Africa Review Report on Chemicals - Main Report [English
by: Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Under Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development(UNCED, 1992), African countries committed themselves to implement 11 priority action points (Agenda 21 chapters 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21 ) in order to achieve environmentally sound management of chemicals on the continent. The commitment was further reinforced by resolutions made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in its Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Progress towards realization of these aims and objectives was reviewed as part of the 2010-2011 cycle of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). This report assesses the status of environmentally sound management of chemicals in Africa against these international commitments. Chemicals are important determinants for sustainable development, sound environmental health and quality of life. While the use of chemicals in all human activities (e.g. agriculture, health, mining, energy production, manufacture, services and residential) contributes to improving the quality of life, it also raises concerns about its harmful effects on workers, consumers, the environment and society at large through exposure. Furthermore, accidental releases from the distribution, consumption and disposal of chemicals may permanently damage soil, water and air. While the overarching issues in chemical management are relatively well known, the detailed status of specific developing countries, particularly in Africa, has not been assessed and reported in sufficient depth for effective management policies and practices to be designed and implemented. This review was prepared in response to the need for insight into best practice methods and policies for environmentally sound management of chemicals in Africa. The review format is adapted from WHO (2005) and WHO/UNEP (2009) existing guidelines. They outline a global framework with a comprehensive and flexible approach, which permits individual countries to tailor the assessment to the existing stage of national situations and frameworks. The review combines classical evaluation methodologies with well-tested field procedures to accommodate the multi-sectoral nature of chemicals and environment issues.

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