Chemicals and Waste

African Chemicals Observatory:

The African Chemicals Observatory project aims at developing an integrated guidance to build capacity necessary to set up an integrated health and environment observatory surveillance and information management system in Africa. It aims at enabling African countries to establish evidence-based policies and make sustainable decisions on sound management of chemicals and related disease burdens. More specifically, it addresses the necessary improvements to be made in the fields of awareness, knowledge, information management and communication on chemicals to support and provide an enabling framework for measures and actions to be taken.

Preliminary results of the project have been published in the MapX platform. Click on the links below to access geospatial layers and dashboards:

Persistent Organic Pollutants (Stockholm Convention) and Mercury (Minamata Convention)

The group of chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are globally banned by the Stockholm Convention. The parties to the Stockholm Convention are committed to cease production and use of listed POPs, including polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and perfluoro octane sulfonate (PFO). They are required to eliminate the use of PCB in existing equipment by 2025 and ensure environmentally sound waste management of contaminated devices by 2028.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. While mercury is naturally occurring, it is also a by-product of a number of industrial processes and can be found in many everyday objects, including batteries, dental amalgam, thermometers and fluorescent lamps. Once released to the atmosphere, soil and water - for example through coal burning, and artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) - mercury bioaccumulates in fish, animals and humans, posing a serious threat to human health and the environment. Development of National Action Plans (NAPs) for Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) is an obligation under the Minamata Convention on Mercury for each country that determines that ASGM in its territory is more than insignificant. A key step in the development of NAPs is a creation of national overview of the sector, including inventory of the mercury use and practices employed at the ASGM sites, as well as socio-economic and environmental information surrounding the sector. The collected baseline data will allow governments to set realistic targets and strategies on how to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate mercury use in ASGM.

To help the parties meet these targets and comply with the obligations under the Stockholm and Minamata Conventions, the UNEP Chemicals and Health Branch, with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), provides technical and financial support in three main areas: (1) to complete national inventories of POPs and mercury and related contaminated equipment; (2) to improve the capacity and increase the knowledge of POPs and mercury owners and users on environmentally sound handling and management, including disposal and alternative technologies; and (3) to establish proper storage of wastes and contaminated equipment and to ensure disposal of POPs and mercury in an environmentally sound manner. Since 2017 the MapX team has been supporting UNEP by developing a customized map interface and specific dashboards to support the integration of chemicals (mercury and POPs) data in a single geospatial platform and the elaboration of the NAPs. Environmental risk indicators applicable to individual pollutant sites have also been calculated at national level on more than 20 countries of Africa and the Mediterranean region, based on a methodology developed by the FAO.

Click on the links below to access geospatial layers, dashboards and story maps:

Contact: Pierre Lacroix