Chemicals and Waste Management

Chemicals and Waste Management


Chemicals bring many benefits to societies and represent a vital element of human development. However, without good management and disposal practices, chemical substances as well as wastes have the potential to pose significant risks to human health and the environment, with the poorest members of the global community, particularly women and children, most vulnerable to their negative effects.

UNDP promotes the Sound Management of Chemicals (SMC) and Waste as an important aspect of our work to reduce global poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

UNDP’s targets unsustainable management approaches, as well as unsustainable consumption and production patterns, including poor design and material choices. These issues are the root causes for resource depletion, waste generation and pollution, impeding sustainable human development.

Within the framework of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), UNDP advocates for the integration of sound chemicals management priorities into national environmental and poverty reduction planning frameworks and helps countries access resources to improve their chemical and waste regimes.

UNDP assists developing countries and countries with economies in transition to:

  • Integrate the sound management of chemicals  into national development plans and policies
  • Manage chemicals of particular concern for pro-poor policies (POPs, ODS, mercury, lead, heavy metals and others)
  • Strengthen national capacities on integrated waste management, including waste prevention, reuse and recycling, and disposing a range of waste streams.
  • Supporting national and local efforts towards a “Green economy” and sustainable materials management.

In addition UNDP assists developing countries and countries with economies in transition to set-up national financial mechanisms to access, integrate and sequence different sources of environmental financing.

Important cross-cutting elements of UNDP’s work in the area of chemicals- and waste- management are the Safeguarding of the Global Climate, Gender Mainstreaming, as well as the protection of International Waters.

UNDP’s chemicals and waste management work draws funding from UNDP’s Environment and Energy Thematic Trust Fund (TTF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (MLF), the SAICM Quick Start Programme Trust Fund (QSPTF), as well as various other bi-lateral donors and partners.

Our Projects in the News

Supporting Ghana to sustainably manage Polychlorinated Biphenyls

The joint initiative by Ghana's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) aims to protect human health and the environment by safely disposing harmful polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Demonstrating best practices in handling medical waste

The global project (implemented in a partnership with GEF, UNDP, WHO, and the international non-governmental organization coalition Health Care Without Harm) is demonstrating and promoting the use of best practices and techniques for healthcare waste management in 7 countries. The goal is to protect public health and the global environment from the impacts of dioxin and mercury releases. Please read on about one of project's success stories in India.

Supporting Ghana to eliminate Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB)

Financed through a Global Environment Facility (GEF) the project (implemented in a partnership with UNITAR, and EPA Ghana) is building the capacity to eliminate the use of PCBs in environmentally sound manner.


In Focus
UNDP and GEF helping to contain the spread of Ebola

With support from the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility, Sierra Leone has begun to use new, environmentally-friendly sterilizing equipment to help dispose of the vast amounts of contaminated protective equipment and infectious waste generated in treating Ebola patients. Click to see the video  

UNDP’s work to promote early ratification of the Minamata Convention wins global award

The United Nations Development Programme has received a global award for its work with the ratification and early implementation of a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Please read more.

Reduction and Elimination of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in China

Watch a video about results of the project in China to promote the use of alternatives to Persistent Organic Pollutants in agriculture.