The Helsinki Chemicals Forum (HCF) met for the first time in the Finnish capital last week and brings together academics, politicians, NGOs, ‘human interest groups’ and industry representatives to look at ways to improve the social and environmental performance of a sector traditionally viewed with suspicion by environmental groups.

The forum plans to meet each year and hopes its annual conference will become a ‘milestone in shaping the agenda for safe and sustainable development, manufacturing and the use of chemicals’.

It is funded and administered by the Chemicals Forum Association in cooperation with the EU Commission and its Chemical Agency ECHA.

Speakers at the high-profile event included Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP and Stavros Dimas, the EC’s Environment Commissioner.

“As an open Forum, HCF will encourage the cross functional conversation and exchange of ideas related to the chemical industry, environmental issues and scientific research,” said Kyösti Sysiö, Secretary General of the HFC.

“The forum brings together industry leaders and other decision-makers to shape the common agenda for a better life and environment.

“That there is a need for this kind of global forum is proven by the fact that the participants of HCF 2009 come from some 30 countries in Europe and overseas.”

Sam Bond

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