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Children Environmental Health Project Description


Work on CEH is high in the priority of activities identified in the health and environment component under the Harmful Substances and Hazardous Waste sub-programme of the UNEP Medium Term Strategy. Furthermore, regional processes of dialogues and actions involving Ministries of Environment and Health in Europe, the Americas and Asia have been conducted and have yielded positive results in support of CEH. Some developing countries have expressed the need for technical assistance in identifying their CEH research agenda that could be basis for their CEH policy and action.

The CEH project was built upon the findings of past and existing studies. Knowledge being ultimately recognised as crucial for national programs and also for improving the international awareness on global environmental health issues, research and science are integrated as the basis for policy and action. This project aimed to evaluate and prioritize the environmental health risks focusing on chemicals among children in developing countries.

To achieve these objectives a four step approach was implemented with the following activities:

  1. Creation of an MOEJ-USEPA-UNEP-WHO steering committee: The committee was chaired by the MOEJ and conducted several conference calls since November 2010. The calls were aimed to streamline activities and charted the path for collaboration, working on the comparative advantages and strengths of each organization/agency.
  2. MOEJ hosted a workshop and symposium on CEH International Linkage in Tokyo, 2-4 February 2011: Participants included CEH experts from the US, Australia, Denmark, Republic of Korea, UNEP and WHO. Experts shared experiences on birth cohort studies. UNEP and WHO shared how the respective agencies could assist in CEH international collaboration.
  3. Setting of criteria and identification of target regions for project scope: 3 regions were selected as the target regions for the review of literature in developing countries.
  4. Establishment of terms of reference and recruitment of experts to work on the project: UNEP, assisted by WHO selected consultants on the basis of the following: Education- PhD or its equivalent in the field of environmental epidemiology and/or environmental health with preferably a background on chemicals safety. A minimum of 10 years experience practicing environmental epidemiology and/or environmental health; with a strong knowledge of epidemiologic tools in chemical risk assessment and management and knowledge of the country situation in target participating developing countries.

Despite the limited time to work on this project, UNEP Chemicals was able to deliver the following results:

  1. Setting of criteria and selection of regions where target developing countries are represented. Selection was on the basis that these are the regions where most developing countries belong geopolitically. These were Asia, Africa, Latin America.
  2. Selection of appropriate consultants to be engaged in the project. Though the process was comprehensive, appropriate consultants were selected and were guided on the project terms of reference and deliverables. Two consultants were met face to face (Asia and Africa) while the 2 from Latin America were guided through phone calls and email correspondence. UNEP participated in a workshop organized by the consultant from Africa, where other members of the African CEH project team were met and guided on the work to be done. The work of literature review by the consultants was home based.
  3. UNEP participated in conference calls of the project steering committee (MOEJ, USEPA, UNEP, WHO) which in turn provided guidance on project implementation and deliverables.
  4. UNEP’s participation at the JECS workshop on international collaboration on CEH provided UNEP with an overview of birth cohort studies being done in OECD countries. This also gave an impetus for this work on outreach CEH activities in developing countries.
  5. With appropriate UNEP guidance, the consultants provided the following output:
    1. Annotated bibliography of  chemical environmental risks and risk management strategies done among children in the respective regions for at least the past 10 years;
    2. Detailed table showing analysis of individual studies on children chemical environmental health risk and management  in developing countries, listing strengths, weaknesses, and gaps;
    3. Technical report analyzing the studies done since 2000, review of gaps, conclusions and recommendations.


6.  The four consultants (one each for Asia and Africa, 2 from Latin America) were brought to Geneva and actively participated at a workshop convened by UNEP. Issues and recommendations on CEH chemicals and children in their respective regions were presented.



  1. UNEP organized a 2 day meeting comprised of a Steering Committee meeting held back-to-back with a Workshop on 23-24 March 2011. The Workshop consisted of presentations made by a group of consultants, field experts on CEH in Developing Countries. The Steering Committee meeting participants included MOEJ, USEPA, WHO, UNEP Chemicals branch and representatives from the Stockholm and Basel conventions. Next steps of the joint UNEP and WHO work was defined, on the basis of the harmonization of CEH exposure and outcome measures. The workshop successfully met its objectives.

Next: Workshop on “Chemicals & Children: Literature Research in Developing Countries – Activities and Next Steps”