While chemicals are relied on daily to make society more comfortable and productive, there is a need to protect human health and the environment from their possible harmful effects. The world has often chosen multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) as the tool to do so.
The current global chemicals and waste MEAs should be understood in the context of the last 45 years of intensive treaty making since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, which have resulted in a large number of bilateral, regional and global environmental agreements. These agreements, many of which have become increasingly regulatory in nature, have also targeted issues such as biological diversity and climate change.
This paper discusses Canadian contributions to international environmental law in in the context of the chemical and waste MEAs, focusing primarily on contributions to the development and implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The paper then assesses current challenges and identifies opportunities for leadership in the future.