G8 Environment Ministers' Meeting in 2000

Environment Leaders' Summit of the Eight
Miami, Florida, May 5-6, 1997

Chair's Summary

Climate Change

The Environment Leaders stressed the overwhelming scientific evidence that links the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to changes in the global climate system, and the likelihood that these climate changes will lead to unacceptable impacts on human health and the environment in all nations. They noted the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that: "Climate change is likely to have wide-ranging and mostly adverse impacts on human health, with significant loss of life." Major threats to human health and safety include the potential for more severe heat waves, more intense air pollution, the spread of infectious diseases, and more extreme storms and droughts. Safe drinking water may be compromised by rising sea level and salt water intrusion, by warmer temperatures that promote growth of disease organisms, and by changes in rainfall patterns that affect water quantity and quality. Changes in regional weather patterns are likely to lead to loss of forests, wetlands, and other natural ecosystems, with significant adverse effects on wildlife and biodiversity. The relationship of these ecosystem changes to human health could be significant. The Leaders agreed to work together to enhance international efforts to further develop global systems for monitoring climate change and other environmental trends in order to continue strengthening scientific support for international action.

The Environment Leaders stressed their commitment to achieving a strong agreement for controlling greenhouse gases at the Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto. They agreed that developed nations need to take the lead and show their seriousness of purpose by adopting quantified legally binding emissions targets that provide for emissions limitations and significant and realistic emissions reductions within specified time frames. They supported an agreement that allows the Parties flexibility in meeting those targets so that the most efficient and cost-effective policies and measures are used. They stressed the importance of setting up an appropriate mechanisms for monitoring and ensuring compliance among the Parties. The Leaders recognized that in order to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention actions by developed countries alone will not be sufficient. They agreed to work in partnership with developing countries to assist them in taking concrete steps to help address this problem. An agreement in Kyoto that reflects these approaches will be an important next step on the right long-term path toward ultimately stabilizing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at an acceptable level.

Environmental Enforcement and Compliance

The Environment Leaders discussed the fundamental importance of compliance with domestic environmental law. They agreed that effective enforcement of environmental law is essential to punish and deter environmental violations, ensure fairness for those who pay the costs associated with environmental compliance, and to provide a basis and give incentives for voluntary efforts to improve the integration of environmental enforcement with traditional law enforcement institutions and other agencies.

The Environment Leaders committed themselves to support and enhance the emerging international cooperative efforts among their governments and international bodies. They noted the value of compliance mechanisms under international environmental agreements and the importance of individuals and groups having access to environmental information and effective administrative and judicial mechanisms. They agreed to enhance a collective focus on trade which is illegal under international environmental law, including shipments originating in our countries and those that have adverse impacts on developing countries. They also agreed to further consultation under existing mechanisms to implement these cooperative efforts.

United Nations General Assembly Special Session

The Environment Leaders agreed that the United Nations General Assembly Special Session provides a unique opportunity for world leaders to reaffirm their commitment to sustainable development. They highlighted the importance of moving toward pragmatic, results-oriented implementation of the outcomes of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development. As part of this effort, they stressed that there is a need for continued integration of environmental, economic, and social issues, rapid progress in the eradication of poverty, and recognition that good governance, protection of human rights, and democracy are essential elements of sustainable development.

It was agreed that the Special Session should embrace a frank assessment of successes since Rio as well as the shortcomings that have been experienced. Against this background, it was stressed that the Special Session should identify central priorities for future action in key areas:

Forests: Given the continued loss and degradation of forests in many regions, there is a critical need for immediate action to implement the proposals agreed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, and for a long-term commitment to a holistic, balanced and integrated approach to the sustainable development of all types of forests. The Environment Leaders agreed to continue to work together to that end.

Freshwater: The Special Session should launch a process of the development of a global program of action on freshwater in the CSD, with the ultimate goal of making safe drinking water and sanitation available to all the world's population.

Energy: The Special Session should initiate a process coordinated in the CSD for promoting sustainable energy use, focusing on energy efficiency and the use of renewables, while addressing the needs of people without access to energy services.

The Environment Leaders stressed that progress cannot be made without strong international institutions for environment and sustainable development. They strongly endorsed the recent decisions to restructure and reform the UN Environment Programme, recognizing its role as the leading global environmental authority, as confirmed in the Nairobi Declaration. They called for an early first meeting of the UNEP High Level Committee of Ministers to advance the future work of UNEP.

The Leaders reaffirmed the CSD as the strategic forum for sustainable development issues. The successful reform of UNEP governance and the emerging consensus on the work of the CSD will enable more attention to be focused in the future on the substantive agenda for the environment and sustainable development.

They further agreed that the CSD should focus in the next five years on freshwater and energy to pursue the initiatives outlined above. In addition, they agreed that it should address oceans issues, including combating marine pollution and promoting the sustainable management of marine resources and integrated coastal zone management, and improving coordination among relevant international institutions. They also called on the CSD to deal with the issues of trade and investment, tourism and transport, including by promoting the phase out of leaded gasoline as soon as possible and considering initiatives to improve sustainability in air transport.

In addition to these priorities for future action, the Environment Leaders stressed that the Special Session should send strong messages to ongoing multilateral environmental negotiations on climate change, the Montreal Protocol, biosafety, prior informed consent and persistent organic pollutants, as well as to the first conference of parties to the convention on desertification.

The Environment Leaders highlighted the need for further action in the Special Session on a number of key cross-cutting issues of sustainable development. They agreed on the need to make progress in moving toward sustainable production and consumption patterns and significantly improved eco-efficiency. They agreed on the need to facilitate the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries, to increased efforts to mobilize both public and private sector financing, including ODA, and to ensure an adequate replenishment of the Global Environment Facility. They also reaffirmed the principles on trade and environment from their last meeting in Cabourg, and agreed on the need for progress in making trade and environment mutually supportive in favor of sustainable development.

Looking ahead to the holding of a "Rio plus 10" conference in 2002, the Environment Leaders called on the Special Session to consider inviting eminent experts to assess the challenges of sustainable development at the start of the 21st century.


1997 Declaration of the Environment Leaders of the Eight
on Children's Environmental Health

We acknowledge that, throughout the world, children face significant threats to health from an array of environmental hazards. The protection of human health remains a fundamental objective of environmental policies to achieve sustainable development. We increasingly understand that the health and well-being of our families depends upon a clean and healthy environment. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of children, who are particularly vulnerable to pollution. Evidence is growing that pollution at levels or concentrations below existing alert thresholds can cause or contribute to human health problems and our countries' present levels of protection may not, in some cases, provide children with adequate protection.

Among the most important environmental health threats to children worldwide are microbiological and chemical contaminants in drinking water, air pollution that exacerbates illness and death from respiratory problems, polluted waters, toxic substances, pesticides, and ultra-violet radiation. Most of these threats are aggravated for children living in poverty. While not a comprehensive list, we have chosen items for action, enumerated below, because they can benefit most from collective effort by the Eight.

We affirm that prevention of exposure is the single most effective means of protecting children against environmental threats. We seek to improve levels of protection for children, and we reaffirm the priority of children's environmental health in our own countries, as well as in bilateral and multilateral agendas. We agree to cooperate on environmental research, risk assessment, and standard-setting within the jurisdictions of each ministry. We agree to raise public awareness that would enable families to better protect their children's health. We urge our Leaders to make the protection of children's environmental health a high environmental priority and call for international financial institutions, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and other international bodies to continue ongoing activities and give further attention to children's environmental heath, in particular the environmental, economic and social dimensions of children's health.

Environmental Risk Assessments & Standard Setting: Historically, due to a lack of comprehensive science, environmental protection programs, standards and testing protocols often have not adequately taken into account nor fully protected infants and children from environmental threats. While our countries have incorporated the precautionary principle or precautionary approaches and safety factors into environmental standard setting, it is important to employ more explicit scientific consideration of children's characteristics and behavior in this process.

We pledge to establish national policies that take into account the specific exposure pathways and dose-response characteristics of children when conducting environmental risk assessments and setting protective standards. We agree there is a need to upgrade testing guidelines to improve our ability to detect risks to children and to assess and evaluate the effects of both single and multiple exposures for children. We urge cooperation through the OECD on adopting revised, harmonized testing guidelines. We will promote research to understand the particular exposures and sensitivities of infants and children to environmental hazards and exchange research results and information on regulatory decisions. Where there is insufficient information, we agree to pursue the precautionary principle or precautionary approaches to protecting children's health. We call for the consideration of children's environmental health, based on sound science, in the negotiation and implantation of future bilateral, regional and global agreements, such as the negotiations on persistent organic pollutants, long range transboundary air pollution, and trade in particularly dangerous pesticides, chemicals and hazardous wastes.

Children's Exposure to Lead: Lead poisoning is a major environmental hazard to children and our countries have taken many successful actions to reduce children's exposure to lead. Our countries continue to support the reduction in risks from exposure to lead.

We call for further actions that will result in reducing blood lead levels in children to below 10 micrograms per deciliter. Where this blood lead level is exceeded, further action is required. We acknowledge the importance to child health of maternal exposure to lead and agree to reduce maternal exposure.

We commit to fulfill and promote internationally the OECD Declaration on Lead Risk Reduction. We commit to a phase-out of the use of lead in gasoline, the elimination of exposure to lead in products intended for use by children, the phase-out of the use of lead in paint and rust-proofing agents, the restriction of lead in products that may result in ingestion in food and drinking water and to set schedules and develop strategies for elimination or reduction of lead from these sources. In addition, we agree to conduct public awareness campaigns on the risks to children from lead exposure and to develop scientific protocols and programs to monitor blood lead levels in children to track our progress in this important effort.

Microbiologically Safe Drinking Water: Worldwide, the greatest threat to childhood survival is lack of access to clean water, with more than four million children dying annually from diarrheal disease associated with contaminated water. In recent years, a number of countries have experienced serious waterborne disease outbreaks associated with microbial contaminants, such as cryptosporidium and bacterial and viral pathogens. All countries and relevant international organizations should better incorporate the existing knowledge bases into protecting children from microbiological contaminants in drinking water.

We agree to focus increased attention on drinking water disinfection, source water protection and sanitation, as major instruments of good drinking water quality in our national and regional programs, as well as through existing bilateral foreign assistance programs, international organizations and financial institutions. We will facilitate technology transfer to and capacity building in developing countries where micro biologically safe drinking water is a primary child survival concern.

We strongly support the initiative on sustainable use of freshwater for social and economic purposes, including, inter alia, safe drinking water and sanitation, proposed in the context of the preparations for UNGASS and consider that this initiative should make a major contribution to children's health.

We agree to share information and policies among our countries to improve our drinking water standards and will designate officials from our ministries to exchange monitoring data on microbiological drinking water contaminants and waterborne disease outbreaks on a regular basis. We agree to collaborate on research to support the development of technologies and methods to control disease outbreaks and will give special emphasis to appropriate technologies for small drinking water treatment systems.

Air Quality: Air quality is of particular importance to infants and children, both indoors and outdoors. Childhood asthma and other pediatric respiratory ailments are increasing dramatically in our countries and are substantially exacerbated by environmental pollutants in the air, including emissions from fossils fuel combination and other sources. While research on children's exposure to some specific air pollutants has been conducted by some our countries, further research is needed.

We undertake to reduce air pollution in our respective countries, which will alleviate both domestic and transboundary impacts of air quality and, particularly, children's health. Recognizing that indoor air pollution has been identified as a critical problem affecting children's health worldwide, we agree to exchange information, on indoor air health threats and remedial measures.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke are more likely to suffer from reduced lung function, lower respiratory tract infections and respiratory irritations. Asthmatic children are especially at risk. Many of these symptoms lead to increased hospitalizations of children.

We affirm that environmental tobacco smoke is a significant public health risk to young children and that parents need to know about the risks of smoking in the home around their young children. We agree to cooperate on education and public awareness efforts aimed at reducing children's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

Emerging Threats to Children's Health from Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: There is growing scientific evidence that a variety of environmental contaminants can exert adverse health effects by their ability to alter the functions of hormones within the body. These effects, which include cancer, reproductive disorders, changes in behavior and immune dysfunction, have been observed in laboratory animals exposed to specific chemicals, wildlife populations in several broadly contaminated ecosystems such as the Great Lakes, and to a more limited extent in humans exposed to some organochlorine compounds. Some of these chemicals also are capable of causing long-term neurological damage. Infants and children may be at particular risk to the potential effects of these contaminants. Children may be exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals in utero, through breast milk and in the environment.

We encourage continuing efforts to compile an international inventory of research activities, develop an international assessment of the state of the science, identify and prioritize research needs and data gaps, and develop a mechanism for coordinating and cooperating on filling the research needs. These activities should complement initiatives that are being pursued in international fora such as the Inter-governmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) and through the work of agencies such as the United Nations Environment Programme. We pledge to develop cooperatively risk management or pollution prevention strategies, as major sources and environmental fates of endocrine disrupting chemicals are identified and will continue to inform the public as knowledge is gained.

Impacts of Global Climate Change to Children's Health: Decisive international action must be taken to confront the problem of global warming including at Kyoto. Our children and future generations face serious threats to their health and welfare from changes in the Earth's climate due the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Overwhelming scientific evidence links human actions to anticipated changes in the global climate system that are likely to result in unacceptable impacts to all nations. In the words of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: "Climate change is likely to have wide-ranging and mostly adverse impacts on human health, with significant loss of life." Children will be among the most susceptible to more severe heat waves, more intense air pollution, and the spread of infectious diseases and we are only beginning to understand the interactions between these issues and other global trends, such as ozone depletion. Future generations will face many potential impacts of climate change with serious health, environmental and economic consequences.

We must address environmental health threats with a specific focus on children which, for many countries, will require increased coordination between environment, health and other ministries. Countries must increase institutional and other scientific capacities to work on the specific problems of environmental threats to children. We will make the steps agreed upon in this declaration a priority in domestic action plans, report on our progress in carrying out those steps in appropriate international fora and broaden our cooperative efforts on children's environmental health with other countries.

We recognize that environmental threats to children's health must be set in a larger context of poverty alleviation and economic and social development and we urge Leaders to commit to specific results-orientated actions that will accelerate a global transition to sustainable development at The UNGASS and other international fora.

Annex A

Implementation Actions on Protecting Children's Health and Environment Which the Environment Leaders of the Eight Have Agreed to Promote Within Their Governments and Countries

Risk Assessment and Standard Setting

  • Urge the OECD to expedite completion of the process of updating and harmonizing developmental and reproductive toxicity testing guidelines.
  • Designate officials to work towards enhanced international harmonization of risk assessment approaches that explicitly address environmental risks to children.

  • Each country agrees to develop and share individual country actions to accomplish the goals of the OECD Declaration on lead.
  • The Eight will establish principal points of contact and a mechanism for sharing timely information regarding lead hazards in toys and other products to which children might be exposed, including imported products, and will consider other joint actions as appropriate.
  • Provide access, on a timely basis, to new technological developments on blood lead level testing.
Microbiologically Safe Drinking Water

  • Recommend that foreign assistance programs of the Eight, international organizations, and international financial institutions focus increased attention on drinking water disinfection and source water protection for nations worldwide.
  • Designate contact points to exchange monitoring data on microbiological drinking water contaminants and waterborne disease outbreaks.
  • Designate contact points to collaborate on research to support the development of technologies and methods, focused on small drinking water systems, to control disease outbreaks.
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

  • Request that the International Organization on the Management of Chemicals and U.S. EPA complete an international inventory of ongoing research activities.
  • Work with UNEP and other appropriate international organizations to complete an international scientific assessment.
  • Develop an international research strategy after completion of the inventory and scientific assessment.
  • Support an OECD initiative to develop a battery of screening and testing guidelines for endocrine disrupting chemicals that considers the special susceptibilities and exposures to children.
Environmental Tobacco Smoke

  • Convene a scientific conference, through WHO or another appropriate scientific organization, to synthesize and share the latest scientific information on risks to infants and children from environmental tobacco smoke and compile information on the most effective educational strategies concerning exposures to children.
Air Quality

  • Carry out regional commitments to address transboundary impacts of air pollution.
  • Cooperate through existing scientific organization to enhance the exchange of information on health threats and effective remedial approaches for addressing indoor air quality problems.