The public health dangers posed by lead exposure have been recognized and documented since the mid-20th century. Despite the pervasiveness of lead-based paint in buildings, including homes and schools, experience has shown that laws can effectively address the issue by phasing out lead paint.

As of September 2019, 73 countries around the world have enacted laws that limit lead in paint. Although the adoption of national laws has demonstrated success in reducing lead paint exposure, binding limitations are still lacking in 120 countries. Compliance Conversations on 1 November and 7 November, hosted by the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) in partnership with the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, will bring together policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders in this field to discuss current global initiatives concerning lead paint, the challenges of enacting legislation to address lead paint, and what support is needed for communities working on this issue.

The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint was formed as a partnership between the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) with the goal to eliminate lead paint through encouraging the establishment of lead paint laws in every country. Alliance partners developed a Model Law and Guidance for Regulating Lead Paint based on reviewing lead paint laws from several countries around the world, in response to requests from government stakeholders. The Model Law is the product of collaboration with partners from governments, paint industry groups, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Following a period of public comment, UNEP posted the Model Law online in all UN languages.

UNEP’s goal was to create a living set of model provisions that contains legal text on the most important elements of an effective lead paint law that can then be adapted to a country’s circumstances, whether the country in question is enacting new legislation, amending existing laws, issuing regulations or using other legal instruments to establish enforceable requirements. The Model Law includes both a narrative guidance document and an appendix of model legal text. The guidance lays out background information on the importance of regulating lead paint, and identifies key elements of an effective lead paint law, including clear definitions, clear legal limits, and mechanisms for compliance and enforcement, among others, which allow for adaptation to local contexts. An appendix provides model legal text to operationalize these elements, and another appendix provides links to recommended international standards for sample preparation and testing methods.

Since the publication of the Model Law, the Alliance has worked to disseminate information and build capacity for the adoption of enforceable legal limits on lead paint. The Model Law has served as an important tool in supporting countries’ efforts to phase out lead paint, providing a basis for outreach to raise awareness of the need for lead paint laws, and serving as a reference or starting point for countries to develop laws suited to national or regional regulatory structures and legal systems. The information has been disseminated both through workshops and through direct assistance to governments. Alliance partners are using the Model Law as a basis to assist several countries in developing, establishing or refining lead paint laws. For example, Alliance partners assisted the Environment Ministry of Brazil in developing a draft law updating, expanding, and strengthening their 2008 lead paint law. Recent workshops in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Africa, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia, and Asia-Pacific introduced government officials to the Model Law, and provided for multi-stakeholder discussions of barriers to implementation and next steps in specific countries.

The Alliance has taken the lead in outreach and assistance, but there is still a great need to raise awareness, provide legal support, and consider ways to account for country-level differences in establishing and implementing laws to limit lead in paint. This process can greatly benefit from assistance by the international legal community. INECE is organizing Compliance Conversations to provide a platform for participants to interact directly with members of the Alliance. The Conversations will serve as a forum where interested parties can make comments, voice concerns, and share ideas for addressing potential implementation and enforcement challenges. It will also enable stakeholders to directly inform Alliance members of what gaps remain and what is needed in their local contexts to effectively promote, implement, and enforce such legislation. Comments will be recorded and taken into consideration in planning outreach activities, communicating needs to the international community, and providing technical assistance to countries on lead paint legislation.

Please join us to have your voice heard by registering here. The sessions will take place at the following times:

  • Session 1: Friday, 1 November 2019, 9:30 a.m. (GMT -4); and
  • Session 2: Thursday, 7 November 2019, 9:30 a.m. (GMT -5).

Lead paint laws contribute to the achievement of SDG target 3.9 on, by 2030, substantially reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination and SDG target 12.4 on, by 2020, achieving the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.