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Chemicals and waste management

Chemicals are critical to the manufacture of many products and protection of human health, and an important contributor to the GDP and employment. However, without good management practices, chemicals and their hazardous wastes can pose significant risks to the environment and human health. The poorest members of the global community face higher risks. In urban areas, low-income or minority populations are often exposed to hazardous chemicals and associated wastes in their jobs or because they reside in polluted areas. In rural areas, most chemical exposure and environmental pollution is linked to the misuse of agricultural chemicals and pollution brought by waterways, impacting the natural resources upon which these communities depend.

The sound management of chemicals and wastes is an important component of UNDP’s efforts to achieve sustainable, inclusive and resilient human development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNDP advocates for integrating chemicals management priorities into national environmental and poverty reduction planning frameworks, helps countries access financial and technical resources, and provides technical assistance and implementation support to improve the holistic management of chemicals and waste at national, regional and global levels. We tackle unsustainable consumption and production patterns, including poor design and material choices, which lead to resource depletion, waste generation and pollution.  

UNDP’s expertise covers management of chemicals harmful to human and environmental health, including Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS), Mercury, Lead, and other heavy metals. UNDP helps countries strengthen their waste management systems, including waste prevention, reuse/recycling, treatment and disposal. Safe and effective treatment of hazardous medical waste through innovative technologies is also underway.

UNDP activities on chemicals and waste management are carried out in cooperation with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (MLF), the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and a broad range of bilateral, private sector and civil society partners.

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