Answer from the European Commission

In light of the efforts led by the Union regarding the preservation of the environment and more specifically the discussions around a new European Green New Deal, the Environment, Ocean and Fisheries commissioner, responsible for chemical pollution prevention and control, has welcomed the creation of the GPCPE and the much needed contribution it proposes to bring to the science-policy interface on the topic.

“The European Commission very much supports the strengthening of the science-policy interface as an important basis for the shaping of policies and for regulatory decision-making, allowing us to put in place control measures but also to prevent risks or otherwise take action in view of scientific uncertainties. Strong scientific knowledge is in particular needed for global challenges such as the threats caused by chemicals to human health and the environment. Therefore, I would like to thank you for the offer to provide a platform for comprehensive evaluation of environmental and public health risks.”

Commissioner Sinkevicius

Find hereafter both letters from the GPCPE initiative and the answer from the European Commission through M. Sinkevicius.

LETTER TO EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER

June 18th 2020

To the attention of:
Ms. Stella Kyriakides
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
European Commission
Rue de la Loi 200
B – 1049 Brussels

SUBJECT: Support for a Global Panel on the Chemical Pollution of the Environment

Dear Commissioner Kyriakides,

We would like to hereby congratulate you on your appointment as the new European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety and we sincerely wish you significant achievements in the fulfilment of your mandate, especially in the wake of the covid-19 pandemia.

We welcome the commitment to the protection of consumers’ health throughout Europe expressed during your term of office and to the European Green Deal. With this letter, we would like to draw your attention to recent developments regarding the establishment of the Global Panel on the Chemical Pollution in the Environment (GPCPE).

Currently, tens of thousands of naturally or synthetically produced chemicals are available on the world market. Increase in their use, in terms of volume and structural diversity, is a result of rapid global economic growth in the past decades. Poor regulation and inadequate risk assessment and management strategies have led to widespread contamination that directly impacts ecosystems and public health.

The ever-changing diversity of contaminant mixtures encompassing marketed chemicals and their metabolic and degradation products pose an analytical challenge and makes cause-effect analysis in affected ecosystems difficult. However, there is growing evidence of detrimental activity in contaminated ecosystems including genotoxicity, endocrine disruption, immune system effects and antimicrobial resistance amongst other effects. According to the WHO several million human deaths annually are estimated to result from environmental degradation.

Despite technological innovation and global campaigns leading to regulation of some of the most notorious chemicals (e.g. freons or POPs), the problem of chemical pollution remains largely ignored. Pollution knows no physical, geographical, regulatory or political boundaries as evidenced by the impact of chemicals on the world’ s most remote regions. This global problem requires global solutions.

With the support of the Michelin Foundation, the French National Water Academy has worked to launch an international campaign for the creation of this “Global Panel on the Chemical Pollution of the Environment”/ Groupe international d’étude de la pollution chimique de l’environnement (GPCPE).

Its ambition is to create a platform for sharing, educating and influencing, with a view to shaping actions that will tackle pollution issues globally. We aim to have representatives on each continent, in each country and region to enable global mapping of chemicals. We will provide open, independent, rigorous and balanced information to the public and decision-makers about the type and the extent of exposure that is both region driven and of global importance. GPCPE’ s ultimate goal is to provide a platform for comprehensive evaluation of environmental and public health risks.

Such a platform currently does not exist, but if interconnected with an effective mitigation and risk management system, it will reduce the environmental pollution burden and contribute to environmental sustainability globally. The scientists who constitute this body will have to be supported by supranational bodies outside the influence of lobbies. Contacts have been established with partners of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management of the United Nations.

The Scientists will provide regular update reports and guidance documents summarising the international knowledge on the state of the chemical pollution of the environment: water, air, soils and biota (the living organisms) in terms of levels of contamination, geographical diversity, priority areas, calculation of discharged flows, list of priority molecules, as well as the ways and means available (analytical laboratories, international research programs, new molecules, standardized methods, international policies, youth training, results of accidental or voluntary pollutions, sanitation facilities….).

We would greatly appreciate it if you could publicly express your support on this issue, which is important for protecting the health of all European consumers and to take decisive action. We would welcome the opportunity to meet you to further discuss this important issue and discuss possible actions. We remain available for further questions that you might have on this topic.

Please follow the following link for further information: http://gpcpe.org/

Thank you very much for your time and attention,

Yours Sincerely,

Dr. Despo Fatta-Kassinos,
Prof. Yves Lévi

THE ANSWER FROM EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER

 

VIRGINIJUS SINKEVIČIUS
Commissioner for Environment
Oceans and Fisheries

Brussels, 24 July 2020
Ref. Ares(2020)4183697

Dr Despo Fatta-Kassinos
Member of the Core Science Group of GPCPE
Associate Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Director of Nireas-International Water Research Center
University of Cyprus
P.O. Box 20537
1678 Nicosia
CYPRUS

Prof Yves Lévi
Professor of Public Health and Environment
University Paris Saclay
Faculty of pharmaceutical sciences, Public health and environment,
Chatenay-Malabry
FRANCE

 

Dear Dr Fatta-Kassinos,
Dear Prof Lévi,

 

Thank you for your letter of 18 June addressed to Commissioner Kyriakides, who forwarded it to me since the international chemicals policy falls in my competence.

The European Commission adopted in December 2019 the European Green Deal, which is our roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable. The Green Deal contains a long list of actions that aim at achieving various objectives, including a zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment. Creating a toxic-free environment requires more action to prevent pollution from being generated as well as measures to clean and remedy it. Amongst others, the zero pollution ambition will also address pollution caused by chemicals.

In addition, the Green Deal announces the development of a chemicals strategy for sustainability, which is of utmost importance to ensure a toxic-free environment. That strategy will contain actions to strengthen the chemical science-policy interface in order to improve the scientific understanding of the impacts of chemicals on health and the environment.

At the international level, the Fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management launched a process to prepare recommendations on the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 to be considered at ICCM5. Strengthening the sciencepolicy interface is one of the issues addressed in those discussions since many participants are of the view that more robust scientific information is needed as basis for decision-making on chemicals management. At the moment, discussions show broad support for the objective to strengthen the science-policy interface, but views are still diverging on the best approach to achieve that objective.

The European Commission very much supports the strengthening of the science-policy interface as an important basis for the shaping of policies and for regulatory decision-making, allowing us to put in place control measures but also to prevent risks or otherwise take action in view of scientific uncertainties. Strong scientific knowledge is in particular needed for global challenges such as the threats caused by chemicals to human health and the environment. Therefore, I would like to thank you for the offer to provide a platform for comprehensive evaluation of environmental and public health risks.

 

Yours sincerely,
Virginijus Sinkevičius

WATER ACADEMY OF FRANCE

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