System change on chemicals and waste management is needed to reduce poverty and protect the planet

Statement delivered by Haoliang Xu at the 5th session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management, Bonn, Germany

September 29, 2023

Thank you, Your Excellency.

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Government of Germany and Her Excellency Minister Steffi Lemke for their gracious hospitality in hosting ICCM5. We also thank the SAICM Secretariat under the leadership of Ms. Inger Andersen for the hard work preparing this meeting. We are truly appreciative of all your efforts and dedication to this cause.

UNDP welcomes the considerable progress in preparing the High-Level Declaration and looks forward to its finalization. We also acknowledge and appreciate the tireless work of all the delegates to develop the “Beyond 2020 global chemical and waste framework” and we hope for its speedy finalization. We are committed to supporting the implementation together with IOMC partners and other stakeholders.

UNDP recognizes the pivotal role that chemicals play in our society. Their use has a profound positive impact on various aspects of our life. However, we are also acutely aware that improper management of chemicals and waste can lead to serious pollution, high cost to health, environment, and economy. 

Women and girls suffer disproportionately from exposure to toxic and hazardous chemicals and waste. As we heard yesterday from the Special Rapporteur, exposure to harmful chemicals is an issue of human rights.

As we navigate these challenges, we must all work together for a transformative change to our current development model. Going forward, sustainability and circularity must be at the heart of our economic growth. Inclusiveness and equality should be upheld by all institutions for a just transition.

When it comes to chemicals, precautionary principles should be embraced by industries, and design of products should facilitate re-use and recycling and avoid the generation of waste. The use of financial instruments such as Extended Producers’ Responsibility (EPR) should be promoted to accelerate the transition to sound chemicals and waste management.

In addition, governance and capacity building are critical. The transition to circularity cannot be done by one sector or one single stakeholder. Therefore, we must work for system change on chemicals and waste management, aligning it with the actions on poverty reduction, governance improvement, gender mainstreaming, and protection of climate and nature.

As UNEP Executive Director stated, science is clear. However, awareness needs to be increased both at the highest political level, and at sector, local government, and community level. UNDP will support multi-stakeholders’ approach: through partnerships, we can strengthen collaboration between sectors and stakeholders, ensure policy coherence, and reduce inappropriate subsidies.

Dear colleagues,

Let us remember that our actions and decisions today will shape the lives of our future generations. Let’s keep the welfare of people, today and tomorrow, at the heart of our programmes. Let us strive for a future where chemicals are used responsibly, waste is minimized, and our planet is kept healthy for the prosperity of humanity. 

Thank you.