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Chemicals and Biodiversity


Chemicals and Biodiversity

The Secretariat of the Strategic Approach to Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the University of Cape Town (UCT) have launched a Community of Practice (CoP) on Chemicals and SDGs to bring representatives from different sectors together and to create a learning network around issues related to addressing Chemicals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is a summary of the discussion on Chemicals and Biodiversity, which took place on 28 April 2021.

Presenter: Neville Ash (UNEP-WCMC)

This discussion focused on the relationships and opportunities between the chemicals and biodiversity agendas, from a substantive and policy perspective. Whether from plastic or nutrient pollution in the waterways and oceans, unsound use and disposal of pesticides, or the contamination by heavy metals or medical and veterinary chemicals in the environment, the unsafe use of chemicals is resulting in pollution from a range of sources that is now one of the most important drivers of the loss and degradation of biodiversity around the world. At the same time, functioning ecosystems with healthy biodiversity can play a role in detoxifying the human environment, whether from trees reducing air pollution in urban areas, wetlands cleaning water, or through the processes that decompose waste through bioremediation of biodegradable compounds. However, these substantive relationships are not reflected in the current siloed approaches to the policy landscape for chemicals and biodiversity. At the international level, “clusters” of multilateral mechanisms focused on biodiversity and chemicals work in relative isolation. Both clusters are currently considering priorities and strategies for the “post-2020” period, and this provides an opportunity for strengthening synergy between the biodiversity and chemicals communities. The objective of this discussion was to discuss and develop appreciation for the various opportunities for synergy between the chemicals and biodiversity substantive and policy agendas.