With the goal of serving all Arab nations across West Asia and North Africa, the Arab Center for Environmental Health has launched today from its headquarters in Amman. The announcement was jointly made at a ceremony on 7 July by the Secretary General of the Jordan Ministry of Environment, Dr. Mohammed Khashashneh, and by the Center’s founding director, the experienced NGO leader Ziyad Alalawneh, leader of the NGO Land and Human to Advocate Progress.
Dedicating the Arab Center for Environmental Health, Secretary General Khashashneh, a world-renowned leader in writing and implementing environmental treaties, said, “We are honored that the Center is headquartered here in Amman, and we look forward to bringing together Jordan and other Arab governments, international bodies, civil society, and universities to build a toxic-free society for future generations.”
“Our immediate priority is to bring mercury-free dentistry – the end of dental amalgam – from the Maghreb to the Arabian Peninsula,” said Director Alalawneh. “From there, we hope the Arab Center for Environmental Health can lead a range of environmental initiatives and work to better implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements.”
Founded by the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry joined with Land and Human to Advocate Progress (LHAP), the Arab Center for Environmental Health aims to meet the emerging need of an institution to work on Environmental Health in the Arab region and facilitate the expertise to and cooperate with governments in the Arab Region to protect environment and public health.
Moreover, the Center will build an Arab network of advocates and run an awareness campaign for mercury free dentistry; play a role of as a “think tank” and develop ideas, policies, and strategies to eliminate environmental toxins in the Arab World; work as a watch dog against industrial abuse of chemicals and stop the toxic trade to developing nations; and carry out fundamental research and academic attribute for sustainable and alternative curriculum development; join efforts and forces to set up national and state models in Arab nations to gain support for ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and its implementation; encourage government programs and insurance policies that favor non-mercury dental restorative materials; make it an immediate priority to stop the use of mercury amalgam in the treatment of children, pregnant women, and childbearing age; promote alternative restoration materials and ensure their affordability and accessibility; and work on other chemical issues of urgency in the Arab region through studies, research, awareness raising and capacity building in addition to the issues of the four chemical conventions and SAICM.
The Arab Center for Environmental Health is opening a pathway to work closely with environment. This is a new initiative of building a network among the countries of the Arab World in environmental issues. The Center’s immediate priority is to bring mercury-free dentistry – the end of dental amalgam – from the Maghreb to the Arabian Peninsula,” said Director Alalawneh. “From there, we hope the Arab Center for Environmental Health can lead a range of environmental initiatives and work to better implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements.”
The launch event included virtual participation by regional environmental leaders from around the world, and Arab NGO leaders from Asia and Africa.
Charlie Brown, president of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, saluted Secretary General Khashashneh and Arab Center director Alalawneh as “experienced leaders who have contributed mightily for the people and environment of Jordan, Asia, and the world.” He added: “I anticipate great achievements will come from this new Arab Center.”
Siddika Sultana, director of the Asian Center for Environmental Health based in Bangladesh, welcomed the new Center, noting that similar Centers exist across the globe: the African Center for Environmental Health in Yaoundé, the Latin American Center for Environmental Health in Montevideo, and the European Center for Environmental Medicine in Berlin. “We regional centers work together as an effective partnership,” she explained.