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Global Framework on Chemicals: A Milestone for Sustainable Management and Collaboration in the Post-2023 Era

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The Global Framework on Chemicals (GFC), established in September 2023, represents a significant milestone in global chemical and waste management. It succeeded the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, with five objectives and 28 targets aimed at promoting safe and sustainable practices. The GFC adopts a unique multi-stakeholder approach, involving governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, and the private sector. Ludovic Bernaudat, Head of the UN Environment Programme’s Knowledge and Risk Unit, emphasizes the importance of strategic thinking and efficient programming to achieve the GFC's targets.

The outcomes of the International Conference on Chemicals Management include the adoption of the GFC, a high-level declaration providing political support, and a new support mechanism for implementation. Governments, industry stakeholders, and civil society are now tasked with working towards these targets, with accountability shared among various entities.

Traditional knowledge plays a crucial role in the GFC, offering alternative solutions and practices that predate widespread chemical use. The framework recognizes the value of returning to traditional methods, reducing reliance on synthetic materials, and incorporating lessons learned over thousands of years.

Implementation is key, and the GFC provides objectives, finance arrangements, and monitoring mechanisms to address chemical and waste pollution challenges globally. Developing nations, in particular, can benefit from the framework's support in achieving a planet free from harm caused by chemicals and waste.

Youth engagement is highlighted as crucial, given the potential long-term impacts of chemical exposure. The first-ever youth declaration on chemicals and waste, issued at the International Conference on Chemicals Management, underscores the importance of involving younger generations in addressing these issues.

The GFC actively collaborates with other Multilateral Environmental Agreements, integrating its efforts with legally binding treaties such as the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions and the Montreal Protocol. It seeks an integrated approach to regulating chemicals and waste, encouraging innovation in sectors like electronics, construction, and textiles.

The GFC is expected to catalyze action on issues like lead in paint and chemical-intensive sectors. Its integrated approach considers the role of industry, entrepreneurs, investors, banks, and foundations in finding sustainable solutions. The framework aims to track industry progress toward green solutions and acknowledges the vital role of various stakeholders in achieving its objectives.



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