By Mariann Lloyd Smith, "OWN the EDGE" - RIO+20 NGO Major Group Newsletter
Sound chemicals management underpins every aspect of a sustainable future and green livelihoods. Governments acknowledged that “sound management of chemicals is essential if we are to achieve sustainable development, including the eradication of poverty and disease” . Yet, two decades after the Rio Earth Summit, chemical contamination with toxic, persistent and bio-accumulative substances affects us all, with the worst impacts being experienced by the most vulnerable; children, indigenous peoples, peasant farmers and workers in the many hazardous industries. Children today are exposed to a wide array of toxic chemicals before they are even born. The majority have still not been adequately assessed for their impacts on human health and the environment. Nevertheless, diseases such as cancer, heart disease, reproductive and developmental disorders, asthma, diabetes and mental illnesses have all been shown to have links to pollution of air, water and food. Clearly, fundamental change is needed in the way we manage chemicals.
The WHO acknowledges that industrial and agricultural chemicals are responsible for many deaths and much disease. The tragic loss and significant cost burden is not borne by chemical producers or even shared down the product supply chains, but by individuals, communities and countries who can ill afford the bourgeoning costs of chemical mismanagement. Ensuring industry pays the true cost of its products through cost internalization measures based on extended producer responsibility and strict polluter pays is the most effective and equitable way of driving and resourcing chemical reform. For a chemical industry with annual sales of over $3,000,000,000,000 U.S. dollars, surely this is not too much to ask.
To achieve chemical reform, Rio+20 must see a global recommitment to SAICM and the 2020 goal of a toxic free future; initiate a plan for the next stages of international efforts to achieve this goal; and most importantly, ensure the means and resources to do this.
In the lead up to Rio+20, NGOs from the chemicals and waste thematic cluster will host a Toxics Free Future Forum in Rio City on June 11th with the aim to engage multisector NGOs (e.g., labor, environmental, indigenous, legal, health, women, consumer, farmer/agriculture workers etc) in planning for toxics work beyond Rio+20. In support of the forum, we have developed a NGO/CSO Global Common Statement for a Toxic Free Future. This commits us to a future where people have the right to enjoy healthy, green livelihoods, with safe communities and workplaces that are free from toxic threats to people, surrounding environments and to future generations. This is the sustainable future we want for our world and children.
More than 10 International NGOs/Networks have endorsed the NGO/CSO GLOBAL COMMON STATEMENT FOR A TOXIC-FREE FUTURE. This campaign was developed by IPEN to create greater awareness of the increasing amounts of toxic chemicals in the environment, our food, communities and children, and follow-up on the 2008-2009 Global Outreach Effort to raise awareness about the link between chemical safety and sustainable development.
The endorsers of this initiative have not forgotten the commitments made at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, and by occasion of Rio+20, they call on governments worldwide to take action to protect the public and ensure that everyone has the right to safe and secure communities and workplaces, free from toxic threats. Their AIM is to collect over 1,000 NGO/CSO ENDORSEMENTS from more than 80 countries, BEFORE the JUNE 11th Global Toxics-Free Future Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (prior to the Rio+20 Prepcom3 and Conference).
Join the list of endorsers: ANPED, IPEN, GAIA, FoEI, WEFC, HCWH, IITC, ISDE, CIVICUS . For more information, here