Why do chemicals and waste matter?

In Chemicals & waste

Chemicals and waste are integral to our everyday life, but they also have major impacts on the environment and human health. As the world’s population approaches 8 billion, the sound management of chemicals and waste is becoming ever more important.

We promote joint approaches to environment and health that demonstrate the economic, environmental and health advantages of sound chemical management for all concerned to stimulate policies and investment to reduce chemical risks to health and environment.

Our Partnerships

UN Environment works closely with governments, international organizations, industry, and civil society organizations around the world to develop mainstream solutions for the sound management of chemicals and waste. In doing so, we and our partners are focused on achieving the goal of the World Summit on Sustainable Development: to ensure that, by 2020, chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.

Working alongside our partners, we catalyse international action on sound chemicals and waste management. We play a leading role in developing and supporting international chemicals and waste-related agreements, and we spearhead global alliances that bring together business, governments and civil society. We also work with national governments to help them develop regulatory frameworks and other policy instruments on chemicals and waste, and we serve as a global clearinghouse for relevant scientific and technical knowledge.

The Challenge

By 2025, the world’s cities will produce 2.2 billion tonnes of waste every year, more than three times the amount produced in 2009. Countries continue to address challenges linked to air, soil and water pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals under the auspices of multilateral environmental agreements. But there is still much work to be done: From 2010 to 2014, only 57 per cent of the parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal had provided the requested data and information. The figure was 71 per cent for the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, and 51 per cent for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

In Chemicals & waste