Advancing sustainable chemistry in a sustainable development context - Opportunities for global, regional and national chemicals.

STAP Panelist, Ricardo Barra participates in a side event on green chemistry at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya (Monday, May 23, 2016)

At an event co-sponsored by the Governments of Germany and Ghana and by UNEP and the Basel-Rotterdam-Stockholm (BRS) Secretariat, STAP expert Dr. Ricardo Barra will speak about sustainable (‘green’) chemistry, and in particular, its potential application to material innovations in the area of replacements for disposable plastic items. His presentation will build on findings from STAP’s ongoing research efforts with the private sector innovation group, Think Beyond Plastic®, as part of the GEF’s contribution to the global effort to  combat plastic pollution in the environment. However, whilst much of the literature promotes end-of-pipe responses to manage the ever growing quantities of waste, the STAP and its partners are proposing that upstream responses will bring the best economic, social, environmental and human health benefits; and that sustainable chemistry is the foundation to the material innovation required to bring such a response to fruition. Even though these responses have been considered as long term management measures, there are opportunities for implementation even in developing countries in a more integrated fashion.

The concept of sustainable chemistry has recently gained international momentum, given its potential to contribute to future chemicals management and catalyze transformative change in the chemical industry. Sustainable Chemistry covers all three dimension of sustainable development, i.e. economic, social and environmental considerations. It is therefore compatible with and fully relevant to the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Specific objectives of the event include the following:

  • Discuss the sustainable chemistry concept and related opportunities from developing countries’ perspectives;
  • Examine the potential of sustainable chemistry in a SAICM beyond-2020 and 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda context; and
  • Provide an update on recent international developments and discussions related to sustainable chemistry and the chemicals and waste dimensions of the SDGs;
  • Showcase specific initiatives to advance sustainable chemistry, including related policy analysis and technical support.

The side event on sustainable development provides an opportunity to take stock of international discussions concerning sustainable chemistry, with a particular focus on the needs and perspectives of developing countries. The event also provides an opportunity to share information on important sustainable chemistry initiatives, such as the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborating Centre supported by the German Government, as well as other relevant initiatives.  Apart from the STAP, other participants in the event include experts and representatives from the governments, academia and private sector of Germany, Ghana, India and China, as well as from UNEP Chemicals and the BRS Secretariat.

Link to UNEA announcement can be found here.