of the amount and to act as a lever for much of the balance. In order to accomplish this, the Parties are seeking a significant increase in available resources allocated to the Stockholm Convention in GEF-5.

While work is underway on the first twelve POPs, the list of chemicals covered by the Convention has greatly expanded.   At its fourth meeting held last month in Geneva, the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention decided to amend the Convention to list an additional nine chemicals in the Stockholm Convention.   These nine chemicals were recommended to the COP for listing in Annex A, B or C of the Convention by its Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee which concluded that each is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects such that global action is warranted.

The new POPs represent not only an increase in the number of chemicals covered by the Convention but also an expansion of the scope of work to be undertaken.  Some are industrial chemicals that have many uses and involve many different users and producers.  The challenges for Parties will be great.

The amendment to the Convention will enter into force one-year from the date of the communication by the depositary of the adoption of the amendments to list the new chemicals.  This is basically one year from now.

Although the adding of nine new POPs is the big news, the Conference of the Parties had many other accomplishments last month.

The COP adopted the synergies decision on enhancing cooperation and coordination among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.  This follows adoption of basically identical decisions by the Rotterdam and Basel COPs.  It sets in motion the establishment, on an interim basis, of joint services for administration and finance, public awareness, information management, legal issues, conference services and resource mobilization.  With the exception of resource mobilization, these joint services were established on 15 June 2009 – just last week.

The synergies decision, among other things, calls for the convening of simultaneous extra-ordinary meetings of the COPs of the three Conventions in coordination with the 2010 meeting of the UNEP Governing Council Special Session/Global Environment Ministerial Forum.  The meetings are scheduled to take place the week of 21-25 February 2010 in Bali, Indonesia.  The agenda for the “Super COPs” of the three Conventions includes consideration of decisions on the establishment of the joint services and how they will be managed.

The synergies decision invites the GEF, within its mandate, to provide financial support necessary for Stockholm and Basel regional centers to carry out projects aimed at cooperation and coordination in support of implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

On DDT, the COP endorsed the establishment of a global alliance for developing and deploying alternatives to DDT for disease vector control.  This includes a business plan to promote a global partnership to seek such alternatives that will involve all stakeholders.  The GEF was requested to support country-driven activities of the alliance.

On PCBs, the COP endorsed the establishment of a PCB elimination network to promote cost-effective environmentally sound management and disposal of PCBs through information exchange among Governments, PCB user companies, PCB destruction companies, nongovernmental organizations, potential donors of financial and technical assistance and other stakeholders.

The COP agreed on the global monitoring plan for POPs for the collection of comparable data to be used in the effectiveness evaluation of the Convention and established an ad hoc working group to make recommendations on the process for evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention.

Regarding the Stockholm Convention regional centres for the delivery of technical assistance and transfer of technology, the COP endorsed 8 of 12 centers that had been nominated by the respective regional groups and invited those centres that were not endorsed to continue their activities and to seek support that would enable them to meet the performance criteria of SC regional centres. It is expected that the newly endorsed centres would enhance their activities including the submission of projects to the GEF for funding on behalf of their constituents.

On issues pertaining to the financial mechanism of the Convention the COP addressed several matters.

The COP welcomed the report of the GEF and the continuing cooperation between the secretariats of the Stockholm Convention and the GEF.  This cooperation is excellent and we are pleased that our Parties recognize it.

Likewise, the report on the second review of the financial mechanism was quite positive and requested the Secretariat to transmit this to the GEF which we have done.  The report is generally very favorable of the work of the GEF on POPs.

The COP adopted guidance to the financial mechanism. This guidance continued to identify areas where funding should be provided to eligible Parties but also emphasized some areas for particular consideration by the GEF. These include amongst others the following.

  • It called upon developed countries in the context of the fifth replenishment of the GEF, being aware of the financial needs assessment and in light of the current and possible future listing of new POPs, to make all efforts to make adequate financial resources available to enable developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition to fulfill their obligations under the Convention
  • The COP requested the GEF to ensure that the Bureau of the Stockholm Convention COP and the Convention Secretariat are appropriately informed and consulted on any further developments with regard to the resource allocation framework that involve the POPs focal area
  • The COP also requested the GEF to provide necessary assistance to eligible Parties, especially least developed ones and small island developing states to help them prepare and update their NIPs to comply with the requirements of the Conventions (including the new requirements associated with the new POPs)
  • The COP requested the financial mechanism of the Convention and invited other donors to provide financial support for capacity enhancement to sustain the new monitoring initiatives that are part of the global monitoring plan
  • The COP restated its request that the GEF to take into account the priorities identified by Parties in their national implementation plans
  • The COP requested the GEF, among others, to provide resources, within its mandate, to Parties that are developing countries or countries with economies in transition, Stockholm Convention regional centers and other interested stakeholders to carry out projects aimed at improving information exchange at the regional and national levels and to set up clearing-house mechanism nodes that would be networked with the clearing-house mechanism managed by the Convention Secretariat.

On the issue of facilitating work with regard to financial resources and mechanisms, the COP requested the Secretariat to seek views of Parties and explore options for facilitating the work of the COP with regard to financial resources and mechanisms, including a financial mechanism committee and prepare a report for consideration at the fifth COP on this issue.

The GEF featured prominently and quite favorably at the fourth meeting of the Conference of Parties.  Clearly much will be expected of the GEF as we look to the fifth replenishment.

Regarding the replenishment I would like to make a few observations.

The Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention appreciates being included on the technical advisor group on chemicals and the open and transparent manner in which the GEF secretariat has organized the work of the group.

The TAG’s work in preparing the strategy for chemicals for GEF-5 has been very good.  However, we have a few concerns that we hope will be addressed as we continue to consider this strategy which has been called a “work in progress”.   

  • As the principal entity of the financial mechanism of Stockholm Convention it is important that the GEF makes financial resources available in a manner that is predictable in terms of the level of funding and that is distinct in that is to be used for Stockholm Convention implementation activities.  In this way the GEF can be fully accountable to the COP in keeping with the MOU between the COP of the Convention and the Council of the GEF. This also facilitates the efforts of the GEF in ensuring that funds for Stockholm Convention implementation are used in accordance with the guidance of the Conference of the Parties.  Although the current draft attempts to accommodate these requirements this could be made much clearer.
  • Also the stated core funding for Stockholm Convention implementation is indicated to be US $ 600 million.  Taking into consideration the needs assessment and the listing of nine new POPs this could be seen by many Parties as insufficient.  

In addition to being Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention, I have a second job and that is co-Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention.  At the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Rotterdam Convention, Parties were invited to consider the need for the GEF to broaden its programming activities to fund priority needs of recipient countries for implementation of the Rotterdam Convention.   The draft GEF chemicals strategy seems to provide increased opportunities for funding such activities which would be welcomed by the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention.

In conclusion, the GEF has done much to support implementation of the Stockholm Convention thus far and it will be asked to do considerably more in the coming replenishment period.  GEF funding of activities relating to the Rotterdam and Basel Convention, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management and future work on Mercury are also important.

However, there is a danger in opening up the POPs window too broadly to the point that the GEF resources available for Stockholm Convention implementation activities become insufficient to meet the needs.  As the principal entity of the financial mechanism of the Stockholm Convention, the GEF should not allow this to happen.

Thanks for this opportunity to address this important meeting.  I look forward to answering any questions you may have.