Chemicals & Wastes

When used improperly or disposed of unsafely, chemicals pose significant risks for both the environment and human health. Toxic chemicals are found in all ecosystems on Earth, including Antarctica and the most remote seas, affecting biodiversity, agricultural production, water quality, and human health. Over 100 million man-made chemicals and chemical formulations are used in every sector of the industrial economy. Many chemicals, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury, travel over large distances through air, water currents, and in migratory species. Some POPs can remain in the human body for more than 50 years. Mercury, an element, is infinitely persistent. While chemicals and waste are major contributors to world economies, their sound management is essential to avoiding risks to human health and ecosystems and substantial costs to national economies.

Upcoming events

14th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention

Parties attending OEWG-14 next month in Geneva will consider a draft renewed strategic framework to boost implementation of the Convention, including ensuring environmentally sound management of waste—especially of newly emerging waste streams such as those containing nanomaterials.
Event 25 June 2024 - 28 June 2024

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14th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention

Parties attending OEWG-14 next month in Geneva will consider a draft renewed strategic framework to boost implementation of the Convention, including ensuring environmentally sound management of waste—especially of newly emerging waste streams such as those containing nanomaterials.
Event 25 June 2024 - 28 June 2024

4th Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Develop an International Legally Binding Instrument on Plastic Pollution, Including in the Marine Environment (INC-4)

While the plastic pollution negotiations started with lofty ambitions, it has become clear that a strong treaty is in no way guaranteed. With one more scheduled meeting left, some delegates left Ottawa wondering if they still had time to reach agreement to stem the tide of plastic pollution.
Event 23 April 2024 - 29 April 2024

UNEA-6 and OECPR-6

Under the theme “Effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution,” delegates adopted 15 resolutions, two decisions, and a Ministerial Declaration, covering topics including the highly hazardous pesticides, sustainable lifestyles, sand and dust storms, and environmental recovery in areas affected by armed conflict.
Event 19 February 2024 - 1 March 2024

66th Meeting of the GEF Council

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council Members will consider a new work program of the GEF Trust Fund under GEF’s eighth replenishment cycle, how to streamline the GEF project cycle, and possible actions to support the new agreement on conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).
Event 5 February 2024 - 9 February 2024

2nd Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on a Science-Policy Panel to Contribute Further to the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste and to Prevent Pollution

Delegates worked to develop proposals for the establishment of the science-policy panel to contribute to the sound management of chemicals and waste, and the prevention of pollution. Discussions focused on: scope, functions, operating principles, and conflict of interest; institutional arrangements and relationships with key stakeholders; and work-related processes and procedures.
Event 9 December 2023 - 15 December 2023

3rd Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Develop an International Legally Binding Instrument on Plastic Pollution, Including in the Marine Environment (INC-3)

As concerns about the scourge of plastic pollution mount worldwide, delegates shared their views on the “full life cycle of plastic,” with some favoring measures addressing plastic production, and others favoring downstream measures to eliminate plastic waste. Still others focused on how best to ensure lasting design standards for plastic products.
Event 11 November 2023 - 19 November 2023

5th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury

Parties took crucial steps toward eliminating mercury pollution, including by adopting decisions on: new dates to phase out mercury-added products including cosmetics, strengthened ties with Indigenous Peoples, the Convention’s first effectiveness evaluation, and a threshold for mercury waste, which will help countries avoid becoming dumping grounds for mercury-contaminated wastes.
Conference of the Parties (COP) 30 October 2023 - 3 November 2023

65th Meeting of the GEF Council

The 65th meeting of the Council of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) took place in a virtual setting, focusing on the GEF Strategy for Knowledge Management and Learning; enhancing policy coherence; and relations with Conventions and international institutions. Council Members further decided on the dates for the 66th to 68th Council meetings in 2024.
Event 10 October 2023