The Conference on Mainstreaming Sustainable Chemistry was opened by Dr. Barbara Hendricks, Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. “We want to pave the way towards sustainable chemistry – which is also the path towards a better future. Without this transformation we will not be able to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We need sustainable chemistry in order to insulate buildings, treat water and build solar cells without polluting the environment with persistent organic pollutants,” Hendricks said.
With respect to the launch of the ISC3, Dr. Hendricks added: “The production and consumption of chemicals are increasing worldwide. Production rose by 84 percent from 2000 to 2010. Emerging economies and developing countries account for the largest share of this. It is therefore in all of our interests to establish capacities for the safe handling of chemicals in such places and to ensure that growth, consumption and production in all countries are as sustainable as possible. International cooperation, also with the NGOs, plays a crucial role in this.”
Mrs. Hendricks opening the Conference on Mainstreaming Sustainable Chemistry
In a video message, Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UNEP and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, welcomed the setting up of the ISC3. He emphasized the role of sustainable chemistry for UNEP’s work on chemicals and waste.
200 participants from 40 countries are attentively listening to Erik Solheim’s video message
The Republic of Ghana had been one of the stakeholders which initiated the integration of the Sustainable Chemistry concept in UNEA’s Final Resolution 2/7. The presence of Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation was therefore of particular significance. He welcomed the ISC3 “as an innovative institution to serve the world in general and developing countries in particular.” He generated the idea to utilize Ghana as a hub for developing countries to mainstream sustainable chemistry. In his keynote, Professor Frimpong-Boateng linked sustainable chemistry to the Biodiversity Conventions. He stressed the urgent need for coherent national biodiversity policies also aimed at promoting sustainable production and consumption. This is an important task due to the increasing necessity for natural resources to substitute platform chemicals of fossil origin. The Minister also stressed the potential “of traditional or indigenous knowledge… in the development and promotion of the concept of sustainable chemistry.” One more key message from the developing countries’ perspective: “The concept of sustainable chemistry should inform the developing world on how to utilize our growing populations as a human resource, and our abundant natural resources as incentives to determine the pace of development and not rely on our partners in the developed world all the time.”
Minister Prof. Frimpong-Boateng during his speech at the Conference on Sustainable Chemistry
The high-level speeches ended with a keynote by Professor Kurt Bock, President of the VCI (German Chemicals Manufacturers Association) and CEO of BASF, Germany’s largest chemical company. Professor Bock stressed the need for innovations with which to secure sustainable solutions. Additionally to the precautionary principle also an innovation principle should be introduced. Under the innovation principle, it should be assessed within the development of new laws and regulations whether these would adversely affect innovation capability. According to Prof. Bock, the industry also stands ready to participate in ISC3 from the very beginning, at best through Chemie3, a joint German initiative of industry and unions. Via ISC3 now the international discussion process should be organised to find out how to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Kurt Bock said: “Both initiatives complement each other. We offer our support to drive forward sustainability in the chemical industry not only nationally but globally.”
(VCI press release may be found here)
Prof. Bock, President of VCI and CEO of BASF, during his speech