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Minister for the Environment

Press release from Ministry of the Environment

New UN report highlights Sweden as a global leader in action on chemicals


On Monday 22 October, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances, Mr Baskut Tuncak, presented his first report to the United Nations General Assembly at an event in New York. Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog gave the opening address at the launch and continues to draw international attention to the need for a global agreement on chemicals and waste.

The report, addressed to the UN Human Rights Council, contains an overview of global efforts on chemicals and waste. The report finds that what is currently being done to protect people and the environment from hazardous substances is insufficient, and provides a series of recommendations for future work. In particular, the report calls for a global framework for chemicals and waste, something that Sweden and Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog have been pushing for over the last year.

“It is becoming increasingly clear to me that we need a global agreement on chemicals and waste. This report highlights the disastrous consequences for people around the world today of unsafe management of chemicals and waste. We have to act,” says minister for the Environment Karolina Skog.

From the report

The report concludes that there are strong linkages between human rights and hazardous chemicals, as hazardous substances threaten rights such as the right to life, protection against discrimination and the right to information. The report points to Sweden’s work on its environmental quality objective ‘A non-toxic environment’ as a global forerunner in efforts against hazardous chemicals. The report underlines the need for urgent action to protect people’s lives. There is a pressing need for a strong and comprehensive global framework, and as the current voluntary framework expires in 2020, the opportunity now exists to unite the world around new and more ambitious actions on chemicals.

According to the report, one worker dies every 30 seconds from exposure to hazardous chemicals and radiation. An estimated 2.8 million people die every year as a result of an unsafe or harmful work environment. The report also states that many children born today are carrying contaminants in their bodies and that researchers have found more than 200 different hazardous substances in umbilical cords and placentas. This means that millions of children are deprived of the right to equal development opportunities.  

Press contact

Hanna Björnfors
Political Adviser to Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog
Phone (switchboard) +46 8 405 10 00