The Pardee Papers, No. 5, March 2009

Does Nuclear Energy Have a Future?Managing Hazardous Chemicals: Longer-Range Challenges

By Henrik Selin


March 2009 (42 pages)
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Improving global chemicals management is a significant sustainable development issue, involving many longer-range challenges. This paper examines some of these challenges. It begins by describing hazardous chemicals as a longer-range problem. This is followed by an outline of the global policy framework for managing hazardous chemicals. Next, the paper discusses four sets of management challenges for better environmental and human health protection: 1) Enhancing ratification and implementation of existing regulations; 2) Expanding risk assessments and controls; 3) Improving management capacity and raising awareness; and 4) Minimizing generation of hazardous chemicals and wastes. Furthermore, the paper argues that the adoption of more proactive and precautionary policies and management approaches is ultimately needed to achieve necessary environmental and human health protection standards. While some such policy and regulatory changes are under way in the European Union and other regions, they are not yet sufficiently reflected in international law.

Henrik Selin is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of International Relations at Boston University, and a Research Fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. He conducts research and teaches classes on global and regional politics and policy making on the environment and sustainable development. His book Global Governance of Hazardous Chemicals: Challenges of Multilevel Management is forthcoming with MIT Press. He is the co-editor of Transatlantic Environment and Energy Politics: Comparative and International Perspectives (Ashgate, with Miranda Schreurs and Stacy VanDeveer) and Changing Climates in North American Politics: Institutions, Policy Making and Multilevel Governance (MIT Press, with Stacy VanDeveer). Selin is also the author and co-author of more than two dozen peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters as well as numerous reports, reviews and commentaries.