The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Chemicals and Waste Management Programme is implementing projects to help Kazakhstan, Nigeria, and South Africa strengthen their capacity to manage chemicals. The two-year projects will help regulate chemicals in compliance with international agreements, strengthen legal and institutional infrastructures for sound chemicals management, and help develop an action plan for emerging contaminants.

The project in Kazakhstan aims to strengthen the country’s national capacity for regulating chemicals in compliance with international multilateral agreements, as well as to identify barriers and measures required to strengthen national chemicals management legislation. Kazakhstan is already undertaking efforts to manage and recycle waste, with the share of recycled municipal solid waste totaling approximately 11.5% in 2018. However, it currently lacks prohibitions for exporting and transporting hazardous waste and chemical management guidelines such as a register for hazardous chemicals, measures to eliminate historical pollution, and regulations for handling specific chemicals.
The project will: raise awareness on risks and mitigating measures of hazardous chemicals; improve professional training of scientific, teaching, technical, and managerial staff on hazardous chemicals; and give special consideration to the specific needs of women during implementation, including those related to health and labor. An inception workshop convened in February 2020 to present the project, enable stakeholder engagement, and discuss proposals for amendments to legislation.

The project also aims to improve reporting on progress and implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions and facilitate ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. A project report, produced by a team of experts, will provide the basis for recommendations on legislative changes to ensure improved convention implementation and support waste reduction through preventive measures, processing, and reuse. [Kazakhstan Project Website]

UNEP is also implementing a project to help Nigeria strengthen the legal and institutional infrastructures for sound management of chemicals and waste. While Nigeria has made progress in chemicals and waste management, remaining challenges include, among others: an inadequate regulatory infrastructure and sustainable financial mechanism; illegal traffic and trade in hazardous chemicals and waste; informal sector involvement in mining and crude oil processing activities; and inadequate population sensitization.

To help overcome these challenges, the project will consolidate existing initiatives and arrangements to improve national coordination and enhance management. The goal is to establish a more coherent management strategy, in line with the SDGs, and raise awareness about the need to integrate chemicals and wastes management into the national SDG agenda through training and e-learning courses. [Nigeria Project Website]

South Africa’s project will tackle emerging contaminants to address the growing environmental threat of waste management. The project, which aims to strengthen the country’s institutional approach to sound chemicals and waste management, will assess existing national infrastructures and analyze gaps and challenges related to institutional capacity and the existing regulatory framework.

The project will help South Africa: identify cost-effective and environmentally benign alternatives to emerging contaminants; undertake a cost-benefit analysis for switching to safer alternatives; and develop interventions and assess potential impacts from price increases due to transitioning to safer alternatives. This assessment will lead to the development of a national action plan and strategies for sound management of emerging contaminants using an inventory the government is developing.

The project also includes an awareness-raising campaign on the hazards of emerging contaminants, particularly lead paint. It will address a lack of capacity at the country’s ports of entry by training customs officials on regulatory enforcement and compliance to better detect illegal trade, and encourage women to participate in policy development and decision-making processes. [South Africa Project Website]