Researchers: Additional chemicals need to be considered in the new Global Biodiversity Framework

The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework needs to consider additional groups of chemicals, according to a large international group of researchers. For the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15, they have developed a perspective article and a policy brief with concrete proposals for better inclusion of hazardous chemicals in the forthcoming targets.

Chemical pollution poses a major threat to biodiversity, but this has not been fully considered in the current proposals for targets to reach the biodiversity goals”, says Marlene Ågerstrand, Assistant Professor at the Department of Environmental Science, Stockholm University, and part of the Baltic Sea Fellows network.

Together with colleagues from Europe and North America, she has analysed how chemical pollution is treated in the draft Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that is the expected outcome of the UN Conference on Biodiversity currently held in Montreal, Canada. The main message is that the suggested Target 7, which treats pollution, must include additional groups of chemicals than is currently suggested. 

The draft target only includes pesticides, nutrients and plastic waste, but there are many more groups of hazardous substances that can have a significant impact on biodiversity”, says Marlene Ågerstrand.

The researchers suggest that, among others, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), toxic metal(loid)s like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) should also be included in the target.

Researcher Marlene Ågerstrand. Photo: Lisa Bergqvist

The researchers also suggest three main measures to protect biodiversity from chemical pollution. First, a global capping of production and emissions of anthropogenic chemicals. Second, improvements in the management of chemicals through the implementation of new advanced methods such as the essential use concept and chemical simplification. Last, the development and use of less hazardous chemicals.

It’s really important that the extensive production and use of chemicals become less damaging. We can’t stop using chemicals, but we have to develop less hazardous chemicals than we use today and reduce the use of hazardous ones to when it’s truly essential”, says Marlene Ågerstrand.

What do you hope to come out of COP15?

“I hope that the delegates at COP15 will understand the importance of chemicals and include our suggestions in the targets, to get a strong framework to really protect the global biodiversity”, says Marlene Ågerstrand.

Read the full perspective article Policy options to account for multiple chemical pollutants threatening biodiversity

Options to holistically account for chemical pollutants threatening biodiversity (285 Kb)