IPEN’s regional meeting for the South Asia Region was conducted from 17-19 April, 2019 in New Delhi, India. The three-day meeting with regional participating organizations (POs) was organized by Toxics Link, IPEN’s hub for South Asia Region. A total of 26 POs from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated in the event.
This was the first of its kind meeting and was very crucial in bringing the POs together to have a better understanding of each other’s work.
The main objective of the meeting was to discuss toxic chemical issues pertaining to the South Asia region while also providing links to international issues and policies. The meeting raised the capacity of the POs on toxic chemicals, environmental governance, and provided guidance on developing a communication strategy for their organizations in order to explore funding opportunities. The meeting also provided opportunity for POs to network and to identify common issues they are working on.
The meeting successfully supported POs in learning more about what IPEN does as a network and how they can engage themselves in a more efficient way. IPEN’s Network Organizer talked to the POs and informed them about the IPEN’s goals and structure. She reminded them that they are who makes IPEN a network.
Since most of the POs work at the local level and do not have much access to global policies and conventions, Mr. Piyush of Toxics Link, explained to them about the global policy conventions such as SAICM, Stockholm, Basel, Rotterdam and Minamata and linked their on-the groundwork to these policies.
Findings of the IPEN PO survey were discussed by the Regional Coordinator, Tripti Arora. She mentioned how waste and pesticides were identified as the two critical work areas of the region; she also highlighted the expertise amongst the pool of POs in the region. She further asked the participants about how the engagement of the POs could be enhanced which led to a fruitful discussion during the meeting.
The meeting discussed a number of technical issues on which POs are working on such as Chemicals in toys (Mr. Ram, CEPHED, Nepal); Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (Dr. Prashant, Toxics Link); Lead Elimination and Safety (Ms. Priti, Toxics Link); Lead in Paint (Mr. Dhiraj, Leaders, Nepal); Mercury and Coal (Mr. Hemantha, CEJ, Sri Lanka); Mercury in Dentistry (Ms. Siddika, ESDO, Bangladesh); Bio-medical waste (Mr. Satish, Toxics Link); E-waste (Ms. Priti, Toxics Link); Promoting Sustainable Agriculture (Mr. Suranjan, Green Movement, Sri Lanka), Sustainable Agriculture (Mr. Krishna, Abhivyakti Foundation); Environmental Journalism (Mr. Arjun, NEFEJ, Nepal); POPs and Toxics Recycling (Lee Bell, IPEN); Antimicrobial resistance (David Sutherland, WHO) and Plastic Toxic Liabilities (Bjorn Beeler, IPEN).
In order to guide the POs to tap different resources available for funding, a session was held on Resource Mobilization by Mr. Jaison, GEF/UNDP SGP India.
Proposal writing and developing a communication strategy were identified as two critical areas requiring assistance. Thus, a session was conducted by Margdarshak organization, Delhi, India who guided the POs on how to write a project proposal, a press release, and how to develop a communication strategy.
A session was conducted by Ms. Sanchita, Former Director at MOEF and CC who spoke about the Genesis of waste regulations in India.
The following session on the Legal strategy and governance by Mr. Sanjay a Lawyer provided more information on what is the status of implementation of these rules are and how the situation is, in terms of legal governance.
The group went on a field trip to Conserve India, an NGO which upcycles waste to fashion products. The visit was conducted was in two phases. In the first phase, the group was taken to observe door to door garbage collection from households, after which the waste is segregated, single use plastic bags are collected which are further sorted into different colors. After the waste is sorted, it is processed by fusing plastic bags after washing and cleaning them to make it into a leather-like fabric used to make products such as bags. Different colour patterns are used to make the products attractive which are then sold online and in open markets commercially. The product is known as an upcycled product because of the value addition during the recycling process. During the second phase, the group went to visit the afghani refugees who design these upcycled products.
On the last day, the group sat down to discuss the critical issues of the region on which different POs can work together. The discussion revolved around many issues such as e-waste, plastics waste, lead, food safety, mercury, pesticides, and contaminated sites and chemicals in products.
The group identified two main areas of Plastics waste and food safety as the top priority areas of the region.
All of the POs appreciated the efforts taken to organize the meeting and mentioned the need to hold such meetings often. They mentioned that they will return home with more clarity about IPEN and a better understanding about the work of other NGOs in the region.