Global Inventory of Pollutant Releases

OECD and Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs)


Beginning or the Work - OECD Council's Recommendation

The OECD began work on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) in response to Agenda 21, the result of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Agenda 21 calls for governments to implement and improve databases about chemicals including inventories of emissions, with the co-operation of industry and the public.


In 1996, the OECD Council adopted a Recommendation on Implementing Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers [C/(96)41/Final, as amended in 2003 C(2003)87], which calls for Member countries to establish a PRTR scheme. In line with the Council Recommendation, OECD also published a guidance manual for governments to develop and implement a PRTR scheme in EnglishFrenchSpanish and Russian.


The work has been conducted within the framework of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) which was established by UNEP, UNITAR, ILO, FAO, UNIDO, WHO and OECD in 1995 based on the recommendation by the Agenda 21. Past meetings of the IOMC include: The Americas Workshop, 29-31 July 1997 in Mexico (see outcome: PRTRs: A Tool for Environmental Management and Sustainable Development); Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) and the New Independent States (NIS) of the Former Soviet Union, 15-17 January 1997 in Prague (see summary report); and Southeast Asia, 25-27 June 1996 in Australia.


In September 1998, OECD held the International Conference on PRTRs: National and Global Responsibility in Tokyo, Japan. This conference produced a blueprint for future international action to enhance and support PRTR implementation (see conference proceedings, Part I and Part II).


Implementation of the Council Recommendation

OECD Secretariat has periodically conducted surveys on the status of implementation of the Council Recommendation in member countries. A summary of the survey results as well as a detailed review of the results serve as a reference tool for countries developing a new PRTR system or modifying an existing one.


According to the latest survey undertaken in 2009, all OECD member countries have established, or are preparing to establish a PRTR scheme in their countries. Links to websites of national or regional PRTRs are available from, a global portal site for the PRTR information.


More about the OECD activities to assist PRTRs implementation.


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