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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 15 Number 258 | Sunday, 7 April 2019


Third Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group of the International Conference on Chemicals Management

1-4 April 2019 | Montevideo, Uruguay


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Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from Montevideo, Uruguay at: http://enb.iisd.org/chemical/SAICM/iccm5/oewg3/

The Third Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG3) of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) convened in Montevideo, Uruguay, from 2-4 April 2019. Approximately 350 delegates attended, including representatives of governments, industry, non-governmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations.

During the meeting, OEWG3 participants:

  • assessed progress by the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) toward the global goal of achieving by 2020 the use and production of chemicals in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment;
  • discussed the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, when the current mandate of the Strategic Approach is due to expire;
  • prepared for ICCM5, scheduled for 5-9 October 2020 in Bonn, Germany; and
  • considered the planned activities and draft budget of the SAICM Secretariat for the period 2019-2020.

The assessment of progress included updates on activities regarding “emerging policy issues” and other issues of concern, including:

  • chemicals in products;
  • lead in paint;
  • nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials;
  • hazardous substances within the lifecycle of electrical and electronic products;
  • endocrine-disrupting chemicals;
  • environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants;
  • highly hazardous pesticides; and
  • perfluorinated chemicals.

The progress assessment also looked at the implementation of the SAICM health sector strategy.

The OEWG3 discussions of a possible post-2020 framework was based on a discussion paper produced by the Co-Chairs of the intersessional process since ICCM4, in addition to discussion papers submitted during the session, one by the European Union and the other by the Latin American and Caribbean Group, African Group and several individual Asia-Pacific countries, regarding financial considerations in a post-2020 framework.

OEWG3 produced a composite text that will be the subject of negotiations at the third meeting of the intersessional process, slated for 30 September – 3 October 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.

A Brief History of SAICM

The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world.

Origins of SAICM

Although the idea that became SAICM was first raised at the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council in the mid-1990s, it was the Johannesburg Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 that specifically called for the creation of a SAICM and set the goal of achieving by 2020 the use and production of chemicals in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.

After three rounds of negotiations from 2003-2005, SAICM was created in 2006 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the first International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) as a voluntary multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral policy framework to promote chemical safety and support nations in achieving the goal agreed at the WSSD. The framework consists of the Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management, an Overarching Policy Strategy (OPS) and a Global Plan of Action. A Quick Start Programme (QSP) was launched with a Trust Fund to support enabling activities for the sound management of chemicals in developing countries, least developed countries, small island developing states, and countries with economies in transition through 2012.

Key Turning Points

ICCM2: The second International Conference on Chemicals Management convened in 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland, and identified four emerging policy issues (EPIs) for cooperative action by SAICM stakeholders:

  • chemicals in products;
  • lead in paint;
  • nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials; and
  • hazardous substances within the lifecycle of electrical and electronic products.

ICCM2 also adopted a decision on considering other EPIs, established an OEWG to meet intersessionally to prepare for each ICCM, and invited international organizations participating in the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) to consider stewardship programmes and regulatory approaches to reduce emissions of perfluorinated chemicals and to work toward their global elimination, where appropriate and technically feasible.

ICCM3: The third International Conference on Chemicals Management met in September 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya, and agreed to extend the QSP Trust Fund until 2015 and adopted resolutions on the EPIs and engaging the healthcare sector in SAICM implementation. The conference also convened a high-level dialogue to discuss ways to strengthen implementation of SAICM.

UNEA1: Between ICCM3 and ICCM4, the first UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) adopted resolution 1/5 which, inter alia:

  • articulated a long-term vision for the sound management of chemicals and waste;
  • created a Special Programme to help implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, the Minamata Convention, and SAICM;
  • emphasized the need for continued strengthening of SAICM; and
  • invited the IOMC to consider ways to support the SAICM Secretariat.

ICCM4: The fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management held in 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland, reviewed progress toward the 2020 goal and established an intersessional process to maintain momentum until ICCM5 in 2020. ICCM4 adopted the overall orientation and guidance (OOG) for SAICM and added environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants as an EPI and highly hazardous pesticides as an “issue of concern.” The ICCM also adopted resolution IV/4 on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, which initiated the process of preparing recommendations for ICCM5 and directed the OEWG to consider conclusions of an independent evaluation of SAICM.

Intersessional Process

First Intersessional Process Meeting (IP1): IP1 was held in Brasilia, Brazil, in February 2017. Participants engaged in an initial exchange of views and ideas regarding what sort of global platform might be preferable to promote the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

Second Intersessional Meeting: IP2 was held in Stockholm, Sweden, in March 2018. Participants discussed the six elements of a possible future framework proposed by the Co-Chairs of the intersessional process:

  • vision;
  • policy principles;
  • objectives and milestones;
  • implementation arrangements;
  • governance; and
  • high-level political commitment.

The session also heard the preliminary results of an independent evaluation of SAICM.

UNEA4: UNEA4 convened in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2019. UNEA4 adopted a resolution on sound management of chemicals and waste that invited OEWG3 to prepare the ground for relevant ICCM5 resolutions regarding a crosscutting and holistic approach to the sound management of chemicals and waste in the long term, including enhanced involvement of all relevant stakeholders, and asked UNEP to enhance support to SAICM, including with sufficient staff and resources for the SAICM Secretariat. The resolution called on governments and other stakeholders to consider at OEWG3 and during the intersessional process ways of strengthening the science-policy interface for chemicals and waste. It also requested UNEP to prepare by 30 April 2020 two reports that can be considered by ICCM5, on:

  • an assessment of options for strengthening the science-policy interface at the international level for the sound management of chemicals and waste, taking into account existing mechanisms, including under UNEP; and
  • relevant issues where emerging evidence indicates a risk to human health and the environment identified by SAICM, the Global Chemicals Outlook (GCO), and the Global Waste Management Outlook, including an analysis of existing regulatory and policy frameworks and their ability to address these issues towards the achievement of the 2020 goal, in particular for lead and cadmium.

Report of the Technical Briefings

OEWG3 delegates met on Monday, 1 April 2019, for two “technical briefings” prior to the opening of OEWG3. One briefing, hosted by UNEP, featured a “deep dive” into the second edition of the UNEP’s Global Chemicals Outlook (GCO II). The other consisted of a dialogue hosted by the Government of Germany on an improved enabling framework on chemicals and waste, with a view to helping inform discussions planned during OEWG3 on a post-2020 platform.

A Deep Dive into the Second Edition of the Global Chemicals Outlook – from Science to Action

Session 1: Global Chemicals Outlook II – Launch and Overview: Jacob Duer, SAICM Secretariat, introduced the GCO II and reflected on the launch of the Summary for Policy Makers and the Synthesis Report. Introducing the 700-page document, he commended the authors, steering committee, contributors, donors, and partners who made it possible.

ICCM5 President Gertrud Sahler (Germany) expressed hopes that the findings will reach policy makers and the public.

Jacqueline Alvarez, UNEP, explained the projected chemical industry growth and chemicals consumption from 2020 to 2030. She emphasized that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 1.6 million lives are impacted by chemical-related diseases.

Norway highlighted that a robust system is needed to identify and address emerging issues of concern, including microbeads.

Croplife International noted that industry acknowledges the disease burden from chemicals but urged a second look at the numbers.

The European Union (EU) emphasized that business as usual is not an option and encouraged everyone to use the GCO II annex to assist in taking action. Iran, as a member of the steering committee, supported inclusion of needs assessments from developing countries.

Canada added that the group should consider a periodic update of the report.

Côte d’Ivoire, on behalf of the African Group, reflected on how to improve enterprise and social conditions in the region, as they are intertwined.

Greenpeace gave three takeaways:

  • science – the importance of a two-way dialogue and education;
  • money – integrated approach to financing and operationalizing the polluter pays principle; and
  • responsibility – for all stakeholders in financing and beyond to management.

Session 2: Measuring Achievement of the 2020 Goal – Lessons Learned: UNEP presented a summary of findings from Part II of GCO II, focusing on the status of achievement of the 2020 goals, lessons learned, indicators, and reporting framework.

The BRS Secretariat commended the wealth of information in the report and highlighted the need for visibility of work on chemicals management.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) highlighted the increase in percentage of chemicals and waste funding in the seventh replenishment of the GEF.

South Africa noted the need for holistic assessment and improving shortcomings in the implementation of multilateral environment agreements (MEAs) that are legally binding.

The Center for Environment Justice and Development of Kenya underscored the need to communicate to various sectors and outreach to non-traditional sectors.

Madagascar reiterated the need for capacity building for developing countries in relation to the roadmap on implementation.

Kenya urged for more focus on expired and obsolete chemicals.

Session 3: Chemicals Management Tools and Approaches – Taking Stock: UNEP reviewed findings of Part III of GCO II, highlighting advancing hazard assessment, risk assessment, risk management and alternative assessment, and global knowledge sharing and learning.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) discussed various approaches, including mutual acceptance of data to share burdens of filling data gaps.

Sweden highlighted the need to improve knowledge sharing.

The European Chemicals Agency emphasized the need for a circular economy approach.

The University of Cape Town reiterated the need to reach the informal sector, and Kenya highlighted the cost effectiveness of capacity building and knowledge application.

Session 4: Enabling Policies and Action to Support Innovative Solutions: Achim Halpaap, UNEP, presented key findings from Part IV of GCO II, highlighting the vision for green chemistry and creating the next generation of chemists. He emphasized one positive addition to the report that included rights-based and knowledge dissemination approaches for citizens, workers, and consumers of chemicals and products.

Germany, with the Association of Environmental Education for Future Generations, highlighted the importance of incorporating lessons on chemicals and waste management into sustainability education.

The US focused on the importance of collaboration between government and industry on green chemistry and innovation. She suggested inclusion of a SAICM EPI on private sector engagement and innovation.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) began by reminding stakeholders that workers are among the most exposed to chemicals and that in 2015, almost one million workers died due to hazardous chemical exposure. She urged countries to call for increased ratification of relevant ILO conventions. She also emphasized the importance of anticipation of risk and linkages of chemicals and human rights.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), supporting the ILO statement, encouraged the increased involvement of labor ministries in these processes.

Session 5: Scaling Up Collaborative Action Under the 2030 Agenda: Halpaap presented on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 (partnerships and collaborations). Austria suggested that one way to make collaboration successful is to ensure that all stakeholders feel that they gain something in the process. She called for increased language on labeling within the national legislation on chemicals and waste. The WHO called for enhanced health sector engagement in the chemicals management process for 2020 and beyond.

Session 6: From Science to Action – Use of GCO II to Strengthen Chemicals and Waste Management Beyond 2020: The Secretariat highlighted insights from GCO II relevant to beyond 2020, how GCO II supports policy making at all levels, and knowledge gaps.

Sweden highlighted the need to act on existing knowledge, country action, and a platform to address further chemicals of concern.

The EU said issues around chemicals cannot be solved at the regional level.

Friends of the Earth recommended the use of journalism workshops for awareness.

The US reflected on expert networking as an avenue to share knowledge and collaborate on ideas.

The International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) referred to the GCO II annex as a good executive summary, and Kenya said it is important to reflect on what was achieved since GCO I.

The Secretariat reflected on the value of the report as well as on ambition and the need for urgent action and closed the session.

An Improved Enabling Framework on Chemicals and Waste: A Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue

Jutta Emig (Germany) recalled that ICCM4 requested OEWG3 to prepare recommendations on SAICM beyond 2020 for ICCM5 consideration. She said while the paper prepared by the IP Co-Chairs had covered many recommendations in depth, others still needed to be drawn out, including governance. She explained that the German Environment Agency commissioned a team of consultants to prepare a report on governance (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/27) to initiate that discussion.

Neville Ash, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, discussed by videoconference possible lessons to draw from the global biodiversity governance experience, including how strategic plans and targets were set and implemented as well as shortcomings, coordination among related MEAs, the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, and current negotiations on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Alf Wills, Summit Outcomes, summarized the findings of the consultants’ report and the global landscape for management of chemicals and waste. He outlined possible ways for a new enabling platform to improve commitment and profile, including a possible ministerial declaration at ICCM5, and a high-level resolution endorsing the declaration by the UN General Assembly (UNGA), UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), or the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), with a call to relevant intergovernmental organizations and MEAs to fully participate within the scope of their mandates. He posed two key questions for the intersessional process to resolve: how to divide labor between SAICM and broader complementary arrangements, possibly including a new enabling framework; and which forum would be used to facilitate accountability.

The meeting then broke into four smaller groups facilitated by the report consultants to brainstorm on:

  • the division of labor between the successor to SAICM and any new chemicals and waste framework for post-2020 work;
  • routes and fora to facilitate accountability in chemicals and waste work beyond 2020;
  • goals and targets involving chemicals and waste beyond 2020; and
  • the process until ICCM5 in 2020 and beyond.

The groups reported back to the main meeting. Group 1 reported that a number of key or core functions of a post-2020 regime were identified beyond those suggested in the report, such as a science-policy interface, financing, and linkages to the SDGs and SDG reporting. She reported the group believed that the functions should be defined first and then analyzed as to whether SAICM or SAICM 2.0 can achieve them, or if a complementary framework is needed.

Group 2 reported that it had considered more questions than answers, including:

  • what would be the role of ICCM and how to improve it;
  • what would be the linkage with UNEA;
  • how best to maintain SAICM’s voluntary nature while still promoting reporting and accountability;
  • how best to link in chemicals and waste reporting to the SDG reporting cycle under the HLPF;
  • how to promote participation by more sectors, particularly sectors using chemicals; and
  • whether there should be national implementation or action plans.

Group 3 reported that it had focused more on principles and process than content of any objectives and targets, including:

  • full involvement of all relevant stakeholders;
  • transparency;
  • use of indicators;
  • time-bound and viable targets, both for specific sectors and cross-cutting purposes such as gender; and
  • a strong commitment from industry to help with financing and data availability.

Group 4 reported general consensus on the need for a ministerial declaration at ICCM5, but recognized some challenges in its organization. The group suggested that regional cooperation might facilitate the process. The group also suggested that if the UNGA adopts a resolution, it would endorse the declaration, not re-open negotiations on elements. The group also considered whether a technical group should be established to flesh out the post-2020 framework between OEWG3 and ICCM5.

OEWG3 Report

On Tuesday morning, 2 April, Jacob Duer, SAICM Secretariat, opened OEWG3.

Eneida de León, Minister of Housing, Land Planning and Environment, Uruguay, noted Uruguay’s hosting the first Conferences of Parties (COPs) of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, leading negotiations for the Minamata Convention, hosting a Basel and Stockholm regional center, and co-chairing the High Ambition Alliance as examples of her country’s longstanding commitment to international cooperation on chemicals and waste issues. She said international cooperation is crucial for a small country like Uruguay to close the knowledge gaps needed for addressing sustainable development.

Jorge Basso, Minister of Public Health, Uruguay, underscored the importance of involving the health sector in SAICM’s work and the adoption by the 2017 World Health Assembly of the WHO Road Map to Enhance Health Sector Engagement in SAICM Towards the 2020 Goal and Beyond. He said the Road Map is helping his Ministry plan, set priorities, exercise stewardship, build capacity, and take informed decisions regarding chemical substances.

Ariel Bergamino, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uruguay, said SAICM’s progress has not been enough and new threats have emerged that make its work of utmost importance. He underscored the importance of SAICM in addressing chemicals not yet covered by MEAs and in strengthening and promoting dialogue with the private sector. He emphasized that a post-2020 framework must have a financial mechanism, promote knowledge and technology exchange, and build capacity. He closed reminding participants that 2020 is just eight months away and further reiterated the strong and firm commitment of Uruguay to this process.

Gertrud Sahler, ICCM5 President, commended the IP Co-Chairs’ paper (SAICM/OEWG.3/4) for giving an outstanding basis for chemicals and waste management. She highlighted the message from UNEA4 on the need for a comprehensive global framework to foster cooperation among all actors.

Laurentiu Adrian Neculescu, State Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Romania, on behalf of the EU, said that the IP Co-Chairs’ paper provided an excellent basis for discussion and underscored the importance of the UNEA4 resolution on sound management of chemicals and waste and the launch of the High Ambition Alliance. He added that the GCO II gives a clear message that the 2020 goal will not be achieved, business-as-usual is not an option, and urgent action from all is needed.

Tim Kasten, UNEP, stated that SAICM is a cornerstone for the international community to achieve the sound management of chemicals and waste. Although there has been progress, he said, it has been uneven and encouraged delegates to work together for system-wide change and high ambition in the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

Organizational Matters: President Sahler introduced the provisional agenda (SAICM/OEWG.3/1), which delegates adopted. She outlined the organization of work as included in the scenario note (SAICM/OEWG.3/2), which delegates adopted. The meeting endorsed the Bureau’s nomination of Szymon Domagalski (Poland) as rapporteur.

Sahler announced that ICCM5 Bureau Member and IP Co-Chair Letícia Reis de Carvalho (Brazil) had left those positions because she was no longer at Brazil’s Environment Ministry, and she acknowledged and commended Carvalho’s work for SAICM. Delegates confirmed that Valentina Sierra (Uruguay) was nominated by the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) as her replacement. Sahler also noted that Rory O’Neill (ITUC) would now represent trade unions as a Non-governmental Participant in Bureau meetings.

Opening Statements: Zambia, on behalf of the African Group, highlighted the need for an enabling framework that takes into account specific and measurable goals, the multi-sectoral nature of SAICM, sustainable financing, inclusion and transparency, technology transfer, and strengthening the science-policy interface.

Noting significant gaps between developed and developing countries in the sound management of chemicals, Iran, on behalf of Asia-Pacific States, called for further strengthening ongoing activities, providing specific, sustainable, adequate, and accessible financial resources, support by IOMC organizations with adequate resources and more responsibilities, and the application of the extended producer responsibility principle throughout the entire lifecycle of chemicals. He called for considering all options for a post-2020 framework “and choosing the best one rather than adopting any hasty decision.”

Argentina, on behalf of GRULAC, supported a post-2020 vision that is ambitious, timeless, and inclusive while simple, clear, and concise. On scope, GRULAC favored focus on the sound management of chemical products and any associated waste. GRULAC expressed concern that the mobilization of financial resources is not reflected as one of the strategic objectives of a post-2020 framework in the IP Co-Chairs’ paper. GRULAC announced it would propose the establishment of a specific fund for the sound management of chemical products and their associated wastes, which is accessible to governments, the private sector, and civil society.

The Russian Federation, on behalf of the Central and Eastern European Region, said the IP Co-Chairs’ paper can serve as a good basis for OEWG3 discussions, noting several elements are close to being finalized. He suggested that the lesson from the climate change and plastic waste agendas was that in order to receive political attention and sufficient financial support, the chemicals and waste agenda needs to increase its visibility, while having a solid scientific justification, defined cost of inaction, and a message that is easy to deliver to the general public.

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia-Pacific welcomed the opportunity to create a SAICM 2.0 that can deliver effective action on issues of concern. She said SAICM had failed to effectively address highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs), noting a proposal by over 60 countries for a global phase out of HHPs had been blocked at ICCM3, as had a proposal for a global alliance on HHPs at ICCM4. She said discussions on post-2020 should address how a future enabling framework can contribute to developing a legally binding instrument on HHPs.

The International Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Elimination Network (IPEN) said both an upgraded SAICM and an enabling framework are needed, and both should be timeless but include measurable, time-bound milestones, prioritize prevention and precaution, and cover the entire lifecycle of chemicals and wastes. He called for the framework to be adopted at the highest level possible, including the UNGA, be open, inclusive and transparent, and include a financial mechanism that is both new and additional.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP), on behalf of IOMC, said its participating organizations had worked hard to implement activities supporting SAICM. He suggested that a post-2020 framework ensure stronger engagement of all relevant sectors and stakeholders and take into account national and regional priorities and the 2030 Agenda.

The Africa Institute stated that Africa produces only 10% of the chemicals it uses, and requested additional technology transfer and capacity building. He emphasized the essential role of industry to be more responsive and engaged in the process. Africa Institute added that without an adequate financial mechanism, there will not be progress, and urged total commitment from all nations.

ICCA supported the multi-stakeholder nature of SAICM. He further encouraged stakeholders to make information sharing a priority in SAICM 2.0, and mentioned the potential development of a navigator tool to share information on chemicals management.

ITUC urged SAICM to add to the agenda the issues workers face from chemicals exposure. He highlighted that workers have exposure many orders of magnitude higher than environmental exposure.

Health Care Without Harm, on behalf of Health Sector Civil Societies, reiterated the need to integrate occupational safety and health into comprehensive national implementation plans and committed to participating in discussions on the proposed SAICM 2.0.

The Strategic Approach and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020

Independent Evaluation of the Strategic Approach for the period 2006-2015: On Tuesday, President Sahler introduced an advance version of the Executive Summary of the Independent Evaluation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management from 2006-2015 (SAICM/OEWG.3/3) as commissioned by the Secretariat and carried out by consultant Robert Nurick. Sahler noted a “significant delay” in the finalization of the evaluation.

An audiovisual presentation from Nurick was shown to plenary, which outlined, inter alia, the background, objective, methodology, current set up of SAICM, resolutions, and lessons learned for SAICM moving forward. Nurick underscored findings of the evaluation highlighting that the success of SAICM rests on national governments having the political will to legislate for the sound management of chemicals and to ensure that such legislation is fully implemented. He said the full report will be available at the end of April 2019.

The EU expressed regret that the independent evaluation had not been made available for the OEWG and the executive summary had arrived so late, making it impossible for delegations to consider and assess its content in any depth and thus missing the chance to enrich OEWG3 discussions on a possible post-2020 framework. He suggested SAICM had not reached the 2020 goal in large part because it had not attracted the necessary political will and public attention. He also identified progressive disengagement of some organizations and lack of participation by key sectors as SAICM’s problems.

PAN Asia-Pacific expressed disappointment that the evaluation was not ready, and shock that the executive summary did not mention HHPs. She suggested this was symptomatic of how HHPs had been treated at SAICM. She endorsed the executive summary’s recommendations on financing, particularly the introduction of appropriate economic instruments based on the polluter pays principle.

Saying her government looked forward to reviewing the full evaluation, the US said the executive summary supports the view that the post-2020 framework should focus on the implementation of the core management of chemicals at the national level.

The African Group said the executive summary provides a good reflection of the situation on the ground and supported its conclusions, particularly regarding the need to keep the ambitious and inclusive nature of SAICM, ensure sufficient levels of financing, increase participation by the health, agriculture, finance, and industrial sectors, and get governments to legislate and enforce chemicals legislation.

Canada expressed regret that the full evaluation was not available. She suggested certain observations from the executive summary should drive discussion of the post-2020 framework, including:

  • maintaining and strengthening the multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder nature of SAICM;
  • national governments must legislate and enforce existing legislation; and
  • it is necessary to build institutional capacities and monitor progress.

President Sahler recommended, and delegates agreed, to discuss the report in detail at IP3.

Considerations for the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020: On Tuesday afternoon, President Sahler introduced this topic by reviewing the ICCM mandate for the IP as well as IP2’s request that the IP Co-Chairs develop a paper to serve as the basis for OEWG discussion on beyond 2020. Recalling that IP Co-Chair Carvalho had departed, she announced that the Bureau had agreed that Judith Torres (Uruguay) would replace her as IP Co-Chair.

IP Co-Chair David Morin (Canada) introduced the IP Co-Chairs’ Paper on the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (SAICM/OEWG.3/4). He outlined the paper’s organization into vision, scope, principles and approaches, strategic objectives and targets, institutional arrangements, mechanisms to support implementation, and financial considerations, with an appendix detailing proposed strategic objectives and targets. He explained that the Co-Chairs tried to provide not only recommendations for text, but also considerations for participants to bear in mind regarding each topic that reflect the variety of views and opinions raised during the two IP meetings.

He drew particular attention to the sections on vision, scope and principles, and approaches, and presented five proposed strategic objectives and 20 related targets for SAICM 2.0 and possibly for an enhanced enabling framework. He highlighted two areas of divergence: characterization of wastes that would be covered in a post-2020 framework; and the overall objective, i.e., whether a SAICM 2.0 would suffice or a broader platform is also required. He noted several questions for discussion raised in the paper, including setting milestones, how to update targets, how best to ensure high-level political commitment, and mechanisms needed to support implementation.

The French Water Academy asked Morin to clarify a remark about existing resources regarding science-policy interface. Morin explained that several IOMC bodies already provided relevant work, such as UNEP’s GCO and the technical work done by the OECD, so the question posed in the paper is how to take advantage of such existing resources.

Sahler expressed the hope that some elements suggested in the IP Co-Chairs’ paper were close enough to consensus that they could be finalized and sent directly to ICCM5 for consideration and adoption, but acknowledged some elements would likely have to undergo further development at IP3. She also recalled the findings of GCO II and the elements of the UNEA4 resolution addressed to OEWG3.

Germany introduced a paper commissioned by the German Environment Agency, on Global Governance of Chemicals and Waste (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/27), which makes the case for a broader governance platform for the strategic management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 and the process that could be used to establish it. She stated that projections show that the scale and severity of chemicals and waste pollution will dramatically increase by 2030. She urged all stakeholders to increase involvement and noted one obstacle to progress has been institutional fragmentation. Germany, supported by IOMC and IPEN, asked for involvement at the highest political levels, such as the UNGA or the HLPF.

In the ensuing discussion, Japan urged retaining SAICM’s multi-stakeholder approach and voluntary nature. Supported by the US, Japan added that SAICM already adequately covers waste issues. The African Group, supported by GRULAC and Vias Verdes AC – Casa CEM, encouraged a lifecycle approach. He urged further discussion on the financial mechanism and the continued involvement of industry in the multi-stakeholder process.

GRULAC, supported by IPEN, added that long-term financing needs to be timely, appropriate, and use an integrated approach. She noted that national budgets and the industrial sector could help address financing, as well as incentivize mechanisms created by the financial sector.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation emphasized that national implementation plans are critical, as well as time-bound goals and targets for EPIs and issues of concern, with a view to considering creating legally binding instruments if targets are not met. He called for increased transparency throughout the multinational supply chain, for example on carcinogens and POPs. The French Water Academy asserted that a scientific body is needed and could focus on big trends such as urbanization and mining.

IOMC emphasized encouraging joint ownership and responsibility for all stakeholders, including a variety of ministries in government, and that they could propose milestones to demonstrate their involvement in the process. Switzerland added that an enabling framework needs to cover, inter alia, national implementation, capacities, and enhanced commitment from the private sector including downstream actors. Vias Verdes AC – Casa CEM urged that the scope should not be narrowed to include only hazardous wastes, as this could create loopholes and leave out wastes of concern like plastics and POPs. She stated that the post-2020 scope should include environmental integrity considerations and that language on circularity should emphasize a goal of non-toxic circularity.

The Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED) of Nepal highlighted the need to identify mechanisms to control the environmental impact of products and technology marketed online.

Thailand agreed in principle to an enabling framework, proposing the use of the regional centers of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions for capacity building.

Iran said SAICM should remain voluntary and highlighted national implementation, financial assistance, and technology transfer as important to the work of SAICM in the future. He urged for a broadened role of the Secretariat, in particular regarding capacity building, and underscored the importance of regional cooperation.

China highlighted, inter alia: alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a flexible framework, financial support, and capacity building. Colombia underscored the need for sustainable and robust financing as part of SAICM 2.0.

WHO reflected on the value of National Action Plans and improvement of collaboration between sectors such as health, labor, and environment in addressing the negative impacts of chemicals on health.

UNITAR supported a new platform as an avenue to enhance national implementation.

India maintained that SAICM should continue to be voluntary with some existing elements to be retained, noting that EPIs already cover a range of important issues.

Egypt supported an enabling framework and SAICM 2.0, and emphasized the value of knowledge sharing.

Norway reflected on GCO II and relevant UNEA resolutions to enhance involvement of stakeholders.

The Center for International Environmental Law highlighted, inter alia: adequate financing, cost of inaction, inclusion of the financial and investment community, the polluter pays principle, and implementation of industry involvement beyond 2020.

The International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre underscored the importance of green and sustainable chemistry and strengthening private sector innovation in an enabling framework.

Interface Development Interventions underscored partnerships, transparency, resource mobilization, and information sharing in the future work of SAICM.

Sahler announced the establishment of a Contact Group to be co-chaired by Silvija Kalnins (Latvia) and Sam Adu-Kumi (Ghana) to consider the Co-Chairs’ Paper and views expressed during plenary to develop recommendations for ICCM5. She also announced the creation of a Friends of the President Group to be facilitated by Jorge Peydro Azhar (EU) and Judith Torres (Uruguay) to consult informally on the need for a cross-cutting and holistic enabling framework, identify any current gaps in SAICM that it could address, and present any conclusions to plenary on Thursday.

The Contact Group worked Tuesday evening and throughout the day Wednesday and Thursday to integrate the IP Co-Chairs’ paper with:

  • text from an EU proposal on all elements covered by the IP Co-Chairs’ Paper (SAICM/OEWG.3/CRP.1);
  • provisions on financing in a proposal offered by GRULAC, the African Group, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Iran, Oman, Thailand, and Tuvalu (SAICM/OEWG.3/CRP.2); and
  • other textual additions and edits suggested by delegates participating in the Contact Group.

In plenary on Thursday afternoon, Contact Group Co-Chair Kalnins reported that delegates “had taken ownership” of the elements of a post-2020 framework by producing a composite “outcome document” with “clean text” on two of five strategic objectives and the rest of the text providing alternative formulations, with brackets indicating reservations. The outcome document also offers five recommendations to support and/or inform the intersessional process.

The first is to request the IP Co-Chairs, with support from the Secretariat and in consultation with the Bureau, to undertake further work on the following for input to the intersessional process on:

  • other mechanisms to support implementation;
  • additional measures to achieve multi-sectoral engagement;
  • issues of concern; and
  • a review of “principles and approaches” based on input from stakeholders.

The second recommendation is to request the Secretariat to:

  • prepare a report in preparation for IP3 and IP4 of examples of successful mechanisms for cost recovery and implementation of the polluter pays principle for the financing of risk management and risk reduction activities at the national level, including consideration of the conclusions and recommendations of the UNEP evaluation of the integrated approach (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/11); and
  • develop a proposal for a resource mobilization strategy to be presented at ICCM5 for its consideration. 
  • The third recommendation is to take the evaluation of the integrated approach into account when developing post-2020 target and indicators.

The fourth recommendation is to invite UNEP to provide an assessment on linkages with other clusters related to chemicals and waste management and options to coordinate and cooperate on areas of common interest.

The final recommendation is to hold an IP4 meeting

Delegates agreed to annex this outcome document to the meeting report of OEWG3 and request the Secretariat and IP Co-Chairs to address the tasks outlined for them in the recommendations.

The Friends of the President Group also reported back to plenary on Thursday afternoon. Co-Facilitator Azhar emphasized his report to plenary only represents the understanding of the Co-Facilitators of the nature and content of the informal discussions. He reported that the Group held an exchange on gaps in SAICM, and then discussed the need for a crosscutting enabling framework, and possible ideas for institutional arrangements. He noted that some suggested that it might be sufficient to simply broaden SAICM, while others emphasized the failure of SAICM.  He said specific issues raised included:

  • insufficient public awareness and visibility;
  • fragmentation;
  • internal barriers to interagency cooperation;
  • lack of financing;
  • lack of effective action on issues of concern, such as HHPs;
  • progressive disengagement and lack of ownership among certain sectors; and
  • SAICM planning being outpaced by the growth and complexity of the chemicals and waste sectors.

Regarding the need for a crosscutting enabling framework, he said some participants felt SAICM cannot accomplish the task on its own, while others disagreed. As for possible elements of a new enabling framework, the group discussed:

  • enhanced high-level awareness and commitment to sound management of chemicals and waste;
  • a shared vision responding to the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda;
  • strategic planning and distribution of tasks;
  • effective response to global issues of concern;
  • fostering of private sector engagement, including implementation of the polluter pays principle and extended producer responsibility measures;
  • facilitation of overarching and crosscutting reporting; and
  • addressing lack of accountability.

He noted some participants indicated interest in pursuing a high-level declaration at ICCM5, followed by a high-level decision such as an UNGA endorsement.

President Sahler indicated that the verbal report of the Co-Facilitators would be noted in the OEWG3 report. She invited all delegates to take the ideas and views back home to reflect on them over the months until IP3, and come to IP3 with creative solutions to fill the gaps identified by the Friends of the President Group.

The US indicated that it did not feel its views were reflected in the Co-Facilitators’ summary, and asked if delegations would have a chance before IP3 to offer comments on the summary. Sahler pointed out that there was no formal document to comment on, and that delegations can read the OEWG3 meeting report and come prepared to discuss the Co-Facilitators’ summary at IP3.

Timetable for the Intersessional Process Considering the Strategic Approach and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020: On Thursday afternoon, the Secretariat reported that IP3 is scheduled for 30 September – 3 October 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. President Sahler, noting the recommendation from the contact group that IP4 be scheduled, proposed that IP4 be scheduled for spring 2020, with a date and venue to be decided by the Bureau. Romania announced an offer to host IP4 early in 2020 in Bucharest at a date to be confirmed later.

Progress towards the Achievement of the 2020 Overall Objective of the Sound Management of Chemicals

Progress Report for the Period 2014-2016:On Tuesday afternoon, the Secretariat introduced the summary report on progress in the implementation of the Strategic Approach for the period 2014-2016 and an analysis of the 20 indicators of progress (SAICM/OEWG.3/5), as well as the full progress report (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/4) and a number of supporting documents on relevant activities and reports (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/6, INF/7, INF/8, INF/17, INF/18, INF/22, INF/23, INF/26, INF/28 and INF/30). She noted that because of limited submissions from governments and other stakeholders, the progress report had benefitted greatly from the submission of data from IOMC organizations.

President Sahler said progress reports are important for highlighting progress and SAICM’s strengths, but noted many of the SAICM success stories she had heard at regional meetings were not fully reflected in such reports because of low submission rates. Noting that such reports are time-consuming and resource-intensive, she suggested that SAICM may have to consider alternatives to the customary progress report for the 2017-2019 period that is supposed to be submitted to ICCM5. She then invited the 10 IOMC organizations attending OEWG3 to provide updates on their activities.

ILO recalled its:

  • history of setting norms related to chemicals;
  • work on international safety cards;
  • work to assist implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS);
  • relevant ILO codes of practice;
  • publications on issues such as e-waste; and
  • participation in the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint.

She said ILO viewed the beyond 2020 discussions as an opportunity for expanding cooperation with SAICM.

UNITAR highlighted its:

  • work on producing national profiles in chemicals management;
  • technical support for pollutant release and transfer registries;
  • support for Minamata Convention initial assessments;
  • guidance and toolkits on mercury;
  • specialized training and capacity building; and
  • work with the BRS and Minamata Secretariats to launch in 2018 a Chemicals and Waste Platform to share lessons learned and learning modules.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlighted its:

  • Pesticide Registration Toolkit and related guidelines developed jointly with WHO;
  • training in use of the toolkit;
  • assistance in developing regional and national strategies on HHPs;
  • co-hosting the Rotterdam Convention; and
  • proposal to revise the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management.

UNDP highlighted its support to governments for planning for the sound management of chemicals and waste, compliance with MEAs such as the Stockholm Convention, and national capacity-building projects.

WHO focused on its:

  • 2018 report on the public health impact of chemicals;
  • publication on health considerations in recycling lead-acid batteries;
  • work on lead in paint;
  • risk assessments of chemicals in food, water and air;
  • international safety cards, now covering 1,700 chemicals in multiple languages; and
  • launch of the Global Chemicals and Health Network.

UNEP highlighted, inter alia:

  • GCO II;
  • the launch of the Special Programme to help implementation of the BRS Conventions, the Minamata Convention, and SAICM;
  • the Chemicals and Waste in the 2030 Agenda capacity-building project;
  • work with UNITAR to create an online platform for the sound management of chemicals in small- and medium-sized enterprises; and
  • projects implementing the eco-innovation approach supporting companies in developing a new business model that promotes sustainability throughout the entire lifecycle of a product.

The OECD said its SAICM-related work aims at assisting countries in assessing more chemicals in a shorter time period. He highlighted the OECD’s:

  • Substitution and Alternatives Assessment Toolbox;
  • 2018 report on technical aspects of assessing risks from combined exposures to multiple chemicals;
  • work to develop harmonized tools for assessing chemical exposure;
  • new and updated guidelines for testing chemicals; and
  • the recent adoption of an OECD Council Recommendation on countering illegal trade in pesticides.

The World Bank discussed its projects targeting pollution management, its recent shift to more prevention interventions, and its 2018 update of its environmental and social standards applied to all Bank investment projects, which now support a phase-out of lead in paint and the global fight against marine plastics.

On Wednesday, the plenary turned to discussion of whether there should be a customary progress report for the period 2017-2019 to present to ICCM5. Canada proposed that the Secretariat develop a survey for Bureau consideration that would aim at generating a smaller set of more useful data, taking into account IOMC indicators, which could result in a simpler report. The EU did not support a fourth progress report due to low response rates in prior reports, urging that the process be reconsidered and perhaps IOMC data could be used and serve as a baseline to measure progress in the future.

The US supported the approach to streamline reporting through questionnaires and use of IOMC data.

Switzerland requested formulation of policy options to strengthen the science-policy interface.

IPEN did not support a fourth report due to time constraints prior to ICCM5, calling instead for focusing resources on efforts to achieve the 2020 goal as much as possible before ICCM5.

At the suggestion of President Sahler, OEWG3 agreed to request the Secretariat to develop a simple report for the period 2017-2019 and to look at lessons learned to be discussed and reviewed at IP3. OEWG3 also asked the Secretariat to produce a paper setting out detailed options for modalities for reporting progress beyond 2020, using lessons learned and effective examples from other areas, for consideration at IP3, which could draw up recommendations on the matter for ICCM5.

Overall Orientation and Guidance (OOG) towards the 2020 Goal: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the interim report on progress in the implementation of the OOG requested by ICCM4 (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/5), explaining that it provides a review of the progress made to date towards each of the six core activity areas identified in the OOG. She noted that although the Secretariat developed a reporting template to support stakeholders in gathering the necessary information on implementation of OOG action points, the response rate has been limited and, as a result, the Secretariat had to supplement with information and data from other sources. She cautioned the report, therefore, could not be regarded as a comprehensive assessment of progress.

She also introduced the SAICM Knowledge Management Strategy (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/32) launched with funds from the SAICM GEF project. She invited comments from stakeholders on the Strategy by 26 April 2019, as well as suggestions for information and databases for sharing and dissemination through the Strategy.

Noting that there was no SAICM indicator to measure progress in setting up a management system for industrial and consumer chemicals, the OECD drew attention to its proposal for such an indicator (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/18) and offered to develop a baseline report for such an indicator for consideration at ICCM5.

The EU stressed that OOG elements are crucial for achieving the sound management of chemicals and waste. Noting the trends in chemicals and that the 2020 goal will not be met, she called for urgent action by all stakeholders and said the report demonstrated the need for an improved enabling framework beyond 2020.

UNITAR said the GHS is widely recognized as a building block of sound management of chemicals and waste and is recognized as such in the OOG. He noted UNITAR activities in support of GHS implementation. He also reported on discussions with the ILO, the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and others to develop a plan to promote GHS implementation beyond 2020.

IPEN noted its work with UNEP and SAICM on gender and chemicals, and called for companies to increase disclosure on chemicals in products and supply chains.

At the suggestion of President Sahler, the OEWG noted progress made on the OOG. Sahler stressed the relevance of the OOG elements for beyond 2020, and urged all stakeholders to get involved in the SAICM Knowledge Management Strategy.

Emerging Policy Issues (EPIs) and Other Issues of Concern: On Wednesday, President Sahler introduced this item, saying the EPIs have long been an important element of SAICM work that most parties agreed should be retained in any post-2020 framework. She noted difficulties in tracking progress on EPIs and concerns raised about them not being time-bound. The Secretariat introduced the documents on EPIs and other issues of concern (SAICM/OEWG.3/6 and SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/9), as well as supplementary reports on marine plastic litter and microplastics, and lead in paint (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/16 and INF/20). Sahler stressed that OEWG3 should address two aspects regarding EPIs and other issues of concern: a review of progress to date and lessons learned to apply to work beyond 2020.

The EU said greater progress was needed on EPIs, pointing to chemicals in products as an example. She encouraged all stakeholders to intensify efforts to implement ICCM4 decisions on EPIs, and called for clear and detailed criteria for the identification and prioritization of issues of global concern and how to address them post-2020.

The African Group said SAICM sparked action on issues with broad environmental and health impacts and looked forward to robust discussion of a post-2020 mechanism to address such concerns.

Japan said activities on EPIs carried out by IOMC organizations should be carried out based on the availability of resources, and called for SAICM to “more aggressively” check and disseminate information on the status of such work.

Switzerland characterized EPIs as a core function of SAICM it valued, citing work on nanotechnology as a positive example. He called for a more systemic way of identifying current and emerging challenges related to chemicals and waste, and regular updates on the evolution of existing and possible new issues of global concern, through a strengthened science-policy interface. He welcomed the UNEA4 request for UNEP to provide a report on this subject by 30 April 2020, in time for consideration by ICCM5.

Lead in Paint: UNEP, on behalf of IOMC, said that studies have shown that the best way to reduce exposure from lead in paint is to establish legislation, so the new SAICM GEF project will work toward an outcome of 40 additional countries establishing relevant legislation and for the phase out of lead in the production processes of at least 35 small- and medium-sized paint manufacturing enterprises in seven countries. He stated that the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint will also work with enterprises to phase out lead in paint throughout the manufacturing process. He urged countries to use OEWG3 to state their intention to implement legislation.

IPEN reminded participants that lead paint will remain widely available unless strict legislation is implemented and enforced. She stated that there are still 122 countries without legislation, so urgent action is still needed.

Chemicals in Products: UNEP, on behalf of IOMC, highlighted a GEF-funded project implemented jointly with China with a particular focus on textile manufacturers. He also mentioned another GEF-funded project aimed at governments and value chain actors in the building, electronic, and toy sectors to track and manage chemicals of concern.

IPEN described work on data collection and reducing health risks from chemicals in products but said that the major obstacle is that of the private sector not disclosing information on chemicals in products. IPEN, supported by the EU, Health Care Without Harm, and CEPHED, said that there needs to be full disclosure of all chemical ingredients throughout the life cycles of individual products.

Canada supported supply chain transparency, capacity building, and information sharing. Kenya highlighted new national provisions on chemicals in products throughout the supply chain. Health Care Without Harm added that the organization created a list of chemicals of concern, but stated that without transparency, the products that contain these chemicals cannot be identified.

Hazardous Substances within the Life Cycle of Electrical and Electronic Products: ILO, on behalf of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), described the UNIDO workplan for the period 2016-2020 and its work on promoting green purchasing, design for environment, and the tracking of substances along the product lifecycle.

Agenda for Environment for Responsible Development of Tanzania called for action on the lifecycle approach targeting both upstream and downstream components of hazardous substances in the lifecycle of electronics.

Canada highlighted the added value of SAICM in focusing on upstream and lifecycle approaches as well as capacity building, especially for developing countries.

Côte d’Ivoire called for more focus on the informal job sector and encouraged attention on green jobs and strengthening national policies.

Nanotechnologies and Manufactured Nanomaterials: UNITAR presented on this EPI, describing work done since 2009, and highlighting planned work in the future, including regional workshops on nanosafety. He also mentioned OECD work on developing test guidelines and methodologies for assessing consumer and environmental exposure.

Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals (EDCs): The OECD summarized activities on this EPI, which include the test guidelines for both hazards to the aquatic environment and to human health. IPEN emphasized the importance of SAICM as the only international forum addressing EDCs, noting the importance of its continuation.

Norway highlighted knowledge sharing, identification of disrupters, and labelling requirements of EDCs as priorities moving forward.

Canada emphasized continued work on the science involving WHO, UNEP and OECD.

Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceutical Pollutants (EPPPs): WHO, on behalf of IOMC, summarized developments on EPPPs reported in document SAICM/OEWG.3/6.

The EU reported that it has adopted a strategic approach to pharmaceutical pollutants, key elements of which include:

  • identifying actions to be taken or investigations to address potential risk from pharmaceutical residues in the environment;
  • encouraging innovation to address risk and promote circular economy by promoting recycling of resources such as water;
  • identifying knowledge gaps; and
  • ensuring that actions taken to address risk did not jeopardize access to key pharmaceuticals for humans and animals.

The International Society of Doctors for the Environment emphasized the need to address EPPPs from a lifecycle approach and identifying actions to reduce impact on health and the environment.

The French Water Academy urged more attention on the issue of neurotoxins in used water, which could be linked to degenerative brain diseases.

Health Care Without Harm highlighted the issue of antimicrobial resistance and called for ICCM5 to consider policy options through lifecycle approach to end pollution from pharmaceuticals.

Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs): The OECD reported on activities carried out under the Global Perfluorinated Chemicals Group it co-hosts with UNEP, including webinars on alternatives to PFCs, and an updated catalogue of national and regional risk reduction measures. He noted a recently updated list of PFCs finds more than 4,000, which suggest they should be addressed as a class rather than individually.

Noting that PFCs are often called “the forever substances” because of their persistence, that most people have PFCs in their bodies, and that PFC uses are expanding rapidly, Toxics Link India echoed the call to address PFCs as a class. He called for setting time-bound targets on PFCs under SAICM 2.0, such as phasing out all nonessential uses by a certain date, which if not met, would lead to negotiation of a legally binding instrument on the subject.

Norway called for increased efforts to transition to safe alternatives to PFCs because of their persistence, bioaccumulation, high mobility in the aqueous environment, and high remediation costs.

Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs): FAO reported that its strategy focused on regional and national programmes to reduce risks of HHPs, and described projects in Africa and Asia-Pacific. She mentioned possible future action includes the development of a knowledge hub on HHPs and the organization of an international meeting on HHPs in cooperation with the SAICM Secretariat.

PAN International reiterated concern that there is no clear roadmap for follow-up on EPIs and other issues of concern, with HHPs being a prime example. She characterized HHPs as a major failure of SAICM and criticized FAO for failing to organize a multi-stakeholder approach to the issue. PAN Latin America condemned the use of HHPs throughout Latin America, including homes, gardens, and schools. The Association of Environmental Education for Future Generations called for transparent information on HHPs to be included in school curricula and for protection of children to be addressed in legislation.

Noting that two regional meetings had indicated the need for deeper action and promotion of national legislation on HHPs, President Sahler encouraged stakeholders to deepen their coordination on HHPs and combine it with the sustainable development agenda.

Implementation of the Health Sector Strategy: On Wednesday, President Sahler introduced this item, noting the WHO report on the WHO Chemicals Road Map and the WHO Global Chemicals and Health Network (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/10). WHO explained the background on the Road Map and its efforts since 2017 to assist governments and other health sector stakeholders with implementation, and discussed the inaugural meeting of the Network in November 2018.

Delegates welcomed the Road Map and the Network as well as WHO efforts to raise awareness of the Road Map and support its implementation. Several indicated that the Road Map is being used in their countries to plan, set priorities, build capacity, raise awareness about risks of chemical exposure, and take informed decisions regarding chemicals. Several also called for other IOMC organizations to follow WHO’s example in their sectors. President Sahler echoed this suggestion.

Delegates took note of the WHO report.

Financing of the Strategic Approach: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced:

  • a report on the Quick Start Programme (QSP) and its Trust Fund (SAICM/OEWG.3/7);
  • a report of the UNEP Executive Director on evaluation of the integrated approach on financing for the sound management of chemicals and waste (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/11);
  • a report on the Special Programme to support institutional strengthening at the national level for implementation of the BRS Conventions, the Minamata Convention and SAICM (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/12); and
  • a report of the Global Environment Facility (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/13).

The African Group, Iran and Canada supported the integrated approach to financing, but with the African Group and Iran advocating for the CRP they co-sponsored with GRULAC SAICM/OEWG.3/CRP.2). The African Group expressed interest in addressing innovative financing as well as enhancing the involvement of regional financial institutions. The EU agreed that the integrated approach to financing is crucial and added, supported by Switzerland, the need for the increased involvement of industry in financing.

Iran stressed the importance of prioritizing technical criteria, instead of political and other criteria, for cooperation with the GEF. He said that using other criteria to judge partnerships on GEF funded projects only harms the environment in the end.

Canada added that there is a lack of information available to evaluate the integrated financing approach properly and that funding could be expanded beyond the environmental sectors. The US, also in support of the integrated approach, asked for more project and results information to be made available on the SAICM website.

IPEN said that there are currently funding limitations for civil society organizations involved in the process, and suggested that perhaps small grants from the GEF and others, could be made available to these organizations.

Planned Activities and Draft Budget of the Secretariat for the Period 2019-2020

On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced a report on its activities, staffing, and budget for the period 2019-2020 (SAICM/OEWG.3/8), noting that the budget included a provision for a temporary associate programme officer to the end of 2020 and a possible fourth IP meeting in early 2020. The EU asked the Secretariat to give more detail on the need for a new position. The Secretariat stated that at its current capacity it has been difficult to keep up with the work load. The US supported the additional position.

Delegates approved the budget.

Preparations for the Fifth Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management

On Thursday, President Sahler noted Germany’s offer to host ICCM5 in Bonn, Germany, from 5-9 October 2020. She said ICCM5 would not only take key decisions regarding the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, but also celebrate all SAICM has achieved since 2006. She called for ending on a high note after 14 years of SAICM.

Delegates then watched a video message from German Federal Minister of the Environment Svenja Schulze, who noted that the UNEA4 resolution on sound management of chemicals and waste and the GCO II report provided lessons learned, underscored the need for better links between science and policy, and underlined the importance of sustainable chemistry. She pledged that Germany would do everything in its power to provide the medium for ambitious decisions to bring stakeholders into a new era for the sound management of chemicals and waste.

The Secretariat introduced its note on preparations for ICCM5 (SAICM/OEWG.3/INF/14).

The UK announced that it plans to host an expert meeting in London just before IP3 to develop technical indicators on the sound management of chemicals and waste to recommend for consideration at ICCM5.

Several delegates thanked the German government for hosting ICCM5. The US welcomed the UK initiative on indicators. IPEN noted that the Secretariat’s document only addressed organizational arrangements for ICCM5 and not what stakeholders want or expect out of the meeting. She called for explicit mention of a High-Level Segment resulting in a Ministerial Declaration. President Sahler assured delegates that the High-Level Segment will aim at raising the profile of chemicals and waste, most likely through a Ministerial Declaration. She urged all stakeholders to work hard to get their high-level participants involved in preparing for ICCM5 and urged countries to host regional meetings in August and September 2020 to help prepare for the Conference.

Closing Session

On Thursday afternoon Rapporteur Domagalski introduced the draft report of the meeting (SAICM/OEWG.3/L.1 and SAICM/OEWG.3/L.1/Add.1). The report was adopted with some amendments to better reflect interventions by the US on the OOG progress report and by Norway regarding PFCs.

Argentina noted the conference room paper (CRP) on financial considerations that includes, among other provisions, the establishment of a new fund and encouraged all stakeholders to continue working on the proposal, reiterating its view that the fund is not intended to be an additional burden but rather will enable SAICM to capture funds that are already being mobilized for other purposes.

IPEN said many of the ideas presented during OEWG3 will move the process along, such as the application of the polluter pays principle and lifecycle approach, setting time-bound targets for EPIs, and automatically requiring consideration of possible legally binding measures if EPI targets are not met.

The EU encouraged the mainstreaming of the sustainable management of chemicals and waste into all sectors and for UN agencies to enhance support of SAICM. The Asia Pacific Region reiterated the need for technology transfer and financial support for developing countries as this would help with implementation. The African Group urged the robust involvement of the private sector as a key stakeholder and mentioned the conflict of IP3 with the Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC).

PAN stated that SAICM is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions across the world, especially for those who are impacted by HHPs. She stated that double standards should be addressed so that producing countries with bans on these substances do not export the chemicals to other countries.

In closing, President Sahler stated that she knows the reporting is not popular but that it is necessary, and appreciated the suggestion to the Secretariat for a simpler reporting method. She thanked Uruguay for hosting OEWG3.

President Sahler adjourned OEWG3 at 6:29 pm.

A Brief Analysis of the Meeting

Montevideo offered an apt historical backdrop to assess the current state of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and discuss the future of international work on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, when SAICM is slated to expire. As the Uruguayan Environment and Health Ministers reminded delegates attending the third session of SAICM’s Open-ended Working Group (OEWG3), Uruguay hosted the first meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, led the negotiations on the Minamata Convention, and currently co-chairs the High Ambition Alliance seeking an ambitious post-2020 chemicals and waste framework. So it is a fitting place to review SAICM’s journey since its creation in 2006 and discuss the next steps.

Few participants had to be convinced that the goal of sound management of chemicals and waste by 2020 will not be met, or that the growth, breadth, and complexity of the chemicals trade and the shift of chemicals production to developing countries and economies in transition calls for a more robust SAICM 2.0, or even a “SAICM+.” As the European Union noted in the opening plenary, the second edition of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Global Chemicals Outlook (GCO II), formally launched in Montevideo during the week, gives a clear message that the 2020 goal will not be achieved, business-as-usual is not an option, and urgent action from all is needed.

This brief analysis will focus on issues raised this week and options as addressed by stakeholders on the way forward for SAICM or its successor.

What is Done is Done

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth

OEWG3 participants deliberated on what works in the current iteration of SAICM, what doesn’t, and what gaps need to be filled. Delegates were assisted by a technical briefing before OEWG3. During the briefing, delegates had the opportunity to explore a paper, commissioned by the German Environment Ministry, diagnosing current shortfalls in global chemicals and waste governance and proposing pathways forward.

Key findings in the long-awaited independent evaluation of SAICM were highlighted in an advance copy of the evaluation’s “executive summary” provided to delegates on the first day. The lessons learned clearly defined the gaps and shortcomings in SAICM’s work including, inter alia, elevating the political priority given to sound chemicals management, fragmentation, lack of coherence, lack of accountability, and weak modalities of implementation. Most stakeholders expressing disappointment in SAICM’s performance to date cited these as obstacles to making progress.

Most agree that the work of SAICM is important, it has had some successes and that its mandate needs to continue. Nevertheless, “failure” and “slow to progress” were commonly-heard phrases both in and outside of sessions as delegates described SAICM thus far, with many desiring more prominence for SAICM’s issues of concern at the global level to attract the necessary attention, priority in resource allocation, and defined modalities of implementation. “Business as usual is not enough” was a frequent refrain.

But in what form SAICM will evolve is another matter—and one that was the focus of intense deliberations. One proposal called for an UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution to trigger the necessary momentum and increase the visibility of SAICM, another called for dedicated external financing to continue the work, and a third called for a SAICM 2.0 with broadened responsibilities and an enabling framework.

Two approaches discussed could potentially determine the success of SAICM moving forward. One involves seeking a mandate from the top: a high-level resolution to gain the necessary political buy-in and thus the global attention that may lead to more support and resources for SAICM. Or, second, a more concentrated and strengthened Strategic Approach implemented at the national and regional levels that will eventually lead to the much-coveted public attention that SAICM needs.

“At the end of the day, if this doesn’t directly link to any existing frameworks in my country or commitments at the global level, then we simply can’t do the work,” said one developing country delegate.

The processes observed under the climate and biodiversity conventions have clear modalities for implementation, monitoring, and reporting at the national level through nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and national biodiversity strategy and action plans (NBSAPs)—enabling countries to report, apply for funding and monitor progress in a more coordinated approach at the national, regional, and global levels. The fluid and voluntary nature of SAICM does not offer the same.

But stakeholders have been quick to point out that SAICM has all the elements to bring stakeholders together to make progress on identified issues of concern—what is needed is just a more coherent and defined approach to get significant and measurable results, despite it not being legally binding.

‘Tis Neither Here nor There

– William Shakespeare, Othello

Some say that an UNGA resolution or high-level ministerial conference can offer the much-needed impetus to raise the profile of a SAICM 2.0, giving it the political attention and priority on a par with the likes of climate change or marine plastic litter. “If marine litter can gain so much attention, why isn’t this tied to other chemicals and waste?” observed one developed country stakeholder. Marine litter in itself and plastics as a singular issue, although not directly tied to any specific treaty, have received global attention through high-level fora and mainstream media. Some delegates referred to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) voluntary national reviews (VNRs), which give some countries the motivation and opportunity to meet the SDGs and targets—and report back through to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

Many also feel the science-policy interface is important, as reflected in a resolution adopted by the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in March 2019. Experts in the chemicals field are already in the room—scientists, organizations, and private sector—talking and collaborating through work on the different emerging policy initiatives (EPIs). “We need to learn from climate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offered the scientific basis for the policy work of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); we need that for SAICM,” said one developed country scientist. This science-policy interface with many intergovernmental processes has added value in informing policies. Some of the building blocks for a chemicals interface already exist: GCO II provided some an evidence-based foundation for coordinated policy work going forward on the sound management of chemicals and waste, and SAICM stakeholders pointed to it as key to providing a sound foundation for policy making in their own countries.

To Be or Not to Be

– William Shakespeare, Hamlet

To advance the work of SAICM, to raise the profile of issues of concern at the national, regional and global level, resources are needed. Developing countries have called for a focused fund. Private sector and developed country stakeholders are hesitant and reluctant. “We can’t justify another fund to our boards unless there are incentives for us,” said one private sector stakeholder. Developed countries, who tend to provide the necessary financing to start such funds, are not easily convinced either. “There are already funds in place and avenues to pursue funding for this work,” said one developed country delegate. But Latin American and African nations insist that the problems with existing funds are that they do not target chemicals and waste, and non-state actors have difficulties accessing these funds. Developing countries are adamant. “We can’t continue this work without adequate financing,” said one developing country stakeholder.

A complementary “enabling framework” to SAICM 2.0, as proposed through submissions on the future of work on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, although not yet fully defined, might just offer the impetus for financing, modalities of implementation, and the science-policy interface. Such an approach also has the potential to provide an accountability mechanism—whether it is voluntary like the SDG reporting or obligatory like UNFCCC. Each avenue—the treaty based mandatory approach or the voluntary policy framework— can pave the way for visibility, private sector accountability at the national level, a degree of secured financing, and potentially global attention. This is outlined in the initial independent evaluation findings which state: “Ultimately, the success of SAICM rests on national governments having the political will to legislate for the sound management of chemicals and to ensure that such legislation is fully implemented.”

The Game is Up

– Shakespeare, Cymbeline

Most stakeholders want to keep SAICM’s multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nature, which is a marked difference to traditional intergovernmental processes that have a clear division between parties and observers. They admit, however, the multi-sectoral and multi-sectoral approach might in fact hinder progress and pathways of cooperation, as the responsibilities are blurred in the inclusive nature of the process. “What we really need is more concrete arrangements,” said one delegate.

There is broad hesitation to pursue a legally binding instrument, so SAICM 2.0 will likely remain optional for countries, organizations, and industries. At the national level, as long as the reporting requirements are unclear for countries—they have no clear impetus to demonstrate national progress on issues of concern such as high hazardous pesticides, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and lead in paint. So as long as there is no clear reporting mechanism, framework or mandate at the national level for the work of SAICM, the risks posed by the rising use of hazardous substances and chemicals in products to human health and environment may continue unchecked by sound management regimes and practices beyond 2020.

Upcoming Meetings

Basel Convention COP 14, Rotterdam Convention COP 9, and Stockholm Convention COP 9: The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Basel Convention, the ninth meeting of the COP to the Rotterdam Convention and the ninth meeting of the COP to the Stockholm Convention will convene back-to-back.  dates: 29 April - 10 May 2019  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8271  fax: +41-22-917-8098  email: brs@brsmeas.org  www: http://www.brsmeas.org/

11th Helsinki Chemicals Forum (HCF): The HCF is an independent forum aimed at promoting chemicals safety and chemicals management globally. It is organized by the Chemicals Forum Association in cooperation with the European Chemicals Agency, the European Commission, CEFIC and the Finnish Government. Panels will discuss: choosing the best possible risk management option to regulate substances of very high concern; grouping of chemical substances and how to avoid regrettable substitution; how to measure the performance of different chemical management systems; plastics and circularity; and the quality of and access to data on chemicals. dates: 23-24 May 2019  location: Helsinki, Finland  contact: Chemicals Forum Association  phone: +358-40-450-3250 email: helsinkicf@messukeskus.com  www: https://helsinkichemicalsforum.messukeskus.com/

29th SETAC Europe Annual Conference: The 29th Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Europe Annual Conference will discuss emerging research, regulatory developments and the latest methodologies in environmental toxicology and chemistry. The theme is “One Environment. One Health. Sustainable Societies.” Conference participation is expected to be a mix of academia, industry, and government agencies. dates: 26-30 May 2019  location: Helsinki, Finland  contact: SETAC Europe Office  phone: +32-2-772-72-81 fax: +32-2-770-53-86  email: setaceu@setac.org  www: https://helsinki.setac.org/

56th Meeting of the GEF Council: The Global Environment Facility Council will approve projects to realize global environmental benefits in the GEF’s focal areas, provide guidance to the GEF Secretariat and implementing agencies, and discuss its relations with the conventions for which it serves as the financial mechanism, such as the Stockholm and Minamata Conventions.  dates: 10-13 June 2019  location: Washington DC, US  contact: GEF Secretariat  phone: +1-202-473-0508  fax: +1-202-522-3240/3245  email: secretariat@thegef.org  www: https://www.thegef.org/

HLPF 2019: The 2019 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development will address the theme, “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” It will conduct an in-depth review of SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action), and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), which is reviewed each year. Among other items, the Forum will consider the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), which is issued every four years.  dates: 9-18 July 2019  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for SDGs  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/contact/  www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2019

Technical Experts Meeting on Indicators on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste: This meeting will seek to develop technical indicators on the sound management of chemicals and waste to recommend for consideration at ICCM5.  dates: August or September 2019 (TBD)  location: London or Oxford, UK (TBC)  contact: Kay Williams, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)  phone: +44-020-8-0263473  email: kay.williams@defra.gov.uk  www: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs

SETAC Latin America 13th Biennial Meeting: The 13th SETAC Latin America Meeting seeks to promote the interaction among Latin American professionals engaged in environmental science with colleagues from other parts of the world. The theme is “Industry, Academia and Government for a Global Sustainability.” Conference participation is expected to be a mix of academia, industry, and government agencies. dates: 15-19 September 2019  location: Cartagena, Colombia  contact: SETAC North America Office  phone: +1-850-469-1500  fax: +1-888-296-4136  email: setac@setac.org  www: https://sla2019.setac.org/

15th Meeting of the Stockholm Convention Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee: POPRC-15 will review the possible listing of hazardous chemicals under the various annexes of the Stockholm Convention.  dates: 30 September- 4 October 2019  location: Rome, Italy  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8729 fax: +41-22-917-8098  email: brs@brsmeas.org  www: http://www.pops.int 

Third Meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020: IP3 is expected to continue the discussions on a possible post-2020 platform for chemicals and waste.  dates: 30 September - 3 October 2020   location: Bangkok, Thailand  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8273  fax: +41-22-797-3460   email: saicm.chemicals@unep.org  www: http://www.saicm.org

15th Meeting of the Rotterdam Convention Chemical Review Committee: CRC-15 will address perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and related compounds, and other notifications submitted during the intersessional period. dates: 7-11 October 2019  location: Rome, Italy contact: BRS Secretariat phone: +41-22-917-8729  fax: +41-22-917-8098  email: brs@unep.org  www: http://www.pic.int

Montreal Protocol MOP 31: The 31st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer will address, inter alia, implementation of the Kigali Amendment, linkages between hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in transitioning to low global warming potential alternatives, issues related to energy efficiency while phasing down HFCs, and critical and essential use exemptions.  dates: 4-8 November 2019  location: Rome, Italy  contact: Ozone Secretariat  phone: +254-20-762-3851  fax: +254-20-762-0335  email: mea-ozoneinfo@un.org  www: http://ozone.unep.org/meetings

Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury: COP3 is expected to discuss, inter alia, waste thresholds, releases, interim storage, contaminated sites, open burning of waste, review of Annexes A and B, and harmonized customs codes. dates: 25-29 November 2019  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: Secretariat of the Minamata Convention  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email: MEA-MinamataSecretariat@un.org  www: http://www.mercuryconvention.org

Fourth Meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020: IP4 is expected to continue the discussions on a possible post-2020 platform for chemicals and waste.  dates: March 2020 (tentative)  location: Bucharest, Romania  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8273  fax: +41-22-797-3460   email: saicm.chemicals@unep.org  www: http://www.saicm.org

ICCM5: The top decision-making body of SAICM will meet to, inter alia, consider a possible post-2020 platform for addressing chemicals and waste. dates: 5-9 October 2020  location: Bonn, Germany  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8273  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email: saicm.chemicals@unep.org www: http://www.saicm.org

For additional meetings, see http://sdg.iisd.org


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