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On November 4-5, 2002 Almaty
hosted a regional consultations seminar “Persistent organic pollutants:problems, international initiatives, public actions”.





Participants of the event included government officials dealing with issues related to persistent organic pollutants (POPs), agencies and Ministries responsible for environmental protection, non-governmental organizations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadjikistan and Uzbekistan.

The seminar was organized by Ecological News Agency Greenwomen (Kazakhstan), Center “Gender: innovations and development” (Uzbekistan) with financial support provided by Central Asian Regional Ecological Center (CAREC, Kazakhstan).

Seminar participants presented reports informing about POPs-related issues in their respective countries.

A number of key issues were addressed in the course of the seminar. Particularly, seminar participants identified the need to adopt special laws governing issues related to persistent organic pollutants.

Participating countries recognized the lack of qualified specialists.

POPs management issues were also addressed based on shared understanding that POPs management can be based only on the knowledge of full POPs cycle. Central Asian states do not produce pesticides. The cycle starts from the imports stage. Consequently, it is necessary to introduce controls over pesticides transportation, as well as pesticides application, recycling and destruction monitoring procedures. There is a need to establish a special administrative body ensuring implementation of controls over persistent organic pollutants and enforcement of management procedures. It is necessary to create a comprehensive action plan aimed at resolving problems related to persistent organic pollutants.

There are also issues related to data collection. It is difficult to gather data concerning pesticides even at the local level. Journalists often encounter unwillingness of many officials to share information.

Participants of the seminar agreed that NGOs could play an active role in resolving issues related to persistent organic pollutants. Small concrete actions can serve as a strong starting point. There are several existing practical examples of such actions. Ms. Yulia Kalmykova, a representative of Ecomuseum (Karaganda) informed the audience that her organization had been dealing with POPs-related issues since 1997 in the framework of its other projects. For example, “The clean river” project implemented by Ecomuseum provided for POPs testing in local rivers. At the time POPs were detected, however, in quantities within established nominal limits. First tests had to be done in Novosibirsk since Kazakhstan did not have adequate testing facilities.

Ecomuseum highlighted a major issue – laboratories of state monitoring agencies do not have standards for POPs control. Ecomuseum believes that laboratories of state monitoring agencies have to work with the list of persistent organic pollutants.

In 1997 Ecomuseum started to address the issue of burning household wastes and fallen leaves. As a result of concentrated efforts, currently fallen leaves are not burnt but transported outside city limits or buried. A lot of work had to be done to bring about change. Ecomuseum published newspaper articles, aired a PSA. Organization’s representatives actively lobbied at local and regional-level government agencies. Ecomuseum representative believes that there are measurable results – unauthorized garbage dumpsters disappeared from the banks of small rivers.

Ecomuseum works in close cooperation with NGOs from other regions. For example, in the summer of 2002 a joint Irtysh basing tour was implemented in cooperation with NGO representatives from Eastern Kazakhstan. The tour was launched at Ridder (former Leninogorsk). NGO representatives highlighted an atrocious fact: Ridder Zinc Plant recycles transformers from Tumen. Ridder Plant is an old enterprise lacking proper waste management facilities. Consequently, the plant dumps all harmful wastes into Ulba river. Ecomuseum intends to continue cooperation with NGOs from Eastern Kazakhstan. Currently a project is being developed to mount public actions against waste mongers.

Director of the Central Asian Regional Ecological center, Mr. Bulat Esekin discussed the issue of public participation in implementation of the Convention on persistent organic pollutants and stressed that all interested parties had to take part in the process. To support active participation it is necessary to ensure:
- distribution of information
- education of different constituencies
- accounting for opinions of all interested parties.

Mr. Esekin, also, stressed that the Laws would not work without proper implementation mechanisms to be developed with active participation of the general public.

The seminar led to development of specific recommendations aimed at fostering active public participation in resolving POPs-related issues.

Several proposals have been announced in Kokshetau at a roundtable organized in the framework of the information project in mid-September 2002.

Participants of the seminar highlighted the global nature of issues related to persistent organic pollutants and acuteness of these issues for all countries of the region. All parties concerned have to participate in resolving POPs-related issues.

Participants of the seminar outlined the following key directions aimed at encouraging public participation in resolving POPs-related issues:

- public participation in decision-making;
- cross-sector and cross-national interaction;
- informational and educational activities;
- actions aimed at resolving POPs-related issues.

Recommendations of the regional consultations seminar on public actions aimed at resolving POPs-related issues.

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