Frequently Asked Questions

About Blacksmith

Nominating a Site

Once Site is Chosen

About Blacksmith

Where is your key staff located?

The Blacksmith Institute is based in New York City, with a satellite office in Australia. We also have regional representatives who help us support local projects and who hold senior positions at organizations in various parts of Africa, Asia and Russia.

How long have you been involved with pollution remediation projects?

The Blacksmith Institute has been supporting locally-based pollution-related environmental work since 1999 through its grant-making programs in the developing world.

In what parts of the developing world are you already working successfully on pollution-related problems?

Blacksmith currently has active funded projects in Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, China, Philippines, Indonesia, and India. The Blacksmith Institute has also worked in Cambodia, Guinea, Mozambique, Peru, Russia, Somalia, and Thailand. Blacksmith's Global Inventory Project is in 75 countries on all continents. Click here to read more about Blacksmith's projects.

Where do the funds to remediate a polluted site come from?

Funding is solicited from major international aid agencies and multilateral banks. Corporate funds are occasionally solicited as well to support projects in locations where a corporation has operations or a particular interest. Private donations from individuals are always welcome. If you are interested in supporting our work, please click here.

How many sites do you work with at any one time?

The number of sites in which we work vary according to available staff and financial resources. We do not set an arbitrary cut off.

What kinds of toxics/pollution problems are you most interested in helping to remediate?

While we are open to nominations of sites characterized by a wide range of pollution problems, our own focus is on point-source pollutants that have significantly adverse health affects on local populations and that are not currently the focus of major clean-up efforts. We are most interested in mining, and existing and legacy industrial sites. Click here to read more about the types of sites we focus on.

Is this just another business venture, or is there a real commitment to complete this work?

This is not a business; Blacksmith is a not-for-profit activity with partners who have demonstrated a strong commitment to pollution remediation work in developing countries.

Nominating a Site

What kind of site should be nominated?

We are looking for sites that meet the following criteria:

  • where primarily point-source pollutants are causing substantial human health problems;
  • that lack an existing and capable clean-up effort;
  • located in communities that demonstrate sufficient capacity and interest to make remediation feasible;
  • and where there can be reasonable expectations of success.

Who can nominate a site?

Anyone can, though we are especially interested in nominations from local governments and NGOs.

How do I nominate a site?

You can nominate a site directly through this website. Go to the Nominate section of the site, and fill out the form, which is also available in Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Russian and Spanish. This will be sent directly to the appropriate staff member for review.

What happens once my nomination is submitted?

Once you submit your nomination, there will be an initial review by the Blacksmith staff. We will notify you that we have received your nomination soon after this review, and we will provide you with a contact person for follow-up. We may have additional questions for you if your nomination is incomplete. All correspondence will be conducted by email.

We will then forward the nomination to our Technical Advisory Board, which meets every month. Based on information from your nomination and from other sources, the Board will conduct a preliminary assessment of the severity of the nominated polluted site as well as the ability of Blacksmith to offer assistance that is likely to result in a successful remediation process.

If the nominated site meets their selection criteria, we will then arrange to send a representative to conduct an Initial Site Screening (ISS). The ISS will enable us to make a final determination if and how we can make a practical contribution to solving the local pollution problem. During the ISS, we will meet with all interested local parties, including government officials and the nominating individual or group, and we will help develop and/or endorse a methodology for implementing a timely and effective solution to the pollution problem.

If the site is not selected, you will receive an email explaining why, and if you are interested, we will try to work with you to find an appropriate resource to help you further.

What expectations are there of the nominator?

As we have said previously, nominations can come from anyone—a member of the community, a representative of a local government or NGO, or even an individual living in a different country who happens to come across such a site. However, if the nominator is a stakeholder, we hope that they will be willing to be actively involved in the process: to educate Blacksmith staff members on the local situation, help arrange site visits and identify other stakeholders. If appropriate, the nominator may also champion the remediation process.

Blacksmith project's stress a cooperative, non-adversarial process to solving these problems, and the involvement of all stakeholders—government, industry and local communities. We encourage nominators to think about their specific sites with this approach in mind.

Once a Site is Chosen

What kinds of expectations are there for chosen sites?

Blacksmith looks at several factors that determine whether or not a site can move from the identification and nomination process to the ISS and possible site remediation stage. Pollution-related morbidity and mortality statistics, existing interest and activity by local governments and community organizations in pollution issues, and the technical feasibility of proposed clean up strategies all determine whether or not a nomination will move to the remediation stage of the process.

If the site is accepted, what kinds of support do you offer? For how long do you offer support?

Support will depend on the pollutant, the scope of the remediation project, and the strategic design of the solution. Support might well include financial resources to help a local agency manage the design and implementation of the solution, as well as various types of technical support and assistance in coordination with international agencies. Support is both flexible and potentially long term.

What strategies do you employ to help ensure that severe pollution will not return to the community?

The design and implementation work will generally be conducted by an agency that is a recognized part of the local community. Once the remediation process is fully operational, the local contracted agency will be eligible for an updated package of focused support from Blacksmith Institute and/or technical and financial partners as needed. This package will include resources to help build a culture of pollution prevention among NGOs, businesses, the media, government and more. It may also include resources to help strengthen legal structures needed to regulate waste and sanction polluters.

How are sites linked so that they can share information/expertise/success stories?

Projects will be linked by this website, where we will track the progress of each site. Additionally, local partners will be given regular opportunities to network amongst themselves globally and regionally via face-to-face meetings.

Where will the funds come from that will be used to remediate a polluted site in my community?

Funding is solicited from major international aid agencies and multilateral banks. Corporate funds are occasionally solicited as well to support projects in locations where a corporation has operations or a particular interest. Private donations from individuals are always welcome. If you are interested in supporting our work, please clic k here.

What kind of community accountability is built in?

Blacksmith intends to support local organizations capable of developing and implementing solutions and ensuring that the needs of the local community will remain of primary importance. Blacksmith will conduct surveys and convene local meetings in order to get feedback from the community and, as often as possible, to secure endorsement of the pollution remediation strategy.

What agency will carry out the clean up process?

The designated local agency will oversee the remediation process.