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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 15 Number 234 | Thursday, 1 October 2015


ICCM-4 Highlights

Wednesday, 30 September 2015 | Geneva, Switzerland


Languages: EN (HTML/PDF) FR (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from Geneva, Switzerland at: http://enb.iisd.org/chemical/SAICM/iccm4/

The Fourth Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) convened for its third day of discussions on Wednesday, 30 September, in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the morning, the contact groups on the OOG, sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, and EPIs reported back on the previous evening’s discussions. Discussions then turned to agenda items under EPIs and other issues of concern. The contact group on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 met in parallel to the morning plenary session and through lunch.

In the afternoon, ICCM4 resumed debate on EPIs and other issues of concern, addressed activities of the secretariat and the budget, and discussed the date and venue for ICCM5. The contact group on the OOG met in parallel to afternoon plenary, while the contact group on EPIs convened in the late afternoon and continued to work into the evening.

Side events also took place during lunch and in the evening.

IMPLEMENTATION TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE 2020 GOAL OF SOUND CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT

EPIS AND OTHER ISSUES OF CONCERN: Proposal on HHPs as an issue of concern: IPEN said that SAICM/ICCM.4/CRP.4 proposed creating a global alliance, setting a global phase-out goal, and ensuring multistakeholder engagement through involving IOMC organizations. INDONESIA urged taking into account relevant SDGs, stressing the sharing of best practices, filling data gaps and engaging relevant stakeholders. CHINA called on the pesticide industry to show more responsibility in controlling HHPs’ risks. The US said it could not support a SAICM outcome that would develop a list of HHPs or endorse a phase-out. The AFRICAN GROUP, THE PHILIPPINES, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, PERU and MEXICO supported the proposed draft resolution. ARGENTINA underscored state’s sovereign right to regulate HHPs. The AFRICAN GROUP called for focused actions on strengthening cooperation among existing international conventions and developing smart agriculture. VIETNAM, with the AFRICAN GROUP, recommended attention to illegal trade.

Existing emerging policy issues: The secretariat introduced documents SAICM/ICCM.4/9-11, INF/14, INF/16-20, INF/25, INF/27 and CRP.5-6.

Lead in paint: WHO discussed activities of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, highlighting awareness raising campaigns and cooperation with civil society, and encouraging countries to establish or strengthen regulatory frameworks.

IPEN presented draft resolution SAICM/ICCM.4/CRP.6. The EU, MEXICO, the US, and THE PHILIPPINES welcomed the work undertaken by the Global Alliance, with THE PHILIPPINES expressing interest in joining the Alliance. The US, supported by JAPAN, noted its resolution proposal (SAICM/ICCM.4/CRP.12). BRAZIL, CHINA, PERU, THE PHILIPPINES and others outlined national efforts to phase out lead in paint.

The EU called for further regulatory actions. ICCA noted its willingness to support countries and regions. PERU urged local authorities and industry to take more steps in eliminating lead in paint. SWITZERLAND suggested incorporating the US proposal into the IPEN proposal. MEXICO urged standardizing some production processes.

Chemicals in products: UNEP introduced documents SAICM/ICCM.4/10 and 11. JAPAN highlighted a new national scheme for transferring information on chemicals in products along the supply chain. NORWAY, the EU, the US, ICCA, IPEN, and MEXICO supported the programme proposed in SAICM/ICCM.4/10. The US suggested changes to the draft resolution in SAICM/ICCM.4/10, and, with ICCA and USCIB, objected to a secretariat for the programme. ICCA noted that the: success of the programme will depend on: flexibility; recognition of existing initiatives; and participation of all stakeholders. THE PHILIPPINES said the requirements for the disclosure of information on chemicals should be the same in developing and developed countries. IPEN stressed the importance of transparency and financial support for developing countries. INDONESIA called for refining the programme so as to attract all stakeholders, particularly industry. CHINA emphasized that the programme should be gradual and voluntary.

Hazardous substances within the life-cycle of electrical and electronic products: The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) introduced documents SAICM/ICCM.4/INF/18 and 27. The AFRICAN GROUP introduced its resolution proposal (SAICM/ICCM.4/CRP.10). IPEN supported the proposal and emphasized the need to recognize the specific issues faced by Pacific Islands States for e-waste disposal. CHINA, JAPAN, MEXICO, The INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR RESPONSIBLE TECHNOLOGY, and SUSTAINLABOUR supported the proposal.

Egypt, on behalf of ARAB STATES, called for more information exchange, and financial and technical support. The US supported taking note of UNIDO’s update and circulating the proposed work plan to all SAICM stakeholders. The EU supported the proposed work plan, but emphasized linking work on chemicals in products and encouraged close coordination and cooperation among organizations working on both issues. SWITZERLAND underscored stakeholders’ coordination in SAICM and recommended further efforts building on existing work. IPEN called for stakeholders’ collaboration.

Nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials: THAILAND introduced a draft resolution on sound management of nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials (SAICM/ICCM.4/CRP.11), highlighting actions on training, awareness raising, and regulatory guidance. MALAYSIA supported the draft resolution. The UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) suggested referring to other relevant guidance besides UNITAR’s. COLOMBIA highlighted the need for information exchange, expansion of research networks and multistakeholder collaboration.

IRAN supported nanotechnologies as an EPI, but indicated it is too early to set rules or regulations. The EU supported proposed activities and schedules and recommended close collaboration with the proposed chemicals in products programme. ICCA supported work identifying hazardous nanometerials and cautioned against duplicating research.

UNITAR introduced an EPI update on nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials (SAICM/ICCM.4/INF/19). The RUSSIAN FEDERATION reported on a national repository for nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials. BRAZIL requested further discussion on the information clearinghouse in view of the resource requirements for it. INDIA noted that international regulatory guidance may not be accepted. MEXICO and JAPAN supported the proposal, with JAPAN emphasizing the need for more knowledge on assessing and measuring impacts. CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW (CIEL) noted the draft resolution proposes practical ways to scale-up activities and invites the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to continue its support for EPIs resolutions’ implementation. PERU called for more information dissemination.

EDCs: UNEP introduced SAICM/ICCM.4/INF/20. BANGLADESH introduced its resolution proposal (SAICM/ICCM.4/CRP.5). KENYA, OMAN, SENEGAL and IPEN supported the proposed resolution. NORWAY and the EU welcomed the State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals – 2012 report and stressed multistakeholder cooperation.

ICCA opposed listing EDCs without clear scientific evidence and regulatory review. JAPAN asked UNEP to improve its information sharing on EDCs. ENDOCRINE SOCIETY noted itsupcoming scientific statement recognizing EDCs as an international problem and including recommendations appropriate for SAICM. THE PHILIPPINES expressed interest in compiling a list of EDCs in consumer products. INDIA said action on EDCs, given the limited knowledge of their effects, is premature. KENYA asked UNEP to provide a list of institutions looking into EDCs.

Other issues of concern: perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs): The Secretariat introduced SAICM/ICCM.4/9. OECD introduced SAICM/ICCM.4/INF/21, which includes the revised work programme for the OECD/UNEP Global PFC Group, stating that further participation in the Group is welcome and needed. GHANA, with GREENPEACE, emphasized that short-chain PFCs should not replace long-chain PFCs, and that the Group needs to strengthen its relationship with industry to balance the need for company confidentiality with people’s right to know about matters relating to their health and safety. The US, MEXICO, the BRS SECRETARIAT and JAPAN supported the work programme. The EU called for more emphasis on short-chain PFCs.

President Lesiyampe extended the mandate of the EPI contact group to include all EPIs.

ACTIVITIES OF THE SECRETARIAT AND BUDGET

PROPOSED BUDGET OF THE SECRETARIAT: The Secretariat introduced SAICM/ICCM.4/14. The EU stated “in principle” support for the budget but, with the US, urged for further discussion in a contact group. The EU also reiterated the invitation to WHO to finance a SAICM Secretariat post.

The US supported a zero nominal growth budget. IPEN asked for clarification on the use of contributions from industry and cautioned SAICM against engaging only one type of stakeholder. WHO provided additional information on activities to be undertaken by the proposed Secretariat staff member. ICCA confirmed its continued commitment to making contributions to SAICM, supported industry engagement, and welcomed the consultative process on financing options for chemicals and waste. SENEGAL and MEXICO called for a stronger budget. SWITZERLAND requested more clarification, including the purpose of staffing and budget reporting between ICCM sessions.

A contact group, co-chaired by JAPAN and PALAU, was established.

QSP TRUST FUND: The Secretariat introduced the summary report (SAICM/ICCM.4/14). The EU welcomed progress made by the QSP Trust Fund, highlighting the benefits of the QSP for developing countries and SIDS in implementing SAICM.

India proposed a draft resolution (SAICM/ICCM.4/CRP.13) to establish a robust funding mechanism for sound management of chemicals and wastes in order to achieve the 2020 goal.

VENUE AND DATE OF THE FIFTH SESSION OF THE CONFERENCE

President Lesiyampe noted that ICCM5 has been provisionally scheduled for 23-27 March 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland, unless other offers were forthcoming. The EU suggested a back-to-back meeting with the World Health Assembly, if possible.

CONTACT GROUPS

SOUND MANAGEMENT OF CHEMICALS AND WASTES BEYOND 2020: Reporting back in the morning, Co-Chair Niko Urho (Finland) said that the contact group would undertake a second reading of the draft resolution. The contact group immediately reconvened in parallel to plenary for further discussions. Contentious issues included, inter alia: the proposed independent evaluation of the Strategic Approach and its terms of reference; establishing an intersessional process and a working group to prepare options for sound chemicals management beyond 2020; and the membership of an intersessional working group.

To further progress, the Co-Chairs established a “friends of the Co-Chairs” group that met throughout the afternoon and evening.

OVERALL ORIENTATION AND GUIDANCE: In the morning report back, Co-Chair Anette Ejersted (Denmark) reported that a second reading of the composite text had commenced. During the afternoon session, participants reached consensus on “endorsing” the OOG, and highlighting its “voluntary” nature. Participants also agreed on paragraphs referring to linkages between SAICM and the SDGs, and stakeholder engagement

EPIs: Reporting back in the morning to plenary, Co-Chair Silvija Kalnins (Latvia) reported that a clean text on EPPPs had been produced and a bracketed composite text on HHPs had been developed. The contact group resumed its discussions in the late afternoon.

IN THE CORRIDORS

On the third day of ICCM4, delegates continued working on substantive issues both in Plenary and in the three established contact groups. Several participants expressed concern about time allocated to contact groups, as many said that the groups were all far from completing their set tasks, with one participant responding in alarm that “the ‘beyond 2020’ contact group had to establish a ‘friends of the Co-Chairs group’ to try finish its work, and the EPI contact group is facing “an inbox stuffed full of numerous tricky issues.” “And as for the OOG contact group,” he said, “the resolution text is just ballooning with no end in sight, so we may not end up adopting it.” As one seasoned observer put it, “even if we work all night we might not meet the President’s 1:00 pm Thursday deadline.”