April 2019: The fifth and final chapter of the Global Chemicals Outlook II (GCO II), published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), examines opportunities presented by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for scaling up collaborative action to achieve the sound management of chemicals and waste, including through the integration of chemicals and waste management into relevant sector policies and action plans.
The Chapter titled, ‘Scaling Up Collaborative Action Under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,’ explains that the sound management of chemicals and waste cuts across all the SDGs, either directly or indirectly. It notes that SDG targets 12.4 on achieving the environmentally sound management (ESM) of chemicals and wastes throughout their life cycle and 3.9 on reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and pollution and contamination are central to such management. The report also argues that some SDGs and targets relevant to chemical-intensive sectors, such as those related to access to food, clean energy and safe housing, will not be achieved without ESM.
In addition, the Chapter describes the ways in which the 2030 Agenda provides opportunities to mainstream chemicals and waste management into national development planning, emphasizing linkages with SDGs 1 (no poverty), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 13 (climate action). It also stresses the need to: integrate chemicals and waste management into international development assistance and capacity building; develop legislation and institutional capacity at the national and regional levels; and strengthen inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms to integrate chemicals and waste into sector policies and actions.
Private sector metrics and sustainability reporting could add value and help measure progress.
The authors call for a coherent and results-oriented global indicators and reporting framework for chemicals and waste that creates linkages across all relevant agreements and initiatives, and highlights lessons learned in developing the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. They contend that private sector metrics and sustainability reporting could add value and help measure progress, and suggest linking national initiatives to simpler, country-driven reporting schemes related to global targets and milestones.
The Chapter emphasizes the engagement of key sectors and actors, and calls for a global framework to stimulate collaborative action in line with SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals). It underscores the need to create and identify mechanisms and incentives to foster commitment, engagement and collaborative action among relevant sectors and actors, including: key economic and enabling sectors; companies, industry groups and trade associations; workers’ organizations; civil society groups; the academic and research community; the donor, investor and financial community; and leaders in the media and the general public.
The Chapter describes the ways in which countries and relevant stakeholders could develop, implement and share results-based action plans and roadmaps to accelerate progress towards achieving the sound management of chemicals and waste. It also cites existing roadmaps that could provide impetus for new ones, such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Chemical Sector SDG Roadmap, noting that “a roadmap approach” would be compatible with, and consider experience gained in, other international fora, such as climate change.
An Annex to the report describes actions that GCO-II identified up to and beyond 2020 to strengthen implementation of the sound management of chemicals and waste and minimize their adverse impacts, and to achieve relevant SDGs and targets. The actions relate to:
- developing effective management systems;
- resource mobilization;
- assessing and communicating hazards;
- assessing and managing risks;
- using life cycle approaches;
- strengthening corporate governance;
- education and innovation;
- fostering transparency;
- bringing knowledge to decision makers; and
- enhancing global commitments.
The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) mandated the GCO II in 2016 to highlight the important role of the sound management of chemicals and waste in sustainable development. [Global Chemicals Outlook II] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Chapter I: Overview of the Global Chemical Industry] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Chapter II: Progress on Achieving the 2020 Goal] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Chapter III: Chemicals Management Tools and Approaches] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Chapter IV: Enabling Policies and Action to Support Innovative Solutions] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on GCO II Synthesis Report]