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Report of main proceedings for 16 December 2014

2nd Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG2) of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM)

OEWG2 resumed work in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday, 16 December 2014, with reports from the co-chairs of the two contact groups on the OOG and on the SDGs and sound chemicals management beyond 2020. In the morning, the OEWG discussed progress on existing EPIs. In the afternoon, the OEWG addressed the candidacy of EPPPs as a new EPI, and discussed other issues of concern, namely HHPs and PFCs. In the evening the OOG Contact Group met again to review the draft co-chairs' summary of inputs offered by the group, a new contact group addressed EPPPs and a draft resolution on nanotechnology, and a Friends of the Chair Group met on HHPs.

PROGRESS AND GAPS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE 2020 GOAL OF SOUND CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT

OVERALL ORIENTATION AND GUIDANCE ON THE 2020 GOAL: OOG Contact Group Co-Chair Anette Ejersted (Denmark) reported that many views and ideas on the draft OOG have been included in a Co-Chairs' summary that will be reviewed by the Contact Group on Tuesday night before being presented to plenary on Wednesday.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND SOUND MANAGEMENT OF CHEMICALS BEYOND 2020

Luca Arnold (Switzerland), Co-Chair, Contact Group on SDGs and Sound Chemicals Management beyond 2020, reported that the group had agreed on text on the SDGs and chemicals management that would be attached to the OEWG2 meeting report. He said the group also agreed that the topic of chemicals management beyond 2020 should be added to the ICCM4 agenda, but recommended more OEWG plenary discussion under the agenda item on ICCM4 preparation.

EMERGING POLICY ISSUES AND OTHER ISSUES OF CONCERN

REPORT ON PROGRESS ON EMERGING POLICY ISSUES: The Secretariat presented its compilation of information on progress on EPIs and other issues of concern (SAICM/OEWG.2/6) and supporting documents (SAICM/OEWG.2/INF/9, INF/10, INF/11, INF/12, INF/13, INF/14, INF/20, INF/23 and INF/26).

While recognizing the importance of EPIs, the EU urged rebalancing SAICM efforts through 2020 to focus more on establishing the basic structures for chemicals management. SWITZERLAND said the progress report clearly shows that further SAICM cooperation on EPIs is essential up to 2020. IRAQ suggested EPI activities should continue until 2020 and beyond. IPEN said EPIs and work on basic chemical management structures are complementary and not in conflict.

Lead in Paint: WHO summarized on activities of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint since ICCM3, and asked countries to send reports on their regulations on lead in paint. UNEP, with IPEN, said that while the 2020 goal of phasing out lead in paint is achievable, it would require stepping up efforts. UN INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (UNIDO) reported it was launching a technical assistance project on this issue in Latin America.

The AFRICAN GROUP said that more stringent legal instruments and data are needed to accelerate the phase-out of lead in paint. The ASIA-PACIFIC GROUP introduced the resolution on lead in paint adopted at a regional workshop and requested the Secretariat to convey the resolution to ICCM4. 

INDIA said while lead in paint can be regulated, it cannot be eliminated completely. MEXICO called for concerted efforts at local levels, taking into account cross-border movements. The EU welcomed the resolution adopted by two regions and supported the complete phase-out of lead in paint. KENYA called for more paint manufacturing companies to commit to using safer alternatives.

Chemicals in Products: UNEP introduced the draft chemicals in products (CiP) programme proposal (SAICM/OEWG.2/INF/11) to be considered at ICCM4 and said a pilot project will be carried out in the textile sector in China. CHINA noted the challenges for identifying certain chemicals in the textile and printing industries, and called for expert support. The EU suggested organizing a workshop prior to ICCM4 to create further support for the CiP programme proposal. The AFRICAN GROUP noted the lack of basic standards on chemicals used in cheap products. SWITZERLAND supported the draft proposal and underlined the importance of transparency and information along the supply chain.

ICCA, with the US COUNCIL FOR INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS, called for a “flexible and implementable” programme to attract wider engagement and collaboration of industries. IPEN called for companies to undertake proactive chemicals management. The US suggested soliciting further input from industry to strengthen the draft proposal.

Hazardous Substances within the Life Cycle of E-Products: UNIDO highlighted the importance of establishing sustainable e-waste systems. The AFRICAN GROUP and the BASEL CONVENTION REGIONAL COORDINATING CENTRE FOR AFRICA stressed more needs to be done on e-waste dumping in Africa. The EU proposed a second workshop on e-waste.

The ISLAND SUSTAINABILITY ALLIANCE said the OEWG should include recommendations on implementable activities during 2015-2020.

SWITZERLAND stressed the importance of the life cycle approach and green production processes.

Nanotechnology and Manufactured Nanomaterials:  The UN INSITUTE ON TRAINING AND RESEARCH (UNITAR) noted that it will hold three regional workshops on nanotechnology safety in early 2015 and OECD said it is reviewing nanotechnology risk assessment methodologies. The EU stressed that insight into the safety of nanomaterials should be coherent with SAICM work up to 2020.

THAILAND introduced a draft resolution on manufactured nanomaterials and nanotechnology to be submitted to ICCM4 (SAICM/OEWG.2/CRP.2/Rev.2). The US, with CANADA, questioned the utility of a new resolution. CIEL explained the draft resolution seeks to enhance some activities recommended in previous resolutions and JORDAN said another resolution is needed.

JAPAN called for further OECD technical guidance on testing of nanomaterials. The AFRICAN GROUP, with IPEN, stressed the importance of awareness raising, communication and outreach to consumers. MEXICO highlighted the importance of standardized measurements and SWITZERLAND invited the Secretariat to compile existing legal and technical guidance on nanotechnology.

The INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PURE AND APPLIED CHEMISTRY highlighted innovation in green nanomaterials.

An EPI contact group co-chaired by Canada and Jordan was formed to consider the draft resolution.

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: UNEP presented the summary of regional workshop outcomes and responses to questionnaires relating to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) (SAICM/OEWG.2/INF/23), and highlighted the UNEP/WHO “State of the science of EDCs” report and the strategic and policy advice on EDC impacts provided by an UNEP Advisory Group. WHO and OECD reported on EDCs-related activities under their respective mandates.

All intervening delegations welcomed the work done by the IOMC on EDCs. The AFRICAN GROUP, ENDOCRINE SOCIETY and IPEN emphasized the need for more EDC-related information, inter alia on: best management practices; health data; safer alternatives; and environmental contamination. IPEN and the EU noted the high costs of inaction on EDCs. JAPAN emphasized the need to consider the ecotoxicity of EDCs in addition to their health impacts. ICCA noted the ongoing scientific debate on the impacts of EDC.

NEW PROPOSED EMERGING POLICY ISSUE FOR CONSIDERATION BY ICCM4: ENVIRONMENTALLY PERSISTENT PHARMACEUTICAL POLLUTANTS: The Secretariat presented its note on EPPPs (SAICM/OEWG.2/7) and the nomination as submitted by the proponents of the proposal (SAICM/OEWG.2/INF/15).

URUGUAY, PERU and ISDE urged support for putting the proposal on the ICCM4 agenda and for reaching agreement at ICCM4 on making EPPPs a new EPI.

GRULAC, NORWAY, the AFRICAN GROUP, SWITZERLAND, HEALTHCARE WITHOUT HARM, CHINA, REPUBLIC OF KOREA and LIBERIA supported the proposal, with the AFRICAN GROUP requesting a contact group to discuss it further.

While welcoming the proposal as a good basis for discussion, the EU suggested streamlining the focus of any EPPP programme. CANADA stressed the importance of involving national and international experts on both the ecological and health aspects in any SAICM activity on EPPPs. The US said it was prepared to work with the proponents to fine-tune the proposal to ensure it was within the scope of SAICM. UNEP noted some overlap with work on EDCs, and urged using the time until ICCM4 to clarify the scope.

WHO expressed appreciation for the invitation to lead work on any EPPP work, but not alone as some aspects of the proposal fall outside WHO’s mandate.

The EPI contact group was tasked with reviewing the EPPPs proposal.

OTHER ISSUES OF CONCERN: Perfluorinated Chemicals and the Transition to Safer Alternatives:  The Secretariat introduced the progress achieved on managing PFCs and the transition to safer alternatives (SAICM/OEWG.2/6) and noted the establishment of the Global PFC Group led by UNEP and OECD. 

The EU, with NORWAY, supported work undertaken by the Global PFC Group.

The AFRICAN GROUP stressed the need for transparency and data to manage PFCs throughout the life cycle, and said the industry should be held responsible for its products. IRAQ suggested WHO lead awareness raising campaigns on the risks of PFCs exposure. The OUTDOOR INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION expressed interest in promoting future research on non-PFCs alternatives.

Highly Hazardous Pesticides: FAO introduced a non-paper titled “Addressing HHPs -- Possible Next Steps for SAICM.” The AFRICAN GROUP proposed establishing a Global Alliance on HHPs and suggested this proposal be included in the OEWG meeting report. PAN, with CAMEROON, MOLDOVA, JORDAN, NAMIBIA, HONDURAS, GABON, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT ALLIANCE, IPEN, MEXICO, IRAQ, CÔTE D’IVOIRE, BENIN and the GAMBIA, supported the African Group proposal for a global alliance on HHPs. GRULAC, with PANAMA, supported the call for better coordination on the issue.

The EU said contributions from the private sector are of utmost importance for the sound management of HHPs. CROPLIFE INTERNATIONAL described its strategic approach to managing HHPs, noting that it is based on risk and use assessment rather than on hazard-based criteria.

CANADA, with US, highlighted the need for more detail on what additional activities should be undertaken by SAICM on HHPs and requested that a text on HHPs be tabled well before ICCM4. SWITZERLAND emphasized that work on HHPs must complement the work of others such as FAO and WHO. WHO echoed caution expressed by FAO on the risk of creating new administrative structures that may divert resources away from existing work.

A Friends of the Chair Group chaired by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was formed to discuss the way forward on the HHPs issue at ICCM4.

IN THE CORRIDORS

As delegates reconvened on the second day to tackle emerging policy issues and other issues of concern, the temperature in the room clearly rose. With the 2020 deadline fast approaching, some suggested that SAICM should spend less time and energy on EPIs and focus instead on helping countries deal with “the basics” of chemicals management. Others argued, as one participant put it, that “SAICM can walk and chew gum at the same time”. One developing country delegate noted “the clock is ticking” and the path for addressing “other issues of concern” such as HHPs must be sorted out at OEWG2. Yet even some proponents of HHP action admitted it may be a rocky road ahead to getting an international agency to accept the lead on the issue and energetically help proponents find funds for a new global alliance.

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <[email protected]> is written and edited by Qian Cheng, Keith Ripley, Laura Russo, and James Van Alstine, Ph.D. The Digital Editor is Mike Muzurakis. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <[email protected]>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <[email protected]>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV and DG-CLIMATE), the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2014 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Specific funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by FOEN and the UNEP Chemicals Branch. Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <[email protected]>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA. The ENB team at OEWG2 can be contacted by e-mail at <[email protected]>.

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