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China Acknowledged the GEF For Helping Phase out Chlordane and Mirex, Two Persistent Organic Pollutants (Pops) Used for Termite Prevention and Control

September 5, 2012

September 5, 2012, BEIJING - On July 19-20, 2012, the GEF together with its implementing partners celebrated the recently-completed GEF/China Project on Demonstration of Alternatives to Chlordane and Mirex in Termite Control Sector in Nanjing, China. This success story reveals the real impact of triggering China's ban on all persistent organic pollutants (POPs) pesticides, and thanks to the funding support of the GEF and technical assistance of the World Bank, China has successfully phased out chlordane and mirex, two POPs respectively introduced in the country in 1960’s and 1970’s, and used as the principal chemicals for termite prevention and control. The completion of this project assists China in meeting its obligations under the Stockholm Convention, and significantly mitigating global environmental and health hazards caused by POPs.

"As the first completed POPs investment project in China, this project contributed significantly to China’s banning the use of POPs pesticides. The innovative alternative technologies introduced will lend valuable lessons to other similar projects in POPs portfolio. I look forward to continued achievements in the POPs portfolio,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF.

POPs are harmful to the environment as well as humans due to the fact that they can travel long distances, have a tendency to accumulate in the food chain, and remain persistent in the environment for a long period of time. Chlordane and mirex are two of the twelve POPs that the Stockholm Convention, signed in 2001, aims to restrict and eliminate. As of April 2011, ten more chemicals were added to the Convention, thereby bringing the total number of restricted substances to twenty-two.

"With the support of the GEF and the World Bank, and with the concerted efforts from relevant Ministries and industries, the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO)   has effectively implemented the GEF project on Demonstration of Alternatives of Chlordane and Mirex in Termite Control Sector. The project catalyzed the phase out of the two POPs, not only in the demonstration areas, but in the whole China, enabled China to fulfill its obligation under the Stockholm Convention, and most importantly protected human health and the environment, and the lesson learned from this project can be carried over to future efforts supporting the goals of the Stockholm Convention,” said Mr. Chen Liang, Acting Director General of Foreign Economic Cooperation Office, Ministry of Environmental Protection of China.

"Through this pioneering project, China has demonstrated how Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can transform termite control and eliminate the use of POPs pesticides while making farmers and other decision-makers aware of the benefits of environmentally-sound measures for termite control,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions.

Funding for the project was provided by the GEF in the amount of $14.36 million, with a $13.34 million contribution from the People’s Republic of China. The project was designed to demonstrate IPM, and eliminate the use of the two termiticides in three pilot provinces. By completion, the project satisfactorily exceeded original goals: The use of chlordane and mirex was completely phased out throughout China, and IPM has been proven to be an environmentally-sound technology to be replicated nationwide. With the implementation of the project, China banned the production, consumption, use, import and export of four POPs, including, DDT, hexachlorobenzene, chlordane and mirex, in May 2009. All production facilities were dismantled, and compensation to producers was made by the Ministry of Finance. The effectiveness of the ban was proven by several national monitoring and supervision actions in 2011.

With the exit of highly toxic termiticides, GEF assistance enabled China to demonstrate Integrated Pest Management which transformed technology and management systems in China’s termite control sector, and reduced chemical use in general. IPM utilizes a combination of biological, physical and chemical techniques that are both economically-sustainable and less hazardous to humans, animals, and the environment. IPM demonstration covers an area of more than 100 square kilometers, and national replication plan has been developed to replicate the success of the project. It is estimated that during the project cycle, a total amount of around 350 tons of POPs was avoided, and the introduction of IPM and capacity building among more than 5000 management and technical personnel is likely to sustain the project result.

The project also utilized some funding for the remediation of three high risk POPs contaminated sites for technology demonstration. In total, four tons of highly concentrated POPs wastes and 7500 square meters of high risk pollution soil were cleaned up.

At provincial level, the project also catalyzed changes in policy makers, termite control practitioners, chemicals producers, and local residents. Nine items of policies and regulations were issued, covering areas such as technical standards, management methods, pricing standards, and building construction. Training sessions and manuals were prepared for workers to learn about IPM and its application, and a public opinion survey in one of the demonstration sites showed that more than 90% of residents are aware of the hazardous effects of the two termiticides, and opt to pay more to use environmentally-sound measures for termite control.

Many factors went in to making this project the success that it is. Inter-department communication allowed for the project to far exceed its initially stated goals, and changes to existing policy in the country, as well as increased public awareness, will help to ensure the continued success of the project. The discontinued use of these chemicals, in addition to the clean-up of the factories that produced them, means improved environmental and health security levels for all. The focus on capacity building has ensured the future sustainability of the project throughout the country, and the lessons learned from this project can be carried over to future efforts supporting the goals of the Stockholm Convention.

 "Building on this project, China has developed an extensive POPs reduction and elimination program with a number of projects in different sectors and areas.  This will help improve the health of Chinese citizens as well as help China fulfill its obligations under the Stockholm Convention globally", said Mr. Carter Brandon, Lead Environment Specialist, China Sustainable Development Unit, Sustainable Development Department, East Asia and Pacific Region of the World Bank.

About the Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 182 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

Since 1991, GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $10.5 billion in grants and leveraging $51 billion in co-financing for over 2,700 projects in over 168 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 14,000 small grants directly to civil society and community based organizations, totaling $634 million. For more information, visit www.thegef.org.

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