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UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY
GEF/PDF BLOCK B
1.1 The GEF Contaminant-Based Operation Program (OP 10) "includes projects that help demonstrate ways of overcoming barriers to the adoption of best practices that limit contamination of the International Waters environment". This programme is particularly directed towards "limiting releases of contaminants causing priority concerns in the International waters focal area". Among the short-term objectives of the programme are to "demonstrate strategies for addressing land-based activities that degrade marine waters" and the "prevention of releases of globally significant toxic substances such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs)". Furthermore, the programme "focuses on poorly addressed contaminants and aims to utilize demonstrations to overcome barriers to adoption of best practices, waste minimization strategies and pollution prevention measures".
1.2 The GEF Contaminant-Based Operation Program is intended to include "narrowly focussed regional or global projects that can help meet particular technical needs or build capacity for the use of certain measures by various on-going International waters projects" with emphasis on encouraging "the adoption of best practices, develop[ing] tools for finding solutions and formulat[ing] policies for innovative institutional approaches". Finally, also intended for inclusion in this operational programme are global International Waters projects that help contribute to the development of strategic approaches across operational programmes in the focal area "and facilitate exchange of experience among different International Waters initiatives".
1.3 Direct reference is made, in the description of OP 10, to contaminants that are so persistent that they can be considered to be "global contaminants" and it is stated that "The GEF may support activities that help to characterize the nature, extent and significance of these contaminants and support the agreed incremental costs of processes and measures that demonstrate prevention of reduction of releases in recipient countries".
1.4 A major issue that gives rise to concerns at all geographical scales - local, national, regional and global - is the introduction to the environment and consequent effects of substances that can be generically referred to as "persistent toxic substances". Such substances are predominantly organic compounds characterized by persistence or longevity before degradation, high chronic toxicities, properties making them amenable to atmospheric, aquatic or biological transport over long distances, and a propensity for becoming incorporated and accumulated in the tissues of aquatic organisms thereby resulting in body burdens posing relatively high risks of adverse health effects to both the accumulating organisms and their higher trophic consumers, including humans.
1.5 Among this category of chemical contaminants are the "persistent organic pollutants" (or POPs) that have become focus of concern within the international community. The effects of some POPs include: carcinogenosis; reproductive impairment; developmental and immune system changes, endocrine disruption, which may cause large scale reproductive changes in species populations, threaten their maintenance and potentially threaten biodiversity. While some of these effects are deterministic and probably involve an exposure threshold for induction there are concerns of a stochastic (i.e., probabilistic) nature where the incidence of effects may be directly proportional to exposure without threshold.
1.6 In February 1997, the UNEP Governing Council decided (Decision 19/13 C) that immediate international action should be initiated to protect human health and the environment through measures which will reduce and/or eliminate the emissions and discharges of twelve persistent organic pollutants. The Governing Council requested UNEPs Executive Director to convene an intergovernmental negotiating committee with a mandate to prepare an international legally binding instrument for implementing international action. These actions may be regarded as on going baseline activities to which the GEF project proposed here would be additional.
1.7 All the initial twelve POP's comprising pesticides, other deliberately manufactured chemicals for non pesticide applications, and incidental by-products of industrial, agricultural and municipal activities, are characterized by long persistence, high potential for bioaccumulation, high chronic toxicity (including ecotoxicity) and several of these substances have demonstrable dispersion over thousands of kilometers. Many of them are ubiquitously found in the environment, including the aquatic environment, even in areas in which they have never been produced or used.
1.8 However, the list of twelve POPs may merely represent "the tip of the iceberg" in terms of the total number of chemicals prone to wide dispersion and having chronic toxicities that would provoke similar concerns about long-term risks to higher organisms and humans posed by their propensity for accumulation in body tissues. Previous national and regional action, particularly in developed countries has been focussed on the twelve substances and this has resulted in marked declines in the production of a majority of these substances. This places emphasis on the need for a comprehensive, or holistic, assessment of persistent substances posing comparable dangers to the environment and its inhabitants so that similar action can be promoted. Equally importantly, the extent to which substances in this category represent a threat to biodiversity through both somatic and hereditary effects has yet to be evaluated. This, in turn, brings in questions of "sustainability" of the practices requiring the production and use of these compounds in the context of the precautionary approach and the commitment to avoid prejudice to future generations as adopted by UNCED and elsewhere.
1.9 So far the scientific assessments of persistent toxic substances has mostly concentrated on specific local and/or regional environmental and health effects, such as work undertaken within the great lakes region and by the Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution Convention (LRTAP) within the UN Economic Commission for Europe and North America (UNECE). In addition, the Inter-Organizational Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) working with the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) and the Inter-Governmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) has performed an expeditious assessment process focussing on the twelve POPs, which subsequently resulted in the decision to initiate international action. Furthermore, with its expertise in agriculture, FAO has initiated a process to identify obsolete stocks of pesticides in different regions.
1.10 The foregoing argues for a comprehensive scientifically-based assessment of the threats posed by persistent chemicals which are transported on a regional and/or hemispheric/global scale giving rise to actual or potential effects on the environment, with a particular focus on the aquatic environment its resources and amenities. Accordingly the present project proposal addresses, with a particular regional focus: the presence and effects of widely dispersed persistent toxic substances in the environment; their sources; the causes of their large-scale dispersion in the environment; their scales of geographical transport and nature and magnitudes of their effects on the environment. This proposal also encompasses identification of the root causes underlying detrimental effects and risks posed by these substances and the management interventions and capacity building needs required to reduce identified adverse effects and risks to acceptable levels.
1.11 The actual priorities amongst substances within each region can only be defined in the context of specific regional conditions, taking into account factors such as level of economic development, agricultural production, climatic, geographic and other socio-economic conditions. Therefore, the assessment will be regionally based and analyses of conditions in representative regions, using information available from a variety of sources, will be conducted in order to determine the extent to which there are commonalities or differences in priorities among substances in different regions. Such analyses will offer the opportunity of defining specific activities, outputs and capacity building needs on the regional level, as well as the "incremental" portions of the costs of remedial action adopted at national levels that can be attributable to benefits at riparian, regional and global levels.
1.12 The project would enable an objective and rapid evaluation of the relative priorities among regions and chemicals to be obtained to enable the GEF to focus its subsequent activities on addressing the most important and urgent issues within OP 10. In view of the fact that the world community has recognized persistent toxic substances as a priority environmental issue, and in order for the GEF to be responsive, the project will be executed with a sense of urgency. This encompasses the objectives and purpose of this proposal.
1.13 Ultimately, the solutions to the problems posed by high priority substances of this kind are of two types. First, there is a need to take action to reduce the production and use of these persistent compounds through the use of alternative practices or by substitution of less harmful chemicals in existing practices where these practices are warranted on the grounds of net benefit. In this connection, this project will provide the GEF with a basis to determine the relative priorities for attention among a bewildering array of substances. Further, the benefits of experience in developed countries regarding the measures adopted to reduce the release of persistent toxic substances to the environment can be defined and made available, directly or through regional demonstration projects, to developing countries. Second, there is a need to deal with the legacy of previous releases of such substances to the environment which can only be addressed in terms of human intervention either within the pathways of exposure or in the environment itself. Decisions on the latter topic can only be made on the basis of prevailing environmental, social and economic conditions and there is an urgent need for guidance on how to reach decisions about the need for intervention. Again, the experience of several developed countries in formulating intervention levels based on protection of the environment, its resources and amenities and the protection of human health could be made available to developing countries once national and regional priorities had been established among substances. The conduct of the assessment of persistent toxic chemicals proposed here would enable attention to prevention and remediation/intervention questions in a systematic, holistic and objective manner that has not been possible previously and provide the regional framework for such activities.
2. Summary Project Objectives and Description
2.1 The objective of this project is to deliver a comprehensive regionally based assessment of the threats posed by persistent toxic substances to the environment and human health in relation to the distances over which they are transported. The activities to be undertaken in this project comprise a multi-facetted evaluation of the origins of persistent toxic substances in terms of sources, scales and modes of transport over a range of distances, exposures to aquatic and other organisms and humans, identification of the critical aquatic and other resources affected and the nature and comparative severity of damage and threats posed at national, regional and ultimately at global levels. Such an analysis would provide a scientific basis for both which substances should receive priority in terms of transboundary transport scales and the severity of effects and also serve to identify opportunities for preventative intervention, taking into account specific regional conditions.
2.2 This project represents a logical direct step towards detailed specification of the priorities and options for management intervention, both at direct and indirect sources and in the aquatic environment, with analyses of the net benefits offered by alternative options taking into account environmental, economic and social factors thereby enabling the options offering the best return on investment to be identified.
2.3 The outcome of the project will be to provide the GEF Council with a rationale for assigning priorities among persistent chemical contaminants on the basis of the seriousness of damage and threats posed at various geographical scales, with a particular focus on the regional scale. It will provide the information required determining if there exist differences in priority substances among regions thereby enabling regional actions to be focussed on those substances representing the highest priority within specific regional areas. It will also identify the particular needs for capacity building regarding the management of persistent toxic substances and targeted activities within the various regions. Furthermore, it will define the basis for determining incremental costs for national intervention options that may be required to avert adverse consequences at regional and global levels.
Indication of incremental costs for the full project
2.4 The full project will comprise assessments that are complementary, and therefore additional, to the baseline activities such as those being carried out by the intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for POPs. The proposed GEF project will provide a comprehensive basis for the evaluation of a wide range of persistent substances to identify those warranting priority attention within GEF OP 10. Accordingly, the project is fully incremental and the costs legitimately assignable to GEF funding. Nevertheless, because this topic is one receiving priority in the international community, it is expected that co-financing from national sources will cover part of the project funding.
Justification for the PDF-B Grant
2.5 The PDF-B Grant will be used to design the full assessment project in sufficient detail to ensure that the assessment is conducted in the most efficient manner that maximizes the benefits to GEF and its future activities within the Contaminants-Based Operational Program.
2.6 The main objectives of the PDF B are:
3. Description of Proposed PDF-B Activities
3.1 Inter-Agency Project Steering Group
At the commencement of project planning, an inter-agency steering group will be formed, under the Chairmanship of the UNEP Chemicals Unit, comprising: an International Waters specialist from each of the three Implementing Agencies, representatives of UNEP Chemicals Unit, Industry and Environment and Water Branches, the GIWA Core Team, the GPA Secretariat, GESAMP (e.g., from the Working Group on the Hazards of Chemicals and/or the Working Group on Marine Environmental Assessments), and as appropriate the members of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC). The UNEP Chemicals Unit will provide the Secretariat for the Steering Group that will meet once in October 1998 at the inception of the activity and again in May 1999 to finalize the project document. During the intervening period, the Steering Group will work through correspondence and periodic conference calls as required. The October meeting will be of four working days duration and its purpose will be to:
3.2 Scientific and Technical Evaluation Workshops
The design of the overall assessment will require individual pre-evaluations of three classes of persistent toxic substances:
The specific substances referred to in (a) and (b) above will serve as a reference point for the other substances considered in each of the individual pre-evaluations because they are the current focus of international action to reduce or eliminate their releases into the environment.
For these purposes, three technical Workshops will be held during the period October 1998 to January 1999 to consider respectively each of these classes of persistent substances. Each Workshop will involve approximately 20 participants with expertise in chemistry, environmental chemistry, earth sciences, aquatic environmental chemistry, toxicology/ecotoxicology, ecology, biological effects and the relevant industrial industrial sectors as appropriate. Participants will also be selected with the purpose of achieving an adequate regional balance. .
These individual evaluations must determine the approach in the assessment, for the relevant class of persistent toxic substances, to defining the:
The implementation of point c through f will be done with a particular focus on the regional level, taking into account climatic, geographic and socio-economic conditions
3.3 Policy and Socio-Economic Workshop
There will then be a requirement for a subsequent determination of approach in the assessment to analyze the policy and socio-economic implications of the problems identified, particularly how to:
The design of this part of the overall assessment, that would encompass all persistent toxic substances considered or identified in the three individual scientific and technical evaluations, would be performed by a group comprising experts from governments, public interests, academia, industry, NGOs and appropriate intergovernmental organizations. Accordingly, a socio-economic and policy Expert Workshop comprising approximately 20 experts drawn from diverse backgrounds relevant to the topic will be convened during March 1999 to undertake this task.
3.4 Formulation of a Management Plan for the Implementation of the Persistent Toxic Chemicals Assessment
Immediately following the fourth Expert (Policy and Socio-Economic) Workshop, UNEP will convene on behalf of the Steering Group a management workshop to be attended by representatives of STAP, and relevant intergovernmental agencies, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations (e.g., IUCN, WWF, other environmental and industrial NGOs), and convention secretariats, to discuss the potential contributions of such agencies and organizations to the implementation and co-sponsorship of the Project. This workshop will draft a management plan for the project including, a regional framework, a proposed mechanisms for governmental input and inter-governmental review of the proposal, individual agency responsibilities for technical and administrative support to the various Task Teams established as part of this project and finalize the workplan and timetable for project implementation.
3.5 Finalization of the GEF Project Brief
Following completion of activity 3.4, UNEP will prepare, in close collaboration with all involved agencies, a first draft of the GEF Project document to be considered and finalized during the second and final meeting of the Steering Group in Washington in May, 1999. The final project document will conform to the GEF format and requirements. It is estimated that the final project will be of the order of 2.0 Million US$ and will take 19 months to complete.
5. National Level Support
6. Outputs of the PDF-B
(i) Reports of the two Steering Group meetings, the four expert workshops and the management workshop.
(ii) Complete scoping of the project and terms of reference of the assessment in terms of both the characteristics of potentially relevant chemicals and the anthropogenic activities to be considered.
(iii) Bibliography of major reviews and metadata sources of relevance to the assessment.
(iv) GEF Project Brief for the Regionally Based Persistent Toxic Chemicals Assessment.
7. Special Features - Aspects of the analysis for particular attention
7.1 As this project is both of regional and global scope and deals, in large part, with chemicals produced or released into the environment in developed countries or states with economies in transition, it will be necessary to ensure the active involvement of governments in the process of developing the assessment. Mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that the project document and subsequent regional assessments of persistent toxic substances are adequately reviewed. In making decisions about government involvement in the project, priority will be given to countries eligible for GEF assistance.
7.2 This project aligns with the core purpose and objectives of the GEF Contaminants-Based Operational Program. The relevance and importance of the subject of this project is reinforced by the several statements made in the March 1998, Study of GEFs Overall Performance. It was noted in this latter review that: "Thus far, no project relating to global pollutants has been funded, although a project on mercury contamination is in the pipeline. The absence of such projects is unfortunate in view of the fact that persistent toxic pollutants have now been recognized as a priority environmental issue by the world community and a global treaty is to be negotiated beginning in 1998. The importance of this issue suggests that more efforts should be made by the secretariat and Implementing Agencies to explore opportunities for assisting eligible countries in reducing their dependence on persistent organic pollutants". The review team therefore concluded: "that further initiative is needed in the contaminant-based Operational Program on encouraging the development of project proposals relating to reducing developing countries dependence on persistent organic pollutants". This project is intended to provide both a basis for determining the most important widely-transported contaminants that require attention for phasing out by replacement by less hazardous substances or by alternative practices and the options for reducing their dissemination to the environment. It will also provide a basis more making management decisions at national and regional levels as to the need for intervention to prevent further damage or risks associated with previous releases of persistent toxic substances. The project therefore represents a partial response to the conclusions of the Study of GEFs Overall Performance.
8. Items to be Financed Through GEF PDF-B Block Grant
8.1 Costs of travel and DSA for expert non-UN agency participants in the four Expert Workshops, the costs of travel and DSA for non-UN agency participants in the Steering Group meetings, and the costs of consultant assistance to the preparation of, and follow-up to, each Workshop including the assembly of relevant bibliographic material.
8.2 The participation of UN-agency personnel in the Steering Group meetings and the four Expert Workshops will be borne by the agencies represented.
8.3 UNEP Chemicals Unit, in addition to acting as Executing Agency for the PDF-B, will also cover the costs of their participation in the Steering Group and Expert Workshops and will also provide in-kind secretarial support and meeting place facilities for the Steering Group Meetings and all Expert Workshops.
8.4 It is intended that representatives from industry and NGOs involved in the four Expert Workshops cover their own expenses of participation. Nevertheless, no assumptions in this respect have been made so as not to endanger full participation in these several meetings.