Management of chemicals


Chemicals can be harmful to humans and the environment. Among other things, global treaties regulate the use and phasing-out of chemicals which constitute a health hazard and are difficult to break down, such as persistent organic pollutants or chemicals which harm the ozone layer. 

In 2006, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) adopted a global action plan running to 2020 for a Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). Another objective is to make the various ‘chemical treaties’ work more efficiently together. To date, the greatest progress has been made with the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. The parties to these treaties will hold a joint convention in early 2010 with the aim of preparing the next steps required for achieving greater synergies.

Discussions are to start in October 2009 on a convention regarding mercury while other substances receiving special attention are lead, cadmium, asbestos and nanomaterials. In the field of waste management, electronic components and ship scrapping have been the focus of many efforts.

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