China to reduce soil pollution with support from the Global Environment Facility

April 30, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2015 – The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today approved the Contaminated Site Management Project, which is financed by a $15 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This project will help clean up contaminated sites and improve its management of soil pollution.

“With GEF’s support, the project will help the Chinese government manage contaminated sites in a sustainable way and reduce environmental and health risks,” said Qing Wang, World Bank’s Senior Environmental Specialist and Task Team Leader for the project. “This will also contribute to China’s implementation of the Stockholm Convention on the Elimination of Persistent Organic Pollutants.”

In the last three decades, China’s rapid industrialization has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty but has worsened its soil, air and water quality. Soil pollution, in particular, has become a serious health and environmental threat, contaminating the food chain with heavy metals, fertilizers and pesticides, persistent organic pollutants and solvents, and polluting groundwater and surface water. Soil pollution is also a barrier to the redevelopment of scarce urban land, and clean-up can unlock value for local government and residents alike.

The project will support China‘s ongoing efforts in policy making and improve the country’s capacity to manage contaminated sites. The project will also help develop new technical guidelines for the prevention and control of soil pollution; provide training for government officials, cleanup professionals and offending companies; enhance public awareness and participation, and provide technical assistance to prevent contamination.

The project will also showcase environmentally sound identification of pollution sites and cleanup of sites contaminated with pollutants. It will demonstrate the entire cleanup process, as well as global remediation technologies with a potential for scaling up in China.

A contaminated site means land containing substances that are, or potentially are, hazardous to the environment or human health. They could be abandoned industrial and mining sites, electronic waste sites, waste disposal sites, and agricultural land contaminated with heavy metals and agrochemicals.

 “China's rapid industrialization left an unintended legacy of polluted industrial and commercial areas,” said Gustavo Fonseca, the GEF’s director of programs. “We have high hopes that this pilot approach in two provinces can be further scaled up and implemented throughout China.”

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants to projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

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