China is a global hotbed for chemically-intensive electronics manufacturing. Inventories of chemical releases known as Pollutant Release and Transfer Registries (PRTR) are a key chemical safety measure for industry accountability. The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) and IPEN jointly released the report, “PRTR: Establishing a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register in China,” on May 8, 2018 in Beijing, China. The report introduces voluntary disclosure efforts undertaken by local departments and NGOs and emphasizes the importance of establishing a mandatory PRTR system with publicly accessible information. The two organizations also convened a discussion with representatives from academia, business and environmental groups on using a PRTR disclosure system to strengthen the management of hazardous chemicals.
(San Jose, CA, USA) An International Day of Action Against Samsung to protest health, labor and human rights violations by the electronics giant will take place on May Day in Asia, Europe and the United States. The actions, in solidarity with Samsung factory workers everywhere, include delivery of severalpetitions with over 200,000 signatures calling on Samsung to protect their hundreds of thousands of electronics factory workers around the world. Demands for transparency come on the heels of a Samsung lawsuit against the South Korean government which seeks to prevent public disclosure of hazardous chemicals monitoring information.
(Stockholm, Sweden): The 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize award to Manny Calonzo for his coalition efforts to eliminate lead paint in the Philippines brings attention to the ongoing threat of lead paint exposure to children in most of the developing world. Lead paint, the greatest single cause of childhood lead exposure globally, can cause irreversible neurological damage. Mr. Calonzo’s work to forge partnerships with the public, NGOs, health ministers and paint manufacturers was a winning model in the Philippines and is inspiring similar campaigns to eliminate lead paint throughout the world.
“Together with allies from the public, industry and government, we proved we can rid ourselves of a damaging source of toxic pollution for the good of children in the Philippines. I hope this prize will help reduce lead exposure to children across the planet and paint a healthier future,” said Mr. Calonzo.
A long time campaigner for environmental health, Mr. Calonzo, former president and advisor of the EcoWaste Coalition in the Philippines and leader in IPEN’s global Lead Paint Elimination Campaign, was instrumental in securing the adoption of the first national law banning lead paint production, use and sale in the Philippines. This new law, one of the world’s most protective, safeguards nearly 12 million young children from exposure to lead. Lead exposure, even at the smallest amount, can cause lifelong, untreatable harm, including brain damage, harming a child’s ability to learn, read, write, and focus in class and participate in society.
While the United States effectively banned lead-based paint in 1978, in many developing countries—even after decades of research showing how lead is linked to learning disabilities, lower IQ, and other health effects in children—the element is still abundantly applied in paint products, with lead concentrations sometimes up to 100 times higher than what’s permitted in the US.
The Philippines had long been a prime example of this. Just ten years ago, local activist Manny Calonzo decided to test the paint in his home country—the first person to publicly do so. Calonzo had long been involved in consumer safety, working for Consumers International in Penang, Malaysia, in the late 90s. After he returned to his home country, in 2008, he became president of pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition, a network of more than 150 environmental groups based in Quezon City.
(Gothenburg, Sweden): UN human rights experts have raised concerns about human rights violations at Samsung Vietnam (20 March 2018) in a joint statement. The three UN human rights experts, Mr. Baskut Tuncak, Ms. Anita Ramasastry, and Mr. David Kaye, expressed concern that Samsung’s intimidation and legal threats against workers and researchers who conducted a study into the lives of women workers constitute a breach of human rights.
News media across the globe have been heaping praise on Samsung's cool new Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones. But amid all the raves about the tech innovations and fancy features of these devices, the lives of the mostly female workers who make them have been virtually ignored.
Few consumers or reporters are aware, for example, that half of all Samsung phones are manufactured in Vietnam by a female-majority workforce in their twenties.
Our organizations explored this hidden story by conducting in-depth, open-ended, confidential interviews with 45 women who work on the assembly lines at two Samsung factories in Vietnam. What we found was shocking.