International POPS Elimination Network  [Printer-friendly version]
February 6, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: POPs are persistent organic pollutants --
nasty chemicals that persist in the environment, enter food chains,
and poison living things. Starting on a shoestring in 1998, the
International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) succeeded -- against
enormous odds -- in getting an international treaty adopted, banning
a short list of POPs, and the door is open to add more POPs to the
list. (Naturally the U.S. chemical industry has refused to allow the
U.S. government to ratify the POPs treaty.) Here is a recent
statement from IPEN, describing what remains to be done to achieve a
Toxic Free Future by 2020. Read carefully -- many good ideas here.]

United Arab Emirates -- On the occasion today [Feb. 6, 2006] of the
decision by governments and stakeholders to adopt a Strategic Approach
to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), the International POPs
Elimination Network (IPEN) declares our expanded commitment to work
for and achieve by the year 2020 a Toxics-Free Future, in which all
chemicals are produced and used in ways that eliminate significant
adverse effects on human health and the environment, and where
persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and chemicals of equivalent
concern no longer pollute our local and global environments, and no
longer contaminate our communities, our food, our bodies, or the
bodies of our children and future generations.

As IPEN Participating Organizations, we declare our firm resolve to
work for and achieve a Toxics-Free Future by the year 2020 by joining
communities, workers, and other relevant civil society organizations,
and in cooperation with governments and intergovernmental
organizations, to:

1. Phase-out and ban the production and use of POPs and other
chemicals of equivalent concern, and materials, products, and
processes that generate and release POPs and other toxic byproducts,
including those that contribute to significant health effects such as
reproductive and developmental disorders (including birth defects and
neurodevelopment problems such as behavioral and intellectual
disorders), cancers, genetic mutations, and immune and endocrine

2. Promote children's health as a paramount goal, recognizing that
developing fetuses, infants, and children are uniquely vulnerable to
the harmful effects of toxic chemicals during all stages of their

3. Promote and require substitution of cleaner products, materials,
processes and practices, including clean production, clean technology
transfer, and green chemistry, that avoid generation and release of
toxic byproducts, giving priority to non-chemical alternatives
whenever feasible;

4. Identify, secure, and properly destroy obsolete stockpiles and
wastes containing POPs and other chemicals of concern by means that
ensure complete destruction (i.e., chemical transformation) and that
do not themselves generate or release toxic pollutants or otherwise
cause injury to the health, safety, or well-being of workers and
surrounding communities; clean up and remediate contaminated sites and
environmental reservoirs; take measures to prevent the future
accumulation of obsolete stockpiles of POPs and other chemicals of

5. Halt combustion and other environmentally inappropriate methods of
treating wastes and contaminated soils and sediments;

6. Ensure timely, full, and effective public participation by affected
communities, local governments, and public interest NGOs and other
civil society sectors (including the most vulnerable groups) in all
decision-making processes related to chemical safety including, but
not limited to, the implementation of internationally agreed
conventions, programs, codes of conduct, and plans of action; promote
cooperation between governments, public interest organizations,
academia, industry, and others to ensure transparent multi-stakeholder
approaches to decision-making, including through the provision of
readily-accessible information, capacity building, awareness raising,
public right-to-know, and other mechanisms essential to relevance at
the local level;

7. Provide for a just transition whenever hazardous chemicals,
polluting practices, or dirty technologies are phased out to ensure
that special attention is given to the protection of impacted workers
including women, peasants, and indigenous and other local communities,
especially those in developing countries and economies in transition;

8. Achieve fundamental reform of current national chemicals laws,
policies, and practices in all countries that is consistent with or
exceeds the standards expressed in this declaration, and that includes
provisions to, inter alia:

** Incorporate the precautionary principle into all decision-making
related to chemical safety, ensuring that preventive measures are
taken when there are reasonable grounds for concern, even when the
evidence of a causal relationship between an activity and its effects
is inconclusive;

** Implement the principle of "no data, no market" by requiring
comprehensive data, including hazard, use, and exposure data, to be
produced for all chemicals on the market and in products that is
sufficient to permit an informed evaluation of the safety of the
chemical for human health and the environment;

** Reflect considerations of intergenerational equity by taking into
account the effects of chemicals-related decisions on future
generations, noting especially that many chemicals persist in the
environment for generations, and noting also that many chemicals
disrupt the healthy development of the human embryo and fetus, damage
genetic structures, and impact reproductive outcomes;

9. Adopt and implement comprehensive right-to-know laws in all
countries, including laws establishing Pollutant Release and Transfer
Registries (PRTRs), that ensure full, free, ready, and timely public
access to information about all chemicals in commerce and in products
and wastes, including data on their intrinsic properties and their
effects on human health and the environment, information on their
safer alternatives, and information on waste transfers on- and off-
site; these laws should clearly state that any information pertinent
to the health and safety of humans and the environment may not be
regarded as confidential;

10. Implement the polluter pays principle, especially through the
establishment of accessible, affordable, and effective liability and
compensation mechanisms, to ensure that those who produce, use, and
dispose of chemicals must pay the full costs of any harms to human
health and the environment that they cause, and that victims of such
harms are quickly and fully compensated;

11. Require chemical-producing industries to bear all legitimate costs
that governments and others incur in establishing and sustaining
robust chemical safety programs; further require such industries to
contribute to mandatory, government-administered funds that pay for
the remediation and clean-up of toxic spills and chemical stockpiles
and wastes when the costs of remediation and clean-up are
unrecoverable from the persons responsible for such harms;

12. Minimize and phase-out anthropogenic sources of mercury and methyl
mercury in the environment;

13. Ensure that all governments establish and sustain effective
national integrated chemical safety programs and infrastructure,
especially governments of developing countries and countries with
economies in transition, with full cooperation and coordination by all
relevant ministries, including Environment, Health, Labor,
Agriculture, Industry, Development, Education, and others; provide new
and additional bilateral and multilateral financial assistance to help
achieve this objective;

14. Promote the integration of chemical safety considerations into the
poverty reduction strategies and development agendas of developing
countries and countries with economies in transition, with a
particular focus on vulnerable groups, including women, children, and
indigenous and other local communities;

15. Adopt a life-cycle approach for all chemicals that includes
promotion of cradle-to-cradle strategies and that considers the
impacts of chemicals at every stage in their life-cycle, including not
only the chemical itself, but also its by-products, break-down
products and reaction products; that considers these in the course of
a chemical's design, production, use, and re-use; in a chemical's
presence in products, wastes, ecosystems, and human bodies; and in the
chemical's ultimate environmental fate;

16. Promote sustainable, ecological agriculture, including organic
farming, progressive substitution of pesticides and other chemical
inputs in agriculture, community integrated pest management, agro-
ecological methods of pest control and other sustainable agriculture
techniques aimed at achieving good yields through practices that are
healthy, environmentally sustainable, and financially affordable,
especially for low-income groups, peasants and indigenous communities;

17. Substitute lower impact and integral methods of pest and vector
control to achieve effective public health practices that are
economically affordable, environmentally sound, and take into account
timely, informed community participation;

18. Reduce and aim to eliminate the generation of wastes by promoting
waste reduction at source; by changing the design, manufacture,
purchase, use, and consumption of materials and products (including
packaging) to reduce both their volume and their toxicity; and by
promoting maximum reuse and recycling of non-toxic products and

19. Acknowledge the common but differentiated responsibilities of all
governments and of industry, NGOs, labor, and other stakeholders in
view of their different contributions and vulnerabilities to global
environmental degradation and health impacts from chemicals and the
different financial and technical resources they command.

20. Encourage donor countries and donor agencies to provide new and
additional financial and technical assistance that enables developing
countries and countries with transitional economies to implement fully
all of their commitments under international chemicals and wastes
agreements and initiatives; provide additional assistance to identify
and support chemical safety initiatives at the local level;

21. Establish a chemical safety focal area within the Global
Environment Facility (GEF) with new and additional funds to encompass
not only the GEF's present POPs Operational Program, but also to
include additional operational programs that support implementation of
other chemicals conventions, as well as integrated approaches to
chemicals management called for in the SAICM;

22. Secure the ratification by all countries of the Stockholm
Convention and other chemicals and wastes agreements including the
Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent; the Basel
Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous
Wastes and Their Disposal, including its Ban Amendment; the 1996
Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by
Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention); the ILO
Convention 170 Concerning Safety in the Use of Chemicals at Work; and

23. Expeditiously expand the Stockholm Convention's current list of
twelve POPs to incorporate other POPs of global concern and to
establish appropriate commitments and obligations leading toward the
elimination of all chemicals that exhibit POPs characteristics;

24. Expeditiously expand the list of chemicals covered by the
Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) to include all
chemicals and pesticides that present a hazard to human health or the
environment under their ordinary conditions of use in developing
countries or countries with economies in transition, including but not
limited to chrysotile asbestos; discourage and prohibit the export to
developing countries and economies in transition of obsolete,
polluting technologies and chemical products that are banned in the
country of origin;

25. Promote full and effective national implementation of the Globally
Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS),
with special emphasis on its implementation in chemicals-importing
countries and on the rights inherent in the GHS to prohibit the
importation of chemicals that are improperly classified or labeled.