Tackling POPs must to safeguard human health, environment: Secy

ISLAMABAD: Secretary Ministry of Climate Change Arif Ahmed Khan said on Tuesday, while addressing the first Project Steering Committee, that tackling issues related to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the country is vital to safeguard human health and avert environmental risks by enhancing management capacities and disposing of existing POPs prevalent in Pakistan.

“However, development and implementation of a viable regulatory, policy and enforcement system is key to effective elimination of the POPs,” the secretary emphasized while chairing a project steering committee meeting of the five-year ‘Comprehensive Reduction & Elimination of POPs in Pakistan’ project here at the Ministry.

The project has been launched at a cost of US$39.38 million for which the government will contribute 11.57 in kind, followed by UN Development US$300,000, Programme Global Environment Facility (GEF) US$5.15 million and private sector US$ 22.36 million.

Khan directed the National Project Manager, Rahman Hamid and his project team to strive hard to achieve the project goals in the greater public interest and country’s overall environmental development for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention in Pakistan.

During the presentation, the National Project Director and Director-General (Environment & Climate Change), Irfan Tariq informed the committee of various sources of POPs, their effects on human health & environment and measures to be taken under the project to address the POPs risks.

He told the meeting that the key goal of the initiative is to significantly reduce vulnerability of population to the POPs through improved sustainable environmental management practices including climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Giving briefing on the annual work plan as a part of the project implementation, the project director told the meeting that efforts were being made to strengthen POPs regulatory and policy instruments adopted and POPs management systems for controlling and reducing releases of POPs, capacity building of local communities and public and private sector stakeholders to reduce exposure to releases of POPs, proper and environmentally-safe collection, transport and disposal of OPS pesticides.

POPs are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food web and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment.

The meeting was attended, amongst others, by representatives of UNDP, GEF, National Food Security and Research Ministry, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) and private sector, who also suggested various measures for eliminating POPs relevant to their areas.