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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

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 information 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 non-renewable 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.


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