Looking Forward: What Can Be Done
Industrial wastes, air emissions, and legacy pollution affect over a billion people around the world, with millions poisoned and killed each year. Other people have reduced neurological development, damaged immune systems, and long-term health problems. Women and children are especially at risk.
Much of this can be fixed, affordably and effectively. There exist culturally and economically responsible interventions that have been proven to save lives. Many of these are developed at the local level with input from technical experts. Others adapt more complex technologies to be more appropriate for developing country environments. As a whole, many of these solutions are replicable, effective and affordable.
To implement these interventions, two responsibilities must be taken up by the international community. First, there must be a concerted global effort to comprehensively identify the polluted places where human health is at risk. Second, the resources necessary to support the remediation of these sites must be made available.
The Global Inventory Project
A major challenge to the international community is to identify exactly where and how pollution affects people. To our knowledge, Blacksmith Institute’s internal database of polluted places is the most comprehensive in the world. However, the 600 sites it contains just scratch the surface of what exists.
Partly to address this need, Blacksmith Institute has entered into a partnership with the European Commission and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization to develop a comprehensive inventory of polluted places. The Global Inventory Project will be the first of its kind. During the 18-month project Blacksmith and partners will identify and assess more than 500 polluted places. The information collected will be made accessible to organizations and governments working to end the health threat of pollution.
The Health and Polution Fund
A second major challenge is to leverage the funds necessary to remediate the many polluted places where health is at risk. In order to provide a vehicle to take up this challenge, the Health and Pollution Fund (HPF) was launched in principle in October 2007 by representatives from governmental agencies of the United States, Germany, China, Russia, Mozambique, Kenya, and the Philippines. Also part of the launch were representatives from the World Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Green Cross Switzerland, Blacksmith Institute, as well as leading researchers from within the public health and pollution remediation fields. HPF is a planned $400 million fund which will be dedicated to combating toxic pollution in developing countries that has resulted from industrial, mining, and military operations.
The Fund will be directed toward cleaning up over 400 highly polluted locations worldwide that affect more than 100 million people - people who suffer from reduced life expectancies, increased cancer risks and severe neurological damage. Projects initiated by HPF will channel funds to local stakeholders, with technical support and oversight provided by a central Secretariat. The Fund is in development, in discussions with potential donors.
For more information on the Health and Pollution Fund, please visit www.HPFund.org