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A Toxics-Free Future

IPEN Participating Organizations Convene in San Francisco for Global Meeting and Forum

IPEN Co-Chair Olga Speranskaya introducing a group of colleagues who will speak on the relationship between human rights and toxic chemicals.

More than 120 environmental, health, and human rights leaders from 55 countries gathered in San Francisco for the 2016 IPEN Global Meeting and Toxics-Free Future Forum to make the collaborative movement for a toxics-free future broader and stronger. The two-part meeting and forum addressed IPEN's 2020 strategy, global policy updates, skill sharing, capacity-building, networking, and movement building to reduce toxic chemicals.

Global meeting topics centered around IPEN’s 5-year 2020 Plan, and ranged from global chemical policy to specific on-the-ground efforts to eliminate mercury, lead paint and highly hazardous pesticides, to skill-building strategies for more effective communications and resource mobilization. Scientific experts from the Endocrine Society and partners from the Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental Neurodevelopmental Risks) also presented their findings on the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and neurotoxicants on human health.

"IPEN was fortunate to develop a cooperation with the Goldman Environmental Foundation, and convene the IPEN Global Meeting in San Francisco, as several IPEN participating organizations are recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize," note Olga Speranskaya, IPEN co-chair and 2009 Goldman Prize recipient. "As a result, we were able to introduce our partners to new opportunities to advance their work in their communities and globally. This support and solidarity with those who struggle for clean environment, safer and better life for all is crucial to sustain our work."

The Toxics-Free Future Forum was kicked off with a San Francisco-themed dinner reception hosted by the Goldman Environmental Foundation honoring nine Goldman Prize recipients and the 120 IPEN participating organizations (POs) in San Francisco.

The forum focused on priority and emerging chemical issues, including children's, women's, and human rights as they relate to chemical safety. IPENers showed their solidarity to groups who face injustice at home, and whose work is becoming more complicated and difficult due to political developments and pressure from the industrial lobby. The forum opened with a powerful presentation by former South Korea Samsung worker Hye-kung Han and her mother, Kim Syong, that was moderated by Jeong-Ok Kong, an occupational physician in Korea.

IPEN POs have signed a statement of solidarity with the workers, their families, and former workers of Samsung, condemning the treatment of the company's workers and demanding safety in the workplace.

The forum also included continuing discussions on efforts and successes in eliminating chemical toxins globally, as well as crucial new developments in fracking, hazardous pesticides and other areas of environmental urgency.

"IPEN organizations are making an impact every day on critical issues that impact their future," says IPEN co-chair Pamela Miller. "The meeting and forum provided a wide and far-reaching opportunity to share ideas, celebrate successes and collaborate on new strategies to ensure that we will continue to move forward in our vision to eliminate chemical toxicants from our communities."