Industrial chemicals are essential components of modern societies because they contribute in numerous ways to establish and/or preserve an elevated standard of living in countries at all stages of development. Chemicals play an important part in different fields such as healthcare, food production and telecommunications. Under certain conditions, the large scale production and use of certain chemicals may result in the degradation of our environment and adverse impact to human health and wildlife. Hence, policies for the sound management of chemicals are now recognized as essential components of overall public policy in many countries.

While most countries have review and regulatory programs for pesticides, they lack similar programs for industrial chemicals or do not have comprehensive programs to address the full range of hazards and risks posed by these chemicals. Thus, most developing countries do not indicate whether they consent or not to the import of industrial chemicals in the scope of the Rotterdam convention. During the delivery of technical assistance to countries (2004 to 2015) the following challenges continued to show regarding the management of industrial chemicals:

    • Legislation required to support the regulation and enforcement of sound management of  industrial chemicals;
    • National chemicals policy frameworks and national coordination mechanisms;
    • Capacity to undertake hazard and risk assessments;
    • Lack of processes for decision-making on risk management for selected chemicals;
    • Lack of public awareness and information on potential risks from hazardous industrial chemicals.

Maximizing safety and minimizing risk of industrial chemicals are important aims for sustainable development for countries and for the success of the chemical industry world-wide. While pesticides are controlled by many national, regional and international schemes, industrial chemicals have been lagging behind and developing countries often face limited capacity and knowledge to handle the process of risk assessment and management of these chemicals.

A strategy for chemicals management entitled "Components of National Programs for Assessing and Managing the Risks Posed by Industrial Chemicals to Human Health and the Environment" is available.