The Global Green Chemistry Initiative is a project lead by the United Nations Development Organization in partnership with the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale University that aims to increase the general global awareness and capacities on deployable Green Chemistry approaches for the design of products and processes that advance global environmental benefits throughout their life cycles.
There is a need for innovative approaches to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals throughout the industrial life cycle. Addressing the challenges posed by hazardous chemicals will require holistic, wide-ranging actions and environmentally sound management. Amongst other aspects, innovation, application, and knowledge-transfer of environmentally benign approaches and technological solutions are essential elements of a reduction strategy with a goal of "zero" waste.
One approach to advance the sustainable development is Green Chemistry, which can be defined as the "design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances". As such, Green Chemistry focuses on the inherent nature/properties of chemicals, materials, products, processes, or systems. It is transdisciplinary in nature, encompassing elements of chemistry, engineering, biology, toxicology and environmental science.
Green Chemistry reduces pollution at its source by minimizing or eliminating the hazards of chemical feedstock, reagents, solvents, and products; or by encouraging the invention and innovation of new and non-hazardous solvents, surfactants, materials, processes, and products. This is unlike remediation, which involves end-of-the-pipe treatment or cleaning up of environmental spills and other releases. While remediation removes hazardous materials from the environment, Green Chemistry keeps hazardous substances out of the environment in the first place.
Green Chemistry has been an emerging area of sustainable design since its introduction in the 1990s. While the progress has touched virtually all sectors of society and industry ranging from agriculture to energy to building materials to pharmaceuticals and personal care products and cleaners, these accomplishments have taken place largely· in the industrialized nations of the world. There are only nascent efforts to advance Green Chemistry in a small number of developing countries and economies in transition with the lack of awareness of the mechanisms and the potential of Green Chemistry as the single largest barrier to its broad-based adoption.
It is evident it needs to play a larger role in accelerating inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the future in such way that Green Chemistry can effectively contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, on 25 September 2015, under the frame of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.