United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

European Union

Mr Chairman,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of EU and its 27 Member States.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss here the key issues of waste, chemicals,
and resource management. These issues are truly on the worldwide agenda, not
only in CSD but also in the European Union as well as at OECD, G20 and
UNEP.
According to the most recent projections, the demand and consumption of raw
material is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years. Global
extraction of resources is expected to increase from 58 billion tons in 2005 to
more than 100 billion tons in 2030 representing an increase of 75% in 25 years.
Biomass, metals and minerals represent more than 80% of the future demand in
tonnage.
The European Union is currently reflecting on what policy measures are
necessary for building a resource-efficient economy. This is crucial to our
economic and ecological security. The environmental sound management of
waste based on clear priority objectives plays a crucial role in this regard.
The very first priority is to prevent waste generation. Focussing on waste
prevention helps address the inefficient use of resources and offers a chance to
re-think the way we produce and consume. Prevention also relates to the
presence of hazardous substances in products in order to diminish the
environmental impact during the life cycle of products including of waste
treatment. The key to waste prevention is finding the right mix between
legislation, technological innovation, market-based instruments and changing
perceptions about waste.
The second priority is to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. Unfortunately, a lot of
waste is still landfilled or burned although reuse or recycling solutions exist for
the majority of different waste streams. Moreover, reuse and recycling initiatives
provide income-generating opportunities for small and medium enterprises.
I would also like to insist on the issue of enforcement at all levels. We must
continue to combat illegal shipments of waste at international level.
Transboundary movements of waste need to take place in accordance with the
provisions of the Basel Convention and the entry into force of the Basel Ban
Amendment would further strengthen the international regime in this regard.
Coordinated actions on illegal shipments should be developed. Further
harmonization should be achieved with regard to the distinction between waste
and non-waste in order to clarify which regulations should apply. By doing so
we will contribute to a high level of protection of environment and health.
Turning now to chemicals, we believe a comprehensive effort needs to be made
across their entire lifecycle if we are to meet the
WSSD 2020 goal that chemicals are used and produced in ways that minimise
adverse effects on health and environment.
The sound management of chemicals has been and remains at the very top of our
agenda.
Full implementation of existing various UN Conventions and agreements is a
priority and a step towards achieving this goal. SAICM provides an overarching
framework, which has delivered concrete progress including through its Quick
Start Programme. But a lot remains to be done. Negotiating a Legally Binding
Instrument on Mercury is another important step undertaking aiming at
addressing the global challenge of mercury pollution. The global community
needs to deliver a successful conclusion to these negotiations.
A third step in the right direction was the result of the Extraordinary Conference
of the Parties of the Rotterdam, Basel and Stockholm Conventions. We must
now ensure that synergies are delivered in practice and we need to identify
further synergies.
EU believes that the ongoing work under SAICM on emerging issues is very
important and valuable in order to protect human health and the environment,
and in particular the work on chemicals in products and hazardous substances
within electrical and electronic products contributes to sound management of
chemicals and waste. SAICM with its high level of stakeholder engagement and
broad cross-cutting approach is a valuable forum that should be further
strengthened.
However, our efforts at the global level cannot stand alone . They need to be
underpinned by further action at regional and national levels. For example,
within the European Union we have set up rules which oblige industry to
register the chemicals they produce and undertake a life cycle risk assessment of
all their uses. A large part of the information provided by industry is made
publicly available and will benefit not just EU citizens, but regulators, workers
and consumers worldwide. Over time this regulation will ensure that hazardous
substances can only be used if the assessment shows that they can be handled
without risk for human health and the environment otherwise they will have to
be substituted with less harmful alternatives.
But not all measures need to be legislative and there is a clear place for
partnership and leadership by all those involved. Thinking particularly of
industry - eco-design and innovation will contribute to a lower impact of
chemicals, both in their production, whilst in the product and upon disposal.
Also there is a clear role for industry in ensuring adequate informatio n is
available on products and the chemicals many products contain.
There is great potential for innovation within this sector to help combat global
poverty and climate change and contribute to energy security goals, by
improving efficiency of processes and decreasing consumption of nonrenewable
resources. Safe and sound chemicals management contributes to
greening our economies and making growth more sustainable. This should be
recognised and further developed by UNCSD 2012.
We believe more can and should be done by industry and we look forward to
their continued engagement on this agenda.
If we are to meet our Millennium Development Goals; the objectives of the
Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management and other related
Conventions; and progress towards the aims of RIO+20; action at global,
regional, national and local level is necessary.
We do however recognise there are obstacles to be overcome and that resources
are needed. This is why we have supported and will continue to support the
consultative process on finance options for the chemicals and waste cluster
launched by UNEP Executive Director in June 2009.
Mr Chairman,
As stated at the start, we firmly believe that action towards achieving sound
chemicals and waste management is fundamental for a success of our efforts to
move towards a safer, healthier and greener global community. We look
forward to working with others to achieve this.