about the project

An initiative of the Water Academy of France

about the project

An initiative of the Water Academy of France

about the project

An initiative of the Water Academy of France

about the project

An initiative of the Water Academy of France

Global Panel on the Chemical Pollution of the Environment (GPCPE)

FOR AN INTERNATIONAL SURVEY EXPERT GROUP ON CHEMICAL POLLUTION

Contemporary economies are using an increasing number of products from the chemical industry in all areas. They have become “chemo-intensive”. According to the European and American administrations, around 140,000 chemicals are traded on the world market, of which 8,000 are the most common. These products range from new halogenated derivatives to nanoparticles and plasticizers, etc., of anthropic origin which, after use, have been contaminating the planet since the 1950s.

This abundance leads to such a complexity that its analysis alone becomes a challenge: multiplicity of chemical families and all their metabolites and degradation products, uses, biological effects (genotoxicity, endocrine disruption, antimicrobial resistance) and impacts on fauna and flora (cancer, impaired immune system, reproductive and developmental disorders, malformations…).

These environmental and health impacts are a concern on all continents. Animals living in the most remote areas, protected in principle from human activities, show contamination by molecules with bio-accumulative effects that run through the food chain regardless of borders or distances.

While there is no denying the contribution of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry to contemporary society, nor of forgetting that chemistry is, after all, the science of matter, it is clear that the rhythm of creation and diffusion of artificial synthetic molecules surpasses the knowledge of their impact on the environment.

Societies are aware of chemical pollution, but doubt its seriousness, as was the case with climate change. To be able to act, decision-makers need, and will need, robust, independent, objective and scientific risk analysis support.

To address this shortcoming, voices within the scientific community are rising for the creation of an international body which would be, for chemical pollution, the counterpart of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES for Biodiversity). 100 scientists recently issued an appeal warning against “endocrine disruptors” and denouncing the “merchants of doubt” who maintain confusion over their deleterious action. The signatories of the appeal also demand the creation of an “IPCC on chemical pollution”.

The French National Water Academy, a multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral and prospective think tank created in 1993 on the initiative of the Ministry of the Environment and the six French water agencies, has for several years now been actively involved on issues related to micropollutants in water, present in the environment at levels of concentrations ranging from hundreds of parts per million to less than one part per billion. This work convinced the Water Academy of the need for an independent international scientific structure for a global monitoring of chemical pollution of the environment, today the aim of this initiative.

Ambition and structure of the project

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).
At a first meeting last September in Paris, the scientists participating agreed that decision-makers needed objective information to take stock of the pollution as well as a forward-looking view of contamination levels and risks, both to be provided by a body of collective, independent, scientific and international expertise, which would issue a periodic report on the state of this major problem of planetary interest.

The scientists who will 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 would devote themselves to the periodic publication of a report summarizing 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….).

It will be up to the scientists to produce this report. It will be up to the decision makers and the public to take it on board.