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:
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