The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is a system for classifying and labelling chemicals according to their intrinsic hazardous properties. The GHS is one of the cornerstones of sound chemicals management, an issue consistently on the international sustainable development agenda since 1992. In 2002, it was agreed under the United Nations that all countries should be encouraged to implement the GHS by 2008. However, to date, it is unclear where, how, and to what extent the GHS has been implemented and what factors best explain any differences in implementation coverage.

Abandoned chemicals
Abandoned chemicals, Taipei. Photo by Alexander Synaptic

The authors conclude that there seems to be broad support across the world for enhanced international collaboration on sound chemicals management. However, drivers of and barriers to national GHS implementation co-exist, and there is a clear positive correlation between the financial and regulatory capacities of a country and its GHS implementation status. The authors propose that it is possible to increase the global implementation coverage by using a combination of motivational and capacity related strategies.