Summary report, 1–4 October 2019

3rd Meeting of the Intersessional Process Considering the Strategic Approach and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP3)

The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) was adopted in 2006 as a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world. SAICM contains an ambitious goal to achieve the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that by the year 2020 chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health. As 2020 rapidly approaches, governments have been examining progress towards that goal and discussing SAICM’s future beyond 2020, when its current mandate expires.

At the Third Meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP3), participants continued their discussions on possible elements for a post-2020 platform for international cooperation on the sound management of chemicals and waste for consideration by the fifth meeting of SAICM’s governing body, the International Conference on Chemicals Management when it convenes in Bonn, Germany, in October 2020. The goal for IP3 was to develop, as far as possible, input for a “zero draft” for deliberation at the fourth and last IP meeting scheduled in Bucharest, Romania in March 2020.

Among the possible features of a post-2020 platform explored were:

  • targets linked to the draft five Strategic Objectives envisioned for the platform;
  • possible elements of an institutional structure;
  • an enabling framework to encourage higher profile and ambition;
  • ways to enhance multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder engagement;
  • criteria and mechanisms for adopting issues of concern to be addressed by the platform;
  • how to manage the legacy “emerging policy issues” handled by SAICM, such as lead in paint, nanotechnology, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and highly hazardous pesticides;
  • taking stock of progress;
  • creation of a science-policy interface;
  • private sector involvement;
  • creation of a possible fund dedicated to the sound management of chemicals and waste;
  • stable funding for the Secretariat; and
  • capacity building.

During the week IP3 also held four “sector” meetings on health, labor, agriculture, and environment, with a view to identify linkages with other issue clusters and opportunities for encouraging broader participation and cooperation in the chemicals and waste agenda.

IP3 convened in Bangkok, Thailand, from 1-4 October 2019. Approximately 305 participants attended, including 160 representing 73 governments, 115 representing industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia, and 30 representing 21 intergovernmental organizations.

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 that by the year 2020 chemicals will be used and produced in ways that minimize 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, 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: ICCM2 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 Open-ended Working Group (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: ICCM3 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 that, 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 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: ICCM4, 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 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 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 intersessional process Co-Chairs:

  • 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.

High Ambition Alliance: In July 2018 leaders from governments and other stakeholders formed this Alliance, co-chaired by Sweden and Uruguay, which seeks to raise the political profile of the benefits of tackling hazardous chemicals and waste and make it a more ambitious programme.

UNEA4: UNEA4 met in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2019. UNEA4 adopted resolution 4/8 on sound management of chemicals and waste that invited OEWG3 to prepare the ground for relevant ICCM5 resolutions regarding a crosscutting and holistic approach for the long term, including enhanced involvement of all relevant stakeholders. The resolution asked UNEP to enhance support to SAICM, including with sufficient staff and resources for the SAICM Secretariat, and 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.

OEWG3: OEWG3 met in Montevideo, Uruguay, in April 2019. Participants assessed progress toward the 2020 goal, prepared for ICCM5, and produced a composite text on the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020. This text combined a Co-Chairs’ discussion paper, a European Union (EU) paper, and a proposal regarding financial considerations in a post-2020 framework submitted by the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), African Group, and several individual Asia-Pacific countries.

Independent Evaluation of SAICM (2006-2015): Ahead of IP3, an independent evaluation of SAICM’s first decade identified some strengths, weaknesses, and lessons learned from SAICM implementation and made recommendations on arrangements beyond 2020. Among successes, it highlighted progress on some EPIs, notably the establishment of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint, and UNEP’s increased engagement of representatives from the toy, electronics, clothing, and construction sectors that led to a voluntary international programme for information on chemicals in products along their supply chain. The evaluation also identified the QSP as another successful SAICM outcome, with 184 approved chemicals management projects in developing countries over the ten-year period and 70 completed by 2015. Among weaknesses, the evaluation noted, inter alia: delays in launching work on several EPIs, primarily due to delayed funding; slow progress in recognizing highly hazardous pesticides as an EPI; and poor representation of academia in SAICM’s multi-stakeholder makeup.

Technical Expert Workshop on Indicators for the Strategic Approach Beyond 2020: Held 3-5 September 2019 in Cambridge, UK, the workshop brought together 50 experts from 30 countries and diverse backgrounds to discuss what targets and indicators should be used and/or developed for the post-2020 process.

Stakeholder Workshop on Strengthening Governance for the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020: Organized by the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and held 9-10 September 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland, this workshop of 50 representatives of SAICM stakeholders discussed a series of key messages to forward to IP3 on broader governance and institutional issues relevant for international chemicals and waste management in a post-2020 platform.

Report of the Meeting

IP3 opened on Tuesday morning, 1 October 2019. Pralong Dumrongthai, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand, welcomed participants and outlined how SAICM has influenced national policies, action plans, and legislation. While acknowledging SAICM has made significant progress toward the 2020 goal, he noted many challenges have arisen that point to the need for strong governance in a post-2020 chemicals and waste platform. He urged building on the work of OEWG3 to achieve significant progress that paves the way for good ICCM5 outcomes.

Gertrud Sahler, ICCM5 President, stressed how sound management of chemicals and waste is crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), yet politicians do not generally recognize its relevant importance. She noted that the independent evaluation found that the chemicals and waste management gap between industrialized and developing countries is growing. She suggested that cosmetic corrections to SAICM will not suffice and that an ambitious framework for a revitalized SAICM is needed with higher political attention, an enhanced governance model, and independent scientific support in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) model. She encouraged stakeholders to participate in the High Ambition Alliance.

Tim Kasten, Officer-in-Charge, SAICM Secretariat, reminded delegates that ICCM5 is just one year away, and IP3 needs to develop and refine draft recommendations to finalize at IP4. “We need ambition, we need to be bold and we need to push the envelope,” he stated. “We have come far, but we have much, much yet to do.”

Organizational Matters: IP Co-Chair David Morin (Canada) reminded participants of the overall objective of IP3 to develop recommendations for ICCM5 to enable informed decisions on SAICM beyond 2020, and expressed hope that a complete zero draft would come out of the thematic discussions to be forwarded to IP4 for finalization and thence to ICCM5 for its consideration. He stressed that all efforts should be made to remove brackets from the text that emerged from OEWG3 (SAICM/IP.3/INF/1).

Morin added that due to delegates’ concerns, the draft provisional agenda (SAICM/IP.3/1) was adjusted to accommodate three sessions for each thematic discussion. Participants adopted the agenda with the adjustment. Co-Chair Judith Torres (Uruguay) reviewed the proposed organization of work, including the adjusted schedule for plenary and thematic sessions, which delegates approved.

Opening Statements: Argentina, for GRULAC, called for a comprehensive global framework to manage chemicals and waste, with increased contributions from the private sector to ensure access to adequate and predictable resources by all stakeholders.

The International POPs Elimination Network called for measurable and time-bound targets, indicators, and milestones, as well as an ICCM5 Ministerial Declaration to ensure high-level political ownership.

The International Trade Union Confederation, citing poor progress on chrysotile asbestos, as well as continued use of child labor in cobalt mining, stressed that “if SAICM 2.0 is to be voluntary it needs to be much better.” He called for language reflecting that exposure to industrial chemicals is a human rights issue and referencing agreed International Labour Organization (ILO) principles on decent work.

Healthcare Without Harm stressed the need to build on good practices established under the QSP, such as shared standards for the sustainable procurement of drugs.

Poland, for the Central and Eastern Europe region, proposed focusing IP3 discussions on, inter alia, challenges identified in the SAICM evaluation, linkages with the 2030 Agenda, and strengthening the science-policy interface, as requested by UNEA4.

Zambia, on behalf of the African Group, noted SAICM governance structures do not attract high-level political attention, resulting in insufficient finance flows. He also advocated for more impact-oriented targets, milestones, and indicators as well as an effective science-policy interface.

Iran, on behalf of the Asia-Pacific region, highlighted the region’s contribution to SAICM’s goals, including regional information sharing. He noted that post-2020 approaches should take account of the evaluation of progress to 2020. Given widening gaps in sound management of chemicals and waste between developed and developing countries, he urged finance flows specifically for developing countries.

Switzerland said the meeting needs to determine which elements of a strengthened post-2020 approach fall within ICCM responsibilities and which go beyond its mandate. He also noted the need to increase available resources, including for the Secretariat.

The International Council of Chemicals Associations (ICCA) stressed that the private sector has contributed to SAICM goals since 2006. She highlighted efforts to implement the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and enable data portals to strengthen knowledge and information sharing. She stressed that effective regulatory frameworks are instrumental to achieving SAICM’s goals.

Women Engage for a Common Future noted the disproportionate impact of chemicals on women and children and called for gender-disaggregated data as well as financing mechanisms focused on women.

Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals said that it now works with many private sector global brands on a “manufacturing restricted substances list,” taking a life cycle approach to protecting not only consumers, but also workers and the environment.

Saying the sound management of chemicals and waste is of crucial importance, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted it had submitted a measure on ensuring multi-sectoral engagement and invited participation in the health sector meeting to be held during IP3.

The ILO noted its history of work related to chemical safety and safe work environments, its proposal on indicators, and its hosting of the labor sector meeting to be held during IP3.

Stressing the importance of multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder participation in the chemicals and waste agenda, UNEP said the environment sector meeting at IP3 would seek to identify gaps in the agenda and how to bundle resources to achieve common goals.

Reflections on and Outcomes of OEWG3

IP Co-Chair Torres introduced this agenda item, outlining the topics tackled at OEWG3 and progress made.

Reflections of the Co-Chairs of the Contact Group on SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020: The Co-Chair of the OEWG3 contact group, Silvija Kalnins (Latvia), summarized the work of the contact group, noting that the group integrated a paper from the IP Co-Chairs, a general proposal from the EU, as well as a proposal from GRULAC, the African Group, and a few Asia-Pacific countries regarding financial considerations. She stressed that while the contact group discussed vision, scope, and objectives in some detail, targets, principles, and approaches were not covered, and would be addressed at IP4. She noted that the contact group suggested that IP3 begin discussions on several topics not addressed at OEWG3, including:

  • further measures to support implementation;
  • enhancing multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder engagement;
  • cost recovery and the implementation of the polluter pays principle; and
  • linkages with other issue clusters such as climate change and biodiversity.

Torres stressed that the annex on the contact group outcomes included in the report of OEWG3 (SAICM/IP.3/INF/1) would serve as the primary basis for discussion at IP3.

Introduction of Related Papers: The Co-Chairs introduced the relevant documents informing IP3, noting that most of them had been summarized in technical webinars in the weeks before IP3 and the technical briefings conducted the day before IP3, so they would not be summarized in plenary. These included:

  • the IP Co-Chairs’ paper on additional measures to achieve multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder engagement (SAICM/IP.3/3);
  • the submission from the German Environment Agency on enhancing the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (SAICM/IP.3/INF/4);
  • the IP Co-Chairs’ paper on other mechanisms to support implementation (SAICM/IP.3/5/Corr.1); and
  • the IP Co-Chairs’ paper on principles and approaches (SAICM/IP.3/6).

The Secretariat presented a draft report on successful mechanisms for cost recovery and implementation of the polluter pays principle for financing the sound management of chemicals and waste (SAICM/IP.3/7), which was prepared using both stakeholder submissions and a literature review. She invited further submissions by 1 November 2019 so that a revised document could be available to participants before IP4.

UNEP presented its draft report on linkages and options to coordinate and cooperate between chemicals and waste management and other policy agendas (SAICM/IP.3/8), saying its assessment reveals a plethora of common areas of interest in each of the examined clusters, namely climate change, biodiversity, agriculture and food, sustainable consumption and production, and human rights. He said the draft report identified gaps remaining in existing mechanisms for coordination and cooperation and suggested options for addressing them. He invited further submissions by 1 November 2019, so that a revised report could be made available to participants before IP4.

The UK presented the outcome of the workshop it hosted on indicators (SAICM/IP.3/INF/2), noting that it produced key messages for IP3 consideration, chief among them that targets and indicators should be developed in parallel. She also explained how the workshop highlighted targets that are not easily measurable, where existing data exists that can be exploited, and synergies with targets and indicators used in other processes.

Development of Recommendations for Consideration by the Fifth Session of the Conference Regarding the Strategic Approach and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020

On Tuesday, Co-Chair Morin opened the floor for comments on this agenda item. The IOMC highlighted intersessional activities including a governance workshop and urged participants to find a way to ensure balanced participation from all stakeholders in the development of text for ICCM5 and beyond 2020.

Uruguay, along with Sweden, introduced the Joint Statement of the High Ambition Alliance (SAICM/IP.3/INF/14) and focused on key points such as continued support for capacity building, external financing, and an enabling framework.

The EU, also in support of an enabling framework, stated that IP3 should move toward concrete recommendations in line with the SDGs.

Co-Chair Morin reviewed the organization, background documentation, and mandates for the four thematic groups and introduced the co-chairs of each:

  • Targets, Milestones and Indicators (“Targets Group”), co-chaired by Sylvija Kalnins (Latvia) and Wajira Palipane (Sri Lanka);
  • Enhanced Governance and Institutional Arrangements (“Governance Group”), co-chaired by Mohammed Khashashneh (Jordan) and Karissa Taylor Kovner (US);
  • Mechanisms to Support Implementation (“Implementation Group”), co-chaired by Szymon Domagalski (Poland) and Noluzuko Gwayi (South Africa); and
  • Financial Considerations (“Finance Group”), co-chaired by Reggie Hernaus (Netherlands) and Jonah Ormond (Antigua and Barbuda).

The following summary of the week’s discussions follows the expected outline and sequence of the basic elements of the “zero draft” of the post-2020 instrument to be considered at IP4, as currently outlined and sequenced in the OEWG3 outcome document (SAICM/IP.3/INF/1), as well as elements introduced during IP3.

Vision, Scope, Principles and Approaches

These elements discussed at IP2 and OEWG3 were not discussed at IP3, but instead are scheduled for discussion at IP4.

Strategic Objectives and their Targets, Milestones, and Indicators

The five draft Strategic Objectives discussed at OEWG3 were not deliberated at IP3; instead the meeting focused primarily on possible targets for each of the draft Strategic Objectives. Most of the discussion on this topic was handled by the Targets, Group, which met from Wednesday to Friday, although proposed targets C1 and C2 on issues of concern were delegated to the Implementation Group and proposed targets E2 and E3 were sent to the Finance Group. In the first session of the Targets Group, Co-Chair Kalnins outlined a proposed approach whereby the group would focus on finalizing formulation of proposed targets developed by the OEWG3 contact group (as set out in Annex 1 to SAICM/IP.3/INF/1).

General Considerations: Summarizing participants’ general introductory comments, Kalnins articulated the Co-Chairs’ views on how to approach the discussion on targets, indicating these would also inform other groups’ discussions of their specific targets. She noted targets should be:

  • specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goals (SMART);
  • impact rather than process-focused; and
  • formulated to also work as communications tools.

She noted that discussions on targets should not involve formulating milestones or indicators, although there would be scope to reflect on the kinds of indicators that a target might involve. She also indicated that the discussion could reflect on, but should not explore in detail, the capacity to set baselines under a target, noting available data.

Targets under Strategic Objective A, “Measures are identified, implemented, and enforced in order to prevent or, where not feasible, minimize harm from chemicals throughout their life cycle and waste”: These targets were discussed on Thursday. Participants first presented general remarks on the targets as a whole, with one delegate stressing that it will be difficult to reach agreement on this objective unless an international fund is established, as called for by developing countries, to provide means of implementation for the required actions. It was also noted that to effectively track progress under each target, there is a need to identify the requisite legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms for both the chemicals and waste clusters.

Participants also proposed several alternative paragraphs aimed at, inter alia, ensuring more timebound targets, explicitly identifying the roles of key stakeholders such as governments and the private sector, and identifying “custodians” for each target to ensure accountability. One contribution suggested citing best practice from industry, such as enhanced standards in the textile sector, as an example of how to scale up sustainable management of chemicals and waste in the post-2020 framework.

One delegate stated they could not agree to references in a voluntary agreement to developing and implementing an international code of conduct on chemicals and waste.

On implementing the chemicals and waste-related multilateral environmental agreements, as well as health, labor, and other relevant conventions, and voluntary mechanisms such as the GHS, participants agreed it would be important to distinguish required government reporting from any other stakeholder reporting requirements. One participant suggested that reporting on the GHS was sufficiently important to warrant a separate target.

On stakeholders incorporating chemicals life cycle management and waste into their planning, policies, and practices, some participants noted that there might not be a need for a separate target of this kind as it was similar to the proposed post-2020 vision and further that related actions would be difficult to measure. If retained, participants believed that it should be confined to non-governmental stakeholders since governments’ actions would be captured under another target. 

With regard to workplace safety and rights of workers, a proposal was made to link the related targets and indicators to relevant targets under the 2030 Agenda.

Targets under Strategic Objective B, “Comprehensive and sufficient knowledge, data, and information are generated, available, and accessible to all to enable informed decisions and actions”:Opening discussion of this topic on Wednesday, Co-Chair Kalnins explained that the strategic objective had been agreed at OEWG3.

With regard to ensuring SMART targets, it was proposed that language under each target should be brief, focused on the purpose of the target, with details to be highlighted in specific indicators subsequently.

On the difficulty of collecting data on some proposed targets due to privacy considerations, it was proposed that existing inventories be drawn on, such as an inventory of publicly available information compiled by UNEP and ICCA, and an ILO information note for IP3 on proposed indicators for targets across the four thematic streams. Participants noted that access to some information, currently labelled “confidential” by business, is needed to manage health risks posed by chemicals and waste.

Discussions also highlighted missing elements that should be included in the draft text, including on:

  • occupational health and safety and labor standards and participation of unions and workers;
  • developing indicators for two of the proposed targets—addressing information and standardized methods and training on environmentally sound and safer alternatives—that were not identified by IOMC organizations;
  • referring to relevant binding instruments, such as ILO conventions, that could help countries track diseases linked to chemical exposure; and
  • addressing the information needs of low- and middle-income countries that do not have sufficient legislation in place, as well as population groups most at risk, such as children, smallholder farmers, and informal workers.

A participant also called for integrating a target currently addressed under Strategic Objective C, on information-related aspects of post-2020 implementation, in this section.

Kalnins then called for specific input on further refining each of the five targets, including delegates’ insights on elements that might be moved or merged.

Discussing the target on availability and accessibility of data and information about chemicals on the market, participants proposed language to, inter alia:

  • clearly identify which stakeholders should be responsible for generating data and which are the main target groups of such data; 
  • further clarify the scope of required information beyond chemicals on the market, such as production processes and products, and health and environmental impacts;
  • distinguish information required at national, regional, and global levels; and
  • specify which chemicals should be addressed by the target.

In a follow-up discussion, participants provided specific drafting suggestions reflecting, among other elements, workplace training on chemical safety and other human rights aspects, and the need for appropriate labelling and risk information for key user groups, especially at the community level. A call by some delegates to remove a reference to agroecology was opposed by others, who noted that it offers best practices on safer alternatives in food and agricultural production.

Participants then discussed the target relating to stakeholders’ use of appropriate tools, guidelines and best practices for assessments and for the prevention of harm, risk reduction, monitoring, and enforcement. Some noted the challenges for many developing countries in adopting a global best practice and suggested a formulation around “available best practice” or “good practice.” Some suggested substituting “minimization of adverse impacts” for a reference to preventing harm, and it was also suggested that there should be a reference to human rights.

Participants then discussed the target that relates to information and standardized methods’ contribution to improved burden-of-disease and cost-of-inaction estimates and to measuring progress towards reducing impacts. They discussed shortening the text of the proposed target but also adding reference to providing relevant and comprehensive information to the labor force.

In discussing two targets on educational, training, and public awareness programmes on chemical safety and training on safer alternatives, participants offered various alternatives, seeking to merge them. Kalnins informed the group that all drafting suggestions would be incorporated for review by the group later in the week.

Kalnins reiterated the approach to discussing targets adopted by the group would be communicated to other thematic groups reviewing specific targets to ensure coherence in the session outputs.

Targets under Strategic Objective C, “Issues of concern are identified, prioritized and addressed”: The Implementation Group discussed two proposed targets forwarded from OEWG3 as part of its consideration of “taking stock of progress” (see section below):

  • programmes of work including timelines are established, adopted, and implemented for identified issues of concern; and
  • information on the properties and risk management of chemicals across the supply chain and the chemical contents of products is available to all to enable informed decisions.

During an evening session on Thursday, Targets Group Co-Chair Kalnins provided the group with a brief overview of principles for developing targets and indicators. Participants subsequently embarked on a general review of various proposed formulations, as well as alternative targets put forward by stakeholders, with a view to streamlining them further. Among other issues, participants discussed a target establishing a timeframe by which hazardous substances, mixtures, or groups of substances identified to be issues of concern, have been phased out, or are used in ways that prevent or minimize negative impacts on human health and the environment. Other discussions proposed ensuring stronger alignment of targets to reduce pollution from chemicals and waste to agreed language in the relevant SDG target.

The group also listed more than 10 proposed additional targets and indicators for consideration at IP4 and identified categories of indicators that overlapped with other SAICM strategic objectives. In addition, they noted that many of the proposed targets could be further aggregated, notably proposals relating to:

  • generation, collation, and dissemination of issue specific data and information;
  • development and implementation of identified issues of concern;
  • formulation of issue-specific indicators, milestones, outputs, and impacts, as well as monitoring and evaluation tools;
  • securing adequate means of implementation; and
  • developing issue-specific risk management measures.

Reporting back to plenary on Friday, Co-Chair Domagalski said the group was successful in clustering various targets, and differentiating between targets and indicators, and that the updated text would be forwarded to IP4 for further work.

Targets under Strategic Objective D, “Benefits to human health and the environment are maximized and risks are prevented or, where not feasible, minimized through safer alternatives, innovative and sustainable solutions, and forward thinking”: On Thursday, Co-Chair Kalnins invited contributions on proposed targets under Strategic Objective D, relating to companies and industry associations’ policies and practices to promote development, production, and use of sustainable and safer alternatives as well as relating to governments’ implementing policies to promote innovative recycling and re-use of products and adoption of sustainable and safe alternatives.

A number of proposals were tabled for simplifying some of the text, but with a clear understanding of which indicators would underpin measurement of progress. Participants also called for a strong focus on companies publishing innovative and timebound commitments to move to safer alternatives, capturing existing codes of practice, such as those under the ILO.

During the final session on Thursday, Kalnins informed the group that the Secretariat had received numerous alternative texts, but due to a shortage of time, discussion would be continued at IP4 based on a Co-Chairs’ compilation.

Targets under Strategic Objective E, “The importance of the sound management of chemicals and waste as an essential element to achieving sustainable development recognized by all; adequate financial and non-financial resources mobilized; necessary partnerships established to foster cooperation among stakeholders”:Most targets under this Strategic Objective were discussed by the Finance Group on Wednesday through Friday. After an initial discussion held on Wednesday, Argentina agreed to present target proposals in line with the GRULAC/African Group proposals on finance introduced at OEWG3, some to reformulate two targets listed in the OEWG3 outcome document, namely on mainstreaming, and partnerships, networks, and collaborative mechanisms established to mobilize resources. They also proposed two new targets, on mobilization of resources, and narrowing gaps between developing and developed countries.  She said the main thrust of the proposals are to split up components and to make all targets “SMART.”

Regarding the proposed target on mainstreaming, one delegate questioned how to define and measure this concept. On collaborative mechanisms, several raised the issue of accounting for both new and existing mechanisms. Another pointed out that simply measuring the number of partnerships may not be useful, since they vary in quality and effectiveness. One participant suggested a reference to the UN Principles of Partnership, particularly regarding transparency.

On mobilization of resources, one delegate urged a target for covering nonfinancial resources. Another raised definitional issues in some of the Argentine proposals. Several delegates expressed doubts about a proposed target “cost of inaction in chemicals and waste is updated every [xx] years,” questioning whether it was really a target per se and if so, how it could be measured.

The group also discussed a possible target on narrowing gaps between developed and developing countries, with several delegates questioning whether it could be measured in any meaningful way.

One participant suggested that a way to incentivize more robust implementation of core chemicals management could be the establishment of a “tiers of achievement” system similar to that used under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and suggested possible components for three tiers. Several other participants indicated interest in exploring this idea.

Further Work on Targets, Indicators and Milestones: On Friday morning, Targets Group Co-Chair Kalnins introduced a supplementary synthesis document prepared by the Co-Chairs to guide further deliberations on the development of indicators and milestones in the lead up to ICCM5.

Kalnins explained that the text was structured around the strategic objectives assigned to the Targets Group. She said each section first presents a list of the original proposed targets as well as drafting proposals, followed by a matrix prepared by the Secretariat listing, wherever available, information on stakeholders addressed by the target, sources on baseline data and indicators, and custodian agencies for tracking progress. With regard to Strategic Objectives C and E, Kalnins explained that the bulk of work had been undertaken by the Implementation and Finance Thematic Groups, respectively, with the expectation that the Target Group would work on proposals forwarded from these other two groups at a later date.

In the ensuing discussion, several stakeholder groups reiterated that they had made other substantive inputs, including on targets covered under Strategic Objective C, and requested the Secretariat to make them available as reference material. One delegate noted the disparities in the number of proposed targets across the objectives and recommended further work to ensure greater balance and consistency.

Kalnins then invited the group to consider what preparatory work is needed in the period leading up to ICCM5 to ensure a successful outcome. Participants proposed focusing, inter alia, on:

  • further streamlining the proposed targets and identifying relevant indicators wherever possible, preferably under the guidance of an expert group;
  • developing factsheets for each target—modeled on the approach used by the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Targets—explaining the rationale for each target and some guidance on related indicators;
  • ensuring a transparent and inclusive process to further develop the targets during the intersessional period, including through a proposed technical working group to include representatives of all major stakeholders; and
  • clarifying the role of milestones in the process and how they can be advanced.

One delegate opposed a suggestion that intersessional work also prioritize the targets, noting it is beyond the remit of the proposed expert group and that the streamlining process should not seek to develop a “neat and even list” but should assess the merit of each target. Another noted that most of the proposed targets are process oriented and there is also need to develop impact indicators.

Summarizing the discussions, Kalnins said there was clear interest for an intersessional process to further refine targets and indicators and noted many stakeholder groups had indicated their willingness to participate in a technical working group. She emphasized the importance of ensuring that representation on the expert group includes all regions and sectors with a transparent nomination process. Kalnins also noted general acceptance of the need to create factsheets to guide the target development process for the targets.

In a final review of the Co-Chairs’ text, participants shared their preferences among the multiple alternatives proposed but did not succeed in reaching agreement on the language for any target. Concluding the session, the group agreed that the Secretariat would finalize the proposals on the mandate, scope of work, and composition of the proposed expert group for inclusion in the IP3 report.

Institutional Arrangements and Mechanisms to Support Implementation

International Conference: The Governance Group addressed the provisions on the proposed governing body for the post-2020 platform, currently referred to as the “International Conference” in the OEWG3 outcome document (SAICM/IP.3/INF/1).

Frequency: During initial deliberations all but one delegate supported specifying that the Conference should be held every two years. Co-Chair Kovner asked interested parties to consult on the sidelines and suggest possible compromise language. On Friday, Kovner noted that interested delegates had offered language allowing the Conference to meet every second year but with the condition to try, when possible, to coordinate meetings with related chemicals meetings so they occur consecutively. However, a government delegate that had not been involved in the compromise formulation insisted on maintaining the text in brackets.

Functions: The Group agreed that the Conference should oversee the implementation of the post-2020 instrument, and review progress to address gaps at the national, regional, and international levels. Not agreed was whether it would make action recommendations in this regard. The group agreed to the functions of:

  • promoting the strengthening of national chemicals and waste management capacities;
  • promoting, enhancing, and supporting participation by and interaction among stakeholders and sectors in the Conference and in the work programme;
  • moving the strategy forward and setting priorities for the work programme;
  • providing guidance to the Secretariat and to stakeholders on implementation;
  • establishing subsidiary bodies as it finds necessary for the exercise of its functions; and
  • evaluating implementation of activities and reviewing progress against the objectives, targets, indicators, and milestones, and updating the work programme, as appropriate, with a view to achieving the vision.

Brackets remained around text about awareness raising and determining processes to guide action on issues of concern, in both cases because of disputes about the role of science. A provision about the Conference facilitating the mobilization of sustainable finance and technical resources remained bracketed over a reference to technology transfer.

High-Level Segment (HLS): The Group agreed on the possibility of holding a HLS of the Conference. The Group considered the HLS functions and agreed it would engage commitment at the highest possible level. Differences over other possible functions concerned:

  • promoting the inclusion of sound management policies for chemicals and waste in national sustainable development plans and in relevant sectoral plans. Some participants also wanted “business plans” added so the private sector would mainstream such policies;
  • strengthening coordination arrangements and mechanisms and partnerships. Participants disagreed whether the reference to coordination would address only national levels, or all levels;
  • strengthening linkages, partnerships, and coordination arrangements and mechanisms with other relevant aspects and sectors, and with other stakeholders of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at national, regional, and international levels. Participants disagreed whether to include a reference to synergies and specific references to biodiversity, climate change, and human rights;
  • a new proposal on taking concrete action to mobilize financial and technical resources and the transfer of technology, with some parties insisting the technology transfer reference be qualified with “on voluntary and mutually agreed terms”; and
  • a new proposal on promoting international cooperation to assist, as necessary, stakeholders, in particular developing countries, in overcoming challenges they face in the sound management of chemicals and waste.

Bureau of the International Conference: The draft paragraph from OEWG3 discussions was reviewed on Tuesday. A delegate proposed new language requiring regions to select their members and focal points to reflect representation of different sectors, but another countered that regions should be free to select the most suitable candidate(s).

A delegate called for specific numbers to be set for regional appointees, rather than relying on language on “adequately represent the regions.” Kovner suggested that this issue is already clearly defined in the SAICM rules of procedure. She concluded by proposing broadening the Bureau reference beyond functions to read “should have a Bureau in accordance with the rules of procedure.”

Secretariat: The thematic group examined text from the OEWG3 contact group regarding the role of the Secretariat. A chapeau clause was proposed, stating that the Secretariat functions enumerated were “under the guidance of the Conference.” A specific reference to intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations was deleted from the paragraph on promoting the establishment and maintenance of a network of stakeholders, on the rationale that individual types of stakeholders should not be singled out. Language regarding development and dissemination of guidance materials to support stakeholder implementation was amended to delete the requirement for a specific ICCM request. The group also debated, without conclusion, competing proposals that promoting and facilitating implementation refer to either the “beyond 2020 instrument” or the sound management of chemicals and waste.

The agreed functions of the Secretariat include:

  • promoting the establishment and maintenance of a network of stakeholders at the national, regional, and international levels;
  • promoting and facilitating the implementation of the sound management of chemicals and waste, including capacity building and technical assistance, under the guidance of the International Conference;
  • strengthening working relationships with IOMC organizations and their networks, other UN bodies, and secretariats of relevant international agreements in order to draw upon their sectoral expertise;
  • facilitating and promoting the exchange of relevant scientific and technical information, including the development and dissemination of guidance materials to support stakeholder implementation, as well as providing information clearinghouse services;
  • facilitating the meetings and intersessional work of the International Conference as well as regional meetings, and disseminating the Conference’s reports and recommendations;
  • supporting technical, policy, and scientific subsidiary and ad hoc expert bodies established by the Conference;
  • promoting, enhancing, and supporting the participation of all sectors and stakeholders in the Conference and work programme; and
  • reporting to the Conference on implementation by all stakeholders vis-à-vis objectives and targets.

Enhancing Multi-Sectoral and Multi-Stakeholder Engagement: This topic was assigned to the Governance Group. On Wednesday, Co-Chair Kovner opened discussion on the text proposed in the IP Co-Chairs’ paper on this topic (SAICM/IP.3/3). There was a suggestion to convene a workshop before ICCM5 to further develop this text.

Several participants stressed that the development of a strategy for enhanced multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder engagement should not be left to ICCM5, but rather should be developed beforehand and approved at ICCM5. Some suggested further discussing the long text on this subject in the OEWG3 outcome document (SAICM/IP.3/INF/1). The Group Co-Chairs recognized general agreement that a process needed to be started to develop a text for ICCM5 consideration and approval, and suggested that delegates could highlight the key ideas from the available texts.

Several participants supported the idea to have sectoral representatives develop their own relevant strategies to increase efficiency. One view was that thematic group work could intersect with the work on indicators as it could help ensure monitoring and success of the multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach. Several delegates expressed concern about language calling for countries to “have in place legislation,” suggesting this is too prescriptive for a voluntary process.

On Thursday morning the Co-Chairs presented their text. While welcoming the ideas in the text, the group asked the Co-Chairs to operationalize the language. Later that evening, the Co-Chairs presented an edited text to the group. The group finished its first reading of the proposals on Friday afternoon, advancing language calling for stakeholders to submit post-2020 workplans, road maps, action items, and other appropriate contributions to the Secretariat.

Participants requested the addition of “bodies of the IOMC” in the text so as to further strengthen membership in IOMC. Some requested the paragraph remain bracketed for consideration at IP4.

One regional bloc introduced a new paragraph for significantly enhanced involvement of industry and the private sector throughout the value chain. An industry representative expressed general support for the concept, but requested the paragraph to remain in brackets until IP4.

The Co-Chairs created intersessional action items for the delegates and stakeholders to consider ahead of IP4. Kovner noted the main action item would be for relevant stakeholders to develop their contributions to achieve enhanced sectoral and stakeholder engagement beyond 2020 and submit these to the Secretariat as soon as possible. The Secretariat, she said, would then make this information available for IP4 and submit a paper summarizing the contributions, and obstacles and incentives to achievement, to ICCM5. She further directed delegates to try to address the remaining brackets intersessionally and forward them to IP4.

Enabling Framework: This subject, which was not included in the OEWG3 outcome document, was discussed by the Governance Group on Wednesday. The Group started discussion on a possible enabling framework using the German Environment Agency submission on Enhancing the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste beyond 2020 (SAICM/IP.3/INF/4) as the primary reference document, supplemented by the OEWG3 outcome document (SAICM/IP.3/INF/1). Co-Chair Kovner proposed that delegates first consider whether there is need for a holistic enabling framework and how any gaps in the current SAICM arrangements might be addressed by such a framework. While most delegations welcomed the German paper for highlighting key issues and considerations, several urged proceeding with discussion of a post-2020 framework based on the OEWG3 outcome. Several suggested that an “operationalized” text building on the German paper be offered by proponents of an enabling framework for discussion at IP4.

Mechanisms to Support Implementation

This topic was assigned to the Implementation Group.

Issues of Concern: Definitions: On Tuesday, some delegates questioned the focus on issues that warrant “global concerted action,” noting actions as well as impacts are mostly national or regional in scope. However, others emphasized that this is what distinguishes SAICM’s mandate, and further noted the need to focus on issues that are not sufficiently addressed in other processes. Several speakers called for reflecting the concept of life-cycle management of both chemicals and waste, as well as relevant thematic areas such as green chemistry and industrial innovation.

On Wednesday, Co-Chair Domagalski invited participants to consider revised language on definitions. While welcoming the new text as a good basis for discussion, participants had diverging views on whether this text should be included in the main body or in an annex to the document, with a majority calling for it to be inserted in the main document. Responding to concern that a call to include a reference to scientific capacities—previously included as a footnote—in the definition may open the door for unverified information sources, Co-Chair Gwayi explained that this proposal can be considered to be in line with accepted multilateral practice of promoting Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices (BAT/BEP) and promoting international partnerships, including South-South collaboration.

In discussions on Thursday, participants could not reach agreement on proposals to include additional terms, such as scientific capacities or the precautionary approach. Participants also could not agree on whether to use “issues of concern” or “issues of international concern” and whether to refer to “issues of concern” or “issues of interest.”

Criteria for identifying issues of concern: Tuesday’s discussions highlighted criteria for identifying potential issues of concern, including:

  • preliminary work that may be needed if proposed issues do not clearly fit under the criteria;
  • whether it should be governments or all participants who can propose new topics;
  • the need to separate criteria on the nomination process from the issue’s significance; and
  • how to treat issues where there is currently insufficient scientific information, including whether a “precautionary approach” should be taken, and the potential role of a science-policy interface body in this regard.

Participants also raised questions on how to link issues of concern with existing EPIs under SAICM.

On Wednesday, a delegate noted the close link between definitions and criteria for identifying issues of concern and suggested a nomination process based on a few objective criteria, for example the severity or geographical scope of a risk. This, and several other drafting proposals were left bracketed, including: a suggestion calling for footnote text on differing national scientific capacities to be included within the definition; referring to “issues of interest” rather than “issues of concern,” “impacts” rather than “effects,” and adding “associated waste” to references to chemicals management.

With regard to the debate on whether to refer to “issues of interest” or “issues of concern,” Gwayi clarified that both categories of issues were foreseen in the OEWG3 discussions where it had been decided to limit discussion under this theme to issues of concern and to address issues of interest, such as green chemistry, elsewhere, as a component of innovative approaches. In an extensive debate, participants also failed to reach agreement on whether to adopt language referring to, inter alia, international vs global, the precautionary principle, and “effects” rather than “impacts.”

One delegate favored evaluating proposed criteria by assessing if the proposed issue has a significant impact to health, environment and/or the economy, and if it can be solved through human interventions. Noting that the Stockholm Convention process does not list detailed criteria, several participants supported proposals for a minimal set of objective criteria within the definition paragraph, with the rest of the text being moved to the information requirements section.

With regard to calls to delete text mentioning agroecology, those opposed to deletion argued that it offers a useful example of sustainable approaches as a good practice in sustainable food production.

Noting that there was little prospect of reaching agreement at this session, Gwayi urged the group to use the remaining time to formulate clear guidance on the process and possible elements that could be forwarded to IP4.

On Thursday, Co-Chair Gwayi introduced a proposal for updated text on four criteria to be used in identifying issues of concern:

  • possible effects on human health and/or the environment, with a list of toxicities and other effects;
  • if the issue is currently being addressed by existing international agreements under the chemicals and waste cluster or related bodies;
  • if the issue is of relevance in at least three of the five UN regions; and
  • if the issue is currently not recognized, is insufficiently addressed, or arises as a potential concern from current levels of scientific data and information.

Some participants favored simplification to avoid a “shopping list” of specific effects, noting that these are best left to a scientific body. The Stockholm Convention formulation was cited as a useful guide.

The group subsequently considered information requirements for triggering issues of concern. While most speakers broadly welcomed the text, it was not possible to reach agreement on several specific proposals, such as whether to include a reference to biodiversity.

Mechanisms for adopting issues of concern: Regarding implementation modalities, on Tuesday, various participants noted the need for a timely process for identifying new issues of concern to allow for adequate information gathering and engagement of relevant stakeholders. Several participants also emphasized the importance of taking into account the potential evolution of each issue, such as changing patterns in exposure to chemicals. Delegates debated the need for further work on how issues of concern might be triggered, as well as whether a legally binding protocol should be pursued for some issues.

Noting that implementation will also depend on available resources, several called for clarity on whether identification of new issues of concern should be linked to an agreed work plan, as well as related targets and indicators, with others noting the practical challenges of adopting a work plan at the global level. A number of delegates emphasized the need for language calling for new, adequate, and predictable funding to address emerging issues.

During Thursday’s discussions on “Identification, Nomination, Selection, Review and Prioritization” of issues of concern, participants called for recognizing that nominations could be made at both the regional and international levels. The group also considered the potential role of an expert body, in addition to the ICCM or its successor body, in selecting issues of concern.

On whether proponents should identify a workplan at the time of nominating an issue of concern, developing countries drew attention to the need for financial and technical assistance and indicated that the text should remain bracketed until means of implementation issues were settled. Delegates further indicated that the IOMC, in addition to the Secretariat, could contribute to implementation of workplans. However, they expressed divergent views on the modalities of establishing a multi-stakeholder body as well as its role in providing advice in relation to workplans.

Sunsetting: Proposals in the Co-Chair’s text on criteria for “sunsetting” issues of concern elicited a wide range of views, with several pointing out that work on identified issues should only be discontinued if the issue is judged to have been adequately addressed. One delegate suggested that public rather than “polluter” interest should be the benchmark for identifying issues of concern. Noting that it is rare for any issue to be fully resolved, several participants gave the example of lead in paint, where emerging impacts continue to be identified, despite the significant progress achieved. One delegate suggested criteria development for assessing progress that “avoids sunsetting.” Others pointed to existing EPIs, with one noting that SAICM’s mandate goes beyond management to addressing and minimizing chemical risks throughout the life cycle. However, some delegates expressed the view that it may not be operationally or financially viable to continue to add issues to the SAICM agenda without a prioritization method.

Legacy emerging policy issues: On Thursday, the group held an exchange of views on how to treat existing EPIs under the SAICM agenda. One speaker, citing the GCO, asserted that little headway had been made in addressing existing EPIs and proposed the transition to a new post-2020 framework offered a good moment to explore how to address them in future.

Many in the group felt that the EPIs are still relevant and that exploring efforts to scale up action could not only enhance their impact, but could also help inform implementation on new issues of concern. Other delegates, noting limited SAICM capacity to deal with an expanding mandate, emphasized that a decision should be left to ICCM5 and should be based on an evaluation to determine “whether to sunset or continue current EPIs.” Another contributor stressed that participation in EPIs should be voluntary to ensure that sufficient resources are devoted to new issues identified by ICCM5.

Several proposals on how to deal with EPIs were highlighted, including the SAICM evaluation, proposals from NGOs on a set of criteria to assess progress, and an IP3 side event on issues of concern. Ongoing work by UNEP to assess the way forward on EPIs as input to IP4 was also noted.

Reporting back to the plenary on Friday morning, Domagalski said that while no consensus was reached on an approach for identifying issues of interest and the relationship with existing EPIs, the group laid a good foundation for IP4. He informed the plenary that additional contributions from stakeholders would be included in the final report forwarded to IP4.

Taking Stock of Progress: This topic was discussed in the Implementation Group. In initial discussion on Tuesday, many participants pointed to the lack of clearly defined targets, indicators, and milestones, as well as a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities of various institutions and stakeholders. The Co-Chairs clarified that the discussions should also take into account proposals contained in several working documents, notably on two targets proposed as part of the intersessional consultations. Several called for a multi-stakeholder process to further refine guidance on progress as well as on impact indicators.

On the way forward, a number of speakers favored a greater focus on monitoring and evaluation to assess whether sufficient progress is being made on specific issues, recommending further actions. One delegate called for a greater role for a science-policy interface in this process. Another suggested further work to be carried out by an expert group after ICCM5.

On Wednesday, Co-Chair Gwayi invited participants to discuss proposed text on mechanisms to take stock of progress (SAICM/IP.3/5/Corr.1). Delegates welcomed the approach, outlining how progress could be tracked post-2020, but flagged several issues they wanted to see addressed in a future revised text.

On the timing of reviews of countries’ progress, developing country delegates proposed a longer four-five year timeline, while developed country participants expressed concern about the resources used on such reviews detracting from direct action to address chemicals impacts.

The group also considered how the proposed text should clarify that progress towards both strategic objectives and targets would be tracked, supported by appropriate indicators, and that it would include a focus on impact assessment. They stressed that while strategic objectives would be fixed for some time, targets could be more flexible, hopefully reflecting progress made. Participants also pointed to a need for relevant targets from related international conventions to be tracked as a measure of progress, in part to achieve synergies, and for peer review to be referenced as a valuable way to track progress.

On the inclusion of voluntarily established targets, milestones, or pledges from civil society organizations and industry (and other stakeholder reporting processes), participants considered these needed to be clearly distinguished from the formal targets being discussed by the thematic groups this week.

Science-Policy Interface: This topic was discussed during the week in the Implementation Group. The Co-Chairs noted the draft assessment by UNEP (SAICM/IP.3/INF/9). UNEP advised participants that the paper would be available in advance of IP4. Many participants supported the establishment of such a body as it can achieve significant political reach and reduce the burden of establishing similar bodies at the national level. A number said it would be sensible to keep costs down by having a strong focus on key issues, noting high costs of bodies like IPCC and IPBES. A few delegates opposed establishment of such a body as creating another administrative layer and suggested instead leveraging existing networks of scientists and workstreams, for example through the WHO and the Stockholm Convention.

On Thursday, Domagalski introduced the Co-Chairs’ summary of Wednesday’s discussions. He noted the group proposed a number of options for addressing current gaps with respect to strengthening the science-policy interface in the post-2020 context. Among other proposals, he highlighted calls for establishing a body or structure that plays a similar role to the IPCC and IPBES, while noting concern expressed by others that resources are not diverted from existing scientific and implementation bodies. He also noted views that such a body may not necessarily address the lack of political will to act on the available scientific evidence.

In the ensuing discussion some delegates reiterated their concern about the costs of a science-policy interface and called for a “realistic approach” in managing the body. Others called for recognition of the benefits, not just the costs, of a science-policy interface. With regard to managing conflict of interest, reference was made to the process used in the WHO. The discussions concluded with a brief exchange on engaging academia in the science-policy interface.

Reporting back to plenary on Friday morning, Domagalski explained that a summary of the discussions prepared by the Co-Chairs will be included in the report of meeting. He further noted that the group did not have adequate time to explore the topic of academia engagement in the science-policy interface and this would need to be taken up at IP4.

Other Mechanisms to Support Implementation

On Friday morning in plenary, Domagalski said the Implementation Group held a short exchange on additional work, including on capacity building and for updating the instrument over time (SAICM/IPC.3/5 Corr.1). Participants did not manage to review proposals on options for modalities to assess progress beyond 2020 (SAICM/IPC.3/10) due to lack of time.

Financial Considerations

All financial issues were handled by the Finance Group.

On Wednesday, in discussing the OEWG3 outcome document (SAICM/IP.3/INF/1), Co-Chair Hernaus focused on the first bracketed text in the annex on financial considerations, which tied beyond 2020 to the 2030 Agenda. Several participants highlighted the crucial linkages to the 2030 Agenda, especially regarding financing as, they said, large amounts of financing are available under the SDGs and this language would allow SAICM to have additional financing for the sound management of chemicals and waste. Some participants stated that the integrated approach to financing is better stated elsewhere in the document and therefore wanted to retain the brackets.

Integrated Approach to Financing: On Tuesday, the group briefly discussed the subsection from the OEWG3 outcome document on the integrated approach, most of which did not have brackets. Deliberations revolved around whether to include a reference to achieving the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, and gaps in the sound management of chemicals and waste between developed and developing countries. Both references remain bracketed.

Mainstreaming: On Wednesday, the group examined brackets around “may, will, or should” regarding increasing development assistance for mainstreaming. Two developed countries supported the use of “may” and several developing country blocs supported the stronger language of “should” to better encourage mainstreaming plans in determining development financing.

One participant suggested an additional paragraph stating: “Developed countries should ensure that the sound management of chemicals and waste is mainstreamed into their development aid policies. Governing bodies of international, regional, and national development banks should be encouraged to also expressly integrate sound management of chemicals and waste activities in the scope of activities they fund.”

He added that this will mirror the prior paragraph directed to developing countries in order to encourage donor countries and development banks to prioritize mainstreaming in their aid packages. Some participants felt this new paragraph would be better suited in sections on core financing. Co-Chair Hernaus suggested retaining brackets around the new suggested paragraph on developed countries for later consideration.

Private-Sector Involvement: On Wednesday, Co-Chair Hernaus directed discussions to the bracketed paragraph on asking the financial sector to develop guidance for investing in companies that have chemicals management schemes. One participant suggested deleting the second half of the sentence on loan criteria for sustainable banking. A developed country participant, as well as a private sector representative, supported deletion of the entire paragraph, stating it is unclear as to whom the paragraph is directed.

Another participant, reminding the group of the multi-sectoral nature of SAICM, supported retaining the paragraph as essential for engaging the financial sector and that investment can drive sustainable chemicals and waste management practices. Co-Chair Hernaus asked interested participants to confer in a small group and bring back compromise text later in the week. On Friday, the thematic group attempted to clean the text, but several participants were unwilling to give up their proposals on key points of contention, including: whether to refer to the polluter pays principle or a polluter pays approach; language on cost recovery and cost shifting; and a reference to compliance with extended producer responsibility.

Dedicated External Financing: On Wednesday, Co-Chair Ormond introduced the bracketed text in paragraphs on the GRULAC/African Group proposal from OEWG3 for a new international fund dedicated to the sound management of chemicals and waste. A proponent of the creation of a new fund explained that currently the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and its Special Programme are not capable of receiving funds from the private sector or philanthropists and thus a separate fund would allow SAICM to capture more financing for implementation. Some participants agreed with the need to capture some of the additional funds, while others stated that existing language on financing in the document is sufficient. Seeing no agreement, Ormond asked multiple participants to create compromise text for further discussion later in the week.

On Thursday, the small drafting group reported back that they had fruitful discussions but limited progress in resolving differences. Several donor countries expressed preference for strengthening existing funding mechanisms, such as through the GEF Special Programme, rather than creating a new fund. One questioned whether the Conference even has the legal competency to mandate creation of such a fund. Fund proponents suggested current mechanism are inadequate and do not allow for contributions from the private sector, however a Secretariat member for the Special Programme corrected that private sector contributions are allowed and welcomed. Several government delegates said they needed more time to review the proposal with their capitals. Fund proponents expressed disappointment that the same thing had been stated at OEWG3 but some participants still are not prepared to discuss the proposal in detail. They requested in-depth discussion at IP4.

Funding for the Secretariat: This issue was discussed by Finance Group on Tuesday and Friday. Discussion began based on a proposal co-sponsored by Switzerland and Norway (SAICM/IP.3/CRP.1), which noted that the independent evaluation emphasized a key problem with SAICM was a budget and staff shortfall. They explained that the proposed text suggested ideas for how governments, intergovernmental organizations, and the private sector could help cover the funding shortfalls. After initial discussion, Norway and Switzerland were asked to develop “operationalized” language putting the ideas into a form that could be recommended to ICCM5. On Friday, the group examined the new language offered by the proponents, including paragraphs on the core budget for beyond 2020. Several delegates noted that they would need this new language bracketed for discussion at IP4. One regional group added that the financial contributions to the Secretariat should be from all stakeholders, not just governments, as this is a multi-stakeholder body.

Capacity Building

This issue was assigned to the Finance Group. On Friday, the Co-Chairs presented an informal paper proposing principles regarding capacity building, including:

integrating capacity building into all relevant aspects of the outcome of the beyond 2020 process, in line with priorities decided by the governing body for the post-2020 regime;

  • a country-driven process;
  • a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach;
  • North-South and South-South networking and sharing of experiences;
  • collaborating with existing initiatives to fill gaps and build upon their work while avoiding duplication;
  • recognition and sharing of knowledge and expertise within and among regions;
  • full and effective participation of all stakeholders and balanced regional representation and participation; and
  • gender equity.

Co-Chair Hernaus noted that it is not yet decided where in the zero draft the topic of capacity building would reside, but the issue will be debated at a later stage. Most interventions hailed the paper “as a good start” but noted it needs to be “operationalized” in the form of draft recommendations. One participant suggested proceeding toward that end by borrowing text from the SAICM Overarching Policy Strategy, integrating the principles. Some suggested additions to the principles, such as human rights. Others expressed interest in calling for developing countries to create national coordinating units similar to the ozone units used under the Montreal Protocol.

Other Business

On Friday afternoon, the Secretariat introduced a proposal for progress reporting on the Strategic Approach for 2017-2019 (SAICM/IP.3/11), noting it was developed in response to a request by OEWG3 for a paper for ICCM5 that, using the existing data, would provide an overview of challenges and accomplishments as well as lessons learned. She asked participants to submit their contributions on the current Strategy, and set out baselines for work beyond 2020, by 28 February 2020 in order to allow time for finalizing the report for ICCM5. There was no discussion of this item.

Closing Plenary

On Friday afternoon, Co-Chair Torres invited ICCM5 President Sahler to address the plenary. Sahler hailed the intensive and fruitful deliberations as setting a firm foundation for work at IP4 and a large step toward a successful ICCM5. She cautioned though that much remained to be done and encouraged participants to “scale up” their dialogue on the many issues confronting the intersessional process in coming months to build common ground.

Torres called on the sponsors of the week’s sector meeting to report on the results. WHO reported that the health sector meeting provided significant networking opportunities and similar events should be scheduled for future SAICM meetings. She noted that the response to the WHO submission on multi-sectoral engagement provided many useful suggestions, and participants identified existing WHO data sources on health impact and burden of disease that can contribute to potential SAICM targets. The International Health Regulations (2005), and the strengthening of the core capacities monitored in those regulations, for preparedness and response of chemical-related incidents and emergencies was of interest to several discussants. Several suggested post-2020 targets and indicators relevant to the health sector.

IOMC, on behalf of ILO, reported that the ILO presented its work to the labor sector meeting and plans to launch, in 2020, a labor sector chemicals action plan. He reported that the International Trade Union Confederation spoke about the role of unions in fighting for the right to safe and health working environments, and Malaysia provided a country example on governance of chemicals management and inter-ministerial collaboration. He also highlighted the ILO submission to IP3 on indicators inspired by ILO legal instruments.

UNEP reported the environment meeting explored common areas of interest and identified opportunities to strengthen coordination and cooperation with other issue clusters, including climate change, sustainable consumption and production, and human rights, such as integrating chemicals and waste management topics in the IPCC report, joint project proposals for the Green Climate Fund and the GEF, and platforms for participation and information for workers and consumers. He said the meeting’s outcomes will be integrated into the revised version of UNEP’s assessment of linkages with other clusters that will be presented to IP4.

IOMC, on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), said the agriculture sector meeting explored a range of issues, including priorities for future work on agrochemicals, agroecology, illegal trade in pesticides, strengthening national capacities in pesticide management, the need for a global strategy on highly hazardous pesticides, crosscutting issues with other sectors, and priorities for future work.

Torres invited the Co-Chairs of the four thematic groups to report on final outcomes in their IP3 work. After the reports, Co-Chair Morin thanked all participants for their “beneficial, lively, and engaged” deliberations, noting that the documents from each will be available online, and the Secretariat will compile them all and annex them to the meeting report. He explained these, together with the OEWG3 deliberations on strategic objectives, will form the basis of a “zero draft” to be presented to IP4.

Germany announced that it would host a special workshop before IP4 to discuss a possible enabling framework for the post-2020 platform, and Norway offered to help fund broad stakeholder participation in the workshop.

Morin noted that the Bureau had decided that IP4 would develop a new title for the post-2020 instrument and said the Co-Chairs would work with the Secretariat to develop title options for IP4 consideration.

In closing statements, GRULAC emphasized the need to continue collaborative efforts in the lead up to ICCM5 and beyond, with a view to agreeing on a comprehensive framework that integrates the relevant international instruments and the 2030 Agenda. While welcoming the participation of industry, she called for their increased contributions along the value chain to prevent and mitigate the impacts of their activities. She further emphasized that to achieve the post-2020 framework, ICCM5 will need to make progress on mechanisms to provide predictable, adequate and accessible resources, as well as specific provisions on capacity building and increased engagement.

The EU welcomed IP3 discussions for demonstrating the value of working in a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder way. She welcomed the broad support for an improved enabling framework to enhance awareness and political engagement in line with the core messages of the GCO and expressed the EU’s commitment to contribute towards preparations for the next meeting.

Commenting on the slow pace of discussions at IP3, the African Group stressed the need to accelerate preparations for ICCM5 to help achieve greater clarity on the post-2020 framework, as well as agreement on an innovative, robust, and inclusive financial mechanism and an IPCC-style science-policy interface to raise the profile of chemicals and waste issues. On emerging issues, he called for finding ways to mainstream existing EPIs with new issues of concern.

Central and Eastern Europe highlighted the importance of holding regular regional meetings as a way to review progress and set priorities for the future. She added that the sound management of chemicals and waste is crosscutting and should be strongly tied to the 2030 Agenda, and the biodiversity and climate conventions, among others. She closed stating that as global trade in chemicals increases and production moves to developing countries, stakeholders need to ensure that no one is left behind and all have the capacity to deal with the resulting challenges.

Mexico supported a broader instrument post-2020 enabling SAICM, or its successor, to achieve greater multi-sectoral participation and strengthen parties’ capacities to move towards the sustainable management of chemicals and waste more broadly.

Co-Chair Torres reminded delegates of the issues still needing substantial work, including on the science-policy interface and capacity building. Co-Chairs Torres and Morin thanked everyone for their enthusiasm and expressed hope it would continue into IP4 and ICCM5 in 2020. They closed the meeting at 5:45 pm.

A Brief Analysis of the Meeting

At the beginning of the third meeting of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM’s) Intersessional Process (IP3), Gertrud Sahler, President of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) set the bar high, saying, “A revitalized SAICM is needed with higher political attention, an enhanced governance model, and independent scientific support.”

To advance Sahler’s outlined ambition, IP Co-Chair David Morin asked participants to take the outcome document from the Open-Ended Working Group meeting, held in Montevideo in March 2019 (OEWG3), and develop it further as a complete “zero draft” of recommendations for a post-2020 approach on the sound management of chemicals and waste. The zero draft would then be the subject of further negotiations at the Intersessional Process’s fourth and final meeting (IP4), scheduled to take place in Bucharest, Romania, in March 2020, in advance of ICCM5 in Bonn, Germany, in October 2020. However, unless governments agree on the way forward, SAICM is scheduled to terminate in 2020, fifteen years after its birth amid a fanfare of ambition.

Over the week, key tensions primarily around governance and means of implementation emerged that blocked substantial progress. This brief analysis assesses progress in clarifying what a post-2020 regime could look like and how that might differ from the current SAICM.

Governance – the Key to High Ambition?

Discussions on governance were particularly important, given the High Ambition Alliance’s desire, articulated by ICCM5 President Sahler during the IP3 opening, for an enhanced governance model. Germany had prepared a paper, intended to set the scene for these discussions, proposing that SAICM beyond 2020 be accompanied by an “enhanced” enabling framework and address all actions on the sound management of chemicals and waste. Such an enhanced role could involve closer coordination with the chemicals and waste conventions and ICCM potentially reporting more directly to senior UN governance bodies. Germany also advocated a High-Level Declaration from ICCM on post-2020 sound management of chemicals and waste to be conveyed to the General Assembly itself for endorsement.

While participants generally agree that the independent evaluation demonstrates that existing SAICM arrangements do not suffice, they disagree whether such an “enhanced enabling framework” is needed or whether to simply improve what SAICM currently does. Many participants assert that if an enhanced enabling framework is not approved, then existing institutional arrangements would need to be significantly strengthened, pointing in particular to the need to add a science-policy interface, promote more finance flows from a variety of sources, and engage a broadened multi-sectoral base of stakeholders to take forward actions on chemicals and waste.

At IP3, the group dealing with governance struggled to work through the proposed text for IP4 and did not come to grips with the concept of SAICM-plus to the extent that proponents might have wished. One participant closely involved in directing the intersessional process said that proponents of a major change in the way SAICM operates need to articulate clearly how these changes could drive improved outcomes compared with current arrangements. A number of other participants indicated that they did not yet have a clear sense of what such an enabling framework might involve. Responding to these concerns, Germany, supported by Norway, announced at the closing plenary that it would convene a workshop in early 2020 to explore the modalities of moving towards a stronger enabling framework for sound management of chemicals and waste. 

High Ambition Doesn’t Come Cheap

Discussions in the group looking at financial issues were tense as developing country participants overtly linked their involvement in a post-2020 chemicals and waste platform to improved means of implementation, notably the establishment of an international fund dedicated to financing projects that will improve the management of chemicals and waste proposed by the Latin American and Caribbean Group along with the African Group and some Asia-Pacific countries. The proposal has been endorsed by nearly 100 countries and its proponents point to the independent evaluation’s recognition that shortfalls in funding were a major reason why SAICM has not achieved its 2020 objective. These countries have suggested that such a fund could be supported by a range of financial sources, such as development banks, official development assistance, and the private sector, and could provide concessional finance to augment the existing limited grant funding through SAICM, the Global Environment Facility and the UN Environment Programme’s Special Programme on Chemicals and Waste. 

One participant associated with the proposal said that developing countries consider that they would bear the bulk of the burden of higher ambition for managing chemicals since developed country management approaches are quite well advanced, whereas developing countries have much work to do to strengthen their chemicals management regimes. One developing country participant pointed to the growing problem of e-waste dumping by developed countries and the lack of financial support for managing it as emblematic of why SAICM would be destined to fail without a better means for financing. These developing countries believe they could only take on that work if suitably supported.

With no idea yet on what a post-2020 framework might look like, the group tasked with discussing mechanisms to support implementation understandably had a difficult time. On the key area of the science-policy interface, proponents argued that a body designed to replicate the communications successes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services could generate sufficient political momentum to attract greater funding for action on chemicals. Others fret that the money spent on an interface would not actually attract higher visibility and new and additional funding, and instead simply siphon off limited funds that could instead be spent on risk reduction

Deft chairing of the thematic discussion group dealing with targets, milestones, and indicators, demonstrated that agreement on targets may be within reach for IP4. The four thematic discussion groups did manage to advance the text of the proposed recommendations to some extent, but did not achieve the hoped-for complete zero draft. Many noted that the call for a complete zero draft by week’s end had always been an artificial target, given that a year remains before ICCM5 and IP4 provides an opportunity to continue discussions and make more progress. Co-Chair Morin considered it important to set the bar high from the outset and believed that more progress was achieved during the week as a result, while noting that there was still considerable work to be done.

Progress on a Post-2020 Approach is Still Unclear

IP3 Co-Chairs expressed satisfaction at the meeting’s close with IP3’s progress towards a “complete” zero draft but the meeting’s progress should be considered in light of whether participants responded positively to President Sahler’s call for higher ambition at the start of the meeting. No meeting participant disagreed with the independent evaluation’s assessment that gaps are widening between developing and developed countries’ capacities for sound management of chemicals and waste and there seemed to be strong support for SAICM to continue, with increased ambition, in order to address that situation.

The key contentious issues, which came sharply into focus at this meeting, are governance and finance. Participants are yet to be convinced that signing up for SAICM-plus, involving a broader vision for an enabling framework, would achieve the higher ambition and enhanced funding that is broadly recognized as necessary. Developing countries have made clear that they’ll only sign on to a post-2020 approach if their proposal for a standalone investment fund for projects addressing management of chemicals and waste is progressed. The meeting certainly made progress on defining the potential range of targets: as a result, what higher ambition might look like is clearer but clarifying the governance and finance vehicles to achieve targets at the higher ambition end of that range will be a challenging task for IP4.

Upcoming Meetings

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: 8-10 October 2019  location: Rome, Italy  www:

52nd Meeting of the Inter-Organization Coordinating Committee (IOCC) of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC): The IOCC will discuss, among other items, the outcomes of IP3, as well as preparation for IP4 and ICCM5. It will also consider outcomes of or preparations for recent or upcoming governing body meetings of the various organizations and conventions. dates: 16-17 October 2019 location: Geneva, Switzerland www:

Asian Helsinki Chemicals Forum and the 4th Summit Meeting on Chemical Regulations in Asia Pacific: The Asian Helsinki Chemicals Forum and the 4th Summit Meeting on Chemical Regulations in Asia Pacific (HCF&SMCR 2019) will be held as a merged conference. HCF&SMCR 2019 will discuss, inter alia: how to measure the performance of different chemical management systems; plastics and circularity; the quality of and access to data on chemicals; measures on environmental risk assessment and management of chemicals; and chemicals registration measures and regulations in Asia.  dates: 24-25 October 2019 location: Shanghai, China  www:

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  www:

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  www:

57th Meeting of the GEF Council: The Council meets twice annually to develop, adopt and evaluate the operational policies and programs for GEF-financed activities, including those related to SAICM, chemicals, and waste. It also reviews and approves the Work Program (projects submitted for approval), making decisions by consensus.  dates: 9-12 December 2019  location: Washington D.C., US  www:

Workshop on Governance in the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020: The German Government will host and UNITAR will organize a multi-stakeholder workshop to explore possible enabling framework for the post-2020 platform on sound management of chemicals and waste, and options for garnering high-level political buy-in, such as submission of the ICCM5 declaration and/or outcome to the UN General Assembly for endorsement. dates: January 2020 (TBC)  location: Frankfurt, Germany (TBC) www:

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: 23-27 March 2020   location: Bucharest, Romania  www:

Helsinki Chemicals Forum 2020: Organized by Chemicals Forum Association, the 12th edition of the HCF 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; measuring the performance of chemical management systems; plastics and circularity; and the quality of and access to data on chemicals.  dates: 4-5 June 2020  location: Helsinki, Finland  www:

Sixteenth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee: The POPRC will review the possible listing of hazardous chemicals under the various annexes of the Stockholm Convention. dates: 14-18 September 2020  location: Rome, Italy www:

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   www:

For additional meetings, see

Further information