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Food for Thought: International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has the mandate to develop approaches to the safe management of chemicals. At its February 2002 Special Session, UNEP's Governing Council adopted a "Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management" known as "SAICM". The Executive Director was requested to work with relevant intergovernmental groups and other stakeholders to review current actions to advance the sound management of chemicals, identify gaps and propose concrete projects and priorities. The strategic approach is to promote the incorporation of chemical safety issues into the development agenda. The initiative was endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002, and the first SAICM meeting took place in Bangkok in November, 2003.

The International POPs Elimination Network, known as IPEN, is a global network of public interest non-governmental organisations united in support of a common POPs elimination goal. The mission of IPEN, achieved through its participating organisations, is to work for the global elimination of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), on an expedited yet socially equitable basis. POPs are highly toxic chemicals which persist in the environment, bio-accumulate in the food chain, and concentrate in cold climates.

IPEN Bangkok SAICM Statement, November 10, 2003

As nongovernmental public interest organizations working to protect public, workers' and peasants' health and the environment from the harms caused by toxic chemicals, our organizations reaffirm our commitment to continue to work jointly toward elimination of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other persistent toxic substances from the world's environment.

We welcome the decision by governments to adopt a strategic approach to international chemicals management (SAICM), and we will work for effective policies and their implementation in our regions, countries, and locales to protect health and the environment from injury caused by chemicals throughout their life cycles.

Toxic chemicals impact every aspect of life on our planet. They contaminate basic resources including air, water, soil, and food. They contaminate our bodies, future generations, and wildlife across the globe.

We therefore urge governments and stakeholders to utilise the SAICM process to achieve by the year 2020, a toxic free future in which food, water, soil and air do not contain chemical pollutants having the potential to cause harm to human health and the environment, and in which workers and communities no longer receive occupational or community exposure or injury caused by these chemicals.

We believe the following elements are essential to achieving this goal:

1. Beginning immediately, and at the latest by 2020, to phase out the production and use of chemicals that are persistent or bio-accumulative, or that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic to reproduction or endocrine disruptors, or are of equivalent concern.

2. To cease all releases (gaseous, liquid or solid; deliberate or accidental) and losses of these chemicals to the environment by the year 2020.

3. The substitution principle ensuring that hazardous chemicals, products and processes are replaced with safe alternatives, building upon the Stockholm Convention.

4. The precautionary principle, under which preventive measures are to be taken when there are reasonable grounds for concern, even when the evidence is inconclusive of a causal relationship between an activity and its effects.

5. The "polluter pays" principle, which requires that the costs of all impacts on human health, society, and environment caused by the production and use of chemicals are internalised.

6. An effective approach for ensuring corporate liability and compensation, particularly in identifying and holding appropriate parties responsible for damage to human health and the environment.

7. Full public participation, where public interest organisations work together with governments to ensure a transparent multi-stakeholder approach, and where capacity building and other mechanisms are instituted to ensure relevance at the grassroots level.

8. Default right-to-know that encompasses full information about all chemicals, including chemicals in products, data on their intrinsic properties and their effects on human health and environment, and information on their alternatives.

9. Technical and financial assistance for capacity building, to ensure a just transition where polluting practices and technologies are phased out while building a sustainable economy by phasing in clean production and ensuring clean technology transfer. Special attention should be made to protect workers, peasants and communities, and the needs of developing countries and economies in transition.

10. Waste reduction at source and other waste issues, which require full consideration of cradle to cradle and cradle to grave fate of chemicals in production and at the end of the useful life of products in which they are present.

11. Compliance mechanisms to ensure effective global implementation.

12. Further development of monitoring, measuring and validation programs, to assess releases at source (stacks, discharge pipes, transfer of pollutants, etc.) and background levels in all environmental media and biota, as a means to establish a review and implementation mechanism that ensures that the objective is reached by 2020.

Source: www.ipen.org
http://www.chem.unep.ch/saicm/

 

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