Policy options to account for multiple chemical pollutants threatening biodiversity

Chemical pollution poses a threat to biodiversity on a global scale. This has been acknowledged in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which proposes to regulate the release of chemicals to the environment and names specific indicators focusing on pesticides, nutrients and plastic waste. We fully welcome the inclusion of these substances but would like to further emphasize that in order to protect biodiversity from hazardous chemicals, the scope of Target 7 should feature a wider range of pollutants that can contribute to biodiversity loss. We propose the inclusion of non-agricultural biocides, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), toxic metal(loid)s, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Furthermore, data on emerging pollutants (e.g., rare earth elements, toxic and persistent industrial chemicals, liquid crystal monomers, pharmaceuticals, personal care products) need to be regularly reviewed with the aim to integrate additional pollutants to Target 7 in the case of biodiversity risk. We suggest to amend Target 7 to postulate the aim for the overall reduction of chemical production and emissions, as well as the addition of the aforementioned substance groups of high concern to biodiversity for integration in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. We further elaborate on different strategies for the reduction of emissions of hazardous chemicals through chemical simplification and grouping, reduction of chemicals with non-essential use, and innovative synthesis strategies (e.g., “benign-by-design”). In this context, the full life cycle of chemicals (i.e., production, use, and end of life) needs to be considered. Lastly, we propose to set up transparent data inventories, in cooperation with the industry, to inform about the production, transport and emissions of chemicals, which can serve as a basis for indicators related to monitoring the progress towards achieving the goals set under Target 7. 

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