Chemicals are an integral part of our lives and a significant contributor to our economies. Many chemicals are harmless or even beneficial; others are a threat to our health and to the environment. Chemicals production continues to increase and, with it, the potential for chemical exposure. Just over one third (35%) of ischaemic heart disease, the leading cause of deaths and disability worldwide, and about 42% of stroke, the second largest contributor to global mortality, could be prevented by reducing or removing exposure to chemicals such as from ambient air pollution, chemical residues in food, household air pollution, second-hand smoke and lead. If not regulated and without a sound chemicals management, from extraction or production to disposal, our health and the environment are at risk.

In order to address the problem of chemical pollution, the world community started to raise  awareness on the necessity of an appropriate management and processing of hazardous chemicals and its waste.  

In 1992, the "Agenda 21" was adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, introducing environmentally safe management of toxic chemicals. Certain aspects of chemicals management were also addressed at three other key international chemical conventions: Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (1989), Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (1998), and at Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2011).

Even though the abovementioned international instruments have established a framework for chemical safety, each of them had a limited scope, and together they did not address the full range of chemical safety issues that countries face. This created a need for more coherent and comprehensive global programme to align sound management of chemicals in all countries so that the exposure to both agricultural and industrial chemicals would not continue to cause a significant harm to human health and the environment. And so the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) was born -- a global policy framework to foster the sound management of chemicals.

One of the key elements of the SAICM implementation process is the development of so called National Profile - a comprehensive review of existing national legal, organizational, administrative, and technical infrastructure related to the sound management of chemicals. The National Profile was developed based on the requirements of modern chemicals management system (UN, OECD), and is aligned with the "Agenda 21" of the Rio Conference. In principle, it serves as a basis for revision of existing legislation and rules for chemicals and materials management in that particular country.

For the first time in the Republic of Kazakhstan, the National Profile of Chemicals Management was prepared in 2006 and updated in 2009 and 2013. This year, the National Profile was updated by the United Nations Development Programme in Kazakhstan, taking into account the official statistical data for 2016-2018, available on the website of the Bureau of National Statistics of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

To discuss the National Profile of Chemicals management, the United Nations Development Programme in Kazakhstan, jointly with the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development and the Ministry of Health, organized an international training and round table on chemical safety. Through November 25-27, the event hosted discussions on international and national legislative requirements in the sphere of chemicals regulation and issues of implementation of Technical Regulations of the Eurasian Economic Union 041/2017 " on safety of chemical products". Among the participants were state bodies, industrial enterprises, scientific institutes, NGOs and associations.

The updated Kazakhstan’s National Profile is expected to contribute to the understanding of what chemicals-related problems exist in the country and what mechanisms are available to address them. In addition, the document will identify gaps and weaknesses in chemicals processing and waste management and will identify the priorities for further work.

Currently, the draft National Profile on Chemicals Management is being coordinated with government authorities and stakeholders and posted on the UNDP website. All comments, remarks and suggestions are accepted by email: saltanat.bayeshova@undp.org.

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