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Sustainable Development Goals And Chemistry

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Our human health and the global environment are threatened by the adverse effects of development in different field of science. Our bodies are contaminated with a large number of synthetic industrial chemicals, many of which are known to be toxic and carcinogenic while others remain untested for their health effects. They come to us from unlabeled products, chemically contaminated food, air, water. The United Nations General Assembly has addressed these challenges in its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which have been adopted in 2015. A closer look shows that to meet these goals chemistry will play an important role. Also related to this, the UN Environmental Assembly-2 (UNEA-2) has named sustainable chemistry as an important building block within and beyond sound chemicals management. Contributions of both science and industries are essential to meet the SDGs. In this context, green chemistry and green engineering are instruments used increasingly more by scientists and engineers to make decisions having positive impact on the environment.

Introduction

In the last decades, humanity faced huge challenges in the sustainability of our lifestyles and systems. Hundreds of tonnes of hazardous waste are released to the air, water, and land by industry every hour of every day. Increasing energy consumption, industrial activity, population growth and urbanization add pressure to the planetary system and it is clear that major changes are now needed if multiple crises (relating to food, water, climate and energy) are to be avoided and humanity is to move to a path of sustainability. However, it was not until the 1980s that the environment became a priority for the chemical industry. Global environmental issues1 including energy sources, water access and use, land use and ecological damage require urgent and relevant answers. It is essential to find alternative paths for development an environmentally sound and sustainable development. In this context, green chemistry2 and green engineering are instruments used increasingly more by scientists and engineers to make decisions having positive impact on the environment.

What is SDGs

Our human health and the global environment are threatened by the adverse effects of development of different field of science. Our bodies are contaminated with a large number of synthetic industrial chemicals, many of which are known to be toxic and carcinogenic while others remain untested for their health effects. They come to us from unlabeled products, chemically contaminated food, air, water. The United Nations General Assembly has addressed these challenges in its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)3 which have been adopted in 2015. A closer look shows that to meet these goals chemistry will play an important role. Also related to this is that the UN Environmental Assembly-2 (UNEA-2) has named sustainable chemistry4 as an important building block within and beyond sound chemicals management. Contributions of both science and industries are essential to meet the SDGs.

The 17 SDGs build on decades of work are given below.

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  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
  4. Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  6. Ensure access to water and sanitation for all.
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
  8. Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.
  11. Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
  15. Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss.
  16. Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.
  17. Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Role of chemistry

The chemical sciences underpin of different established and emerging sciences for e.g. biochemistry, environmental science, polymer science, genetic engineering, astrochemistry, geochemistry, cheminformatics, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, surface science, nanoscience, oil and petroleum, molecular and synthetic biology etc. The chemical sciences would play central roles in enabling organization like World Organization for the Regulation of Food, Environment and Drugs (WORFED) to carry out its functions as global regulator.

Chemical researches participate in achievement5 of SDGs in many ways. Increase in the agriculture productivity has been obtained by using the suitable and safe chemical fertilizers. This development helps to achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Different Pharmaceutical researches are coming with new compounds which after going through after several trials are coming in market in the form of drugs for sustainable health and thus average life expectancy6 increases worldwide. Water contamination7 (e.g. arsenic, fluoride contamination) issues are also getting nullified by new cheap methods. New energy resources are manufactured depending on chemical research such as production of hydrogen as energy source8. Researchers are focused on preparation and characterization of eco-friendly material9 for achieving sustainable goals. The three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle10 – all help to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away. They conserve natural resources, landfill space and energy. Thus chemical contamination of both water and land decreases. Improve air quality and management of chemical wastes are the basic indicators for sustainable communities.

Green Chemistry

Environmental chemistry is the chemistry of natural environment and of pollutant chemicals in nature, whereas green chemistry particularly tends to reduce and prevent pollution at source. Paul Anastas known as the father of green chemistry has given the term green chemistry in 1991. Main emphasis of green chemistry researchers is to design safer chemicals and chemical processes in order to replace the use and generation of hazardous substances11. The 12 principles of green chemistry can be roughly organized into two major categories: those related to reducing energy usage and waste materials, and those related to producing or utilizing safer products and processes12. While the application of these principles will lead to less energy consumption and the reduction of waste material put into the environment, these principles could also aid in protecting and improving worker safety and health13.

Scope

Sustainable chemistry attempts to expand conventional chemistry to include environmental, social, and economic aspects. The social aspects should include decent, safe working conditions and respect for human rights and labor rights, including the ILO Core Labour Standards. UN Environment produces a report by 2022 focused on practical steps for hazard reduction in chemical design and use with a special emphasis on developing and transition countries. Beyond the specific targets embodied in the SDGs, there are a number of current and emerging global threats to health, and effective synergistic responses from the chemical and biological sciences will be central to overcoming them. In brief it’s not only important how chemists make something, it’s also important that what they make isn’t harmful.

Conclusion

Sustainability chemistry offers a unique opportunity to improve occupational safety and health issues. The whole chemical industry has a key role to play because chemistry is the critical tool box for enabling more sustainable products. Reduce, reuse and recycling, the principles of green chemistry will result in decrease of pollution in environment. Though many exciting green chemical processes are being developed but there are far greater numbers of challenges lies ahead. The greatest challenge is too incorporate the green chemistry in industrial, laboratory and day to day processes in order to control environmental pollution so that each individual is made aware to choose greener ways in his or her life. To get more sustainable growth chemical companies to invest and commercialise new sustainable products. Nature is the biggest laboratory and by applying the logic of the living systems new chemical reactions and the synthesis of functionalized and useful chemicals may be possible in a greener way.

References

  1. Kemp, D. (1995) Global Environmental Issues A Climatological Approach. 2nd edition. Tailor & Francis, London
  2. Anastas, P. T. & Warner, J. C. (1998). Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
  3. Anastas, P. T. & Williamson, T. C. (1998). Green Chemistry: Frontiers in Benign chemical Synthesis and Processes. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Anastas, P. T., Heine, L. G. & Williamson, T. C. (2000). Green Chemical Syntheses Processes: Introduction; Green Chemical Syntheses and Processes, ACS Symposium Series; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, Chapter 1. pp 1-6.
  5. Matlin, S. A., Mehta, G., Krief, A. & Hopf, H. (2017) The Chemical Sciences and Health: Strengthening Synergies at a Vital Interface, ACS Omega. 2(10): 6819–6821.
  6. Roser, M., Ortiz-Ospina, E. & Ritchie, H. (2013). Life Expectancy. Retrieved on February 29, 2020 from https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy
  7. Bibi, S., Kamran, M. A., Jawairia Sultana, J. & Farooqi, A. (2017) Occurrence and methods to remove arsenic and fluoride contamination in water. Environmental Chemistry Letters, 15, 125–149.
  8. Use of hydrogen. (2020). Retrieved on February 29, 2020 from https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/hydrogen/use-of-hydrogen.php
  9. 48 Eco Friendly Products You Can Buy Today to Help Stop Plastic Pollution. Retrieved on February 29, 2020 from https://www.onyalife.com/eco-friendly-products/
  10. The ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ Waste Hierarchy. Retrieved on February 29, 2020 from https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/reduce-reuse-recycle.php
  11. Carter, W. P. (1994). Development of Ozone Reactivity Scales for Volatile Organic Compound. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 44 (7), 881-899.
  12. Chigurupati, S., Mohammad, J. I., Selvarajan, K. K., Simansalam, S.,Vijayabalan, S. & Bhore, S. J. (2017). Designing Greener Pharmaceuticals and Practicing Green Health Is Required for Sustainability. Biotech Sustainability, 68-78.
  13. Department of the Environment and Energy, Australian government (2016). Better fuel for cleaner air, Retrieved on February 29, 2020 from https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/consultations/f3f4acc3-f9e6-4cc3-8a1e-a59a6490cffd/files/better-fuel-cleaner-air.pdf

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Sustainable Development Goals And Chemistry. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/sustainable-development-goals-and-chemistry/
“Sustainable Development Goals And Chemistry.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/sustainable-development-goals-and-chemistry/
Sustainable Development Goals And Chemistry. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/sustainable-development-goals-and-chemistry/> [Accessed 18 Aug. 2022].
Sustainable Development Goals And Chemistry [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 24 [cited 2022 Aug 18]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/sustainable-development-goals-and-chemistry/
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