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Good morning, this is Michelle and today we’re looking at countries’ latest big idea to help clean up the chemical mess we’ve made – an IPCC for chemicals.

The proposal, led by Switzerland and other countries, got the go ahead at the UN Environment Assembly this week in Nairobi. But with 350,000 substances out there and most of them still untested, could a panel of the world’s finest toxicologists finally put a lid on it?

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Michelle Langrand


☢️An IPCC for chemicals

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A fence in Idaho with warning signs of radioactive material. (Credit: Unsplash/Dan Mayers)

The UN has warned that pollution is the third planetary crisis, along with climate change and biodiversity loss. However, unlike the other two, chemical pollution has received little international attention and has been mostly managed at a national level. Governments are now looking to change that. Countries gathered in Nairobi this week agreed to create an international panel on chemicals, much in the image of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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Opinion of the day

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❓Could Russia be suspended from the Human Rights Council? On 1 March, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, speaking at the 49th session of the Human Rights Council, remarked: “One can reasonably ask whether a UN member state that tries to take over another UN member state, while committing horrific human rights abuses and causing massive humanitarian suffering, should be allowed to remain on this Council,” But how realistic is it that Russia’s membership of the Council could be suspended?

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🇺🇦 Ukraine neutrality – a guarantee for security? Russia and Ukraine held a second round of talks on Thursday aimed at stopping the escalating war. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine that it must quickly accept the Kremlin’s demand for its “demilitarisation” and declare itself neutral – but will a neutral status of Ukraine help to stop the war?, asks political journalist Dmitry Skorobutov.

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Reason for hope

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(Credit: Unsplash/Naja Bertolt Jensen)

✉️ Dear world leaders. At nine-years-old, Layale is already worried about worldly problems. She’s an ecoguide at her school La Découverte in Geneva, a programme that looks for ways to make it more environment-friendly. Purple scarf wrapped around her neck, comfortable crocs on and a shy, warm smile, she sits across from me at a child-size school table next to her father. Layale launched a petition calling on countries to adopt an ambitious treaty to fight plastic pollution. She tells me all about it.

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