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Countries Adopt New Framework Addressing Planetary Threats of Chemical and Waste Pollution

ICCM5 Photo by IISD-ENB,Mike Muzurakis

(NGOs Say Adequate Funding and Active Implementation Will be Key to Framework’s Success)

Quezon City. Public interest groups campaigning for safe chemicals and waste policies and practices that uphold human health and protect the environment welcomed the adoption of a new Global Framework on Chemicals (GFC) while asserting the need for sufficient funding and urgent implementation to make it work.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), which participated in the multi-stakeholders’ negotiating process that culminated in a conference held in Bonn, Germany from September 25 to 30, noted that the GFC can provide the essential framework for action to address the planetary threats of chemical and waste pollution.

“The GFC, we hope, will spur accelerated actions by the government, industry, civil society and other sectors to attain the unfulfilled goal of protecting the people and the ecosystems from threats posed by toxic chemicals and wastes,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, a participating organization of the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN). “Locally, we plan to use the GFC to support our push for strong policies and action plans in defense and in pursuit of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment,” she added. “Nothing should prevent our government and others from taking additional progressive measures to realize this right.”

“The new framework provides a good foundation for addressing and preventing harm caused by chemicals and waste. However, its success will depend on its implementation and funding. We therefore call on governments and industry to urgently take action, with meaningful engagement with civil society, to put an end to the chemicals and waste crisis,” emphasized Sara Brosche, IPEN Science Advisor.

NGO participants
NGO participants at the recently held fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management held in Bonn, Germany

“Everyone on this planet should be able to live and work without fear of falling sick or dying from chemical exposure. Nature, free from pollution, should be able to thrive and support humanity for millennia to come,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “This is why this framework provides a vision for a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste, for a safe, healthy and sustainable future.”

The GFC is based around 28 targets addressing the lifecycle of chemicals, including products and waste. For example, governments have committed to creating, by 2030, the regulatory environment to reduce chemical pollution and implement policies to promote safer alternatives. The GFC calls for the prevention of the illegal trade and trafficking of chemicals and waste.

The industry likewise committed to managing chemicals in a way that reduces chemical pollution and adverse impacts by 2030. The GFC calls for the transition to safer and more sustainable chemical alternatives, and the enhancement of transparency and access to information regarding chemicals and their associated risks.

The GFC calls for a phase out of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) in agriculture. HHPs, according to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), “are a subset of particularly toxic pesticides causing by far the most harm to people, biodiversity, and the environment.”

It also calls for the strengthening of links between the new instrument and the climate, biodiversity, human rights and health agendas.

In a resolution adopted on the impact of chemicals, waste and pollution on human health, the 76th World Health Assembly noted “that the market and non-market costs of inaction could be as high as 10% of global gross domestic product and that two million lives and 53 million disability-adjusted life years were lost in 2019 due to exposures to selected chemicals with nearly half of those deaths attributable to lead exposure and resulting cardiovascular disease and 138,000 deaths from pesticides involved in suicides representing 20% of all global suicides.”

The said resolution also noted that “robust data is only available for a small number of potential chemical exposures, and that people are exposed to many more chemicals in their daily lives, and noting that children are particularly vulnerable to these exposures resulting in childhood death, illnesses and disability, particularly in developing countries.”



https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA76/A76_ACONF2-en.pdf (WHA resolution)

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