Uppsala Health Summit 2023: Chemical Pollution and One Health

2023-11-17

Environmental pollutants are responsible for at least 9 million deaths worldwide each year and contribute to significant chronic health issues in humans and animals while also causing serious environmental disruptions. The Uppsala Health Summit brings together international experts from various sectors to discuss solutions that can prevent future emissions and expedite efforts at the global and national policy levels.

One hundred and fifty international experts have been invited to Uppsala Castle in October to shed light on and discuss the role of environmental toxins in the so-called triple crisis the world is facing due to rapid climate change, loss of biodiversity, and the impact of chemicals. Nine thematic workshops are planned during the summit's two days, covering topics such as expediting and streamlining chemical testing processes, monitoring methods for chemical exposure, and risk assessment of contaminants in water, animal feed, and food. One workshop addresses the risks of plastic recycling, while another focuses on the connection between chemical pollutants and the prevalence of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

The hope is that the meeting will provide concrete improvement proposals and recommendations for ongoing policy processes within the EU and the UN. Special attention is given to the global plastic agreement currently under negotiation and the international scientific policy panel for chemical and waste management currently in development by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

"It is remarkable that the issue of chemicals, with its far-reaching and severe consequences for all life on Earth, has been so low on the political agendas of countries for such a long time. This is partly due to the complexity of the issues, which force us to make difficult choices about lifestyle and consumption, but also because powerful industrial interests want to maintain chemicals with clearly demonstrated negative effects. With this meeting, we hope to gather recommendations that can foster a greater understanding among decision-makers about how urgent this issue is," says Joëlle Rüegg, Professor of Environmental Toxicology and Program Committee Chair for the Uppsala Health Summit 2023.

Speakers in the plenary sessions (which will also be live-streamed) include Baskut Tuncak, a Professor from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA, and former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics, Dr. Leo Trasande, Professor and Director of the Department of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine at New York University School of Medicine (NYU), Dr. Sharon McGuinness, Executive Director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), and Dr. Sinaia Netanyahu, Program Manager in the European Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO).

A report will be launched during the meeting that provides a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the current challenges and the necessary changes to reduce the harm caused by chemicals and other environmental toxins. The report can be downloaded from this link.

Journalists are welcome to attend the plenary lectures at the Uppsala Health Summit on both days. The workshop discussions will be summarized in the plenary session on October 25th at 9:00 AM and 3:45 PM.

The Uppsala Health Summit is an annual recurring meeting for dialogue on how to better leverage research for improved global health. The conference is organized by Uppsala University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the Medical Products Agency, Örebro University, Region Uppsala, Uppsala Municipality, and the National Veterinary Institute (SVA).

For more information, please contact Monika Gutestam, Project Manager for the Uppsala Health Summit, Uppsala University, Tel 072-9999703, email: Monika.h.gutestam@uu.se.