Blacksmith Institute Press Release

Global Pollution Remediation Fund Launches

Consortium Plans $400 Million for Environmental Clean Ups


New York, October 17, 2007 -- An international consortium of environmental ministers, researchers and non-governmental organizations has agreed to the launch of The Global Pollution Remediation Fund (GPRF) a planned $400 million fund dedicated to combating toxic pollution in the developing world. The announcement by U.S. environmental group, Blacksmith Institute, follows a conference in Bellagio, Italy, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. Attendees at the meeting included representatives from governmental agencies of the United States, Germany, China, Russia, Mozambique, Kenya, the Philippines, the World Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Green Cross Switzerland, Blacksmith Institute and leading researchers in public health and pollution remediation.


"As citizens of the richer countries of the world, we have a responsibility to act," said Margrit von Braun of the University of Idaho. "We have already solved these problems in our own countries and we have an obligation to transfer our knowledge and resources."


The Fund will be directed to cleaning up over 400 highly polluted locations worldwide that affect more than 100 million people with reduced life expectancy, increased cancer risks and severe neurological damage, amongst other health impacts. Donors will now be approached to raise the necessary monies.


The group concurred that the international community must act immediately to deal with legacy industrial, military, and mining pollution in the poorer countries of the world. They also agreed to the basic protocols for the Fund's inception and management. "Legacy" refers to residual pollution from activities that are no longer taking place, such as defunct industrial or mining operations.


The clean-up work will be cost effective: a recent Blacksmith Institute study reviewed by researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that the cost of implementation of remediation projects ranges between a meager $40 to $500 per life saved. Projects will be implemented by local stakeholders with technical and monetary assistance provided by the GPRF. Only the most cost-effective technologies will be employed and work will be directed to those places where pollution is causing the most harm to humans, especially children.


The meeting in Bellagio was organized by Blacksmith Institute, whose recent report "The Top Ten World's Worst Polluted Places" focused intense international attention to the most highly polluted sites in the world.