U.N. Environment Program Executive Director Achim Steiner said broad-based action is needed to address health and environmental risks associated with the industrial use of chemicals.
He said emerging and developing countries in particular are using more chemical products in everything from fertilizers to electronics.
"But the gains that chemicals can provide must not come at the expense of human health and the environment," he said in a statement. "Pollution and disease related to the unsustainable use, production and disposal of chemicals can, in fact, hinder progress towards key development targets by affecting water supplies, food security, well-being or worker productivity."
UNEP's Global Chemicals Outlook calls on world leaders to incorporate chemicals management into social and economic plans. The private sector is encouraged to develop safer practices in coordination with national governments.
The World Health Organization estimates development aid for health-related issues associated with the use of pesticides from the chemicals sector is more than that spent on basic health services.