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4th Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4)

The Fourth Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) opens today in Geneva, Switzerland, and will continue until Friday, 2 October. ICCM4 is expected to address items including reviewing progress in implementing the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), and the sound management of chemicals and wastes beyond 2020. Progress and challenges towards achieving the 2020 goal of sound chemicals management (2020 goal) will also be considered.


The issue of chemicals management and the idea of a SAICM have been discussed by the UN Environment Programme’s Governing Council (UNEP GC) and reflected in various forms since the mid-1990s.

WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The Summit convened from 26 August-4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and delegates adopted the Johannesburg Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI). The JPOI’s chemicals-related targets include:

the aim to achieve, by 2020, the use and production of chemicals in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment;

the development, by 2005, of a SAICM based on the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) Bahia Declaration, and Priorities for Action Beyond 2000; and

the national implementation of the new Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), with a view to having the system fully operational by 2008.

IFCS FORUM IV: The fourth session of the IFCS (Forum IV) took place from 1-7 November 2003, in Bangkok, Thailand, under the theme “Chemical Safety in a Vulnerable World.” In response to UNEP GC decisions SS.VII/3 and 22/4, Forum IV discussed the further development of a SAICM and forwarded a non-negotiated compilation report on its work to SAICM PrepCom-1, addressing, inter alia: life-cycle management of chemicals since Agenda 21; gaps in life-cycle chemicals management; and resources for capacity building and implementation.

PREPCOM-1: SAICM PrepCom-1 took place from 9-13 November 2003, in Bangkok, Thailand. Participants provided initial comments on potential issues to be addressed during the development of SAICM, examined ways to structure discussions, and considered possible outcomes of the SAICM process. There was also broad support for a three-tiered approach for SAICM, which would comprise: a Global Plan of Action (GPA) with targets and timetables; an Overarching Policy Strategy (OPS); and a high-level or ministerial declaration.

PREPCOM-2: SAICM PrepCom-2 was held from 4-8 October 2004, in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates discussed elements for an OPS for international chemicals management, made progress in developing a matrix of possible concrete measures to include in the GPA, and provided comments on an initial list of elements for a high-level political declaration.

2005 WORLD SUMMIT: The 2005 World Summit was held at UN Headquarters in New York from 14-16 September. Regarding chemicals management, delegates resolved to promote the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle, including hazardous wastes, with the aim that, by 2020, chemicals are “used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.” They resolved to implement a voluntary strategic approach to international management of chemicals, and to support developing countries in strengthening their capacity for the sound management of chemicals and hazardous wastes.

PREPCOM-3: SAICM PrepCom-3 was held from 19-24 September 2005, in Vienna, Austria. Delegates discussed the SAICM high-level declaration, OPS and GPA, but did not reach agreement on several elements in the three documents, including: principles and approaches; the description of SAICM as “voluntary”; financial considerations; and the timing and frequency of future ICCM sessions.

ICCM1: ICCM1 was held from 4-6 February 2006, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Delegates adopted SAICM, a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral policy framework made up of the Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management, an OPS, and GPA. The multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral ICCM was tasked with undertaking periodic reviews of SAICM. In the Declaration, inter alia, participants committed to strengthening the capacities of all concerned, and mobilizing national and international financing from public and private sources. 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.

IFCS FORUM V: This meeting was held in Budapest, Hungary, from 25-29 September 2006. The main agenda item at Forum V was considering the future of IFCS in light of the final agreements on SAICM. Agreement was reached to establish a working group to draft a decision on the future of IFCS to be presented at IFCS-VI.

IFCS FORUM VI: This meeting took place from 15-19 September 2008 in Dakar, Senegal. After debating the future of IFCS and whether to maintain its institutional independence, delegates agreed to invite the ICCM to integrate the Forum into the ICCM as an advisory body.

ICCM2: ICCM2 took place from 11-15 May 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland. It considered new Emerging Policy Issues (EPIs), rules of procedure, the need for an intersessional body, and matters related to finance. Delegates adopted nine resolutions and reached agreement on, inter alia: rules of procedure; EPIs such as nanotechnology and chemicals in products; a process for considering EPIs; the establishment of an open-ended working group (OEWG); and financial resources. ICCM2 took the decision not to integrate IFCS as a subsidiary body of the ICCM, and left IFCS to determine its own future.

OEWG1: OEWG1 was held from 15-18 November 2011, in Belgrade, Serbia. The OEWG considered the implementation, development and enhancement of SAICM and decided to forward four draft resolutions for consideration by ICCM3 on nanotechnology and manufactured materials, amending the time limit of fund disbursements under the QSP, EPIs, and new EPIs.

ICCM3: ICCM3 convened from 17-21 September 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. ICCM3 agreed to extend the QSP Trust Fund until 2015 and adopted resolutions on, inter alia: hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products; lead in paint; nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials; and engaging the health-care sector in SAICM implementation. The Conference also convened a high-level dialogue to discuss ways to strengthen SAICM for more effective implementation.


BASEL CONVENTION: The Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP) met twice during the intersessional period, in May 2013 and May 2015. BC COP11 adopted 26 decisions on issues including on a framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UNEP. BC COP12 adopted 25 decisions, including on e-waste technical guidelines, national reporting and technical assistance.

ROTTERDAM CONVENTION: The Rotterdam Convention (RC) COP met twice during the intersessional period, in May 2013 and May 2015. RC COP6 adopted 16 decisions on issues including, inter alia, on listing four new chemicals in the Convention’s annexes and the programme of work and budget. RC COP7 adopted 15 decisions including on the listing of methamidophos to Annex III, and establishing intersessional work on the effectiveness of the chemicals listing process.

STOCKHOLM CONVENTION: The Stockholm Convention (SC) COP met twice during the intersessional period, in May 2013 and May 2015. SC COP6 adopted 30 decisions on, inter alia: listing hexabromocyclododecane with specific exemptions in Annex A; financial and technical assistance; and an effectiveness evaluation. SC COP7 adopted 33 decisions, including on: exemptions; polychlorinated biphenyls; financial assistance; and implementation plans.

MINAMATA CONVENTION: The fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury (INC5) convened from 13-19 January 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, where delegates concluded negotiation on the treaty. UNEP GC27, which met from 18-22 February 2013, in Nairobi, Kenya, welcomed the completion of negotiations. The Minamata Convention on Mercury was adopted and opened for signature at a Diplomatic Plenipotentiary meeting held from 9-11 October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan. 

INC6 convened from 3-7 November 2014, in Bangkok, Thailand, and carried out preparatory work for the entry into force of the Minamata Convention and for COP1. INC7, to be held in March 2016, will be the final intersessional meeting before COP1.

GC27/GMEF: UNEP GC27 met from 18-22 February 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. In its decisions, the GC, inter alia, requested the UNEP Executive Director to support the SAICM Secretariat in developing orientation and guidance to implement the 2020 goal; and urged governments, industry and others to make financial and in-kind contributions to SAICM, its QSP, its Secretariat and its implementation.

UNEA-1: The first UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-1) met from 23-27 June 2014, in Nairobi, Kenya. UNEA-1 adopted a terms of reference for a Special Programme to support institutional strengthening at the national level to enhance implementation of, among others, SAICM. UNEA-1 also invited: the ICCM OEWG to consider ways to improve the involvement and participation of stakeholders to enable efficient and effective responses to EPIs and challenges; the World Health Organization Director-General to assume a leading role in SAICM and provide appropriate staff and other resources to its Secretariat; and, members of the Inter-organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals to consider ways to support the SAICM Secretariat.

SAICM REGIONAL MEETINGS: Five regional meetings took place in preparation for ICCM4: Latin America and the Caribbean in August 2013; Central and Eastern Europe in September 2013; Africa in November 2013; EU-JUSSCANNZ in February 2014; and Asia-Pacific in March 2014. The meetings considered, among others, progress on regional SAICM implementation, the health sector strategy, regional QSP project results and EPIs. Delegates also identified regional priorities, and reviewed and provided input to the draft document on the Overall Orientation and Guidance.

ICCM OEWG2: ICCM OEWG2 took place from 15-17 December 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Delegates considered issues, including: progress and gaps towards achieving the 2020 goal; progress in achieving the SAICM objectives; manufactured nanomaterials and nanotechnology; endocrine-disrupting chemicals; highly hazardous pesticides; the sound management of chemicals and waste in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and preparations for ICCM4.

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