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Chemicals and waste management: essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In adopting the 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, world leaders outlined a transformational course of action for the people, planet, and prosperity. Chemicals and waste management are related to achieving every aspect of this Agenda.

Chemicals and waste management play an important and increasingly significant role in every economic and social sector. Sound management of chemicals throughout their lifecycle is essential to avoiding complex risks to human health and ecosystems, and substantial costs to national economies. Similarly, sound management of chemicals and waste is necessary to maximize the potential benefits of their contribution to human well-being.

Either as an input to or consequence of activities, sound management of chemicals and waste can provide practical solutions to achieve sustainable development.

Chemicals and waste management are reflected explicitly in a number of goals and targets, including those addressing health, water, cities and human settlements, and responsible consumption and production. Moreover, they relate implicitly to the goals on poverty, agriculture, oceans, decent work, climate change, and while less pronounced, their contribution is also important in areas such as education and gender equality.

Sound management of chemicals and waste underpins the effective implementation and achievement of the Goals at the country level. Mainstreaming the sound management of chemicals and waste within national development plans is therefore vital. Failing such integration, the complex and interlinked range of hazards and risks of chemicals will continue to cause adverse impacts on the environment, human health, and economic development.