Everyday toxics exhibition and discussion in Geneva

This week CRIN hosted a temporary exhibition and discussion in Geneva to talk about toxics in our everyday lives and what is being done at the international and local level to raise awareness of related issues. The event was hosted at the Bocal Local, an eco-responsible grocery shop in Geneva, while the meetings of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are taking place in the city from 29 April to 10 May.

With the participation of Baskut Tuncak, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics, as well as members of a range of international organisations, the conversation aimed to make the link between international actors and local initiatives, and discuss what we can do together to prevent our daily exposure to potentially harmful substances.

Those present heard about violations of our human rights caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, which include the right to information, the right not to be exposed without our consent and to make informed decisions about the products we buy.

Campaigners from the Bocal Local spoke about workshops they run about making everyday products ourselves — reducing waste and taking better care of our health and the environment — while members of the Pesticide Action Network for Asia Pacific discussed their support of rural women as well as their campaign to protect children from pesticides. German NGO Women Engage for a Common Future explained why pregnant women should receive more attention when it comes to exposure to toxic chemicals and how, through their ‘nesting’ project, they are encouraging consumers to choose healthier products when they are pregnant.

Those present also got a brief overview of what the different UN institutions are doing on the topic, how the Geneva Environment Network is promoting the dissemination of information and public awareness of environmental issues, as well as a presentation on the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, a voluntary policy framework which aims to make sure that chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimise adverse impacts on the environment and human health.

To consolidate our understanding of the ways toxics affect us all, the talk was accompanied by an exhibition of the work of artist Miriam Sugranyes. Using facts as the inspiration to get us to confront the fundamentals of toxics, the artwork was a wake-up call about the hazards, our vulnerabilities, and what needs to change.

This talk was the second in a series of discussions on toxics CRIN has hosted. You can find out more about the first event here.