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Group backs CHR’s human rights agenda on chemical safety

An environmental group on Sunday expressed its full support for the Commission on Human Rights move to uphold the people’s right to live in a toxic-free society.

In a statement released in the run-up to the United Nations-led international conference on chemicals management in Geneva, the Manila-based EcoWaste Coalition also said the people have all the right to enjoy a toxic-free environment.

EcoWaste had collaborated with the CHR in crafting “The People’s Right to Chemical Safety: A Fifteen-Point Human Rights Agenda,” which the Commission then chaired by Loretta Ann Rosales issued in November 2014," the statement said.

“As the national human rights institution, the CHR made the just decision to affirm the irrefutable right of every Filipino, including those yet to be born, to be protected against the risks of ... hazardous chemicals,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the coalition's "Project Protect."

Hundreds of government, industry, and civil society stakeholders will gather in Geneva, Switzerland on September 28 to October 2 for the fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) organized by the United Nations Environment Program.

Dizon said, “While the CHR will not be present at ICCM4, we hope that delegates will take cognizance of their commitment to chemical safety and reciprocate with bold global actions that will help eliminate the harms caused by toxic chemical exposure."

Also, he said that children, pregnant women, farmers, workers and other vulnerable groups are most defenseless against harmful chemicals.

“We do not need another Bhopal or Fukushima tragedy to remind us of the adverse effects of (toxic) chemicals to life, health and the environment,” the EcoWaste statement quoted a CHR  documnet.

The CHR, Dizon said,  pushed for a “health-based and human rights-based policies on chemicals" to ensure our people’s right to chemical safety.

According to him, the CHR sought stakeholders’ support to translate the 2020 goal of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) into a national policy and plan of action towards a toxic-free society.

The SAICM 2020 goal refers to “the achievement of the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts to human health and the environment.”

In adopting the 15-point human rights agenda for chemical safety, the CHR cited the paramount importance of applying the principles of precaution, pollution prevention, public participation, polluter pays, sustainable development, environmental justice and other key elements of chemical safety such as green design, toxic use reduction and substitution, “no data, no market,” and freedom of information.

The coalition confirmed its commitment to popularize the CHR’s human rights agenda for chemical safety, which include “zero waste resource management,” by developing a robust program to promote and support it.  — LBG, GMA News