Chemicals are used in every aspect of life, including industrial processes, energy, transport, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, cleaning and refrigeration. More than 50000 compounds are used commercially and there are approximately 100 000 chemicals in use today, with hundreds more being added every year. Global chemical production is projected to increase by 85 percent over the period 2000-2020.
While many of these chemicals have been used to the benefit of mankind, especially in the agricultural sector where yields have increased using fertilizers and pesticides, the risks associated with chemicals and the transboundary movements of pollutants are widely recognized.
In Asia Pacific, harmful and hazardous waste threatens millions of people. Left unchecked, these wastes could pose severe health and environmental hazards. Asia’s high population density and often tropical climate put it especially at risk for contamination. Regulations have increased but enforcement remains inadequate.
UNEP works with governments in the region to promote sound management of chemicals and chemical safety and provides countries with access to information on toxic chemicals.
To do this, UNEP:
- Increases capacities of States and stakeholders to assess, manage and reduce risks to human health and the environment posed by chemicals and hazardous waste, and financing for activities
- Provides coherent policy and technical advice to States and stakeholders to manage harmful chemicals and hazardous waste in an environmentally sound manner, including through better technology and best practices
- Ensures that appropriate policy and control systems for harmful substances of global concern are developed and put in place in line with States’ international obligations and the mandates of relevant entities