Spotlight Report on Sustainability in Europe: Who is paying the bill? (Negative) impacts of EU policies and practices in the world

The Global Chemical Pollution: The role of the EU and the human right to a non-toxic environment.

Chapter by Sascha Gabizon, WECF International

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to ensure a balance between protecting the planet and its people, whilst ensuring peace, prosperity and well-being. The global pollution with chemicals and waste is addressed in SDG 12, which makes a rather weak reference to the global conventions on chemicals and waste in target 12.4 on chemicals and waste management, as agreed in international frameworks, and minimize adverse effects on human health and the environment.

The UN’s latest Global Chemicals Outlook (GCO II) gives terrifying figures. All trends for use of chemicals and production of waste are on the steep increase. The burden of disease from chemicals is high.  Children are particularly at risk. The UN Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on toxics, reports that cancer now figures among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 17 million new cases of cancer each year. The incidence of childhood cancer has risen during periods of rapid increase in the use of industrial chemicals; this increased incidence cannot be explained by genetics or lifestyle choices. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 1,700,000 children under the age of 5 died in 2012 from environmental factors, such as air pollution (over 500,000 deaths) and water contamination. Children from low-income scavenger communities in developing countries, who live on and near waste dumps, are the most vulnerable, often exposed to extreme high levels of chemicals from the burning of waste and local food.

Environmental injustice for which perpetrators are not held accountable