In the actual context of increasing environmental challenges, the inadequate use and management of chemicals poses a special risk to both the environment and the health of human population. In this respect, pollution from chemicals is in many cases the consequence of both former and current unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. For example, many years of irresponsible management practices have resulted in the existence of stockpiles of obsolete chemicals while current unsustainable uses of chemicals in production processes and products are implying the unintentional generation of dioxins and furans and the existence of pesticides residues in goods for human consumption (e.g. food products).
Out of the chemical substances, the so-called Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are identified by the LBS Protocol as priority substances in the development and implementation of national programs to fight against pollution. The need to urgently address the elimination and reduction of POPs is common to all Mediterranean countries which are signatories to the Stockholm Convention, the global treaty to protect human health and the environment from those substances.
According to the mentioned above, shifting to Sustainable Consumption and Production and tackling pollution from chemicals are two priority areas to attain sustainable development in the Mediterranean. While SCP refers to an integrated approach to decouple the increasing industrial and economic development of the region from environmental pollution and resource consumption, the elimination and sound management of chemicals constitutes a major challenge in the application of the SCP.
The task of the SCP/RAC, which was designated a Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in 2009, focuses on helping signatories which are developing and transition economy countries to fulfil their obligations under the Convention, through capacity building and technology transfer.
In addition, the Centre collaborates with other multilateral agreements on environment and treaties in order to contribute to the rational management of chemicals in the Mediterranean, such as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.