Sound Management of Chemicals, Waste Could Prevent 1.6 Million Deaths Annually, Secretary-General Tells Berlin Forum, Calling for Stronger Global Cooperation

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Berlin Forum on Chemicals and Sustainability, today:

Human development and well-being depend in large part on chemicals.  But, when chemicals are poorly managed, they threaten the health of people and the environment.  The chemical industry is already a major driver of climate change, as the third-largest industrial emitter of carbon dioxide.  And it is a major source of pollution.

The use of chemicals is expected to double by 2030.  We must ensure this growth is sustainable.  Sound chemicals management could prevent some 1.6 million deaths a year.  Increasingly, Governments and citizens are demanding safer products and production.  However, the world has not met the global goal of achieving the sound management of chemicals and waste by 2020.

That is why it is critical that the fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management delivers an ambitious and strategic global road map on chemicals and waste.  We need to ensure a post-2020 framework that not only prevents harmful chemicals from entering the environment, but promotes effective, safe alternatives.  The protection of the ozone layer is a stand-out example.

But sound chemicals management requires ambition and collaboration.  We need stronger targets and better cooperation among all sectors and stakeholders, along with support for this critical agenda at the highest political levels.  Sound chemicals management is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Let us work together to capture the benefits of chemistry for people and the planet.

I wish you a successful meeting.

For information media. Not an official record.