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Remarks on Air Pollution and Atmosphere at the 15th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development

John Matuszak, Division Chief, Sustainable Development and Multilateral Institutions
Remarks at the 15th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development
New York City
May 1, 2007

As we said yesterday, the CSD has already delivered some important successes during this two-year cycle. CSD-registered partnerships have delivered concrete, measurable results on the ground. CSD participants have submitted more than 200 case studies into the CSD Matrix, an innovative knowledge-sharing tool with lessons learned and best practices from all corners of the globe. And, the CSD Learning Center has provided practical capacity building to hundreds of CSD participants.

Despite these successes, our work is not yet done. We have been tasked by the Chairman to do two things in the coming days: 1) use CSD as a platform for launching specific initiatives, activities, and projects, and 2) spend four days producing a decision document.

To address the first of these tasks, I'd like to highlight a few examples of new and strengthened actions that we believe will advance the implementation of the Rio and Johannesburg agreements.

Paragraph 56 of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation calls for "phasing out of lead in gasoline." The Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles has proven to be a critical means of translating these words into actions. With the assistance of this partnership, all 49 Sub-Saharan African countries stopped refining and importing leaded gasoline by the end of 2005.

The Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles has not finished its work however. Partnership members will work with additional countries to eliminate lead by the end of 2007 and their goal is to eliminate lead from gasoline throughout the world by the end of 2008.

Paragraph 56 of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation also calls for efforts to "reduce dependence on traditional fuel sources for cooking and heating, which affect the health of women and children."

In this case, another initiative - the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA) - is playing an important role in catalyzing action and delivering results. Since 2003, organizations involved in the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air have helped 11 million people adopt cleaner and more efficient cooking and/or heating practices. This is important progress in addressing a problem, which kills an estimated 4,000 people per day.

Here again, this initiative is not done with its work. At their biennial forum in India this past March, the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air developed the following goals: by April 2008, PCIA will seek to bring clean and efficient cooking and heating practices to 1.4 million additional households. By April 2010: PCIA will seek to raise this number to 6.6 million additional households.

Both of these initiatives were launched at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. Now, I'd like to highlight an initiative that was launched during this CSD Cycle: the UNEP Global Partnership for Reduction of Mercury Emissions from Coal-Fired Utilities. This partnership is aimed at improving the understanding of mercury as a pollutant of concern from the coal-fired power sector and providing information on control strategies and options to reduce mercury release into the atmosphere. This atmospheric mercury ends up in our lakes and rivers and moves into the food chain. This partnership includes UNEP, the United States, Canada, and Japan working with stakeholders in China, India, the Russian Federation, South Africa, and the Ukraine. This partnership is one of many that we have joined to implement paragraph 23(g) of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, which calls for efforts to reduce health risks posed by the release of heavy metals into the environment.

Regarding the decision document, we continue to urge the Bureau to shorten and consolidate the existing document significantly. From our delegation's perspective, the following would be useful criteria for removing language from the current text.

First, we should use CSD-11's mandate as a guiding principle, in particular its call for the CSD to "focus on those areas where it can add value to intergovernmental deliberations" and to limit overlap and duplication with other international organizations. For this reason, this text does not need to address issues, which are being addressed in other fora. For example, under the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. recently called for an accelerated phase-out of HCFCs. While we feel that this is an important issue, we do not need to include it in the CSD document because we are already addressing it at meetings of the Montreal Protocol.

Second, as many others have said, the CSD decision document need not re-open or re-state previous agreements. Instead, we should reaffirm our commitment to the agreements we have worked so hard to conclude in the past.

And finally, the CSD should not interfere in the mandates and missions with their own governing bodies.

Again, we hope that these three criteria might be useful for the Bureau in their efforts to prepare a streamlined draft negotiating text.

UNUS Release 097(07)  

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