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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: Women

As many delegations have pointed out, recent studies by the World Health Organization
show that indoor air pollution from burning biomass fuels for household energy presents
a major health threat for women and children in developing countries. This concern is
well reflected in the Chair?s draft text. We urge governments to go a step further and
actually endorse the WHO target put forward at this meeting: ?By 2015, to reduce by half
the number of people without access to modern cooking fuels and to make improved
cooking technologies widely available.?
We would also like to point out that indoor air pollution caused by using traditional
biomass fuels in smoky fires is due to lack of access by the poor to modern energy
services. Indoor air pollution problems can be reduced through the use of chimneys and
vents, improved kitchens and equipment arrangement, as well as better-quality wood
supplies, wider availability of cleaner-burning ?improved? wood stoves and use of
modern equipment, including solar cookers. However, the problems can only be solved
when access to affordable, cleaner and sustainable modern energy sources is ensured.
Women in developing countries would benefit from government strategies to promote
expanded access to affordable, cleaner and culturally appropriate technologies, including
biogas digesters or solar cookers, as well as cleaner-burning and more efficient cooking
fuels (such as LPG, kerosene, butane, natural gas, and locally and sustainably produced
biofuels) and community reforestation programmes. Financing for investments in
cooking energy programmes could be provided in the form of pro-poor financing
mechanisms and smart subsidies, and should be included under the Kyoto Protocol?s
Clean Development Mechanism and other voluntary funds.
For countries in transition, air pollution from industry and motor vehicles presents major
health and environmental threats. Therefore we call for improved monitoring and
quantitative assessments of these risks, regulations to control small particulates, and full
implementation of the ?polluter pays? principle.