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North Korea: First-Ever UN Environmental Study


DPR Korea: First-Ever Un Environmental Study Documents Pollution, Degradation

Forests in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have declined, rivers and city air have become more polluted and major crop yields have fallen dramatically due to land degradation and natural disasters, according to the first-ever United Nations environmental study of the country, released today.

The report provides recommendations for tackling these problems, which are exacerbating the already grim situation facing the DPRK, where estimates show four out of every ten children suffer chronic malnutrition. Experts say the food crisis will persist because of the limited national potential to increase production.

The new study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) calls for stronger environmental laws, better environmental management, targeted financial investment, and improved statistics to support policy making.

These measures are needed to respond to the reports findings: - Over the past decade forests have declined due to timber production, a doubling of firewood consumption, wild fires and insect attacks associated with drought. - In recent years, pollution of rivers and streams has become severe, particularly the Taedong flowing through central Pyongyang, with a dozen factories and plants discharging 30,000 cubic metres of wastewater into the river every day. - Reliance on coal for power generation has created serious urban air pollution problems. - Major crop yields fell by almost two thirds during the 1990s due to land degradation caused by loss of forest, droughts, floods and tidal waves, acidification due to over use of chemicals, as well as shortages of fertilizer, farm machinery and oil.

UNEP chief Klaus Toepfer called on the international community to support the Pyongyang Government's efforts to safeguard natural resources. "We must respond so it can meet development goals in a sustainable manner," he said.

Mr. Toepfer and the head of the DPRK delegation, Ri Hung signed a framework agreement to guide joint activities that will further strengthen capacity for environmental protection.

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