Enabling sound management of chemicals and waste

Chemicals are vital components of our everyday lives. They are essential to our well-being and have a major impact on all sectors of the economy.

However, many chemicals substances are hazardous to people and the environment when managed improperly. The World Health Organization estimates that chemical waste is responsible for more than one million dead per year.

To address this issue, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is working closely with governments, industries, and civil society organisations to achieve the World Summit on Sustainable Development goal that by 2020 chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimisation of the significant adverse effects on human health and the environment; as well as a decline of chemical waste via prevention, reduction, reuse, and recycling by 2030.

Economic development and new trends in global consumption has increased the amount of chemical waste in countries that lack the infrastructure for sound chemical waste management as we frequently see in Latin America and the Caribbean. A large percentage of chemical waste contains valuable resources that could be extracted and taken advantage of. This unfortunately does not happen, causing significant adverse effects to the environment.

UNEP provides information and support towards the development and incorporation of regulatory public policy instruments, thus facilitating regional implementation of international accords on sound chemical waste management.

OzonAction Unit

The OzonAction Unit of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economy
has decentralized the functions of application and support to compliance of the Montreal Protocol through the Regional Offices. Accordingly, in Panama City operates the work team that provides services to the 33 countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region. See more

Programmes and projects

Assessing Waste Management in Latin America and the Caribbean

UNEP, in collaboration with different regional actors, produced the Waste Management Outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean. The report analyzes the current situation of waste management in the region, its environmental challenges and trends, and outlines the actions required to achieve an efficient management and move towards a circular economy.

Waste Management Strategies

UNEP has developed technical guidelines on waste management for both the local and national level, and has deployed several pilot programmes in various municipalities and countries in the region.

UNEP Global Mercury Partnership

The main objective of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership is to protect human health and the environment from the release of mercury and its compounds into the environment by minimising and, where feasible, ultimately eliminating mercury releases to air, water and land. Reports and publications on projects and events, several of which have taken place in Latin America and the Caribbean, can be accessed here.

Intergovernmental Network on Chemicals and Waste for Latin America and the Caribbean

This Network aims to strengthen the sound management of chemicals and waste, through the regional cooperation and the exchange of experiences and information in Latin American and the Caribbean countries.

Voluntary coalition for the progressive closure of dumpsites

The Voluntary coalition of governments and relevant organizations for the progressive closure of dumpsites in Latin America and the Caribbean, hosted by UNEP Regional Office, promotes the eradication of open dumps and the transition to integrated waste management in the region.