Intervenor: vol. 26, no. 2 - 3, April - August 2001

International POPs Elimination Network Establishes Office At CELA

Shortly after Canada became the first country to ratify the newly signed Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in May of 2001, the secretariat for International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), a network of environmental organizations from around the world that coordinated NGO involvement in the Convention negotiations, announced its move from Washington D.C. to open an office at CELA. CELA, a participating member of IPEN since 1998, is proud to integrate the IPEN into its international programme. While operating independently from the legal aid framework at CELA, the IPEN secretariat and IPEN's platform for global elimination of POPs complement CELA's policy reform activities within its international programme and national toxics programme.

With Canada being the first to ratify the Stockholm Convention, CELA recognizes the opportunities of IPEN's presence in Toronto. Recognizing the immense impact of POPs on the Canadian environment and its human population, Canada's involvement throughout these negotiations was at the forefront - selected as Chair to these negotiations at the first meeting of the intergovernmental negotiating committee held in Montreal in 1998, the first government to contribute to money for Convention implementation in developing countries as well as the first country to ratify the Convention. At the signing of the Convention, Canada's Minister of the Environment, David Anderson, made a commitment to encourage ratification of the Convention by the other 49 countries required to ensure that the Convention becomes legally binding before the meeting of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. IPEN's presence in Canada will ensure that Minister Anderson was not merely expressing idle promises.

Recognizing the extent of POPs effects around the world, public interest NGOs from all over the globe effectively coordinated their efforts to have a dramatic impact on these international negotiations. More than 360 organizations from nearly 70 countries around the world worked collectively, advocating for effective language in the Convention to ensure that it would lead to the elimination of POPs. The product of this coordinated efforts by IPEN resulted in the signing of the Stockholm Convention which contains a goal of eliminating POPs, ensures that the precautionary principle is operationalized throughout the Convention, and provides a framework that can provide technical and financial assistance for developing countries and countries with economies in transition. At the signing of the Convention, IPEN was recognized by the UNEP for its contribution in securing a strong Convention. But the work of IPEN continues as it prepares to focus its efforts on ratification of the Convention and on its implementation.

Fé de Leon is a researcher at CELA