African Nations Pledge Increased Efforts in Sound Management of Hazardous Chemicals

Nairobi, July 4 2013
– Representative of 28 African countries today developed a draft roadmap aimed at driving the continent toward meeting the 2020 goal of the sound management of chemicals across their lifecycles.

National legal and institutional arrangements for chemical management and public resources for ensuring the sound management of chemicals are often insufficient, particularly in Africa.

Meeting at the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya for three days, delegates drew on the experiences of Zambia, Burkina Faso and Uganda to draft a plan to be taken back home and turned into appropriate implementing legislation to change this situation.

“The roadmap will assist African countries to accelerate the integration of sound management of chemicals into national development planning, a key component chemicals and waste financing as agreed by UNEPs Governing Council earlier this year,” said Tim Kasten, Head of UNEP’s Chemicals Branch.

Zambia, Burkina Faso and Uganda presented newly developed national draft roadmaps for their countries on raising the awareness of the need for sound management and the development of the enabling legal frameworks.

The roadmap targets action in eight areas identified in a declaration launched in April 2012 by the Swedish Minister of Environment, Lena Ek, namely:

·         Awareness raising;

·         Access to information;

·         Health aspects;

·         Substitution;

·         Resource efficiency;

·         Chemicals in the development agenda;

·         Capacity building;

·         International Environmental Governance.

“The 8 years – 8 actions focuses on finding new and common ways forward on how to tackle challenges and advance implementation in areas we already are committed to,” said Ms. Ek. “It is an initiative that I hope will contribute to achieving the objectives of the global chemicals strategy SAICM. It is also an initiative that focuses on implementation and on working together to take actions to reach our common goal of sound chemicals management.”

The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), adopted in 2006, recognizes that developing country progress towards the goal “to ensure that, by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse effects on the environment and human health” requires an integrated lifecycle chemical management strategy.

In particular SAICM emphasizes the need for enhanced coherence, consistency and cooperation in national chemical management legal and institutional arrangements, backed by secure and predictable finances.

The challenge facing Africa is particularly urgent given that UNEP’s Global Chemicals Outlook report projects drastically increased chemical use, production and disposal in developing nations in the coming years, on top of significant increases over recent decades.

Additionally, UNEP’s 2013 Costs of Inaction report reveals high economic costs deriving from health, environmental and development impacts associated with improper chemicals management.

For example, the report pointed to a 2011 World Health Organization study showing that 4.9 million deaths and 86 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years could be attributed to environmental exposure and management of selected chemicals.

A conservative future risk scenario analysis suggested that accumulated health costs in sub-Saharan Africa will increase to approximately $97 billion by 2020, assuming the current inadequate capacities for the sound management of pesticides at the national and local levels remain constant.

In 2010, the UNEP Finance Initiative (FI) and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) reported that in 2008 the global environmental costs due to volatile organic compounds—which can come from a variety of sectors and sources, including transport and coal combustion—came to $236.3 billion, while mercury emissions cost $22 billion.


Costs of Inaction report


Global Chemicals Outlook


UNEP Chemicals


Workshop for the African region on Mainstreaming the Sound Management of Chemicals into National Action Plans