In a historic and joint effort, the United Nations (UN) has unveiled an innovative framework designed to address the looming environmental threats posed by hazardous chemicals and waste. This momentous decision came during the fifth International Conference on Chemical Management (ICCM5), held in Bonn, Germany. It represents a global commitment to phase out the most dangerous chemicals that endanger our planet and its inhabitants.
Charting the course for a sustainable futuree
The recently launched Global framework for chemicals represents a comprehensive roadmap covering the entire life cycle of chemicals, from their production to their disposal. In the words of Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), this framework aims to create a world where every individual can live and work without fear of chemical-related diseases. It provides a pristine natural environment, free from pollution, that can nourish and sustain humanity for generations to come.
Concrete objectives: a blueprint for change
At its core, the framework includes 28 specific objectives, carefully crafted to take responsible chemical and waste management to the next level. Importantly, these goals aim to build connections with other pressing global agendas, including climate change, biodiversity conservation, upholding human rights and protecting public health.
Governments around the world have pledged to enact policies and regulations aimed at reducing chemical pollution by 2030 while actively advocating for safer alternatives. Industries have also committed to radically changing their chemical management practices to minimize pollution and its adverse effects.
A particularly bold target within this framework is the elimination of highly hazardous pesticides in agriculture by 2035, especially in cases where risks are still inadequately controlled.
The Bonn Declaration: a comprehensive strategy
Together with the Global Framework, ICCM5 embraced the Bonn Declaration, a complementary commitment that strengthens the collective effort. This additional statement aims to proactively prevent exposure to hazardous chemicals, phase out the most hazardous substances when necessary and improve the safe management of essential chemicals. Furthermore, the Bonn Declaration urges countries to embrace the transition to circular economies to promote the development of safe alternatives and substitutes for hazardous chemicals. This multifaceted approach not only strengthens health and environmental protection, but also reduces waste and encourages better recycling efforts.
A call for urgent action
In a loud call to action, Ms Andersen underlined the urgent need for immediate steps. She cited data from the World Health Organization (WHO), which showed that direct chemical pollution of the air, land, water and workplaces causes two million deaths every year.
Ms Andersen implored all stakeholders, including governments, the chemical industry and all parties involved, to exceed the agreed measures. She emphasized that exceeding the targets is imperative to safeguard the future of our planet and the well-being of its inhabitants.
As we move into the future, the adoption of this visionary framework symbolizes a crucial step towards a cleaner, safer and more sustainable world. In this envisioned future, chemicals will no longer pose a threat to our well-being or the environment on which we depend.