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ICPEP-1 (1996)



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ICPEP-2 (2002)



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Vol. 8 No. 2 - April 2002


Second International Conference on

Plants & Environmental Pollution

held at the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India

4-9 February 2002


As human populations, urban metro-plexes and land use changes continue to grow, increasing man-made pollution and degradation of air, soil and water quality have become a critical global issue. Environmental pollution is no longer the domain of the developed nations, but is an increasing problem across the world, particularly in developing countries. Dispersion and transport of air pollutants has no national boundaries and is a regional and continental scale problem. Similarly contamination of soils and non-point source pollutant run off into lakes, rivers and oceans impacting as appropriate, quality of the drinking water and aquatic life are of great concern. Issues such as the occurrence of acidic rain (e.g., deposition of nitrogen species), smog (e.g., ground level ozone and particulate matter), persistent organic carcinogens (e.g., benzo pyrenes) and toxic inorganic chemicals (e.g., metal and metalloids, nitrate) and global climate change (e.g., increases in radiative trace gases) are all in the forefront. In as much as some of these phenomena have direct adverse effects on crops, forests and surface waters, many are also known to alter food quality and ecosystem integrity and biological diversity.

As global population growth continues, preserving the quality of our environment and sustaining our food security would require better-integrated and concerted understanding of the many of the current and emerging problems. Such efforts based on sound scientific principles should provide the basis for developing and implementing relevant mitigation policies to meet the human needs.

Second International Conference on Plants & Environmental Pollution (ICPEP-2) was organized to provide an international forum for discussions and deliberations among scientists, researchers and NGO's, interested in promoting and conducting research, education and mass awareness on environment, highlighting the role of plants in environmental protection, pollution indication, bioremediation, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. After a lengthy deliberation, the participants of ICPEP-2 developed a series of recommendations as follows

Conference Recommendations

  • Initiate ways at the outset, to develop strong international research collaboration and information exchange among scientists to address common environmental issues. A relevant, exemplary operative model for addressing such common environmental issues between several different countries already exists within the United Nations Commission of the European Communities (UN-CEC).

  • Develop a strong mechanism to promote environmental education among young people (for example, schools) and environmental literacy among the public, particularly in the user sector, through outreach. India can give a lead for example, in developing geographic institutional networks for disseminating the needed information, initiating local science fairs for young people (schools), organizing regional workshops focused on specific environmental issues and collaborating with the media sector to attract attention of the public and the policy makers. Outreach program initiated by Eco-education division of NBRI at Lucknow, India may serve as a model.

  • Map in a systematic fashion the specific types (for example, occurrence of critical levels of ground level ozone) and geographic magnitude of various environmental problems using simple, but elegant proven methods (for example use of passive samplers for assessing the level of air pollution and use of indicator plants for monitoring visible adverse effects). Such an effort is a prerequisite first step in risk analysis and assessment, cost-benefit analysis and the development of mitigation policies.

  • Develop collaborative research efforts, both globally and regionally, to define the adverse effects of pollution on food and crop productivity and quality. Such activities, in addition to the specific local questions, must be holistic and integrative within the context of multiple stress factors (both non-biological and biological) identified within the framework of local and global climate change.

  • Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) is a major environmental problem, both in developing and developed countries. Production and application of pesticides and presence of pesticides residue in crops as well as in the atmosphere is a grave health hazard. Organic cultivation is the only viable and lasting solution to this problem and it should be encouraged and promoted at all levels. The special session on Neem organized during ICPEP-2 addressed this problem in great detail. Experts present at this session highlighted the significance of organic cultivation and use of bio-pesticides, bio-fertilizers etc. It is recommended that R&D efforts in the area should be strengthened and India should provide a lead in this direction. ISEB should also actively participate in this program.

  • Develop ways to control or prevent the presence of invasive alien species and promote the preservation of native biological diversity. In this context, the "Farmer's Rights" model of India can serve as an example. Of additional consideration are the issues of "Ethno-botany" and the critical importance of sustaining medicinal species in overall sustainable development of ecosystems.

  • Develop and evaluate the comparative success of various cost effective pollution mitigation strategies appropriately suited for acceptance by the local community. Examples include bio-remediation of salinity (responsible for major crop losses in semi-arid and irrigated agriculture) and phyto-remediation of soils and surface waters contaminated by industrial waste (responsible for the transport of toxic chemicals in the food chain). Transfer successful methods to the user community for implementation.

  • Organize the next International Conference on "Plants and Environmental Pollution, ICPEP-3" during 2005 to exchange information on the progress of work based on the aforementioned recommendations. Additional emphasis of the conference should be on invited state of the art reviews by recognized experts, focusing on specific themes, with in-depth discussions, followed by opportunities for young scientists to showcase their research. The overall proceedings of the conference should be used as another mechanism to promote awareness of the public and the policy makers.

This document has been reproduced from the archives of EnviroNews - Newsletter of ISEB India.

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