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A Toxics-Free Future


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5 October, 2015

Nigeria Guardian: World confab pledges action to reduce risks from toxic chemicals

"The Executive Director of SRADev Nigeria, Leslie Adogame,  who represented Nigerian NGOs (a participating member of IPEN), said: “For us in Nigeria (perhaps Africans), we are happy we got relatively most of all we wanted in the deal and pleased with the outcomes of this political conference (despite the poor funding commitment) because the delegates adopted among others concrete risk reduction activities hazardous pesticides use, elimination of lead in paints, (as you know lead is continuously added to Nigerian paints), and chemicals added to products, which if implemented, will result in the reduction of toxic exposure on human health and the environment,” said Adogame."

Read the entire article here

5 October, 2015

Chemical Watch: ICCM4 Agrees Post-2020 Process

"NGO IPEN said ICCM4 participants had shown they had the political will to "pick up the pace" towards 2020 and beyond. A key outcome, it added, was the decision on highly hazardous pesticides: "It is the first time these substances will be tackled in a comprehensive way in a UN agreement." However, the group said that increased and sustainable funding is needed."

Read the entire article here

IPEN Press Release: 2 October, 2015

World Conference Re-Commits to Action on Toxic Chemicals, but Lets Funding for Most Impacted Countries Expire

(Geneva) Delegates to the world’s only international forum addressing global and national chemical issues re-committed to take essential actions to fulfill a goal of sound chemicals management by 2020, but allowed the only program funding activities in the most impacted countries to expire. The USD $4 trillion/year chemical industry, which participates in the conference, also failed to offer new funds to pay their fair share for the costs of chemicals management and harm. A very small global levy on the industry of 0.1% would yield more than USD$4 billion/year.

“ICCM4 agreed to take action on some critical toxic chemical issues,” said Olga Speranskaya, Co-chair of  IPEN. “However, a five-year funding gap will make it extremely difficult to implement them. This makes the need for funding urgent. Governments, financial institutions, intergovernmental organizations and the chemical industry must each pay their fair share,” she added.

Read the whole press release here. (English and Русский)

2 October: Participation in United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Press Briefing

IPEN Co-Chair Olga Speranskaya took part in an UNEP press briefing on ICCM4, joining Mr. Achim Steiner (UNEP Executive Director), Dr. Richard Lesiyampe (Principal Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenya and President of ICCM4), and Mr. Cal Dooley (President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council & ICCA Council Secretary). The briefing was held at the Palais des Nations, and excerpts can be viewed here.

2 October, 2015

Voice of America: UN Group Aims to Cut Chemical Risks

"Olga Speranskaya is co-chair of IPEN, an international network of more than 700 organizations that fight toxic chemicals and works with people who suffer from contamination from farm pesticides, mercury hotspots and other toxic products.

“So, we came here and we are really pleased with the outcomes of this political conference because the delegates adopted … concrete risk reduction activities, which, if implemented, will result in the reduction of toxic exposure on human health and the environment," said Speranskaya. "Note that I say 'if implemented.'"

And implementation is a problem: Speranskaya says she does not believe the plan of action can be implemented by 2020 because the project is severely underfunded. She says the chemicals managements program only has $27 million available instead of the $100 million needed to implement the program." 

Read the entire article here

1 October, 2015

Chemical Watch: Business should bear chemicals management cost, EU delegate tells ICCM4

"The QSP was not planned to fund further implementation beyond 2020, but Joe DiGangi, senior science and technical adviser of the IPEN, told Chemical Watch that Saicm implementation will not be easy without a dedicated funding system.

“With no implementation mechanism in place," he said, "you have a precarious situation where for the final five years of the mandate there is no substantive, efficient fund to implement activities.”

NGO Sustainlabour told the main conference that finances need to be multiplied to meet the “huge” needs of developing countries. “This is a multi-stakeholder forum and we deserve a multi-stakeholder [funding] mechanism to move us forward.”

In addition to the Special Programme, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will allocate $13m to Saicm implementation over four years, while the Special Programme has received pledges of around $14m. However, Ipen estimates that the funding needed to fully implement Saicm “in a meaningful way” is $1bn a year."

Read the entire article here

IPEN Press Release: 28 September, 2015


(Geneva) More than a thousand non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from more than 100 countries called for the creation of a Global Alliance to Phase-out Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) today at the opening session of the world’s only forum on international chemical safety.

“In many developing and transition countries, ordinary conditions of pesticide use are a source of significant harm to farmer and ecosystem health. That’s why the governing Council of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization called for the progressive ban of HHPs in 2006. However, to this day, HHPs continue to be widely used and there is no comprehensive, international approach to their phase-out,” said Olga Speranskaya, IPEN Co-Chair. “It’s time for this meeting to take that step.”

Read the entire press release here. 

25 September, 2015

Chemical Watch: Summit head says meeting should discuss need for measures after 2020

The president of next week's key UN chemicals summit has said discussions on the sound management of chemicals beyond 2020 have “not been straightforward”, but will be considered at the meeting.

The fourth international Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) will assess progress to date on the UN's voluntary chemicals initiative: the strategic approach to international chemicals management (SAICM).

In a guest column for this month’s Global Business Briefing, Dr Richard Lesiyampe, who is also principal secretary of Kenya's environment ministry, says a proposal on chemicals management beyond the current end of SAICM's remit in 2020, will be put to the conference.

The proposal says ICCM4 "may also wish to consider the need for a decision addressing chemicals and waste beyond 2020, including the Strategic Approach", at the fifth session of the conference in 2020.

“I encourage the conference to consider this, and the linkages with the post-2015 development agenda, to formulate a resolution setting out recommendations and actions for the longer term”, says Dr Lesiyampe.

“I urge all of SAICM’s many stakeholders to commit, to cooperate, to be aware and to take ownership of the work that needs to be done. If we can engender this spirit, I expect we shall be able to reach consensus on the matters that are critical to SAICM and bring us closer to the 2020 goal.”

He adds that the proposed UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) are a "major opportunity" to promote the chemicals agenda, and that a stronger connection between them and Saicm will strengthen the understanding of governments, industry, the private sector and civil society.

The UN summit for the adoption of the proposed post-2015 SDGs will be held from 25-27 September in New York. A target of one of the goals is to achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their lifecycle by 2020.

Earlier this week, global NGO IPEN warned that if ICCM4 fails to address the issue of what happens after 2020, and SAICM is allowed to expire, “there will be a gap; and critical momentum will be lost” (CW 24 September 2015).

24 September, 2015

Chemical Watch: Critical momentum' on SAICM 'could be lost', warns IPEN 

Global NGO says issue must be addressed at ICCM4, next week 

IPEN says next week’s conference on the UN’s key chemical safety programme, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), must address the issue of what happens after the programme’s current mandate expires in 2020. 

In proposals published this week, it says that if the conference fails to do so, and SAICM expires, “there will be a gap; and critical momentum will be lost.” 

Next week, representatives from over 100 countries will converge on Geneva for the fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4). The meeting will seek to guide progress towards SAICM’s aim of minimising the adverse impacts of chemicals on humans and the environment by 2020, and is the last before this deadline. 

IPEN’s proposals say meeting the goal is "highly unlikely" as most of the objectives identified in the SAICM Global Plan of Action are "still far from being achieved" and most emerging policy issues "are just beginning to be understood and addressed".  In addition, new challenges will emerge as chemical production and use rapidly expands in developing and transition countries. 

To plan ahead, IPEN says intersessional meetings should be held in 2016, 2018 and 2019. A high-level session at ICCM5 in 2020 could then consider and adopt post-2020 institutional arrangements for sound chemicals management. 

Beyond 2020, SAICM should also use the enabling capabilities and frameworks it is currently developing, to take action at national and local level to minimise and eliminate sources of exposure to hazardous chemicals, says the group. 

On SAICM’s so-called “emerging policy issues”, the group says:

  • all countries should ban lead paint by 2020;
  • individuals’ and communities’ right to know about chemicals in products should be ensured;
  • electronics manufacturing processes, products and disposal methods should not involve hazardous chemicals;
  • a protocol is needed to evaluate the safety of nanomaterials in products entering the market; and
  • endocrine disrupting chemicals should be identified and their hazards addressed.

It also reiterated its support for setting up a Global Alliance to phase out highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) – which was suggested by African countries at a preparatory SAICM meeting, last year (CW 17 December 2014). A similar approach has been taken to lead in paint. 

ICCM4 will consider a proposal to address the substances from the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNEP and the World Health Organization.

19 September, 2015

Media Advisory: What to Watch for at the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management

IPEN's Media Advisory provides information about some important developments to watch for and track at the ICCM4 meeting, including: the future of international cooperation on sound chemicals management, concrete steps to phase out highly hazardous pesticides, SAICM’s five-year plan, and the management of chemicals that fall outside of chemicals conventions.