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12 April 2005 | Printer friendly

NGO report on the first CEHAPE Task force meeting, 28 - 29 April 2005

By Hanns Moshammer, ISDE Austria See also the official website of the meeting

The report will follow the annotated agenda of the meeting:

1. Opening session

The WHO Director, Dr. Roberto Bertollini opened the meeting. The Minister of Environment of Austria had to be excused.

2. Election of Chairperson and Vice chairperson of the first meeting of the CEHAPE Task Force

Robert Thaler (MoE Austria) and Gareth Jones (MoH UK) were elected as chairs of the meeting.

3. Adoption of the provisional agenda and programme Working documents: EUR/05/5059125/2, EUR/05/5059125/4

4. Terms of reference and future activities of the Environment and Health Focal Points

Working document EUR/05/5059125/5 Some minor amendments to this document were made. This discussion was also used to introduce oneself by several speakers. Some of which underlined their good cooperation with NGOs at home. This I took as an invitation to thank those speakers and stress the importance of civil society input to the process. Notably especially speakers from the former Soviet Union (like from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, or Belarus) very prominently reported this cooperation. As far as I understand the focal points are a response to member countries’ concerns about the transparency of the EEHC. Therefore the secretariat asked the countries to provide a focal point in each country so that good information flow to and from the member countries could be provided. These focal points should also encourage cooperation between the various involved ministries etc. in each country and between countries. The amount of obligations concerning reporting etc. of the focal points was most heatedly discussed. Most of the countries have not nominated one focal point but one focal point for the health and the environment sector each.

5. Terms of reference and workplan of the CEHAPE Task Force Working document: EUR/05/5059125/7

The secretariat suggested that members of CEHAPE task force should also be focal points to reduce administrative efforts. Also the 2 NGO groups can nominate persons into the task force (this is written in the document and was again confirmed to my question). I also suggested that other levels (like districts and municipalities) should be brought into the CEHAPE process. I suggested to contact the WHO Healthy Cities Project (although I am well aware that WHO no longer actively supports the network). This proposal was taken up by Bertollini. A floppy disc was distributed to country representatives (but not to the NGO representative) with a list of all members. Delegates were asked (1) to check for correctness of name, addresses, affiliation and (2) to further suggest more experts for the fields of (a) chemical safety (especially in relation to the SAICM conference in September in Vienna) and (b) occupational health. (suggestions please to be sent until May 13th!)

6. CEHAPE tools for implementation and monitoring

Background document: EUR/05/5059125/Background Doc IV Report about Table of Actions and the Case Study data base by secretariat.

7. Reporting back on CEHAPE - a road map for implementation

Working documents: EUR/05/5059125/8, EUR/05/5059125/9 Heated debate concentrated on indicators (“again much work, who will fill in all these questionnaires” mostly from Western countries and “need for structured and comparable formats to document progress” mostly from Eastern countries.) Although I am personally well aware on the difficulties filling in all questionnaires relating to the proposed indicators I also think that a comparable documentation structure (comparability more important over time than between different regions) is a vital issue. This I also told to the group. Some discussion was centred on the issue of youth participation which seems to be a very difficult task. Dublin has offered to host a youth conference in May to elect youth representatives but this timeline was considered too short and now the conference will be held in Autumn but still it is not clear how member states will contribute.

8. Election of Chairperson of CEHAPE Task Force

After some embarrassing silence (nobody was willing to volunteer) Robert Thaler was proposed as chair person by Bertollini and was elected chair person. A vice chair (from the Health side) should be proposed by writing. Like all other written comments this proposal should be received by May 13th at the latest. I suggested that considering the different health status in the regions maybe a representative of the Eastern countries should be elected vice chair.

9. Reports from Environment and Health Focal Points

Working document: EUR/05/5059125/6 Considering RPG3 (indoor and outdoor air pollution) focal points were invited to report on national activities in these fields. I was able to highlight the activities of the EPHA members ENSP and ERS in relation to this topic. Some of the delegates (including Austria) had already underlined the collaboration with civil society in their country.

10. Operational Costs of the CEHAPE

Working document: EUR/05/5059125/10 The secretariat provided a cost estimate that also includes some money for NGO representatives participation. Austria has not only invited the task force to Vienna for the first meeting but has also supported participation of delegates from Eastern countries financially. Now some more countries have offered to host a meeting (during the meeting Uzbekistan made an offer) but no funding of travel costs or other necessities have been offered so far. Delegates of member countries were mostly very reluctant in this instance. Only Austria promised to give further financial support to the CEHAPE process.

11. Any other business

12. Summary and closure of the meeting

Time-line:

- Next meeting: Copenhagen June 2/3 2005: RPG 3 (Air pollution)
- Autumn 05: RGP 4 (hazardous chemicals and physical agents), A “what has been achieved” for the previous meeting RPG 3, Youth involvement, CEH legislation - first round
- Spring 06: RPG 2 (accidents, mobility, urban environment), look back on RPG 4, CEH-legislation-reporting back on results, Table of Actions revised version, overview on international collaborations
- Autumn 06: RPG 1 (water, GI disease), look back on RPG 2, advocacy+education+communication, indicators, case studies revised report.
- Early 2007: prep meeting for midterm review ministerial meeting
- Proposed steps: Nominate an NGO candidate for chemical safety (Vyvyan Howard?) and for occupational health Send in short comments / report on activities in respect to RPG 3 until May 13th for the official minutes


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