Minimizing chemical risk worldwide to be discussed in Vienna this week

20 September 2005

Developing global standards to minimize the risk of chemicals that kill and sicken thousands every year and seriously damage the environment tops the agenda in a United Nations-backed meeting of government leaders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders in Vienna this week.

“Today we have the golden opportunity to strengthen national and international efforts to promote chemicals safety by linking them all together into a coherent whole,” UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Klaus Toepfer told the opening session yesterday of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

“The production and use of chemicals will continue to grow over the coming decades,” continued Mr. Toepfer, whose agency provides the SAICM secretariat. “This new Strategic Approach will save lives and reduce environmental impact,” he added, noting that they will also focus on capacity building, technology transfer and improved chemicals management.

The meeting will give governments and other participants an opportunity to discuss the measures they will take to attain the goal of minimizing significant adverse impact of chemicals by 2020.

Chemical sales worldwide are valued about 3.75 per cent of global GDP, or $1.5 trillion dollars. Their production and use can pose a major challenge to governments trying to monitor the more than 70,000 chemicals in existence.


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