Greenpeace action at US Embassy in Philipinnes, returning transformer left behind by US Clark Air Base.

Southeast Asia is a region of immense natural wealth. Its magnificent biodiversity, mineral-rich lands, resplendent nature spots and diverse cultures offer strong incentives for a broad spectrum of economic activity. However, this mindless surge in industrial development has assaulted entire ecosystems, spewing poisons that now threaten the survival of its peoples.

Pollution from industrial activity has reached alarming proportions in the last three decades throughout the region in both urban and rural areas. Toxic chemicals now taint its air, water and food sources, putting at risk communities and workers exposed to these substances.

Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila are some of the most polluted cities in the world. Environmental quality in these cities and elsewhere in the region are expected to worsen if current patterns of economic development, including trade, persist. A perception survey commissioned by Greenpeace in the region in 2004 identified air and water pollution as the topmost environmental issues that Southeast Asians are most concerned about.

The Greenpeace Toxics Campaign has successfully secured international policies that would eliminate or control production, use, recycling, disposal and trade of some of the nastiest chemicals especially in developed countries. Unfortunately, the victories in these countries has also resulted in the migration of these toxic technologies and products to Southeast Asia where environmental regulations are lax or absent.

Toxic Tech campaign

In the region, the Toxics Campaign aims to protect both the environment and public health by eliminating threats posed by toxic substances in industrial and agricultural processes. Concretely, Greenpeace SEA engages companies and governments to push for a clean production policy. This means, companies must redesign products and production systems to exclude toxics, seek cleaner substitutes and take individual responsibility for their products for the entirety of its life cycle.

Greenpeace SEA is fighting for the enforcement of the ban on waste trade put forth by the Basel Convention. Greenpeace SEA is continually monitoring the movement of hazardous and toxic materials to the region, (which are sometimes disguised as legitimate recycling). Bilateral trade agreements are posing a constant challenge to the Convention as some of these agreements allow waste dumping. Greenpeace SEA is working to prevent the region from becoming a garbage colony for toxic waste and dirty technologies rejected by the developed world.

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