Strategy & Approach

Our Strategy

Inventorying toxic hotspots around the world

To date, more than 2,200 locations in 50 emerging market countries have been identified where people are exposed to toxins at dangerous levels. A central on-line database coordinates information on each, and creates a platform for national and local governments, international agencies and Blacksmith to prioritize interventions.

Implementation of pilot and mid-scale cleanup projects

Projects are often chosen with the intent to allow for scaling up by national or international agencies.

National capacity building

Local and national agencies in most low- and middle-income countries need the experience of the West to solve pollution problems. As well as conducting technical workshops, Blacksmith assists countries to develop national strategies, focusing government efforts on public health.

Collaborative platform with local champions

Blacksmith focuses on solutions, and encourages full stakeholder participation in implementation, rather than litigation. Locals, passionate about the problem, implement Blacksmith’s programs. Blacksmith provides resources and technical expertise.

Best science and best practices at all times

A volunteer Technical Advisory Board of more than 50 senior experts with combined 600 years of experience oversees individual projects and the Blacksmith’s program development.

Our Approach

Blacksmith works in highly polluted locations in the developing world with the intent of mitigating human health risks from pollution. Solutions to pollution problems vary according to each site and include factors such as:

  • type of pollution (air, water, groundwater, soil, etc.)
  • toxins involved (particularly their potency and longevity)
  • extent of the contamination
  • whether it is active or “legacy” (abandoned or ownerless sites)
  • variety of local geographical and political factors

With the long-term aim of banishing this problem throughout the globe, Blacksmith supports local action to deal with highly polluted places. In doing this, we have adopted a range of solutions that fit both with the requirements of each class of sites and with Blacksmith’s own limited resources.

In general, our solutions follow one of the following paths:

Small scale clean-ups

Contamination is legacy, and clean-up is not too expensive (less than $100,000). Blacksmith will provide technical support and clean-up funds, usually requiring a match in funding from the local community. Projects are usually completed within 12 months. Often help to catalyze further action.

Large-scale clean-ups

Contamination is legacy, but scale and costs are very high. Blacksmith will support and fund a local coalition or stakeholder group to survey the issue and develop an action plan for remediation. The coalition is led by a local champion, and includes representatives from agencies that might provide long term funding, including the national government or international agencies such as the World Bank or Asian Development Bank. Often, these coalitions are the first real attempt to initiate remediation and they work to achieve the needed multi-million dollar project funding from other agencies.

Active sites

These are locations where the pollution is on-going, usually from specific industrial or mining activities. Blacksmith will fund a health impact analysis, in conjunction with all parties (including the owner, if possible). This review is then presented to the owner, with the intent of persuasion to reduce pollutants accordingly. Other more aggressive avenues are pursued only after this cooperative approach has been fully explored.

Complex (“Multi-Modal”) sites

These are areas that have mixes of legacy and active pollution, often with many different sources. Blacksmith will fund a coalition of all stakeholders, led by a local champion, to design an overall strategy and specific action plans for solution. Again, national or international players are a part of the necessary mix, as they can bring large-scale funding to the table.

Partners and Collaborators

Complex problems require the involvement of many stakeholders to craft sustainable solutions. We bring together international organizations, government agencies, research and technical agencies as well as other NGO’s. Browse our list of collaborators.