Sustainable Chemistry – Towards a Common Understanding
Sustainable Chemistry is an essential part of sustainable development based on the application of ecological principles in chemical production and by shaping product design, manufacturing, consumption of resources, health and safety at work, economic success and technical innovation based on clear sustainability criteria – in industrialized nations as well as in emerging and developing countries.
Along that path the chemical industry plays a crucial role. On the one hand, it consumes vast quantities of raw materials and energy and is the cause of pollution with hazardous substances. That is why the sound management of chemicals and waste is crucial. On the other hand, today the chemical sector already plays an important role in solving key societal problems by using and developing innovative materials and products. This offers broad opportunities for economic progress especially in developing and emerging countries – whilst protecting health and the environment. Therefore, a sustainability-oriented chemical industry can make a major contribution to achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN.
Dialogue process: Developing a common understanding of sustainable chemistry
The ongoing international debate on sustainable chemistry innovation as a contribution to the Agenda 2030 as well as on the relevance of the emerging concept for the sound management of chemicals and waste shows that the expectations towards sustainable chemistry differ between the stakeholder groups. Developing a common understanding of sustainable chemistry therefore seems to be vital for the future implementation of the new transformative concept. To address the different perspectives, expectations and criteria discussed in the context of sustainable chemistry, the ISC3 seeks to initiate a stakeholder dialogue process towards a common understanding of sustainable chemistry.
According to UNEP’s “Survey on the Sustainable Chemistry Concept“, a large majority of respondents felt that sustainable chemistry is an important component relevant in advancing chemicals and waste management beyond 2020. […] The idea to use sustainable chemistry as an assessment framework for evaluating the contributions of chemicals to the SDGs received the strongest support (93% agreement). The results of the survey indicate that a large majority of respondents strongly agreed […] that the sustainable chemistry concept encompasses the following:
- Identification and assessment of chemicals and non-chemicals alternatives for chemicals of concern (95 % agreement)
- Traditional chemical management tools, such as chemical hazard assessment, risk assessment and risk management (95 % agreement)
- Advancing technology transfer for safe chemicals and non-chemical alternatives (95 % agreement)
- Scaling up innovation through universities, start-up companies, and the chemical industry (91% agreement)
- Reforming chemistry curricula to integrate green chemistry and sustainable development (90% agreement)
- Use of economic instruments and innovative financing to advance innovation (82% agreement)”.
As a starting point for a stakeholder dialogue process, the ISC3 has prepared a thought-starter on the key aspects that should be taken into consideration for the development of a common understanding of sustainable chemistry. The thought-starter invites you to voice your expectations, raise awareness for your concerns and give your ideas to draw up a common understanding of sustainable chemistry. With the development of a common understanding, the ISC3 thrives to integrate different perspectives and provide a sound contribution to the implementation of sustainable chemistry approaches on the international and national level.
How to engage in the dialogue
To engage in the dialogue process towards a common understanding of sustainable chemistry you can comment directly in the thought-starter “Thriving towards a Common Understanding of Sustainable Chemistry” and send your feedback to Ms Creta Gambillara creta.gambillara©isc3.org.
The thought starter is presented as an annex to the background paper “Reaping the full potential of sustainable chemistry for SAICM, the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste beyond 2020”, which was submitted by the ISC3 as a contribution to the SAICM OEWG in Montevideo, 2-4 April 2019.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We are looking forward to learning about your ideas, expectations and questions!
Transparency notification: The ISC3 team will document the comments and make them available for all interested parties. Please let us know if wish your comments to be documented anonymously.
Download background paper "Reaping the full potential of sustainable chemistry for SAICM, the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste beyond 2020":