The sixth session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) was held in Dakar, Senegal from 15th to 19th September 2008 where a key resolution was adopted to promote the implementation of the measures to phase out lead from lead-based paints especially in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Toxics Link representing International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) moved this resolution. During the VI session it was proposed to establish an ad-hoc Working Group following the lead sponsor approach to prepare a draft terms of reference for a global partnership to be submitted to the International Conference on Chemicals Management II (ICCM-II) to consider taking a decision to support concerted action to promote the implementation of the measures contained in the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), Plan of Implementation (POI) paragraph 57. The WSSD POI in paragraph 57 states, “Phase out lead in lead-based paints and in other sources of human exposure, work to prevent, in particular, children's exposure to lead and strengthen monitoring and surveillance efforts and the treatment of lead poisoning.” The ICCM-II is tentatively scheduled to be held from 11 to 15 May 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), convened from 26 August to 4 September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa took two decisions to protect children’s health from exposure to lead. Paragraph 56 (b) of the WSSD POI called for: “Supporting the phasing out of lead in gasoline.” It was also noted that considerable progress has been made toward achieving a global phase out of lead in automotive paints which was primarily the important work of the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) in its implementation of WSSD POI Paragraph 56 (b). The other decision of WSSD to protect children’s exposure from lead was paragraph 57 as stated above.
During the sixth session the IFCS, a side event was also held on ‘Lead in Paints in Developing Countries: An Unfinished Agenda’ in which continued use of lead in paints in countries across the developing world and the risks to human health associated due to presence of lead in paints were thoroughly discussed. Lack of regulations and low levels of awareness on the health hazards of lead in the developing countries were the points of concerns.
Mr. Ravi Agarwal, Director, Toxics Link receiving “Special Recognition Award” for the year 2008 said in his acceptance address to the session, “Lead in household paints is a key issue today causing serious health problems for our children. We as responsible communities need to take note of this issue and help curb lead usage in paints and educate the key stakeholders about the safer alternatives available.”
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), International Labour Organisations (ILO) and World Health Organisations (WHO) formed IFCS in April 1994 on the recommendations of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in year 1992. The IFCS provides an open, transparent and inclusive forum for discussing issues of common interest and also new and emerging issues in the area of sound management of chemicals. IFCS plays a unique multi-faceted role as a flexible, open and transparent brainstorming and bridge-building forum for Governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations including from the private sector. This role has facilitated consensus building on issues and actions addressing the sound management of chemicals. By its efforts it contributes to the implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the work of other chemicals-related international organizations and institutions.
Adopted Resolution for Eliminating Lead in Paints
The delegates of the IFCS, Forum, VI, at its meeting at Dakar, Senegal, 15th-19th, September, 2008: -
o Recognising that lead in paints poses serious risks to human health and the environment, and especially to the health of children,
o Taking into account that most children exposed to lead live in developing countries and countries with economies in transition,
o Being that household paints sold in developing countries contain lead,
o Aware that safer and affordable alternatives already exist for lead in paints,
o Affirming that many consumers especially in developing countries, are unaware of the dangers posed by lead in paints
o Noting that WSSD POI paragraph 56 (b) supports the phasing out of lead in gasoline;
o Applauding the important work of the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV) in its implementation of WSSD POI paragraph 56 (b)
o Further noting that much progress has being made toward achieving a global phase out of lead in automotive fuels,
o Recognising that the WSSD POI in paragraph 57 also calls for the phasing out of lead in lead-based paints and in other sources of human exposure, and calls for work to prevent, in particular, children's exposure to lead and to strengthen monitoring and surveillance efforts and the treatment of lead poisoning;
Decides that a global partnership to promote the implementation of the measures contained in WSSD POI paragraph 57 is essential, especially for developing countries and countries with economies in transition;
Further decides to support the phase out of lead in lead-based paints.
Requests the Forum Standing Committee to establish an ad-hoc Working Group following the lead sponsor approach to prepare a draft Terms of Reference for a global partnership to be submitted to the ICCM-2 to consider taking a decision to support concerted action to promote the implementation of the measures contained in WSSD POI paragraph 57.
Invites the Governing Bodies of relevant Intergovernmental Organisations, including UNEP, WHO, and other IGOs to support and participate in such an initiative.
Invites the UNEP Governing Council at its 25th Session to consider providing support for such concerted action.