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 IPEN Global Day of Action Kazakhstan

On behalf of ecological non-government organizations
Of the Republic of Kazakhstan

The public union "Greenwomen" Ecological News Agency" appeals to non-governmental organizations in Kazakhstan and Central Asia to add their signatures to the attached Address.

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Environmental Protection Ministry
Ministry of Agriculture (Plants Protection and
Quarantine Department)
Ministry of Health Care
Academy of Sciences
Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources
Customs Committee of the Ministry of State Revenues
The UN
OSCE
European Commission
and other international organizations

Address
On behalf of ecological non-government organizations
Of the Republic of Kazakhstan

On 17 May 2004 the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) will take effect serving as the first global agreement aimed at introducing a complete ban on the most poisonous chemical substances.

Some time ago these chemicals were used for industrial purposes, as byproducts of various technological processes and as specialized substances designed to fight harmful insects. Unfortunately, as time passed it was determined that all of these chemicals exhibited common negative effects, were causing damage to the environment and people's health, took long periods of time to dissolve and could be carried by water and air masses for great distances.

Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants is aimed at total elimination of poisonous chemical compounds and, particularly, the twelve chemical compounds, typically called "the dirty dozen" - DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, chlordane, mirex, toxaphene, heptachlore, polychlorinated biphenyl's, hexachlorbenzene, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxines (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-furans (PCDFs)

These toxins cause various types of cancers, human immune and reproduction system disorders. These substances bear inherent environmental dangers destroying ecological systems and impacting all living creatures.

Following several years of intense negotiations, in 2001 representatives of more than 120 countries signed the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. The Convention took effect after ratification in 50 countries.

Currently among CIS countries Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tadjikistan, Ukraine are signatories to the Convention. Armenia and Azerbaijan have ratified the document.

The Convention postulates that persistent organic pollutants application should be prohibited, production should be banned and allstockpiles eliminated. Moreover, it becomes illegal to transport POPs across national boundaries of the Convention parties.

Organizations throughout the world will mark May 17 carrying out the Stockholm Convention support events and initiatives.

We, the ecological non-government organizations of Kazakhstan appeal to our country's government to expedite the Stockholm Convention ratification.

Why is it important to ratify the Stockholm Convention as soon as possible?

Ratification of the Convention yields tangible benefits to all countries, as opposed to just a single nation. The more countries adopt the Convention the more countries will have an opportunity to dispose of these toxic chemicals bringing added benefits to all signatories.

Some countries require financial and other resources to eliminate poisonous chemical substances. Outside support served as a prerequisite to the Convention ratification in these countries. Developed nations which have ratified the Convention agreed to provide support to the states in need of assistance.

For example, Belarus, which has ratified the Convention, has the right to receive up to 500,000 USD to develop its national action plan aimed at ensuring control and elimination of chemicals covered by the Convention.

The fact that the Stockholm Convention takes effect signals the end of a phase in working with persistent organic pollutants and initiation of the new phase. In addition to finding solutions for already existing issues, the Convention addresses potential future challenges. Specifically, the Stockholm Convention issues a call to all ratifying countries to propose new chemicals to be included into the list of substances earmarked for total elimination.

Countries ratifying the Convention will have to make lots of additional decisions to ensure its proper implementation. For example, these decisions will have to deal with the new chemicals mentioned above, as well as optimal handling methodologies for already existing ones. Decisions related to the Convention will have to be adopted at a meeting called the Conference of Parties in early 2005. Only countries ratifying the Convention at least 90 days prior to the Conference will have voting rights.

POPs-related issues are particularly relevant in Kazakhstan.

We are aware of the fact that in certain locations throughout our country there are stockpiles of outdated chemicals - they are piled under the open air, pour out of broken barrels polluting waters and soils, threatening to impact health conditions of currently living citizens and future generations.

In early 2004 Kazakhstan completed a preliminary assessment of outdated and unusable pesticides. The action took place in the framework of a UNDP/NEF project entitled "Initial support meeting obligations under the Stockholm Convention on POPs".

Project goal was to develop an inventory of outdated and unaccounted for pesticides stockpiles, identification of persistent organic pollutants among stockpiled pesticides and related mixtures, assess amounts of unusable pesticides and packaging.

More than 1500 tones of pesticides and related mixtures were identified at the former "Selkhozchemicals" (State Agricultural Chemicals Company) storage facilities, collective farms' warehouses and agricultural air fields. POP pesticides constitute approximately 41.7 tones. Assessment of outdated pesticides buried in operational and abandoned storage facilities is yet to be conducted.

Outdated pesticides inventory development involved surveying more than 140 storage facilities, only 57 of which are currently operational. 83 former "Selkhozchemicals" storage facilities have been totally destroyed.

Pesticides packaging recycling represents another major issue. Preliminary inventory development data indicates that there are 300 thousand unattended units of pesticides packaging. These materials pose major threats to public health since they are commonly used for household purposes to store food items and water. The general public is vaguely aware of associated public health threats and potential
consequences.

Considering the all-encompassing global nature of POPs-related issues and their acute relevance for our country, Kazakhstan's NGOs believe that currently series of urgent actions have to be taken, including:

  • expedite ratification of the Stockholm Convention and related Basle and Rotterdam Conventions;
  • develop public participation mechanisms and procedures, principles of interaction with legislative and executive branches on matters related to toxic chemical substances;
  • harmonize national legislative acts and the Stockholm Convention;
  • develop special POPs-related legislative acts or include POPs-related aspects into existing legislation on environmental matters.

Cross-sector and international interaction may provide for:
establishment of a Central Asian POPs network and its representative offices across the region;
consultations, experience sharing and expert support:

  • Central Asian Regional conferences aimed at assessing effectiveness of public participation in addressing POPs-related issues;
  • participation in action plans development to resolve POPs-related issues;
  • public awareness campaigns;
  • POPs databases development in Central Asian states;
  • "hot spots" identification throughout Central Asia - for example, sites containing outdated chemicals etc.;
  • public distribution of inventory check-up results and other POPs-related materials in official and other languages;
  • POPs-related instructional materials development and publication;
  • special POPs curriculum introduction at schools, in universities and other educational institutions;
  • ecologically "clean" technologies promotion;
  • research and studies assessing POPs impact on public health in certain geographic areas;
  • research, analysis of existing POPs elimination technologies (based on public health and environmental safety parameters) and their implementation potential;
  • public awareness efforts and POPs-related consultations for experts and the general public.

Educational activities may include:

  • POPs-related methodologies and instructional materials development for various educational levels;
  • production of educational video programs, films, PSAs, CDs for instructional purposes.

Joint actions involving government entities and NGOs may include:

  • implementation of various POPs-related campaigns;
  • POPs-related projects development;
  • establishment of a public oversight entity monitoring stockpiles and industrial wastes containing POPs, as well as industrial activities and specific enterprise-level actions related to POPs;
  • participation in international projects aimed at resolving POPs-related issues;
  • public participation in identifying illegal stockpiles of banned and outdated pesticides.

The Stockholm Convention provides for active public participation in its implementation. Hence, NGOs of the Republic of Kazakhstan believe that it is crucial to develop mechanisms and procedures ensuring public participation in implementation, as well as fundamental principles defining interaction with legislative and executive branches on matters related to poisonous chemical substances.

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