The invocation of the “Bonn Spirit” of compromise optimistically expressed by President Anita Breyer at the opening of the Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) appeared to inspire delegates, who proceeded to diligently organize for a busy week ahead that should culminate in the adoption of an ambitious international framework on the sound management of chemicals and waste.
In opening remarks, Steffi Lemke, Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, Germany, said chemicals management is a global problem requiring international cooperation and requires all stakeholders work together as equals to solve it. She called on ICCM5 to send a clear message to the world that “we are ready to tackle the pollution crisis.”
Noting chemical pollution is directly responsible for more than two million deaths a year, Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, UNEP, said without decisive action on a post-2020 framework many more will die “and this will be on us.” She called for a platform that helps create a chemicals industry "that has a positive balance sheet for people and planet."
Delegates divided the week’s workload among different clusters. A “Friends of the President” group of high-level delegates was formed to transform the President’s “zero draft” of a Declaration into its final form before the High-level Segment planned for Thursday and Friday. A Committee of the Whole (CoW) was tasked with finding compromises in the draft text of the framework on outstanding issues such as finance, targets and capacity building. A contact group was created to review a further 18 resolutions proposed for the Conference. A Programme of Work and Budget group was established to consider the draft budget proposed for 2024-2026 and adjust it according to the estimated cost of implementing the framework and any resolutions the Conference may adopt.
The plenary also heard proponents introduce their proposals for resolutions on such diverse issues as pesticides management, gender, biodiversity, national focal points, capacity building, and framework implementation programmes. These proposals were referred to the contact group for detailed discussion, which started by discussing a cluster of resolutions regarding: a Global Alliance on Highly Hazardous Pesticides; a code of conduct on pesticides management; gender mainstreaming; and health surveillance.
During the lunch break, six thematic side events were held on chemical and waste issues intersecting with climate, biodiversity and agriculture. Minister Lemke also opened the German Pavilion.
To receive free coverage of global environmental events delivered to your inbox, subscribe to the ENB Update newsletter.
All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For the 5th International Conference on Chemicals Management and Resumed 4th Meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis.