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HEAL at fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management

HEAL recently participated in the fourth Conference of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a global forum for international multi-sectoral cooperation on chemical safety.

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 failed to provide funding for the most impacted countries. A key outcome at ICCM4 was a strategy to tackle the world’s worst pesticides – those that are highly hazardous and linked to a rising incidence of cancer and developmental disorders, which HEAL has actively supported. According to IPEN, the decision at ICCM4 represents the first time that these substances will be addressed in a comprehensive way in a UN agreement

HEAL talks about health sector engagement at high level segment panel

HEAL’s Executive Director Genon K. Jensen (right) participated in a High Level Panel, exploring how collaboration among policy sectors such as environment, health, agriculture and labour result in more efficient chemicals management and better use of resources.

Ms Jensen spoke about the role of civil society and in particular health NGOs in multi-sectoral collaboration. Examples were given on how HEAL works to bring cutting edge environmental health science to the public and policy makers; to facilitate the health sector’s input into chemicals policy decision making; and play a watchdog role. She stressed that some chemicals must be phased out; that health sector entities need resources to work jointly with environmental ministries on chemicals dossiers and participate in decision making; that we must pay more attention to recommendations from health professionals when they tell us to minimize exposure to prevent ill health; and that financial resources should come from a global cost recovery scheme that collects a fee on the annual turnover of worldwide chemical production. These funds should pay for policy changes to phase out the worst hazardous chemicals; chemicals management infrastructure and enforcement; compensation for health problems; remediation of hotspots; and real alternatives assessment.

Other panellists included

  • Mr. Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Jamaica
  • Ms. Leticia Carvahlo, Director, Ministry of the Environment, Brazil
  • Mr. Howard Minigh, President and CEO of CropLife International
  • Dr. Leonardo Trasande, Associate Professor in Paediatrics, Environmental Medicine and Population Health, New York University School of Medicine.

(Link to entire high level segment keynote speeches and panels is here)

The Conference covered many topics important to HEAL including highly hazardous pesticides, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), poly- and perfluorinated chemicals, lead in pain, chemicals in products, chemicals in electronics, and more.

EDC resolution welcomes 2012 UNEP / WHO State of the Science report

A notable outcome was a resolution on EDCs. With the exception of chemicals manufacturers, the meeting participants welcomed the 2012 UNEP / WHO State of the Science report. The participants recognised that EDCs can harm humans and wildlife and that continued actions on these chemicals by all stakeholders will be needed in order to attain SAICM goals. The resolution invites UNEP and the WHO to address the needs identified by developing countries and countries with economies in transition; and to further elaborate and implement of the work plan for the cooperative actions. HEAL worked alongside member organisation Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), and partners Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the International Pops Elimination Network (IPEN) and the Endocrine Society to formulate and facilitate agreement on this resolution.

Some outcomes of SAICM are summarised in the final press release of the IPEN here

Reporting from throughout the conference can be found here.

Originally posted on 16 October 2015

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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