Whether the growth of chemical products is net positive or negative to humans depends on how we respond to chemical challenges

Science

According to a report issued by the United Nations today, countries will not be able to achieve the internationally agreed goal of minimizing the adverse effects of chemicals and waste by 2020, which means urgent action is needed to reduce further damage to human health and the economy .

The second “Global Chemical Outlook” submitted at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi pointed out that the current chemical production capacity is 2.3 billion tons, worth 5 trillion US dollars per year, and is expected to double by 2030.

Despite the promise to maximize the benefits of this industry and minimize its impact, hazardous chemical products continue to be released into the environment in large quantities. They are everywhere in the air, water, soil, food, and humans. The world must take advantage of the many solutions that already exist and are highlighted in the report.

Joyce Msuya, the Acting Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said: “Whether the growth of chemicals is net positive or negative to humans depends on how we respond to chemical challenges.” “It is clear that we must do more together. matter.”

The report found that although international treaties and voluntary instruments have reduced the risks of some chemicals and waste, progress has been uneven and there are still gaps in implementation. For example, as of 2018, more than 120 countries have not yet implemented a globally harmonized classification and labeling system for chemicals.

The World Health Organization estimates that in 2016, the burden of disease caused by certain chemicals was 1.6 million people, a figure that is likely to be underestimated. Chemical pollution also threatens a series of ecosystem services.

On the contrary, the benefits of actions taken to minimize adverse effects are estimated to be as high as tens of billions of dollars per year.

“The findings of the second Global Chemistry Outlook are very important for developing countries,” said David Kapindula of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency, a member of the report’s steering committee. “They highlight the uneven implementation of chemicals and waste management, and point to opportunities to strengthen knowledge sharing, capacity development and innovative financing.”

From medicines to plant protection, chemicals play an important role in modern society and the realization of the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Driven by economic development, population dynamics and other global trends, the chemical market in a series of industrial sectors is growing.

For example, between 2018 and 2023, the chemical market in the construction industry is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.2%.

At the same time, chemical production and consumption are shifting to emerging economies, especially China. By 2030, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to account for more than two-thirds of global car sales. Cross-border e-commerce is growing at an annual rate of 25%.

Pesticides have been found to have a negative impact on pollinators, excessive use of phosphorus and nitrogen in agriculture continues to cause ocean dead zones, and chemicals used in sunscreens put pressure on coral reef ecosystems. Studies have also shown that the release of certain antibiotics, heavy metals and disinfectants contributes to antimicrobial resistance.

However, the solution. “Global Chemical Outlook II” found that governments are taking regulatory actions on many chemicals. Leading companies are advancing standards beyond compliance and sustainable supply chain management. Consumers are driving demand for safer products and production.

Industry and entrepreneurs are developing green and sustainable chemical innovations. Scientists are filling the data gap. The university is reforming the way of teaching chemistry. Management methods-from chemical hazard assessment to risk management and life cycle analysis-are making progress.

Key influencers such as investors, manufacturers, retailers, academics and ministers have the opportunity to expand these initiatives. This will not only protect human health and the environment, but also bring economic benefits of up to tens of billions of dollars a year.

The establishment of a future global platform for the sound management of chemicals and waste after 2020 provides a window of opportunity. As the report emphasizes, this framework needs to bring all relevant departments and stakeholders together and promote cooperation and ambitious actions.

Given the critical role played by sound management of chemicals and waste in preventing biodiversity loss, promoting access to clean energy, and achieving other sustainable development goals and targets, there are opportunities for synergies with these goals and other international policy agendas .