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US.Opening Conf. on Persistent Organic Pollutants

U.S. Opening Statement on Matters for Consideration of the Conference of the Parties (COP)

Daniel A. Reifsnyder, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Remarks at the Second Meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm
Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geneva, Switzerland
May 1, 2006

The United States has been a leader in recognizing and addressing the serious risks that persistent organic pollutants present to human health and the environment. We actively participated in and supported the negotiations for the Stockholm Convention from its inception. In 2001, President Bush endorsed the Stockholm Convention and its ratification continues to be a high priority for this Administration.

U.S. ratification has taken longer than anticipated. However, we continue to have domestic support for this international agreement in the United States, including from industry, the agricultural community and non-governmental organizations. We have continued to support the POPS convention Secretariat with a voluntary contribution of over $600,000 in fiscal year 2006, in addition to our voluntary contribution of $978,000 in fiscal year 2005. We are working with the U.S. Congress to seek passage of implementing legislation that will allow us to implement fully the Convention's provisions, and hope that our ratification process will be completed quickly.

We continue to have an active interest in ensuring that the Convention addresses the risks of POPs in the most efficient and effective way, and are particularly interested in a number of the issues being taken up by the COP this week. For example:

* We strongly encourage a transparent and science-based risk assessment process for determining whether additional substances meet the test under Article 8 that they are likely to cause significant adverse or environmental effects as a result of long range environmental transport such that global action is warranted. This will help to ensure that resources continue to be focused as a global priority on the most problematic of substances.

* We are pleased with the progress on non-compliance made so far at the open-ended meeting over the weekend. We support a flexible and facilitative approach that will be focused on helping countries who may be having difficulty meeting their Convention obligations. We look forward to continuing to discuss this issue at this meeting and the next COP.

* We support efficient functioning of the Secretariat and the Convention, but we remain concerned that the ambitious pursuit of synergies that could change the character of each of the unique and legally distinct chemicals conventions, with few or no cost savings. We recognize the value of coordination, however, and strongly encourage each country to consider relevant chemicals conventions when developing national positions on cross-cutting issues.

* We support a cost-effective evaluation of the effectiveness of the Convention that will inform the COP of progress being made under the Convention. The evaluation should rely on the good work that has already been done or is underway in a number of national, regional, and international organizations to collect information related to POPs emissions, levels in the environment, and human exposure.

* We are pleased to see the progress that has been made over the past several years on the guidance for Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices for byproduct POPs. We hope the Expert Group will complete its work at its meeting later this year.

* We look forward to the discussion on the Terms of Reference for the needs assessment. We believe it is important for us to identify the most pressing issues within countries for meeting the obligations within the Convention in a cost-effective way.

* Finally, we hope to see progress on adopting terms of reference for regional centers that serve the important function of building capacity in developing countries to implement their Convention obligations. In this context, we believe that UNEP Chemicals can be helpful in its efforts to implement the Bali Plan for capacity-building.

We look forward to continuing to cooperate in addressing the risks of POPs and implementing the Convention effectively.

Released on May 1, 2006


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