Science & InnovationDr. Olga Speranskaya
Russian scientist Dr. Olga Speranskaya has been garnering headlines worldwide for her work to reduce the harmful impact of toxic chemicals in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Many former Soviet countries are home to vast stockpiles of highly toxic obsolete pesticides. Exposure to such pollutants can seriously damage human health and the environment.
Dr. Speranskaya formed a civil society network that has grown to include NGO groups, governmental bodies and academics. Its aim is to work on phasing out obsolete pesticides and other chemicals. The campaign succeeded in pushing national governments to ratify the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which aims to eliminate the release of such products into the environment. Nine of twelve countries in the region ratified the Convention and now participate as full Parties at its global meetings. She has also led campaigns to ban the burial and transport of hazardous chemicals.
As co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), Dr. Speranskaya has helped NGOs implement more than 70 projects on toxic chemicals in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The NGOs have identified contaminated hotspots, analyzed the health impacts of POPs, developed proposals for mitigating these poisonous chemicals, and coordinated public participation in the identification of unauthorized storage and use of banned and obsolete chemicals.
“It feels great to be recognized by UNEP as a Champion of the Earth, said Dr. Speranskaya “It demonstrates how important the work that we do is and how people all over the world really recognize that chemical safety is a great challenge and one of the major problems that we now face.”