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New UN framework to protect environment from harmful chemicals

Agreed at the fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5), in Bonn, Germany, the Global Framework on Chemicals sets concrete targets and guidelines across the lifecycle of chemicals.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), welcomed the new framework.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Concrete targets

The framework is based around 28 targets, designed to improve responsible management of chemicals and waste. These targets also aim to establish stronger connections with other important global agendas, including climate change, biodiversity, human rights and health.

Governments have committed to setting up policies and regulations aimed at reducing chemical pollution by 2030 as well as promoting safer alternatives. Industries also pledged to managing chemicals in a manner that reduces pollution and its adverse impacts.

By 2035, the framework aims to phase out highly hazardous pesticides in agriculture where the risks have not been managed.

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Bonn Declaration

In addition to the Global Framework, the Conference also adopted the Bonn Declaration.

The Declaration aims to “prevent exposure to harmful chemicals, and phase out the most harmful ones, where appropriate, and enhance the safe management of such chemicals where they are needed.”

It also encourages countries to support the transition to circular economies, fostering the development of safe alternatives and substitutes for chemicals.

This approach aims to not only safeguard health and the environment but also reduce waste and enhance recycling efforts.

Act immediately

Ms. Andersen urged all parties to start acting immediately.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) tells us that direct chemical pollution of the air, land, water and workplace is causing two million deaths per year,” she said.

“As any athlete will tell you, beating a target is better than meeting a target, so I call on governments, the chemicals industry and everyone involved to go above and beyond what has been agreed to protect people and the planet upon which we all depend.”

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