Twenty Mediterranean countries and the EU agreed on the steps
they need to take to rid the region of all hazardous substances by
2025, as the Barcelona Convention meeting for the protection of the
Mediterranean ended in Monaco today.
Under the operational plan, every government must carry out a
basic evaluation of toxic pollution in their country. This requires
them to establish an inventory of every toxic substance discharged
into the air and water by the end of 2003 in order to fight land
based sources of pollution.
Greenpeace welcomed the plan but stressed the need to turn words
into action. This plan provides governments with a genuine
opportunity to secure a future free of toxic pollution for everyone
in the region. But words alone will not save the Mediterranean,
said Greenpeace political advisor, Katia Kanas.
Some countries that have been slow to ratify the Barcelona
Convention and its protocols, notably Spain, Algeria, Greece, Syria
and Slovenia committed themselves to doing so after delegates were
reminded that their discussions directly affect lives of people in
the region. On hearing the testimonies Israel also responded by
promising to ratify the convention, the protocol to stop land based
sources of pollution and the dumping of waste at sea
A Lebanese lung specialist, a Turkish Petrochemical industry
worker and an Israeli fisherman took the floor at the meeting and
testified against the disastrous effects industrial pollution has
on people´s health and livelihoods.
The Israeli fisherman, Mr. Jeries Dania, who has contracted
cancer, told delegates: First they killed the fish, now they are
killing us. The government issues pollution licenses to these
factories. I asked the Israeli Environment Minister to ban these
releases immediately. I asked the government to ratify the
amendments of the Barcelona Convention and its related protocols. I
also asked all Mediterranean governments to do the same in order to
make the texts enter into force quickly.
For the last six years, promises made have remained no more
than empty rhetoric. Until they ratify the Convention and all its
protocols, governments can continue to dodge legal enforcement and
industries can continue business as usual. We urge governments to
have the political will to eliminate all hazardous substances in
the Mediterranean now,´´ added Kanas.