WASHINGTON DC, December 12, 2011 - The World Bank is joining forces with the Blacksmith Institute, one of the world’s leading non-government organizations with expertise in cleaning up toxic pollution left over from past industrial activities like mining and smelting.
Through a $700,000 grant under the World Bank’s Development Grant Facility, Blacksmith will design the framework for a global partnership that will bring together local communities affected by “legacy pollution” with development partners, local governments, other NGOs, and the private sector.
Once in place, the partnership is expected to bring a systematic and organized approach to dealing with legacy pollution globally. It will assist countries to build their capacity to assess contaminated sites, prioritize, develop and manage clean-up projects and will enable clear and effective transfer of remediation technologies.
Over the past decade, Blacksmith has reduced health risks from exposures to lead, mercury, chromium and other toxic pollutants in some of the world’s most polluted places in countries including Indonesia, Nigeria, Senegal, Russia, and the Philippines.
The partnership approach was triggered by concerns from governments and local communities at the lack of action to deal with toxic legacy pollution. Many of these sites are “orphaned” – they have no agency with clear responsibility for cleanup. In some cases, the original polluters are unknown or untraceable, are bankrupt or are now-defunct state entities. In other cases, a large number of operators contributed to the pollution, making liability for cleanup nearly impossible to enforce. Health impacts may include significant disability and even death. Lead exposure, for example, can cause neurological damage, reduced IQ, anemia, muscle and joint pain, and at high concentrations, seizures and death.
“Addressing legacy pollution is vital to improving the environment, health and livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries around the world,” said Mary Barton-Dock, Director of the World Bank’s Environment Department. “Through our work with Blacksmith, the World Bank is catalyzing a new approach that supports countries in their efforts to deal with past pollution problems and restore their local environments.”
President of Blacksmith Institute, Richard Fuller said: “High-income countries have largely solved their major toxic pollution problems. The partnership will give low- and middle-income countries the opportunity to do the same. The expertise and technology already exist. We just need to build the capacity of local partners to replicate and implement. In other words, this is a problem we can solve in our lifetime. This is a chance to improve the lives of millions.”
With the grant agreement now signed, Blacksmith will proceed with the design phase for the partnership and bring partners on board.
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. Its mission is to fight poverty and to help people help themselves and their environment by providing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity and forging partnerships in the public and private sectors.
About Blacksmith Institute
Blacksmith Institute is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to solving life-threatening pollution issues in the developing world. Based in New York, Blacksmith works cooperatively in partnerships that include governments, the international community, NGOs and local agencies to design and implement innovative, low-cost solutions to save lives. Since 1999, Blacksmith has completed over 50 cleanup projects in 21 countries.