The Health and Environment
Alliance, Toxics (HEAL-Toxics) has been formed to support and
help facilitate effective engagement by public interest nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) in global, regional and national efforts
to promote chemical safety.
The Objectives of HEAL-Toxics
1) To provide a common platform for not-for-profit
groups and individuals who are working to protect human health
and the environment from injury caused by toxic chemicals.
2) To promote public education and awareness-raising
activities related to toxic chemicals, and to promote alternative
practices and policies to prevent the harm toxic chemicals cause.
3) To support the objectives of existing NGO networks
active in the field of
chemical safety, to help fill gaps and to help facilitate communication
cooperation between them.
4) To help facilitate information exchange on chemical
safety issues and to help communicate the perspectives and experiences
of NGOs active in this field to governmental and intergovernmental
agencies and fora.
Background and Rationale
In recent years, and in all regions of the world,
there has been rapidly growing public awareness about the devastating
harm caused by toxic chemicals to human health and the environment.
Public interest NGOs and civil society organizations in many countries
have played an important role in calling public attention to these
problems. These organizations have also already had some significant
initial successes in influencing governmental and intergovernmental
Global examples include influential international
NGO interventions into the development of new multilateral environmental
agreements such as the Basel Convention on Wastes; the Rotterdam
Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC); and the Stockholm
Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). NGO have also
play an important role in the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical
Safety (IFCS) and participate regularly on its leading body, the
Forum Standing Committee (FSC). NGOs also have an increased interest
in interacting with the relevant divisions of intergovernmental
organizations with a role in chemical safety including: the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the Food Agriculture Organization
(FAO); the World Health Organization (WHO); the United Nations
Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP); and the Global Environment Facility
However, the mechanisms available to enable NGOs
to play an effective role in promoting chemical safety have not
kept up with the level of public awareness and NGO interest; existing
mechanisms have been greatly insufficient to enable appropriate
NGO responses to growing opportunities. This is most importantly
the case for smaller and mid-sized NGOs in developing countries
and countries in transition – the most dynamic new force
to have entered this field in the past decade.
Existing mechanisms have not allowed a sufficiently
effective level of NGO intervention in global and regional chemical
safety activities that have become especially important in influencing
emerging chemical safety policies and regimes in the developing
world. Existing mechanisms are also still unable to sufficiently
enhance global and regional sharing of skills, experiences and
information between NGOs active in this field.
The already existing NGOs and NGO networks in this
field need enhanced support. HEAL-Toxics has been formed both
to promote this enhanced support and also to fill gaps that are
not currently being addressed.
HEAL- Toxics INITIAL WORK PLAN
HEAL- Toxics will provide organizational and logistic
support to the Southern IPEN Co-Chair in carrying out IPEN and
related duties; will provide some initial secretariat functions
to support Public Interest NGO involvement in the IFCS and its
Forum Standing Committee; and it will pursue other activities
in support of HEAL- Toxics objectives.
HEAL-Toxics will seek to raise additional project
funds to support work in the following areas:
1) HEAL- Toxics will facilitate NGO efforts relating
to reductions and elimination of POPs and other persistent toxic
substances in Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Pacific. This
will include NGO capacity building; NGO participation in their
country National Implementation Plan (NIP) preparations for the
Stockholm Convention; Stockholm Convention ratification efforts;
awareness-raising, public education and campaigns.
2) Provide to the newly formed Information Exchange
Network on Capacity Building for the Sound Management of Chemicals
(INFOCAP) an interface with smaller and medium-sized NGOs, people’s
organizations (POs), community-based organizations(CBOs), and
NGO networks engaged in chemical safety activities.
3) Provide full secretariat functions to support
and enhance public interest NGO participation in the activities
of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety with emphasis
on support to smaller and medium-sized NGOs based in developing
countries and countries in transition.
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