About the new report “A Healthy Planet for Healthy Children – Policies for a Future without Toxics”
Around six per cent of the world’s disease burden and eight per cent of deaths can be attributed to chemicals. Annually, more than 1.7 million premature deaths among children under the age of 5 are caused by pollution and toxic substances. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of hazardous chemicals due to their smaller size and hence greater relative exposure and because of their developing internal organs. However, toxic air and contaminated water and soil is not only an existential threat to human health in general, but also threatens planetary health, jeopardising the sustainability of modern societies. Achieving a toxic-free future hence is paramount.
With this new report “A Healthy Planet for Healthy Children”, the World Future Council (WFC) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) together aim to draw attention to the “silent pandemic” of disability and disease associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals and pollution during childhood, by providing key facts on how hazardous chemicals affect children’s health. Moreover, the report inspires with insights into award-winning policies that have been honoured with the Future Policy Award – the world’s only award for policy solutions that create better living conditions for current and future generations. The publication also highlights a set of useful policy recommendations, with which policy makers and key stakeholders can take effective action to advance the protection from hazardous chemicals and include a child rights perspective in their policy making.
Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHP): There is an urgent need for action to phase out the use of toxic pesticides worldwide as they cause, amongst others, serious health problems that disproportionately affect children. This part of the report gives an overview of inspiring policies, which address this problem.
Toxic Metals: Particularly children are dangerously affected by the harmful exposure to toxic metals. The good news: there are already impactful policies, which address the issue, including, for instance, lead in paint – you can find out more about them on these pages.
Toxic Consumer Products: Toys and other products intended specifically for children are one category of a much larger set of consumer products that expose infants and children to toxic chemicals. These chemicals impact child health, development, and well-being, and some of them have severe effects on the hormone, reproductive, and immune systems, as well as on the liver and kidneys. Can we reduce the exposure to these hazardous chemicals in the products of everyday use? Yes, we can!
Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceutical Pollutants (EPPP): The increased use of pharmaceuticals, which escalated even more during the COVID-19 pandemic, the inadequate management of pharmaceutical residues, and unused/expired medicine endanger both the health of humans, particular children, and the environment. How can we tackle this issue by means of policy? Solutions exist, but more countries need to adapt them.
Chemical Safety and Regulation: Chemical regulation is a very effective way to reduce the use of harmful chemicals and related negative health effects. Controlling chemicals must take place both in the early stages and at every stage of the life cycle of chemicals before and after entering the market. Effective tools to increase chemical safety already exist!
Public Procurement: Public procurement is a strategic tool for achieving key policy objectives. Can we harness its enormous purchasing power more effectively in the future, also in order to tackle chemical pollution? Future-oriented policies prove that we can promote sustainable practices and reduce people’s exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Policy recommendations: In the last part of this report, you can find seven key policy recommendations that policy makers and key stakeholders can use to advance the protection of children and unborn from the harm caused by hazardous chemicals. We encourage all readers – let’s implement them and step up action!
What an exciting event we held on 6th July: The World Future Council is truly proud about the Future Policy Award Ceremony 2021, at which our “Oscar for best policies” distinguished five truly exemplary policies protecting people and the environment from hazardous chemicals!
Among the winners were policies from Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Sweden that effectively minimise the adverse effects of exposure to chemicals on human health and the environment. Two Gold winners and three Special Awards winners were selected from 55 nominated policies from 36 countries.
Unlike the previous years, the winning policies of the Future Policy Award 2021 were celebrated with a virtual ceremony, held in Hamburg, Germany, on July 6, 2021, and had over a thousand viewers, including the awardees from across the globe. Moderated by Jennifer Sarah Boone, the event was opened by Alexandra Wandel, the Executive Director of World Future Council, who provided insights about the Future Policy Award (3:40) and with speeches by Prof. Dr Dirk Messner, President of the German Environment Agency (UBA), and Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, Director of the Economy Division of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). (7:00) “Chemicals and chemical waste are a big topic, and we cannot treat them as a side aspect if we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We need to have more political attention for the topic of chemicals and chemical waste; the Future Policy Award makes an exciting contribution to generating this kind of attention,” said Prof. Dr Messner, President of the German Environment Agency (UBA).
The presentations of the awardees were opened with a beautiful song, “We are one,” from MaximNoise and Nicole Milik, who are both passionate musicians and support the good cause of the 2021 Future Policy Award (13:00).
Special Award for Colombia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka
Colombia’s Resolution 371 Establishing the elements to be considered in the Management Plans for the Return of Pharmaceutical Products and Expired Medicines (2009) received the first Special Award in the “Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceutical Pollutants” category. The Resolution’s remarkable feature is that it places the responsibilities and costs of implementation on the manufacturers and importers of pharmaceuticals and medications, in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Providing the congratulatory speech, Mr Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNITAR, acknowledged Resolution 371 as the true pioneer in the region and applauded Colombia and all stakeholders for the effective implementation of the policy. The Award was delightfully accepted by H.E. Carlos Eduardo Correa, Colombia’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development. (19:50)
The Philippines’ Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds (CCO, 2013-24) won the second Special Award in the Category “Lead in Paint.” The Philippines is the first Southeast Asian country to successfully implement legislation towards lead-safe paint. Acknowledging the importance of risk reduction of lead, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Mr Masamichi Kono, congratulated the Philippines and all stakeholders that contributed to the successful implementation of the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds (28:00). The Award was received by the Secretary of the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), H.E. Ret. General Roy Cimatu. (3:00)
The final Special Award went to Sri Lanka’s Pesticides Act and National Policy for Suicide Prevention under the Category “Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).” Thanks to the policies Sri Lanka has been successful in banning a total of 36 HHPs, which has saved about 93,000 lives over 20 years at a direct government cost of less than USD 50 per life. The Award was received by Sri Lanka’s Minister of Health, Nutrition, and Indigenous Medicine, H.E. Pavitra Devi Wanniarachchi and Minister of Agriculture, H.E. Mahindananda Aluthgamage. (38:40) In her congratulatory speech Prof. Dr Vandana Shiva, who is an internationally well renowned environmental and social activist from India and a Founding Councillor of the World Future Council, highlighted that thanks to these policies suicide rate has been reduced by an impressive 70 per cent.
Gold for Kyrgyzstan and Sweden!
Kyrgyzstan’s Resolution No. 43 won the Gold Award for being one of the few countries in the world to make the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) legally binding. Kyrgyzstan’s Resolution No. 43 won the Award in the Fourth Category, “Chemicals Across the Lifecycle.” and was commended by Prof. Dr Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, who is an expert jurist, Senior Director of the Center for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) and a Founding Councillor of the World Future Council. Delivering a speech on behalf of Kyrgyzstan’s Deputy of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Minister of Economy and Finance, the First Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Daniiar Imanaliev expressed gratitude to the World Future Council for recognizing Resolution No. 43 in the prestigious Future Policy Award 2021. He also expressed their readiness to share their experience with others to create a toxic-free world.
Unlike all the other 2021 Awards that went to national policies, the second Gold Award was won by the Swedish Region Stockholm for its Phase-Out List for chemicals hazardous to the environment and human health in the same category, “Chemicals Across the Lifecycle.” The policy is credited for phasing out a significant proportion of hazardous chemicals since 2012, especially in the health sector. Presenting the laudatory speech for the awardee, Co-founder and Honorary Councillor of the World Future Council, Prof. Dr Michael Otto commended the Region Stockholm for taken bold action against the use of harmful chemicals and for safeguarding children’s health. (1:00:02) On behalf of Region Stockholm, the Award was received by the Regional Chair for Environment and Transport, Mr. Tomas Eriksson, and Regional Chief Executive, Mrs. Carina Lundberg Uudelepp. (1:03:50)
The Way Forward for the Future Policy Award
Following the award presentations, the Ceremony was also graced with speeches from Dr Auma Obama, Founder and Director of the Sauti Kuu Foundation, and Councillor of the World Future Council, Ms Kehkashan Basu, Founder and President of the Green Hope Foundation and currently the youngest Councillor of the World Future Council, and Mr Jakob von Uexkull, Founder for both the World Future Council and Alternative Noble Prize, who congratulated the awardees for their commitment towards saving millions of lives and protecting critical environmental resources.
In her concluding remarks, the Executive Director of World Future Council, Alexandra Wandel, reiterated a commitment to continue spreading knowledge about these impactful policies. Asked about what theme will be considered for the next award, she revealed that “the topic is decided by our Council that will be having its annual general meeting in October. During that meeting, they will certainly decide on a highly relevant topic. Once the topic is selected, we will, of course, inform our friends and supporters.” Finally, she thanked all partners, supporters, nominators, experts, and consultants who evaluated the policies and other stakeholders who contributed to the Future Policy Award 2021. The Award Ceremony, which included beautiful artistic contributions such as a stand-up speech by comedian and science journalist Dr Eckart von Hirschhausen, a lead-free painting by NY-based illustrator George Bates and a slam poetry by Berlin-based author Naniso Twsai, ended with a beautiful song cover from the Young ClassX, “Imagine”.
This article was written by Benjamin Dosu Jnr, Ph.D., Volunteer of the World Future Council and Research Assistant, University of Lethbridge.
About the Future Policy Award 2021 Brochure
This brochure is presenting the winners of the Future Policy Award 2021 on Protection from hazardous chemicals.
Championing and spreading effective, future-just policy solutions is the principal goal of the World Future Council. Our Future Policy Award is the first award that celebrates legislation and policies for the benefit of current and future generations at an international level. The aim of the award is to raise global awareness about these exemplary laws and speed up action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies. Each year we select a priority topic in which policy action is particularly needed. Some of the key global issues that we have addressed include children’s rights, youth empowerment, food security, agroecology. In 2021, we are awarding policy solutions that protect people, especially children, and the environment from hazardous chemicals. We are proud to present to you the winners of the Future Policy Award 2021 and we encourage policymakers globally to adopt and implement key elements of these inspiring, innovative and effective policies in their own countries, states and cities. The Future Policy Award 2021 would not have been possible without our partners and donors! The World Future Council would like to sincerely thank all of them for their generous support – and all the jury members and nominators, researchers and experts who have supported our evaluation process. We are immensely grateful for your precious work and recommendations.Enjoy reading and do visit our website to find out more about the 2021 Awardees.
Photo © Markus Mielek Future Policy Award
Future Policy Award Winners announced:
Future Policy Award 2021 crowns five best policies protecting from hazardous chemicals
Policies from Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Sweden are this year’s winners of the Oscar for best policies
Geneva, Hamburg, Nairobi, Paris, 29th June 2021 – Five inspiring and impactful laws and policies take home 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. Two Gold winners and three Special Award winners were selected from 55 nominated policies from 36 countries. This year’s 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)
- Special Award “Highly Hazardous Pesticides”: Sri Lanka: Control of Pesticides Act No. 33 (1980, amended in 1994, 2011, 2020) and National Policy and Action Plan on Prevention of Suicide (1997)
- Special Award “Lead in Paint”: Philippines: Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds (CCO, 2013-24)
- Special Award “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 6th July 2021, we will celebrate the winning policies of the Future Policy Award 2021 with a high-level, virtual Award Ceremony. Register at https://old.worldfuturecouncil.org/fpa-2021-ceremony/. Afterwards, the winners will be honoured at the Berlin Forum on Chemicals and Sustainability on 8th July 2021.
The prize is awarded by the World Future Council and is organised this year in partnership with the United Nation Environment Programme (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 Programme (UNDP), and with the support of the Michael Otto Foundation and the Jua Foundation.
“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,” says Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 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. Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) has noted that “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 7 Principles of Future-Just Lawmaking. Jakob von Uexkull, Founder of the World Future Council, 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.”
For more information, please visit
World Congress on Safety and Health at Work 2017
Media & Communications Manager
This project is financially supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the German Environment Agency (UBA):
The publisher is responsible for the content of this publication.
With the support of the Michael Otto Foundation and the Jua Foundation.
Note to Editors
About the Future Policy Award
Every year, the most impactful policies tackling humankind’s most pressing challenges are celebrated through the Future Policy Award, the first and only award that recognizes policies for the benefit of present and future generations on an international level. The aim of the Award is to raise global awareness for exemplary policies and speed up policy action. The World Future Council has awarded this annual prize since 2010 in partnership with UN agencies and the IPU.
About the winning policies for the Future Policy Award 2021
About the World Future Council
The World Future Council (WFC) works to pass on a healthy and sustainable planet with just and peaceful societies to our children and grandchildren. To achieve this, we focus on identifying, developing, highlighting, and spreading effective, future-just solutions for current challenges humanity is facing, and promote their implementation worldwide. The Council consists of 50 eminent global change-makers from governments, parliaments, civil societies, academia, the arts, and the business world. Jakob von Uexkull, the Founder of the Alternative Nobel Prize, launched the World Future Council in 2007. We are an independent, non-profit organisation under German law and finance our activities with institutional partnerships and donations.
About the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) & the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)
About the International Labour Organisation (ILO)
About the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
About the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
About the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)