Sri Lanka wins global ‘Future Policy Award 2021’ for protection from hazardous chemicals

Friday, 2 July 2021 00:19 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Awarded ‘Special Award’ along with Philippines and Columbia, whilst Kyrgyzstan and Sweden clinch coveted Gold Award

Sri Lanka’s Control of Pesticides Act No. 33 of 1980 and the National Policy and Action Plan on Prevention of Suicide of 1997 are among the five inspiring and impactful laws and policies that won the Future Policy Award 2021.

The Award, often referred to as the ‘Oscar on Best Polices’, is celebrating the most effective policy solutions that minimise the adverse effects of exposure to chemicals on human health and the environment. These two policies from Sri Lanka have contributed to one of the greatest decreases in suicide rates ever achieved in the world. They have saved about 93,000 lives over 20 years at a direct Government cost of less than $ 50 per life, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

The prize is awarded by the World Future Council and is organised this year in partnership with the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP), the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and with the support of the Michael Otto Foundation and the Jua Foundation.

The Gold Award winners are:

Kyrgyzstan: Resolution No. 43 on Approval of the Chemical Hazard Classification System and Hazard Information Requirements – Labelling and Safety Data Sheet (2015)

Sweden, Region Stockholm: Phase-Out List for Chemicals Hazardous to the Environment and Human Health (2012-2016, revised for 2017-2021)

Apart from Sri Lanka, there are two other Special Award winners too:

‘Lead in Paint’: Philippines: Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds (CCO, 2013-24)

‘Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceutical Pollutants’: Colombia: Resolution No. 371 Establishing the elements to be considered in the Management Plans for the Return of Pharmaceutical Products and Expired Medicines (2009)

On 6 July, winning policies of the Future Policy Award 2021 will be celebrated with a high-level, virtual Award Ceremony. Register at Afterwards, the winners will be honoured at the Berlin Forum on Chemicals and Sustainability on 8 July.

“The lack of sound management of chemicals which are part and parcel of daily life is toxifying our planet and all life on it. It is absolutely imperative to strengthen good governance of chemicals and waste – through effective, inspiring, and innovative laws and policies, such as those represented by the winners of the Future Policy Award 2021. They set a precedent, which hopefully many governments will follow,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner adds: “Every year, 1,500 new chemicals enter the market. Many of them have never been properly tested for safety and toxicity and may cause irreversible harm to the health of humans, fauna, flora and ecosystems. The Future Policy Award 2021 winning policies from Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Sweden are all impactful solutions that tackle critical aspects of this global challenge.”

“It is also important to consider hazardous chemical exposures in the working environment. Workers tend to be exposed to higher doses of chemicals, and over longer periods, increasing their risk of significant health effects. Many work in the informal sector or in sectors where these substances are frequently used with few preventative measures, such as in agriculture or mining. 

“Good policies in the world of work are needed, and the 2021 Future Policy Award winners provide examples of how we can continue to promote occupational safety and health and the sound management of chemicals and waste worldwide,” Steiner continued.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder stated: “It is our duty to reaffirm the right to a safe working environment for all working people.”

When choosing the winners from the top candidates, the Future Policy Award jury is guided by a unique approach to policy analysis: the seven Principles of Future-Just Law-making. 

World Future Council Founder Jakob von Uexkull explains: “We thoroughly review each policy and ask critical questions: For instance, does the policy provide for public consultation and genuine engagement in the drafting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes? 

“Interestingly, while we received nominations for almost all categories of this years’ Future Policy Award, we received none in the category of ‘Chemicals in products. Much still needs to be done in this field. We are glad to present positive policy examples on a world stage and will work to promote them so they can inspire more ambitious policy action in other countries.”