By Maica Llavero, Project manager at TEAMIT RESEARCH
We cannot turn back time, but we have the power and the knowledge to reverse the harm and restore our Environment. Future generations depend on our choices today.
“Only One Earth” was the theme of the of the first World Environment Day, held in 1974. Since then, every year on the 5th of June we celebrate this day to encourage awareness and action for the protection of the environment. Every year, a different theme has been put under the spotlight. This year 2021, World Environment Day, calls for an urgent action to revive our damaged ecosystems which includes from forests to peatlands to coasts, but also human-made systems such as cities or farms.
An alarming number of over 4.7 million hectares of forests are lost every year and over half of the world´s wetlands have disappeared in the last century. This loss has significantly reduced the area of natural habitat for animals putting them at risk of extinction and creating ideal conditions for pathogens such as coronaviruses to spread. The current COVID-19 pandemic is thought to be an example of the devastating consequences that the loss of our ecosystems can trigger.
This year the World Environment Day ties with the EU Green week 2021, held between May 31st to June 4th 2021 and it also coincides with the European Green Deal and the adoption of the EU Action Plan ‘Towards a Zero Pollution Ambition for Air, Water and Soil’. The European Commission is therefore taking action to lead the restoration of our ecosystems. The EU Zero Pollution vision for 2050 claims a healthy planet for all with the following statement “Air, water and soil pollution is reduced to levels no longer considered harmful to health and natural ecosystems and that respect the boundaries our planet can cope with, thus creating a toxic-free
In line with these policies, European-funded projects such as PREMIER or its predecessor iPiE proposed solutions to create a toxic-free environment. Although the pharmaceutical industry has been required to carry out an environmental risk assessment (ERA) for new marketed medicines in Europe since 2006, there are currently more than 1,500 pharmaceuticals for which no environmental risk assessment has been conducted. These accounts for those pharmaceuticals marketed before 2006. PREMIER aims at tackling this gap, by developing a novel information and assessment system for identifying and addressing the risks that these medicines pose to our environment. “PREMIER not just aims at creating a centralised user-friendly database” says Núria Machin, Head of Research and Development Projects (R&D) at TEAMIT RESEARCH “it also aims at making this data transparent and accessible to all relevant stakeholders, from water managers to regulators to environmental scientists”.
The development of the database and digital assessment system will be accompanied by detailed guidance and recommendations on how to steer the development of medicines in a greener direction while minimising the use of animal testing. The main objective of PREMIER is to contribute to a sustainable future by proactively managing the environmental impact of medicines. This is in line with the European Green Deal, but also with the EU Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment (PiE) (March 2019) and to the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe (Nov 2020), which has been recently launched to improve and complement the aforementioned actions. “The European legal framework surrounding pharmaceuticals and environmental protection is key to PREMIER´s foundations. We are working to align and work synergistically with these initiatives” states Núria Machín.
“As a company, we are committed to the protection and restoration of the environment and fully support the EU’s ambitious strategy in this regard. This is why at Teamit, we are involved in transformational research projects that contribute to the safeguard of biodiversity to ensure a greener future for generations to come” concludes Machín.
PREMIER is a great example of how the public and private sectors can join forces to fight for a more sustainable future and altogether support the establishment of a new European standard for environmental protection, reassuring patients and the society at large that medicines are increasingly safe for the environment. Reimagine, recreate, restore.