The threat of industrial accidents continues to remain a clear and present danger for all nations, including those with stringent safety standards, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, as he urged the international community to do more to prevent such accidents from occurring.
In a video message to the Conference of the Parties to the UN Economic Commission for Europe Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, which opened today in Geneva, Mr. Ban warned that the consequences of such accidents can be “severe and are often deadly.”
In particular, the increasing probability of extreme weather events caused by climate change may pose new risks to industrial safety, he noted.
The UNECE Convention supports countries in preventing industrial accidents, and in mitigating their effects if they occur. It focuses particularly on cross-border cooperation between countries in this regard. Through the Convention's Assistance Programme, countries in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia are improving their industrial safety standards.
Nevertheless, Mr. Ban stated, while the Convention has been successful thus far, “more needs to be done.”
The meeting of the Conference of the Parties – which ends on 5 December – has brought together over 100 representatives of governments, industry, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations.
The start of the meeting coincides with the 30th anniversary of the largest chemical accident in human history, which occurred in Bhopal, India, when the release of highly toxic gas from the Union Carbide pesticide plant killed thousands of people and injured hundreds of thousands more.
“I hope you will be inspired to do even more to protect people and the planet, and help to build a safer future for all,” the Secretary-General told delegates.