The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Wednesday launched a Global Chemicals Outlook report, urging governments and industries to reduce the growing risks to human health and the environment posed by the unsustainable management of chemicals worldwide.
The report highlights the major economic, environmental and health burdens caused by chemical hazards, particularly in developing countries due to increasing dependency on chemical products.
In the United States, poorly managed pesticides have resulted in 1.4 billion dollars in crop losses, the report said.
UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said "communities worldwide -- particularly those in emerging and developing countries -- are increasingly dependent on chemical products, from fertilizers and petrochemicals to electronics and plastics, from economic development and improving livelihoods."
However, Steiner noted in a press release issued here that pollution and disease related to the unsustainable use, production and disposal of chemicals can hinder progress towards key development targets by affecting water supplies, food security, well-being or worker productivity.
"Reducing hazards and improving chemicals management ...is an essential component of the transition to a low-carbon, resource- efficient and inclusive Green Economy," he said.
The estimated costs of poisoning from pesticides from Sub- Saharan Africa now exceeds the total annual overseas development aid (ODA) given to the region for basic health services, excluding HIV/AIDS, said the report, while the cost of illness and injury linked to pesticides between 2005 and 2020 in Sub-Saharan Africa in small-scale farming is estimated to reach 90 billion U.S. dollars.
Maria Neira, director for public health and environment of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in the press release that " the economic analysis presented in the Global Chemicals Outlook demonstrates that sound chemicals management is as valid an area as education, transport, infrastructure, direct health care services and other essential public services. This could foster the creation of many green, decent and healthy jobs."
"Effective long-term management of chemicals and wastes lays the foundations for a thriving Green Economy, for ensuring a healthier environment, and for a fairer distribution of development benefits across society," she said.