Earlier this month, an unprecedented agreement was made during 8th Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the Stockholm Convention (SC) to add three toxic chemicals to the treaty while allowing loopholes for two of them, Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) and short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs).
Recent studies conducted by IPEN, a global network of over 500 organizations committing to a toxic-free future, find both toxic chemicals in children’s toys. Due to their nature of being persistent, highly toxic, traveling long distances and building up in the food chain, the SC’s expert committee did not recommend a lot of the proposed exemptions. However, the COP8 agreed to include a long list of exemption clauses in the SC’s Annex A. They include exempting the production and use of commercial DecaBDE for certain vehicle parts such as global positioning systems, components of radio disks, automobile seats, etc. Regarding SCCPs, members also agreed on specific exemptions such as its production and use for transmission belts, lubricant additives, and secondary plasticizers in flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC), except in toys and children’s products.
Discussing the meeting’s implications, Dr. Olga Speranskaya, IPEN Co-Chair, was particularly concerned about the influence of the treaty’s amendments on developing countries, where customers are not well-informed due to the lack of labels. “Customers will unknowingly buy and expose their children to these chemicals because governments were not bold enough to demand that the industry labels them,” warned Dr. Speranskaya.
Another controversial decision made during the meeting include agreeing to allow recycling materials containing toxic flame retardants (PentaBDE and OctaBDE) found in furniture and e-waste, which would widely contaminate children’s products according to a new IPEN study.
Contrary to upholding the meeting’s theme, “A Future Detoxified,” IPEN Senior Advisor Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith mentioned delegates’ mockery that the meeting paved the way for “A Future Toxified,” by exposing workers, children’s toys and recycling streams to toxic chemicals.
Meeting: The eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (SC COP8)
Date/Location: April 24 – May 5, 2017; Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG), 17 rue de Varembé, Geneva, Switzerland
Written By: WIT Representation Jadice Lau
Edited By: Fred Yonghabi
The economic, social and environmental challenges facing societies range from regional to global in scale. There is an urgent need for the international science community to develop the knowledge and strengthen the science-policy-science interface for achieving sustainable development. Therefore, it is crucial to shape effective responses and foster global justice, which would facilitate progress toward sustainable development goals. The global change research community plays a central role in understanding the functioning and human impacts of Earth System.
Mr. Mc Bean introduced Future Earth, an international scientific community, which serves as a global platform for international science collaboration. It aims at providing knowledge required for societies in the world to face risks posed by global environmental change and to seize opportunities in transition to global sustainability. The key objectives are to build and connect global knowledge to intensify the impact of research and find new ways to accelerate sustainable development. Mr. Nakicenovic pointed out that the global problems, including access to water; food and energy need to be resolved immediately. He emphasized vigorous investment is needed in human capacity and knowledge, in order to create a niche market for sustainable development systems. Ms. Abrahamse echoed Mr. Nakicenovic’s comments. She specifically talked about the importance of the easy access to information, which would empower and create solutions for solving the grand societal challenges.
Mr. Ullah introduced the bipolar linear system – “The pipeline approach” in understanding the concept between consultation and collaboration. He also highlighted it is essential to maintain the independence of science so as to contribute to problem solving and foster innovation, leadership and competitive advantage. Mr. Davies addressed the issues between good governance and sustainable development. He concluded by underlining the need for an overarching vision on poverty eradication, and the development of partnerships to sustain a strong science-policy interface.
Meeting Title: Strengthening the science-policy-society interface for achieving sustainable development
Speakers: Gordan Mc Bean, President-elect of the International Council for Science; Nebojsa Nakicenovic Nakicenovic, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis; Tanya Abrahamse, CEO of South African National Biodiversity Institute; Farooq Ullah, Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum; Peter Davies, Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Future
Location: ECOSOC, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 1 July 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by Wit Representative: Aslesha Dhillon
“Break the silence.
When you witness violence against women and girls do not sit back.
~ Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General
Violence against women is one of the gravest infringements of human rights and affects women across every country in the world. Chairman H.E. Michel Spinellis opened the meeting by discussing the continued gap between an emotional commitment to ending violence against women and action that eliminates its occurrence.
The European Union formulated a union-wide survey with the FRA (European Union agency for fundamental rights). The Survey interviewed 1,500 women in each of the 28 member states to gather data that showed the areas in which intervention had been a success in the EU and exposed dimensions that lead to the continued attack against European women in their own homes everyday.
Mr Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, head of the Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department at FRA, explained that the interviews involved questions about physical, sexual and psychological violence and the results were distressing; 1:3 women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence (at least once since they were 15) and 1:5 women had been sexually abused by a current partner in the previous twelve months (2011-2012). The interview discussions revealed that new technologies had enabled contemporary forms of sexual and psychological violence through online sites and messaging. Mr Dimitrakopoulos insisted the European community needed to change the cultural perception of law enforcement and other services so that women felt more empowered reporting the attacks, rather than ashamed or fearful, and then perpetrators could be convicted.
Mr Ioannis Vrailas explained that all EU member states have formed aligned legislation for the protection of women and insisted on the continued need for active political dialogue to continue promoting the inherent rights of every woman and young girl.
Ms Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN-Women, expressed her admiration of the EU’s groundbreaking efforts to create an extensive survey with the ability to be replicated worldwide.
Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Violence against women across the European Union: Presentation of a 2014, European Union-wide survey”
Speakers: H.E. Michel Spinellis, Mr Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Mr Ioannis Vrailas, and Ms Lakshmi Puri
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 14 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark