United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: Women

Thank you, Mr. Chair
The Women's Major Group is very concerned about the health effects on women,
children and communities from chemicals in our food and consumer products, and
released into the environment due to human activities.
We are also concerned about the direct and often negative impacts of waste, and the
chemicals embedded within waste products.
Chemicals found in households and workplaces lead to increased levels of cancer,
including breast cancer in women. But the impacts go beyond women?s health to their
children. Even small amounts of chemicals travelling through the placenta harm
developing children and adversely affect their future capacities.
Our bodies should not be used as testing grounds for chemicals. Hundreds of thousands
of chemicals are used in everyday products without adequate testing for irreversible longterm
health effects. Nano- materials have potentially dangerous unknown health risks, but
are already used in products such as sunscreen and children?s clothing.
Developing countries should be supported in creating necessary legislation to protect the
health of their populations. Chemicals management should look at the full life cycle of
products and be based on the precautionary principle, and the public?s right to know
about potential risks. Such principles will also aid in the movement toward a zero waste
society.
We call on governments to create financial mechanisms to prevent and clean up waste
damage, for example, through charges and fees for return-and-recycle programs. Waste
policies should be based on a hierarchy that considers resources and health, with priority
given in the following order: 1) avoid; 2) reduce; 3) reuse; 4) recycle and 5) safely
dispose.
The Women?s Major Group also supports ratification of the Basel Convention on the
Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and
recommends support for best practices in sustainable methods of waste management that
provide income-generating opportunities for women.
Thank you.