Monday, April 25, 2011

Environmentalists call for Phl's active participation in Switzerland confab

Environmental groups wrote the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and asked its officials to ensure that the aim of a treaty that is to protect public health and the environment from extremely harmful chemicals will be pushed at a conference in Geneva this week.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) appealed to the Philippine delegation to a major intergovernmental assembly in Switzerland to “keep the promise” of protecting humans and the ecosystems from very dangerous chemicals.

The groups called for “strong and active” Philippine participation at the fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) of the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that will run until Friday.

POPs are very toxic chemicals that can cause cancer and other adverse health problems. They are known as “poisons without passports,” travelling vast distances via air and water, persisting in the environment for a long time and bioaccumulating in humans and animals.”

In a letter sent to the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the groups expressed hope that the Philippines will join other countries in guaranteeing that the goal of the Stockholm Convention, also known as the POPs treaty, is “faithfully kept and advanced at COP5.”

“We appeal to our delegates to keep the promise of the POPs treaty of protecting public health and environment from these extremely harmful chemicals through their strong and active participation in the crucial meeting of parties,” said Manny Calonzo, representative of both the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA.

Leading the government delegation to COP5 are Ambassador Evan Garcia of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to UN in Geneva, and Renato Cruz, chief of the DENR-EMB Air Quality Division.

“We specifically urge our country to actively back the proposal to list endosulfan, a highly hazardous pesticide, in Annex A of the treaty for global elimination,” said Calonzo, who is also the Co-Hub of the International POPs Elimination Network for Southeast Asia.

“We further hope that our delegation will take the right decision to support the recommendations on the elimination of POP-BDE from waste and recycling streams,” he added. BDEs, or brominated diphenyl ethers, are chemical flame retardants targeted for eradication under the Stockholm Convention such as octabromodiphenyl ether, pentabromodiphenyl ether and hexabromodiphenyl ether.


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