With the world’s largest chemicals industry, China faces many well-known challenges. These include air pollution, water contamination, and toxic products.
Despite these issues, the country has the potential to positively contribute to progress globally. To expand on this potential, RWI recently convened a roundtable called on “Sound Chemicals Management Beyond 2020: Exploring Challenges and Opportunities for China and Sweden”.
The roundtable aimed to identify and reflect on relevant trends in relation to chemicals management and to map the governance, policy and implementation issues relevant to this crucial challenge, says Malin Oud, Director of China Office and Team Leader of Economic Globalisation and Human Rights at the RWI. The discussion was held in collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden in Beijing at the end of November.
Forty experts gathered to represent relevant government agencies, think tanks, academic institutions, environmental organizations, business and international organizations. H.E Anna Lindstedt, Sweden’s Ambassador to China (former Swedish Climate Ambassador), and RWI Senior Researcher Baskut Tuncak (the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics) presented their views during the conference.
One proposal from the roundtable was the suggested adoption of a post-2020 global framework similar to the Paris Agreeement on Climate Change. This would consist of a combination of legally binding obligations and voluntary measures that could be reviewed periodically.
A stronger, more comprehensive system of global chemicals management is needed after 2020,” said Tuncak. “What we have today is a patchwork of treaties to manage chemicals of global concern, which is based on outdated definitions.
Lindstedt agreed with this call for a global framework, saying:
The Paris climate agreement shows that both top-down and bottom-up approaches could be the best possible solution for resolving complicated environmental issues.
RWI’s partner, Chinadialogue, also presented a series of three bilingual (Chinese-English) articles written exclusively for the roundtable. The articles cover the importance of, and challenges to, sound chemicals management in China.