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Orienting the Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste toward Indigenous Knowledge


Chemical production, usage, and waste generation continue to increase globally, with the negative impacts on public health and the environment being most prevalent in urban and peri-urban landscapes and in areas bordering extraction sites. These impacts are more pronounced for low- and middle-income regions, communities of color, and other vulnerable groups, particularly Indigenous peoples. These disproportionate societal and environmental injustices are exacerbated by the deliberate location of chemical production and waste management activities proximal to these vulnerable communities and traditional homelands, the accelerating pace of production, and the cumulative and unforeseen impacts of inappropriately managed chemicals and waste. In many areas, including parts of developed countries and particularly in the Global South, intersections of environmental justice with unsustainable chemicals and waste trajectories are palpable, especially considering the legacies of economic, social, and medical disparities. In response, the past decade has seen the development of Indigenous Data Sovereignty practices, including innovative protocols for data that affirm and enact Indigenous modes of governance, which can be incorporated within chemicals management practices.

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