Daily report for 19 September 2012
3rd Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM3)
ICCM-3 reconvened on Wednesday, 19 September in Nairobi, Kenya. In the morning, delegates met in plenary to hear progress reports from contact groups on emerging policy issues and financial and technical resources. The plenary also addressed: implementation of and coherence among international instruments and programmes; information exchange and scientific and technical cooperation; and the health sector strategy. The contact group on financial and technical resources met in parallel to plenary to continue its deliberations.
In the afternoon, the contact group on emerging policy issues resumed discussions on hazardous substances in electrical and electronic products as well as nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials. The afternoon plenary considered cooperation with intergovernmental organizations, and activities of the Secretariat and adoption of the budget.
IMPLEMENTATION OF SAICM
Emerging policy issues: Marcus Richards (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), emerging policy issues contact group Co-Chair, reported progress on lead in paint and chemicals in products, noting that agreement had been reached on draft resolutions for both issues.
The emerging policy issues contact group convened throughout the afternoon to examine the draft ICCM resolution submitted by the OEWG alongside a proposed revised table of activities for inclusion under a new GPA work area. Delegates eliminated brackets on all but one preambular paragraph. The draft resolution, inter alia: encourages all stakeholders to consider the recommendations and key messages of the International Workshop on Hazardous Substances in the Lifecycle of Electrical and Electronic Products held in Vienna, Austria, in March 2011; invites the IOMC and other stakeholders to consider taking further action; and decides to identify, compile and/or create international best practice resources on the issue regarding such aspects as design, tracking and disclosing chemical content, potential safer alternatives, green purchasing and extended producer responsibility. The group reviewed and agreed on a substantially revised table of activities.
The group resumed work in the evening on nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials based on the outcome of a small drafting group.
Financial and technical resources for implementation: Reporting back to plenary, financial and technical resources for implementation contact group Co-Chair Elsa Miranda (Indonesia), said that Tuesday’s discussions encompassed a number of issues related to the QSP and the UNEP ED’s proposal on financing for chemicals and wastes. On the QSP, she noted that most delegates would like to see the QSP extended, with some delegations favoring an expansion of the Programme and “probably become the long-term financing mechanism” for SAICM. She said delegates noted the potential of the integrated approach put forward by the UNEP ED’s proposal on financing for chemicals and wastes, and stressed that SAICM should be an integral part of such an approach. She also highlighted other topics addressed by the contact group, including the compatibility of the QSP and the GEF.
In the contact group on Tuesday morning, Co-Chair Daniel Ziegerer (Switzerland) introduced a non-paper on the QSP, and on long-term financing for SAICM. Before the group began considering the non-paper, a representative of one developed country regional group reported on an informal meeting with a number of regional groups and delegations. He announced that his region would agree to extend the end date to receive contributions to the QSP to 30 June 2014 to enable outstanding projects to be finalized, but requested that other delegations consider withdrawing requests to expand the QSP’s mandate. Other regional groups requested additional time to consult on this matter, with one stating that their current mandate would not allow them to withdraw their call to expand the QSP’s scope. Reporting on their regional group’s reaction to the proposal, one group expressed flexibility regarding the time limit of the QSP, but said they were not able to specify the exact date for the limit. Another regional group reported that they were concerned about funding for implementation activities, and would thus need an expansion of the Programme’s mandate. She also highlighted her regional group’s concern on the time limit, saying that this may create a funding gap between the end of the QSP and the start of the long-term financing for chemicals as envisaged in the ED’s proposal. Trying to break the impasse, one delegate suggested revisiting the original scope of the QSP, explaining that the scope may have included the funding of both enabling and implementation activities.
Considering the preambular language of the non-paper, some delegates sought clarification on text concerning the QSP, querying whether the success of SAICM implementation is actually “contingent on sustainable, predictable, adequate and accessible funding.” The group agreed to welcome the ED’s proposal on an integrated approach to financing the sound management of chemicals and wastes, but debated whether the proposal for long-term financing includes SAICM, or whether a separate reference is necessary. One regional group, opposed by another, suggested that all preambular language be deleted, following the example of the Stockholm Convention. The group agreed to “park” this language until operational language had been discussed. The contact group continued into the night.
Implementation of and coherence among international instruments and programmes: The Secretariat introduced reports on projects funded by the QSP supporting the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (SAICM/ICCM.3/INF/27), and an update on implementation of the 2011 synergies decisions on enhancing cooperation and coordination in the chemicals and wastes cluster (SAICM/ICCM.3/INF/30REV.1).
UNEP outlined its work undertaken in this regard, including, inter alia, with INTERPOL to prevent illegal trade in harmful substances and hazardous wastes.
JAMAICA urged that the Basel and Stockholm Convention Regional Centers be mandated to undertake SAICM-related activities. SWITZERLAND, supported by NORWAY, called for the Secretariat to provide a report on how SAICM promotes coherence among chemicals-related international instruments and programmes to OEWG-2 and ICCM-4. SUSTAIN LABOR stressed the potential role of workplaces in generating data on chemical risks, and the role of the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s work on chemical safety information. IPEN stressed that realizing synergies among chemicals conventions and programmes would benefit greatly from the active involvement of civil society.
Information exchange and scientific and technical cooperation: The Secretariat presented its note on SAICM’s information clearinghouse functions (SAICM/ICCM.3/INF/28). UNEP outlined its work on reviewing exposure risks for lead and cadmium, and the UNEP GC's request for ICCM-3 to suggest further actions that might be taken regarding these substances. UNEP also summarized its work on lead in vehicle fuels and in paint.
IPEN stressed information accessibility and the need to provide consumers with easily understandable information on the chemical composition of products. The CENTER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEVELOPMENT emphasized the role of NGOs as valuable information sources for chemicals clearinghouses and as a liaison with affected communities. PERU called for more information on methodologies for analysis and quality control regarding end-of-life products traded across boundaries. LIBERIA expressed hope that the clearinghouse works with independent information sources such as IPEN. BCRC AFRICA reviewed the activities of the four Basel Convention African regional centers in implementing the chemicals and wastes MEAs. The PHILIPPINES outlined recent chemicals management work by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). BCRC ASIA-PACIFIC cautioned against the SAICM clearinghouse duplicating the efforts of Basel Convention’s information-sharing mechanism. The CENTRE FOR OCCUPATIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH asked the clearinghouse to collect information from research institutions and assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition to move from accessing information to utilizing it in ways that reduce chemical exposure risks.
The Conference took note of the information provided by the Secretariat and through delegate interventions.
HEALTH SECTOR STRATEGY
The Secretariat introduced a proposed strategy for strengthening health sector engagement in SAICM implementation (SAICM/ICCM.3/20).
The AFRICAN GROUP, the EU, the CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN (CEE) GROUP, CANADA, the US and others supported the proposed health strategy. THAILAND, supported by the WORLD FEDERATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATIONS, BHUTAN and ECUADOR, proposed, inter alia, designating national contact points for the health sector and encouraging the WHO to establish SAICM focal points for the health strategy.
HEALTHCARE WITHOUT HARM called for underlining the inherent hazards of chemicals, in addition to risk, and engaging the health sector to reduce the toxicity of chemicals used in healthcare throughout their lifecycle.
GRULAC called for prioritizing health-related projects in the QSP and in the long-term financial strategy of SAICM, urging the WHO to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the SAICM Secretariat in October 2012. CHINA, with BRAZIL, said the strategy regarding the responsibilities of the health sector should not be too prescriptive, and called for including reference to “other health-related government bodies.” They also urged referencing the provision of new and additional funding as well as joint access to current funding to further enhance cooperation. The US said the strategy should not replace the Overarching Policy Strategy (OPS), calling for clarification of this in the strategy's text. The EU and others supported asking the Secretariat, in collaboration with the WHO, to report back on the implementation of the strategy at ICCM-4.
The WHO emphasized its commitment to implementing the strategy and said it looked forward to addressing financing challenges.
COOPERATION WITH INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
The Secretariat introduced several information documents on cooperation with intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) (SAICM/ICCM.3/INF/9, 32, 33, and 34).
FAO, on behalf of IOMC, said two IGOs, the World Bank and the UNDP, had joined IOMC since ICCM-2, and mentioned the launch of a new toolbox for decision-making on chemicals management as an example of IOMC’s work in support of SAICM. He stressed the urgent need for on-the-ground capacity building activities and sustainable funding to achieve SAICM’s 2020 objectives, and said IOMC organizations are ready to contribute to resource mobilization efforts.
PAN urged developing a multi-stakeholder programme within the agricultural sector to focus on pesticides and safer alternatives. The US proposed holding IGO roundtables on technical information exchange during ICCM sessions, or that IGOs, within their mandates, hold webinars to address priorities identified by regions.
ACTIVITIES OF THE SECRETARIAT AND ADOPTION OF THE BUDGET
The Secretariat introduced a document on its activities and the draft budget (SAICM/ICCM.3/21REV.1), noting an increase in the proposed budget, highlighting the funding shortfall in the previous funding period, and informing on proposal to create a new staff position to replace the one previously held by the WHO. The EU, with SWITZERLAND, called on the Secretariat to provide an indicative table of contributions. BRAZIL, supported by SWITZERLAND, called on the Conference to request the WHO to reconsider its withdrawal of the staff member seconded to the SAICM Secretariat. The US stressed the need to consider expanding the list of donors to SAICM, and called for “ambitious but realistic” goal-setting.
The WHO explained that the resources provided by member states on a voluntary basis to fund a staff member on the SAICM Secretariat are exhausted. Slovenia, for the non-EU members of the CEE GROUP, opposed by IPEN, proposed that the WHO staff post be funded through voluntary contributions. JAMAICA, with EGYPT, expressed disappointment that only three of the eight Secretariat positions are fully staffed, with JAMAICA noting that both the management of the QSP and the clearinghouse mechanism are currently run by consultants.
A budget group co-chaired by Gillian Guthrie (Jamaica) and Jozef Buys (Belgium) met on Wednesday evening.
IN THE CORRIDORS
As discussions on finance progressed in a contact group on the third day of negotiations, the mood in the room turned gloomy, as no new commitments to deliver much-needed financial resources for implementation were on the table. One regional group "extended an olive branch,” agreeing to extend the QSP for just over 20 months, but did not agree to consider any proposal to expand the Programme’s mandate. This left one developing country frustrated with the seemingly positive gesture, given the strong desire expressed by many developing countries for the QSP to fund implementation, and not merely enabling, activities. Meanwhile, some developing country participants said they were outraged at the chemical industry’s offer to provide in-kind resources and technical assistance to facilitate SAICM implementation, with no corresponding commitment to deliver financial resources. In the corridors, a few delegates joked that the proposal should refer instead to “un-kind” contributions.
Discussions on the budget and programme of work were also discouraging to some, with the Secretariat reporting that they had only received 54% of the funds pledged under the previous budget, and presenting various staffing woes due to inadequate funding. Concerned delegates were however quick to point out that under the current financial climate, some sacrifices would have to be made. One delegate worried aloud that it remains to be seen how far these sacrifices will affect the attainment of the 2020 goal.