Towards a sustainable chemical intensity

So far, economic development causes chemical intensification, still too often disproportionate highClick to enlarge
So far, economic development causes chemical intensification, still too often disproportionate high
Source: Travel man/Fotolia

The Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030 are only achievable if chemicals are used in the right extent, says the German Environment Agency (UBA). The risks for health and the environment need to be globally minimized. At the same time, the opportunities for the societies by chemicals need to be maximized worldwide. Read more in our Thought Starter.

Chemical intensity is increasing globally: The per-capita use of chemicals will more than double in the years from 1990 to 2030, additionally to the growth of the world population. The progress of development in many regions of the world is an important and good reason for this. However, as a result of the increase of chemical intensity, challenges are getting harder to overcome. Not only the amount but also the number and diversity of chemicals and their areas of application are increasing disproportionately.

For this reason, UBA is pressing for a change in how the world deals with chemicals. Chemicals should be used in ways with the least possible pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate change.

One approach could be to find a commonly agreed extent of chemical intensity that respects all guard rails in a comprehensive understanding of sustainability. From UBA’s point of view, only in this way the Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030 are achievable. The existing risks for health and the environment need to be globally minimized. At the same time, the opportunities for the societies by chemicals need to be maximized in all sectors worldwide. To be able to manage resources and energy in a sustainable manner, substitution or control of harmful chemicals is by far not enough. Chemical intensity as a whole and possible effects on climate and biodiversity need to be considered to achieve societal goals.

More information can be found in our Thought Starter.

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 chemicals  Sustainable Development Goals  sustainable chemistry  International Chemicals Management  Socio-ecological transformation