Almost 24 years after the incident, the pesticide manufacturing equipment remains at the former plant and there are tons of waste materials and contamination in soil and ground water, posing an ongoing threat to the environment and to the thousands of people living around the plant. Contaminants include toxic chemicals and pesticides in ponds, process equipment, and disposal areas located throughout the property.
The Cherokee Gives Back Foundation's commitment via Bhopal Hope is to build a coalition of organizations that can help address this issue and to raise million in funding to facilitate the environmental assessment. The partnership will also provide in-kind contributions in the form of financial, policy, environmental, and sustainability expertise at Cherokee, ERM, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Additionally, Cherokee Gives Back Foundation also promises complete transparency in their efforts. All parties involved will know what role they are and are not playing, what technical methods they employ, what experts they assign, and what findings they make.
The completion of an environmental assessment - designed to meet international standards of excellence, scientific rigor, comprehensiveness, and transparency - is a necessary first step in the site cleanup process. This can be accomplished by (1) providing much needed and largely unknown data on the exact array of toxic chemicals and by-products which have caused so many negative human health impacts and (2) creating a detailed remediation plan with projected cleanup techniques, timelines, and costs needed to reduce the health and environmental risks posed by this site.
In order to accomplish this objective, Cherokee Gives Back Foundation will first establish a coalition of the willing who share their commitment to making a difference at Bhopal. They will solicit the support of those who are interested and in a position to help facilitate the first step in the cleanup process - a complete and transparent environmental assessment.
The sequence of action items is as follows:
- Reach out to stakeholders and build a coalition of partners who are willing and committed to the Bhopal Hope program.
- With the coalition, define the tactics necessary to advance the environmental remediation and find the proper entity/leader with knowledge of Indian culture and politics needed to guide the coalition to success.
- Gain governmental support and access to the site.
- Raise the funds to cover the environmental assessment.
- Conduct the environmental assessment.
- Share the results with key stakeholders and publish the results broadly. While it is not part of the scope of this effort, Cherokee Investment Partners hope that once the environmental assessment is completed, it will unlock years of inaction and litigation and open the door for the remediation of the Bhopal site.
The partner's experience to date has made it very clear that the first key step in this process is to build a coalition of those affected and committed to helping to address the human health and environmental issues in Bhopal. Built of philanthropic leaders, not-for-profit organizations, business, and government officials, the diverse coalition will ensure that all full range of perspectives are represented in the process and help to establish credibility with key stakeholders in India, including residents of the community and government officials. The process of identifying and building the coalition will take approximately three months and it will start at CGI when this initiative is announced for the first time to leaders from around the world.
After the coalition is built, the next step is to work with it to outline a specific road map that establishes a productive dialogue with government officials and that ultimately leads to the government providing access to the site to assess the environmental conditions. Once access is permitted, Cherokee Gives Back Foundation will focus on raising million to fund the assessment. Upon completion, the results will be shared with key government agencies and made public to all interested parties.
- Number of organizations and/or leaders added to the Bhopal Hope coalition - 10
- Number of employees and members represented by this new coalition - 5000
- Donations/in-kind services collected by partners in this new coalition - .5 million
- Percentage of partners in this new coalition with operations/offices in India - 30%
Seeking new partners in the Bhopal Hope effort who can (1) provide a background information and advise on public health, political, stakeholder engagement, and/or advocacy work in India, specifically in Bhopal or in situations involving environmental justice issues; (2) help shape the tactics and strategy needed to work effectively with key stakeholders in India; (3) facilitate meetings and discussions with key decision makers in the Indian government and with other Indian leaders so that the Bhopal Hope invitation can receive the proper audience and consideration; and/or (4) help raise funds for this critical environmental and humanitarian effort. More broadly, Cherokee seeks to be the catalyst that builds the coalition, but we seek to find the appropriate lead entity with the composite skills and thorough knowledge of the Indian political scene needed to guide the coalition towards success.