India is working hard to establish national management systems for chemicals and wastes. With the help of the UN Environment’s Special Programme on Institutional Strengthening for Chemicals and Waste Management, it is targeting a specific issue with far-reaching consequences: persistent organic pollutants. These pollutants are different from the others because they remain in the natural environment and directly impact humans and animals, most commonly by entering the food chain.
While the government has ratified the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata Conventions, which call upon signatory countries to ban the manufacture, trade and use of 19 of these chemicals, additional efforts are necessary to ensure implementation of the rules.
To overcome shortfalls and meet the requirements of the conventions, the Indian government is initiating different strategies during the course of a three-year project. The main goal is to strengthen the capacity of government institutions and offices to adequately deal with current issues such as lack of awareness, outdated technologies and substandard policy implementation. Specific trainings with experts will be designed to stimulate nationwide research and capacity building. There will be a special focus on training young professionals on best environmental practices, which will include utilizing modern equipment to monitor and manage persistent organic pollutants. Part of this programme will also involve the development of an interactive electronic toolkit to improve the management of persistent organic pollutants across India. With such a trained human resource, the government will be better poised to deal with the issues pertaining to the enforcement of the conventions, wherein India is party to the decisions.
Another major objective is to develop a better insight into how chemical and waste management relates to gender and social equality, which is a major concern in all the international conventions. Groups that are most vulnerable to exposure to hazardous chemicals as well as the mechanism of impact will be identified. This study would help governments at the national and regional levels to develop better policies on chemicals and waste management that take into account diversity and gender equality. These are major issues that have not received the attention they deserve in the past. This new strategy is a first of its kind in India.