The Contribution of Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste to Sustainable Development

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 28 February 2014

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) organized a panel discussion on the “Contribution of Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste to Sustainable Development.” The meeting provided practical examples of sound chemical and waste management in developing countries, including Uruguay and Philippines.

Mr. Cuna, Director of the Environmental Management Bureau, Philippines, said that his country has undertaken a number of initiatives on toxic substances and hazardous waste management. Implementing at least six environmental laws, the Environmental Management Bureau of Philippines is introducing the best environmental practices in fossil fuel-fired utilities and industrial broilers. The Bureau is also using non-combustion technology on the destruction of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). With the help of UNEP, Mr. Cuna said, Philippines has been able come up with a national strategic plan for the phase-out of mercury to protect human health and environment. He emphasized on the need of rigorous implementation of environmental laws.

Mr. Richard Fuller, Founder and CEO of Blacksmith Institute, said that the poorest bear the burden as wealthier countries have shifted manufacturing and mining overseas. As many as 200 million people are exposed to hazardous chemicals in these poorer countries. Mr. Fuller emphasized on focusing on prevention before remediation. He said that better implementation of tighter pollution-control laws in developing countries will not only improve the environment and reduce human health risks, but it will also help fuel growth and sustainable development.

Ms. Fatoumata Keita-Ouane, Head, Chemicals Branch, UNEP, said that “chemicals and waste” is moving from being a, “technical issue,” to a significant, “policy and economic issue,” to all countries and to the sustainable development agenda. She said that chemicals and wastes are mentioned in several focus areas in the draft released by the co-chairs of the Open Working Group. Mr. Werner Obermeyer, Senior External Relations Officer, WHO, said that health is both an input to and an output of sustainable development. It is therefore, he said, an indicator of progress. Better health can result from green economic strategies, but only if health is considered in the planning and implementation

Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “The contribution of sound management of chemicals and waste to sustainable development – A perspective from the national level” (organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP))

Speakers: Mr. Fernando Lugris, Ambassador, Deputy Director General for Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay; Mr. Juan Miguel T. Cuna, Director, Environmental Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines; Mr. Richard Fuller, Founder and CEO, Blacksmith Institute; Ms. Fatoumata Keita-Ouane, Head, Chemicals Branch, United Nations Environment Programme; Mr. Werner Obermeyer, Senior External Relations Officer, New York Office, World Health Organization.

Written By: Shan Cheema, WIT Representative