Summary report, 27 August – 2 September 2022

4th Meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020

The consumption of chemicals by all industries and modern society’s reliance on chemicals for virtually all manufacturing processes make chemicals production one of the major sectors of the global economy. However, the essential economic role of chemicals and their contribution to improved living standards come with costs: heavy use of water and energy and the potential adverse impacts of chemicals on the environment and human health. The diversity and potential severity of such impacts make sound chemicals management a key cross-cutting issue for sustainable development.

With global chemicals sales projected to double by 2030, officials and experts are seeking an effective mechanism for joint action for the majority of chemicals that have yet to be covered by existing multilateral environment agreements such as the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm or Minamata Conventions, or those targeted by the newly launched global negotiations for a convention on plastics.

It is against this backdrop that delegates to the fourth session of the Intersessional Process for Considering the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP4) advanced their work on the outline for a future framework on chemicals and waste to guide global efforts for years to come.

The resulting “zero draft” document covers the vision, scope, principles, strategic objectives, targets, institutional arrangements, implementing measures, financial considerations, and procedures for designating “issues of concern” for special attention and concerted action. Delegates welcomed this “Co-Chairs’ Single Consolidated Text” in plenary on the final evening as a significant achievement, and then agreed to suspend IP4 and reconvene in early 2023 at a date and venue to be set by the Bureau in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

IP4 convened in Bucharest, Romania, from 29 August to 2 September 2022. IP4 was preceded by two technical briefings for delegates on Saturday, 27 August, on integrated chemicals and waste management and on the proposed objectives, structure, workflow and expected outcomes of IP4, and a third technical briefing on Sunday, 28 August, on financial considerations for a post-2020 instrument.

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 by the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council in the mid-1990s, it was 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 would 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 2020 goal agreed at the WSSD. The framework consists of the Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management, an Overarching Policy Strategy (OPS), 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 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya, and agreed to extend the QSP Trust Fund until ICCM4 and adopted resolutions on EPIs, including one designating endocrine-disrupting chemicals as an EPI, and engaging the healthcare sector in SAICM implementation.

ICCM4: ICCM4, held in 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland, reviewed progress toward the 2020 goal and established an intersessional process to maintain momentum until ICCM5, initially planned for 2020. ICCM4 adopted the overall orientation and guidance for SAICM and added environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants as an EPI and highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) as an “issue of concern.”

Intersessional Process

IP1: 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 or framework might be preferable to the existing SAICM process to promote the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

IP2: IP2 was held in Stockholm, Sweden, in March 2018. Participants discussed six elements of a possible future framework proposed by the IP Co-Chairs: vision, policy principles, objectives and milestones, implementation arrangements, governance, and high-level political commitment.

UNEA4: Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2019, the fourth meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) adopted resolution 4/8 calling for relevant ICCM5 resolutions on a crosscutting and holistic approach for the long term, including enhanced involvement of all relevant stakeholders. It also called on governments and other stakeholders to consider ways of strengthening the science-policy interface (SPI) for chemicals and waste, and requested UNEP to prepare by 30 April 2020 two reports for consideration by ICCM5, on:

  • an assessment of options for strengthening the SPI at the international level; and
  • relevant issues when emerging evidence indicates a risk to human health and the environment identified by SAICM, the Global Chemicals Outlook, or 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.

Third Intersessional Meeting: IP3 was held in Bangkok, Thailand, in October 2019. Most of the meeting was conducted through four thematic groups focusing on features of a possible post-2020 platform.

Technical Working Group on Targets, Indicators and Milestones: Created by IP3, the Working Group held virtual meetings on 10 January 2020, 3 and 20 February 2020, and a face-to-face meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from 13-14 February 2020. The Working Group submitted an outline of proposed targets for beyond 2020 along with reflections on possible indicators to IP4.

Workshop on SAICM Governance: Held from 14-16 January 2020 in Frankfurt, Germany, this workshop discussed four aspects of a possible post-2020 instrument: strengthening global governance; strengthening national governance; strengthening private sector governance and engagement; and strengthening the SPI and governance.

Virtual Working Groups (VWGs): With restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic postponing IP4 and ICCM5, the Bureau and the IP Co-Chairs convened four VWGs between October 2020 and February 2021 to continue deliberations on: targets, indicators and milestones; governance and mechanisms to support implementation; issues of concern; and financial considerations. The outcomes of the VWGs were appended to the IP3 outcome compilation document that served as the basis for deliberations at IP4.

Regional Meetings: Regional meetings in preparation for IP4 were held in Latin America and the Caribbean (6-7 May 2022), Central and Eastern Europe (12-13 May 2022), EU-JUSSCANNZUK (Japan, the US, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Norway, New Zealand, and the UK) (23 June 2022), Africa (28-30 June 2022), and Asia-Pacific (5-7 July 2022).

IP4 Report

Co-Chair Judith Torres (Uruguay) opened IP4 on Monday morning, 29 August.

Barna Tánczos, Minister of Environment, Water, and Forests, Romania, welcomed delegates. He said a major outcome of IP4 should be to establish targets through an iterative process, together with a comprehensive framework of indicators. He also stressed the importance of agreeing on recommendations on: national implementation; international, regional and sectoral cooperation and coordination; and enhanced sectoral and stakeholder engagement.

ICCM5 President Anita Breyer (Germany) said the “Beyond 2020” agreement can be a powerful international framework that engages and further generates multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder commitment to deliver ambitious and concrete action that is integrated across sectors and value chains. Noting that the chemicals sector is projected to double sales by 2030, she said the post-2020 platform for chemicals and waste needs to be durable yet have a structure that is flexible, adaptable, and able to respond to new developments and priorities over the long term.

Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, UNEP, said the novel instrument being crafted at IP4 should enlist all stakeholders to facilitate transformation to a chemicals and waste management system in which economies and industry flourish while human health and the environment are protected.

Co-Chair Torres said the goal for IP4 is to build on the IP3 results, while taking into account the work of the VWGs, technical groups, briefings, regional meetings, and the views expressed during the week, to produce a single set of recommendations for ICCM5.

Organizational Matters: Torres explained that the Government of Canada informed the Bureau that it can no longer perform the role of the IP Co-Chair, and the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG) had nominated Kay Williams (UK) to fill the position. Delegates officially confirmed her appointment as IP Co-Chair.

Torres introduced the provisional agenda (SAICM/IP.4/1/Rev.1), which was adopted. She outlined the organization of work for the week and reminded participants that the ICCM rules of procedure apply, mutatis mutandis, to the work and proceedings of IP4.

Opening Statements: Zambia, on behalf of the AFRICAN GROUP, said waste should be considered within the context of the lifecycle of chemicals. He urged the adoption of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound indicators. He stressed the need for IP4 to agree on adequate, predictable, sustainable, and accessible means of implementation for the post-2020 platform, noting “nothing is agreed until all is agreed.”

Uruguay, for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), called for addressing waste using a human rights and science-based approach. She underscored the importance of the multi-sector, multi-stakeholder approach of SAICM, and urged equal emphasis on the health sector in the post-2020 platform. She also cautioned against duplicating efforts with the science-policy panel negotiations mandated by UNEA5.

Iran, on behalf of the ASIA-PACIFIC, noted the need for the post-2020 platform to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and address the gap between developed and developing countries. He also called for an increase in funding from the private sector.

The EUROPEAN UNION (EU) praised the VWGs for facilitating progress over the last two years. He said the EU favored the integrated approach to financing as key to achieving goals in the chemicals and waste cluster and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

North Macedonia, for CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE, called for a comprehensive framework that strengthens the capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to implement cleaner technology, coherence among international instruments, and increased private sector contributions to mitigate the effects of their products throughout their life cycle.

The INTERNATIONAL POLLUTANTS ELIMINATION NETWORK (IPEN) noted the UN General Assembly’s recent declaration on the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. He stressed that most African countries produce no plastics yet are disproportionately affected by plastics imports. Supported by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International, he cautioned that the VWGs were not accessible to many stakeholders.

HEALTHCARE WITHOUT HARM noted the proliferation of harmful disinfectants during the COVID-19 pandemic, bemoaning the World Health Organization’s (WHO) lack of knowledge of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) rules. She called for incorporating the polluter pays principle in the new framework.

PAN INTERNATIONAL highlighted 385 million unintended pesticide poisonings every year, pesticide-related suicides, and their debilitating impacts and contributions to climate change, chemical pollution, and biodiversity loss, including insects essential to all ecosystems. He called for ensuring a toxics-free future.

The UN International Development Organization (UNIDO), for the IOMC, highlighted IOMC proposals for an integrated approach to chemicals and waste management (SAICM/IP.4/INF/18) and actions to facilitate sectoral engagement (SAICM/IP.4/INF/23).

The MSP INSTITUTE welcomed the positive evolution of gender equality in the SAICM process and called for a strategy for equality to be a part of the future SAICM network.

The INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ITUC) reminded participants that two million people died in 2019 from exposure to hazardous materials and recommended a human rights-based approach as a starting point in producing a new instrument on chemicals and waste.

CROPLIFE INTERNATIONAL called for a continued multi-stakeholder approach beyond 2020 and to follow the obligations and recommendations laid out by the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management.

CENTRE DE RECHERCHE ET D’EDUCATION POUR LE DÉVELOPPEMENT – CAMEROON mentioned that pollution is also a threat to health and sustainable development, particularly in developing countries, and called for country-driven and need-oriented technology and capacity, as well as predictable and accessible finance to effectively manage waste.

The INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHEMICALS ASSOCIATIONS (ICCA) highlighted the role of the private sector in supporting projects that seek to close the gap between developing and developed countries.

The GLOBAL ALLIANCE ON HEALTH AND POLLUTION (GAHP) recalled that nine million people are killed annually as a result of pollution and called for an outcome document that is easy to read and includes the necessary resources for implementation.

The BASEL, ROTTERDAM AND STOCKHOLM CONVENTIONS (BRS) SECRETARIAT mentioned its contributions to IP4, including an assessment of the interlinkages of the waste conventions with biodiversity and climate change (SAICM/IP.4/INF/3/Rev.1).

The MINAMATA CONVENTION SECRETARIAT shared on advancements made by the parties to the Convention, including expansion of the list of products targeted for phaseout.

Development of Recommendations for Consideration by ICCM5 for the Strategic Approach and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste beyond 2020

On Monday, the Secretariat presented the compilation text for SAICM and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1), explaining that it was prepared by the Secretariat under the guidance of the IP Co-Chairs and in consultation with the Bureau. The Secretariat also presented the outcomes of the VWGs on Targets, Indicators and Milestones (SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1/Add.1), Governance and Mechanisms to Support Implementation (SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1/Add.2), Issues of Concern (SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1/Add.3), and Financial Considerations (SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1/Add.4). She also reviewed the structure and organization of each of the documents.

Vision, scope, principles and approaches, strategic objectives, targets, and indicators: Co-Chair Williams invited general statements regarding vision, scope, principles and approaches, strategic objectives, targets, and indicators.

The IOMC indicated its willingness to develop an inventory of currently available indicators and to engage all interested stakeholders during IP4 and afterward to develop a set of indicators for the post-2020 instrument.

The ZERO DISCHARGE OF HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS (ZDHC) FOUNDATION stressed the importance of differentiating between chemical manufacturing sectors and the sectors that apply chemicals in their products.

IPEN and PAN said that the post-2020 framework should have:

  • a timeless vision with a strong enabling framework;
  • ambitious strategic objectives addressing prevention, precaution, information sharing, and transparency;
  • a scope that includes chemicals and all waste throughout their lifecycle; and
  • clear targets, indicators, and milestones that are measurable and time bound.

The UK urged a clear and effective vision that could serve as an important communication tool. On targets, she suggested focusing on those most essential for achieving the outcomes desired from the instrument, and noted its submission (SAICM/IP.4/CRP.1) proposing a measurability structure for targets.

GRULAC suggested a streamlined vision, inclusion of a precautionary approach in the instrument, which respects common but differentiated responsibilities, and links to the targets and indicators in the WHO Chemical Roadmap.

GAHP said the vision needs a lot of work, especially to put health aspects front and center. She called for the scope to cover all wastes not covered under other instruments and for targets linked to the SDGs.

SWITZERLAND said the scope should encompass both chemicals and waste but can focus on specific ones through the targets and issues of concern. He favored ambitious and concrete targets and milestones and asked the IOMC to submit a formal text proposal reflecting their ideas on targets.

JAPAN called for a framework that goes beyond 2030 so that stakeholders can focus on implementation without losing time negotiating frequent updates. He said scope can incorporate wastes by addressing the entire lifecycle of chemicals, urged targets to be appropriately concrete, and suggested leaving work on indicators to intersessional work by a technical working group.

The EU supported:

  • a vision that is easy to understand, short and concise, is kept as close as possible to SDG 12.4 (environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle), and takes into account SDG 3.9 (substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination);
  • a scope broadly covering chemicals and waste and the lifecycle approach throughout the value chain;
  • targets that are impact-focused and time-bound;
  • the IOMC proposals for strategic objectives; and
  • the VWG document as the basis for discussions on targets.

The AFRICAN GROUP stated that the instrument must be responsive and forward-looking. INDIA remarked that not all countries are at the same level of growth and development and that they vary in abilities and technology. HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT JUSTICE SUPPORT (HEJSupport) identified the cross-cutting nature of chemicals and waste and their impacts on biodiversity.

IRAN, supported by PAKISTAN, stated that the lifecycle approach necessitates sufficient funding for developing countries. ICCA underlined the need to engage all stakeholders along the value chain from all producing regions when expanding the scope. EGYPT suggested combining work on the reduction of carbon emissions with the sound management of chemicals and waste.

THAILAND spoke of efforts to enhance stakeholder integration.  SRI LANKA stressed the need to protect women from chemical exposure. He suggested that petrochemical producers should be included in the African Group proposal for a globally coordinated levy. 

The AFRICAN GROUP, IRAN, and ICCA supported including waste in the scope of the “beyond 2020” instrument. MEXICO and HEJSUPPORT voiced their support for GRULAC’s call for a human rights-based approach to chemicals and waste management, which takes gender into account.

The AFRICAN GROUP, HEJSUPPORT, the CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT (CEJAD), and PAKISTAN supported the need for measurable, impact-oriented, and clear targets to minimize harm.

PAKISTAN, THAILAND, and SRI LANKA emphasized support for the polluter pays principle. The AFRICAN GROUP, BRAZIL, THAILAND, and SRI LANKA supported inclusion of the health sector within the work on chemicals and waste.

The FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UN (FAO) urged integrated work on HHPs that includes all stakeholders, mentioning the FAO, UNEP, and the health sector in particular. ARGENTINA said it is important to communicate vision and objectives in a clear understandable manner to a wider audience, and bring other sectors on board.

Delegates agreed to Co-Chair Williams’ proposal to form Thematic Group 1 (TG1) to consider the vision, scope, strategic objectives and targets provisions in the compilation of recommendations, co-facilitated by Angela Rivera (Colombia) and Mari-Liis Ummik (Estonia).

Institutional arrangements, the linkages with the future Science-Policy Panel, issues of concern, and mechanisms to support implementation: Co-Chair Williams invited general statements on the compilation’s recommendations regarding institutional arrangements, the linkages with the future Science-Policy Panel (SPP), issues of concern, and mechanisms to support implementation.

CANADA supported removing barriers that currently favor some multi-stakeholder groups over others and stressed chemicals’ environmental, economic, social, and health impacts. IPEN encouraged regular public reporting on national implementation, called for issues of concern agreed at previous ICCMs to be carried forward to the new instrument, and cautioned against corporate capture of the SPP.

ZDHC FOUNDATION called for harmonized implementation tools and sectoral advisory groups. SWITZERLAND encouraged stakeholder contributions to the Secretariat and continued work on already-agreed EPIs, including on targets and identifying weaknesses and gaps. The EU supported the existing bureau structure, which allows all stakeholders’ involvement.

GAHP urged: getting chemicals into all sectors’ work agendas; work on implementation modalities; and use of the table comparing the Overarching Policy Strategy, compilation of recommendations, and VWG outcomes (SAICM/IP.4/INF/17). Co-Chair Williams responded that the work of Thematic Groups will be based on the IP3 compilation of recommendations, the work of the VWGs, the regional meetings, and views expressed in the IP4 plenary.

The AFRICAN GROUP said the governance system and institutional arrangements of SAICM have worked well and therefore the instrument beyond 2020 should build upon them. They also expressed concern about countries that conduct themselves with a “double standard” by continuing to produce banned products such as highly harmful pesticides.

HEALTHCARE WITHOUT HARM highlighted a gap in government-level representatives in the SAICM process, particularly from the health and agriculture sectors. The UK called for a simple but robust reporting mechanism so the burden for stakeholders is minimized, and transparency maximized.

HEJSUPPORT called for the engagement of vulnerable populations in decision-making at all stages of the chemical lifecycle. ESWATINI mentioned that countries’ efforts on HHPs are weakened by neighboring countries that lack the same ambition or capacity for action and recommended considering regional strategies.

Delegates agreed to Co-Chair Williams’ proposal to form Thematic Group 2 (TG2) to consider the recommendations on institutional arrangements, mechanisms to support implementation, issues of concern, and any linkages with the future SPP, co-facilitated by Karissa Kovner (US) and Teeraporn Wiriwutikorn (Thailand). Williams said this group would also cover any other outstanding issues that may arise during the week.

Mechanisms to support capacity building and financial considerations: Co-Chair Williams then invited general statements on the compilation’s recommendations regarding mechanisms to support capacity building and financial considerations.

ICCA announced their submission of a text proposal for a capacity-building mechanism.


  • supported the proposal of the global coordinated tax of 0.5% on basic chemicals;
  • suggested there should not be any obstacle for any stakeholder to access financial resources;
  • supported the creation of a QSP-like programme under the Secretariat open to all stakeholders; and
  • called for multilateral development banks to adopt strong safeguard policies on labor including occupational safety and health throughout all supply chains and lifecycle of projects.

IPEN called for:

  • the establishment of a funding mechanism modeled after the QSP to mobilize resources with broad scope and easy accessibility;
  • the involvement of industry in order to be held accountable and not only benefit from profits; and
  • industry involvement to be reflected in targets, indicators and monitoring and reporting mechanisms.

The AFRICAN GROUP noted it would propose text calling for a globally coordinated levy on chemicals revenues that would feed a new international fund to support developing countries in the sound management of chemicals and waste.

SWITZERLAND supported a “voluntary peer review” scheme to deploy experts to interested countries to share lessons learned, provide analysis of systems and polices and suggest options on how to improve.

The EU welcomed an ICCA proposal for a capacity-building mechanism. They reiterated their support for the integrated approach to financing, but said the concept needed further elaboration in the post-2020 instrument. The UK reiterated support for the integrated approach to financing and welcomed an increase in private sector involvement.

GRULAC called for a new approach to financing and stated that every stakeholder must assume a role in protecting people from harmful substances. The BASEL CONVENTION REGIONAL CENTRE NIGERIA welcomed expanded funding for chemicals and waste under the Global Environment Facility’s 8th replenishment.

KENYA emphasized the need to improve the provision of resources to reduce the burden on governments. The CHILDREN AND YOUTH MAJOR GROUP urged that youth be considered in the process.

IRAN, NIGERIA, GRULAC, TANZANIA, and KENYA reiterated the need for adequate, predictable, sustainable and accessible means for implementation, with NIGERIA, TANZANIA, and KENYA voicing support for the African Group’s proposal for a globally coordinated levy to support a special international fund.

Delegates agreed to Co-Chair Williams’ proposal to form Thematic Group 3 (TG3) to consider recommendations regarding mechanisms to support capacity building and financial considerations, co-facilitated by Jonah Ormond (Antigua and Barbuda) and Reggie Hernaus (Netherlands).

Work of the Thematic Groups: The following summary of the week’s discussions follows the expected outline and sequence of the basic elements of the recommendations for ICCM5, as outlined and sequenced in the Co-Chair’s “Single Consolidated Document.”

Vision: This subject was handled by TG1 on Monday and Thursday and an informal group on Wednesday. On Monday, TG1 reviewed the two options in the compilation and suggested 14 new ones. On Wednesday, the Co-Facilitators offered their own proposal: “Our Planet: Making Our Future Chemical and Waste Safe.” The TG convened an informal group on Wednesday to consider all the proposals tabled, including the Co-Facilitators’ proposal. The informal group suggested replacing the text in the compilation of recommendations SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1 with three new options for ICCM5 to consider:

  • “Chemical safety for all”;
  • “A toxics free planet. Advancing chemicals and waste safety for a healthy future”; and
  • “Healthy Planet and People: Making Our Future Chemical and Waste Safe.”

TG1 accepted this proposal.

Scope: Although TG1 was mandated to consider the two paragraphs on scope, an initial discussion revealed no appetite for debating this issue at this juncture. Issues raised but not resolved included:

  • whether to refer to all waste or only waste associated with chemicals;
  • whether to refer to all aspects of chemicals management, or to specify environmental, economic, social, health, agricultural and labor aspects; and
  • what, if anything, to add on managing chemicals (and waste) beyond enhancing sustainable development, such as references to circularity, resource efficiency, or protection of human rights.

Principles and Approaches: TG1 took up principles and approaches on Thursday and Friday, based on work of the IP Co-Chairs (SAICM/IP.3/6) in response to a request at OEWG3 that was not discussed at IP3. This section remains heavily bracketed.

TG1 participants generally supported a delegate’s suggestion to add a chapeau that “in developing and implementing the sound management of chemicals and waste, stakeholders should be guided by the principles of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and acknowledging states’ respective circumstances and capabilities and the need for global action.” However, some delegates preferred reference to a more recent instrument, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

There was substantial, although not universal, support to refer to human rights in the chapeau, but disagreement on whether to refer to “following the rights-based approach” or simply to refer to a human right to a healthy environment.

Delegates agreed to move an existing list of documents encompassing existing international declarations, resolutions, and agreements to an annex. There was general support for referring to “principles, approaches, and agreements,” rather than simply to “documents” included in the annex. After some discussion, both the original paragraph referring to the Rio Declaration, and an alternate paragraph with no reference to any specific document, were kept bracketed for further negotiation.

There was some discussion on whether a “statement of needs” may be needed, although TG1 was not mandated to discuss this. No conclusion was reached on this question.

Strategic Objectives: TG1 deliberated strategic objectives from Tuesday through Thursday. The Group was unable to remove brackets in the Co-Chairs’ compilation of recommendations (SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1) on Strategic Objective A on capacity, legal framework and institutional mechanisms. Many delegates suggested additions, but Co-Facilitator Rivera urged that discussion be limited to word replacements rather than additions. There was no further discussion.

Discussion of Strategic Objective B, on generating data and information to enable informed decisions and actions, generally moved toward maintaining the text in the compilation document: “Comprehensive and sufficient knowledge, data and information are generated, available and accessible to all to enable informed decisions and actions.”

Regarding Strategic Objective C, on issues of concern, there was general agreement to delete bracketed text limiting action to those issues warranting global and/or joint action. Delegates also agreed that the text, when finalized, must be consistent with the final nomenclature chosen for issues of concern.

Delegates debated Strategic Objective D, on maximizing benefits to human health and the environment and preventing or minimizing risks, rather than an alternative in an IOMC proposal on strategic objectives and targets (SAICM/IP.4/CRP.2) that focuses on introducing safer alternatives and innovative solutions in key product value chains that maximize the benefits of chemicals and advance circularity. Co-Chair Rivera noted a lack of brackets in the original proposed text, while several participants noted that the IOMC’s proposal was limited by not including waste, not specifying actions, and referring to benefits of chemicals rather than benefits to human health and the environment. Co-Chair Rivera suggested basing further discussion on the original text but adding reference to value chains from the IOMC’s proposal and asked the IOMC to draft  modified text.

Regarding Strategic Objective E, on adequate financial and non-financial resources, accelerated actions, and necessary partnerships for sound management of chemicals and waste, the IOMC proposed alternative text from its proposal in SAICM/IP.4/CRP.2, with a view to streamlining the original long and heavily bracketed paragraph without losing its meaning. The IOMC text referred to integrating sound management of chemicals and waste in all relevant sustainable development, financing, and corporate decision processes. Some delegates pressed for including clearer language on finance mobilization and partnerships. Others pointed out that these issues are covered in this objective’s targets. Ultimately delegates agreed to work on the basis of the IOMC’s proposed text.

Targets: TG1 discussed targets from Tuesday through Friday. Initial discussions examined the dozens of targets proposed at IP3, and by the Technical Working Group on Targets, Indicators and Milestones (SAICM/IP.4/3), the VWG on Targets, Indicators and Milestones (SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1/Add.1), and the IOMC (SAICM/IP.4/CRP.2), as well as comments made in the IP4 Plenary.

Some delegates proposed to merge several targets that contain similar activities, so that they cover as many issues as possible and not be limited to specifics. New proposals, such as those on the GHS, HHPs, and development of new code of conduct on chemicals and waste, were also discussed. The group agreed that the objective of IP4 was to identify the group of targets under each strategic objective, and that indicators for measuring progress on meeting targets would be developed later, along with further discussion on targets themselves. It was acknowledged that some draft targets may become indicators.

By Thursday the group had narrowed the list to 28 “high level” or “priority” targets and grouped them by strategic objective. The group agreed that some targets, such as the one on HHPs, may fall under more than one strategic objective. These were provisionally placed under one objective with discussion on their final placement left until later. Delegates inserted dates and/or cleared brackets for some targets, but the entire cluster of targets remained bracketed to indicate they require further deliberation.

The bracketed targets are as follows:

  • Target A1 - By 2030, governments have adopted, implemented and enforced legal frameworks and established appropriate institutional capacities to prevent or, where not feasible, minimize adverse effects from chemicals and waste.
  • Target A2 - A Code of Conduct on chemicals and waste management, incorporating the elements of the overall orientation and guidance, is developed and countries have incorporated its provision in their national legislation.
  • Target A3 - By 20xx, measures identified to prevent or minimize harm from chemicals throughout their life cycle [and waste], are implemented by companies.
  • Target A4 - By 20xx, illegal international trade and traffic of toxic, hazardous, banned and severely restricted chemicals and of waste is effectively prevented.
  • Target A5 - By 2030, all countries have prohibited the export of substances that they have prohibited nationally.
  • Target A6 - By 2030 all countries have poison information centres that adequately respond to poisonings and, if possible, networks as well as access to training on chemical risk prevention and clinical toxicology and at least one clinical toxicology service.
  • Target A7 - By 2030, the use of HHPs is eliminated from agriculture.
  • Target B1 - By 20xx, comprehensive data and information on chemicals, throughout their lifecycle, are generated, made available, and accessible.
  • Target B2 - By 20xx, stakeholders in the value chain ensure that reliable information on chemicals in [materials and] articles is available throughout their life cycle [including at the waste stage], to enable informed decisions and safe management of chemicals in a clean circular economy.
  • Target B3 - Robust data on production of chemicals, releases and emissions of chemicals and waste to the environment, and concentrations of chemicals in humans, biota, and environmental media is generated and made available at regional and global level and harmonized research protocols are developed and used to ensure coherence and comparability of this data.
  • Target B4 - By 20xx, all stakeholders have and are using appropriate and standardized tools, guidelines and best available practices for assessments and sound management, as well as for the prevention of harm, risk reduction, monitoring and enforcement.
  • Target B5 - By 20xx, educational, training and public awareness programmes on chemical safety, sustainability, safer alternatives, and benefit of chemicals have been developed and implemented.
  • Target B6 - By 20xx, all governments have legally implemented and enforce the GHS in all relevant sectors.
  • Target C1 - Processes and programmes of work including timelines are established, adopted, and implemented for identified issues of concern to reduce and eliminate harm.
  • Target D1 - Companies consistently invest in and achieve innovations toward advancing green and sustainable chemistry, cleaner production, and the deployment of life cycle management approaches for chemicals.
  • Target D2 - [Countries][governments] implement policies that encourage production using sustainable and safe(r) alternatives including cleaner production technologies and facilitate re-use and recycling of products (circular economy).
  • Target D3 - By 20xx, companies, including from the investment sector, incorporate strategies and policies to implement the sound management of chemicals [and waste] in their investment approaches and business models and apply internationally recognized reporting standards.
  • Target D4 - In research and innovation programmes priority is given to sustainable solutions and safer alternatives to harmful substances in products and mixtures, including in consumer products.
  • Target D5 – By 2030, governments implement policies and programmes to increase support to non-chemical alternatives including agroecology to replace the chemicals or groups of chemicals of global and regional concern including highly hazardous pesticides.
  • Target D6 – By 20xx, sustainable chemical and waste management strategies have been developed and implemented for “xy” major economic sectors with intense chemical use, which identify priority chemicals of concern, standards and measures to reduce chemical input and footprint along the value chains (e.g., textile, electronic, building, agriculture, etc.)
  • Target D7 - As of 20xx, governments and companies ensure effective occupational health and safety practices as well as environmental protection measures in the chemicals sectors and throughout the supply chain.
  • Target D8 - By 20xx, minimum requirements for third-party/private/non-governmental standards, labels and certification schemes are defined and reviewed on an ongoing basis, potential for harmonization is explored and adherence increased and applied by the private sector and monitored by governments and other stakeholders.
  • Target E1 - Policies for sound management of chemicals [and waste] are integrated into local, national, and regional development strategies.
  • Target E2 - Partnerships and networks amongst sectors and stakeholders are strengthened to achieve the sound management of chemicals [and waste].
  • Target E3 - Financial and non-financial resources needed to achieve [support] the sound management of chemicals [and waste] are identified and mobilized in all sectors by and for all stakeholders.
  • [Target E4 - Gaps between developed and developing countries in the implementation of sound management of chemicals [and waste] are identified and narrowed.]
  • Target E5 – “regarding internalization of costs/cost recovery mechanism”
  • Target E6 - All stakeholders identify and strengthen synergies and linkages between chemicals [and] [waste] and other environmental, health and societal priorities, such as climate change, biodiversity, human rights, universal health coverage and primary health care.

On Friday in TG1, Co-Facilitator Ummik introduced an explanatory note produced by the Co-Facilitators, which identifies proposed targets that require further discussion after this week’s deliberations. She explained that the note shows:

  • which targets are pending finalization of other sections of the post-2020 instrument under negotiation that refer to the same issues, such as finance;
  • a proposed list of targets that may be moved to indicators; and
  • targets that may be moved to a “higher level statement.”

She explained that the note could not be amended but said it does not preclude further negotiations on the targets. Several delegates expressed disagreement with how the status of some concepts was framed in the note. The group ultimately agreed that the note should be presented as being only a non-negotiated Co-Facilitators’ view on the status of concepts discussed under targets by TG1, for informational purposes only and with no official status, and that it should state that it “may be read in conjunction with the livestream recordings” of all the TG1 discussions for further information.

TG1 also discussed possible recommendations on how work on targets and indicators might be handled in the months leading to ICCM5. The UK offered a proposal that had been developed in a small group (SAICM/IP.4/CRP.1) for intersessional work by a technical working group to develop a possible “measurability structure,” mandating the group to:

  • recommend a number of indicators;
  • recommend a finalized measurability structure; and
  • make any recommendations on how target wording could be improved to enhance measurability.

Some delegates said this effort would be premature, given that TG1 had returned to a discussion of concepts, which need much more refinement. Several other participants noted, however, that the proposed work on indicators could assist in formulating feasible and measurable targets. Some cautioned against further virtual work given the difficulties experienced by some delegations in participating in virtual working groups between 2020-2022. One delegate suggested undertaking further work on targets first, which could then feed into the CRP.1 proposal.

Eventually, given the diversity of views, TG1 agreed not to attempt to provide a collective recommendation on future work.

Rules of Procedure: Originally listed in the IP3 compilation under “Mechanisms to Support Implementation,” TG2 decided on Wednesday to move a reference on rules of procedure to the Institutional Arrangements section under the subsection on the post-2020 instrument’s proposed governing body, the conference, with exact wording for later discussion.

International Conference: TG2 discussed the conference on Monday and Tuesday. TG2 quickly agreed on several administrative functions of the governing body. The group also identified several functions for the future governing body that required further consideration given their linkages with other issues under the new instrument and agreed to return to those issues as they arose to ensure cohesion throughout the instrument.

During the week, it was agreed that the governing body should meet every two years “unless it decides otherwise,” and that “where appropriate” it should be held back-to-back with meetings of the governing bodies of relevant intergovernmental organizations to enhance synergies and cost effectiveness.

On Friday, a proposal was introduced and inserted, in brackets, into the text, with discussion postponed until later, that would mandate the governing body to:

  • officially invite representatives from the environment, health, labor and agriculture sectors involved in chemical management and safety issues to attend the conference;
  • design its agenda with sufficient space to allow meaningful discussions of priorities, gaps and implementation issues faced by different sectors; and
  • strengthen financial support for developing countries and countries with economies in transition to attend the conference.

Bureau: TG2 addressed the draft recommendation on the bureau. Although the IP3 text was not bracketed, a developing country proposed alternative text on Friday that would require the bureau’s composition reflect the multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nature of the instrument, with due regard for the principle of equitable geographical representation and gender balance, as well as representation from different sectors among government representatives. The proposal was left to be discussed later.

Secretariat: TG2 did not discuss the provisions regarding the Secretariat.

National Implementation: TG2 discussed this subsection on Wednesday and Thursday. Delegates agreed to maintain the first subparagraph from the IP3 compilation document (SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1). The paragraph says governments should establish arrangements such as national plans of action for implementation on an inter-ministerial or inter-institutional basis, in consultation with stakeholders, so that concerned national department and stakeholder interests are represented and all relevant substantive areas are addressed.

On the heavily bracketed paragraph on national focal points, delegates agreed to delete reference to “political  and/or technical” national focal points. After other minor amendments, the paragraph now calls for focal points to disseminate information, develop a network or mechanism to coordinate national views, attend meetings, and be representative of the country’s inter-ministerial or inter-institutional arrangements, where such arrangements exist.

TG2 also created an informal group, under the leadership of Brazil and the African Group, to review an African Group-proposed set of guidelines (IP.4/INF/7/Rev.1) for national focal points for possible inclusion in an annex.

A civil society organization suggested adding text on governments creating their national implementation plans in consultation with other stakeholders, with wide support from governments and other organizations alike. There was widespread support from governments for national plans to optionally support reporting on strategic objectives and targets by using the word “may” rather than “should.” Finally, it was agreed that all stakeholders should undertake actions to “promote” progress, rather than “ensure” progress, on their implementation plans given that a result cannot be guaranteed.

[International,] Regional and [Subregional] Sectoral Cooperation and Coordination: This section entered IP4 largely with clean text except for references to “international” along with regional sectoral cooperation and coordination, and TG2 removed the brackets around international reference except in the section title. As now drafted, the section encourages regions, where appropriate, to:

  • identify common priorities;
  • develop regional implementation plans for the sound management of chemicals and waste, and to consider regional or sub-regional approaches and projects; and
  • appoint a regional focal point.

The section also includes a paragraph on the facilitative role regional focal points can play in this process.

Enhanced Sectoral and Stakeholder Engagement: TG2 discussed this section on Wednesday and Thursday.

A paragraph was removed that had invited international organizations and bodies to endorse, adopt or formally recognize the post-2020 instrument and strengthen their own engagement on policies and actions for the sound management of chemicals and waste.

A paragraph inviting relevant organizations and bodies—in particular the IOMC organizations and the chemicals and waste-related conventions—to facilitate the participation of stakeholders and sectors in national and regional efforts was reformulated but left in brackets.

Delegates considered the role of regional entities in enhancing sectoral and stakeholder engagement on Thursday. They debated a provision inviting labor ministerial forums alongside health and environmental ministerial forums to support wider global engagement of regional conventions, programmes, bodies, and processes. With concern from two developed countries over the new instrument’s capacity to compel legally independent regional conventions to act, the participants settled on text inviting “relevant regional conventions, programmes, centres, bodies and processes, such as health, labor and environmental ministerial forums” to support national efforts.

Mechanisms to Support Capacity Building: This is a new subsection added by TG3, and then augmented with several further proposals, with detailed examination left for later. The idea from the VWGs to offer voluntary “peer reviews” of efforts to build capacity, upon request from a government and facilitated by the Secretariat, was added. The ICCA introduced its proposal for a capacity-building platform that would serve as a matchmaking tool to connect capacity needs to providers of capacity-building assistance, including financial and in-kind support. IRAN introduced its proposal for a databank, under the Secretariat, on financial assistance, capacity building and transfer of technology to identify developing countries’ needs and potential suppliers of assistance.

Mechanisms for Taking Stock of Progress: On Friday, JAPAN presented to TG2 its proposal on stocktaking, which invites and enables stakeholders to report on implementation efforts in an organized and transparent manner through an accessible online tool. JAPAN explained that this tool would be created by the Secretariat using dedicated funding from Japan. The proposal received a positive response, however concerns were raised over the amount of effort it would take stakeholders with less technical capacity to comply. These comments were met with assurances that the tool would focus on reducing duplicative efforts while also reducing the Secretariat’s compilation burden.

Mechanisms for Updating the Framework: This section, developed by the Co-Chairs and approved for inclusion by the Bureau (SAICM/IP.3/5/Corr.1), was discussed by TG2. The section was streamlined to read that the conference may update or revise the instrument after taking into account the information and data gathered from stakeholders under the stocktaking mechanism and the results of periodic effectiveness evaluations called for by the conference. Delegates could not agree on whether only governments, or any stakeholder, can propose an update or revision. The text of a proposed update or revision must be communicated to all stakeholders and focal points by the Secretariat at least six months in advance of the conference.

Integrated Approach to Financing: TG3 discussed provisions on an integrated approach to financing for the sound management of chemicals and waste throughout the week.

On the paragraphs regarding the integrated approach, all delegates expressed support for maintaining text stating that it is essential and how its three components, i.e., mainstreaming, private sector involvement, and dedicated external finance, are “equally important and mutually reinforcing.” They continued to disagree, however, on:

  • references to the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda;
  • a reference to bridging the capacity gap between developed and developing countries; and
  • a proposal to establish an arrangement, process, or subsidiary structure composed of finance and other experts to keep resources and initiatives for capacity building, technology, and financing under review.

TG3 generally supported the idea of creating a clearinghouse mechanism to provide information on resource mobilization and possible sources of financing for the sound management of chemicals and waste, but disagreed over whether it would be placed under the Secretariat.

In the subsection on mainstreaming, a regional group proposed splitting an existing paragraph in half, since the first half focuses on mainstreaming within governments, while the second encourages the mainstreaming of the sound management of chemicals and waste within financial institutions. This proposal was generally accepted. 

With the support of two developed countries but disagreement from one developing country, a regional group suggested replacing “countries” with “governments” to take into account the different levels of government that can exist across governing systems. TG3 ultimately added a significant amount of specific text to expand the second half on financial institutions to extend their duties in mainstreaming the sound management of chemicals and waste.

Developing countries and civil society organizations sought to extend the scope of financial institutions to include mainstreaming efforts by investors.

The final text on mainstreaming was left in its expanded form for further deliberation.

The text in the entire subsection on private sector involvement remained riddled with brackets at the end of the week.

Regarding government actions to operationalize private sector involvement in financing, delegates disagreed over the use of the “polluter pays principle” versus “polluter pays approach,” while others expressed concern over use of the word “encourage” in reference to government actions regarding private sector involvement, favoring stronger language such as “engage” or “strengthen.”

Multiple developing countries favored adding the phrase “according to their national circumstances” in reference to actions undertaken by governments. There were also questions over language on the differences between responsibilities of industry and national administrations, with a suggestion to clarify “respective” responsibilities to differentiate them within the text. A developed country, supported by another developed country, suggested removing “levies and taxes” from the list of government actions that can be used to increase the involvement of the private sector in the sound management of chemicals and waste.

The paragraph addressing the private sector contribution, bracketed as a whole at IP3, received numerous proposals, which were all bracketed. Delegates generally agreed on language on corporate contributions to implement the GHS globally and corporate fees to support domestic chemical management schemes, including enforcement, data generation, data sharing, partnerships, and capacity building.

Delegates disagreed over whether a corporate commitment to support the post-2020 instrument´s objectives and targets should include investment, and/or in-kind, and/or financial, contributions. They also postponed discussion on a proposal that the private sector should provide commitments to innovation, training, safety, and sustainability initiatives, as well as compliance with regulatory requirements, including relevant occupational safety and health elements.

A paragraph on the role of the financial sector was debated, but no consensus was reached. One country resisted asking the financial sector to develop policies to minimize economic risks associated with unsound chemicals and waste management, although expressed willingness to develop guidance and recommendations. Delegates disagreed on:

  • references to reducing chemical inputs and the chemical footprint;
  • references to the value chain; and
  • whether the reference to loan criteria for the financial sector involved with companies and projects in the chemicals value chain should be labelled as “green” or “sustainable” criteria

In the subsection on dedicated external financing, the AFRICAN GROUP introduced its proposal for a globally coordinated fee of 0.05% on sales of feedstock chemicals, with revenues earmarked for a standalone international fund for the sound management of chemicals and waste in developing countries. A civil society stakeholder said that while they supported the thrust of the proposal, they wanted to offer for discussion a counterproposal raising the proposed fee amount to 0.5%.

The AFRICAN GROUP agreed to hold an informal consultation on Wednesday evening to offer clarifications and discuss their proposal further with interested parties.

On Thursday, many governments in TG3 expressed appreciation to the African Group for its proposal and the informal dialogue it had hosted, but several developed countries said that a voluntary post-2020 instrument could not mandate a globally coordinated tax and their finance ministries would oppose the idea. Many delegates from civil society organizations and developing countries insisted on the importance of engaging the private sector in this manner to alleviate the burden on the public sector, and the African Group vowed to keep pursuing the tax and international fund idea, or something similar, in other fora.

Establishment of an Engagement in Multisectoral Partnerships: TG3 discussed this topic on Thursday. Delegates disagreed over having to create partnerships explicitly linked to the 2030 Agenda, with many governments expressing their preference to remove the reference, given the goal of creating a timeless framework that would go beyond 2030. One developing country made a final argument in favor of keeping the reference to the 2030 Agenda, as maintaining it in the section on partnerships is not only consistent with the goals of SAICM but is one of the key links between the new instrument and the SDGs.

Financing the Secretariat: TG3 discussed this topic on Thursday. Efforts were made to highlight the importance of financial contributions from the private sector alongside those of governments, while allowing all stakeholders to financially contribute where appropriate. 

Delegates deliberated over a proposed paragraph whereby the Secretariat annually invites government stakeholders to make a voluntary financial contribution using a figure based on the UN scale of assessments. Two governments questioned the value of using such a figure, but another argued that the UN scale of assessments figure would be helpful in justifying to the finance ministry the scale of the contribution. A delegate from a regional group agreed the figure served an informative, useful purpose. 

A developed country proposed an additional paragraph suggesting the Secretariat provide a list of areas in which stakeholders are encouraged to make financial and in-kind contributions at the beginning of the budget cycle and subsequently release a public record of these contributions upon the conclusion of the budget cycle.

Issues of Concern: TG2 addressed this topic from Tuesday through Friday. The TG2 Co-Facilitators opened discussions by inviting the Co-Facilitators of the VWG on Issues of Concern, Sam Adu-Kumi (Ghana) and Sverre Thomas Jahre (Norway), to present the outcomes of the VWG’s discussions. They reported the VWG’s preference for maintaining IP3’s title “Issues of [international] concern” rather than any alternatives and deleting the section giving criteria for selecting issues of concern. They reported other outcomes, including agreement in the VWG on:

  • allowing nomination of issues at any time;
  • introducing workplans for specific, measurable, and timebound implementation and the need to ensure funding for this; and
  • new alternative text on submission of information and for an ad hoc multi-stakeholder committee to track progress.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates differed in their views on whether to use the VWG proposals or the IP3 compilation document as the basis for deliberations, given the difficulties in communication caused by the pandemic and technical issues surrounding virtual communications in some regions. Ultimately, they decided to use the comparison table in SAICM/IP.4/INF/17 as it shows both texts.

Regarding the definition in the text of what constitutes an issue of concern under the instrument, several participants called for a broad definition, so as to include issues of regional as well as global or international concern.

Regarding the definition in the text of what constitutes an issue of concern under the instrument, several participants called for a broad definition, so as to include issues of regional as well as “global” or “international” concern.

On the stipulations of submission of information on issues of concern, there was an understanding of the need to reduce the burden on stakeholders in submitting information, while trying to ensure enough information is received to act. The Group tried to streamline and clean the text, although a new proposal was bracketed given lack of consensus, calling for nominations of issues of concern to include a list of priority actions, related timelines, a workplan, targets and corresponding indicators. The agreed provisions cover submission of information on:

  • why the instrument is best placed to advance the issue;
  • impacts on human health and/or the environment related to the issue, taking into account vulnerable and at-risk populations (especially women, children, youth, and workers), biodiversity, ecosystems and toxicological, ecotoxicological, and exposure data, if available;
  • how the issue is integral to the post-2020 vision, is ongoing, and needs to be addressed to enhance basic chemicals and waste management, and/or advance the implementation of innovative and sustainable solutions;
  • how addressing the issue can assist countries with the SDGs;
  • the extent to which the issue is of a cross-cutting nature, including at the sectoral level;
  • the extent to which the issue is being addressed by other bodies at the regional or international level, and how the proposed action to address the issue is related to, complements, or does not duplicate such effort;
  • a summary of existing knowledge, relevant past activities, scientific uncertainties, and gaps in understanding or action; and
  • identification of potential lead organization(s) and opportunities for multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral engagement.

During discussions on trying to reorganize the content on the need to identify a lead organization and require the submission of a list of priority actions and timelines to nominate an issue, a developed country, widely supported by stakeholders, proposed splitting the text to ensure all existing content was retained without muddling their respective messages. 

A regional group suggested asking for issue nominations to include a workplan, where possible, as it allows submissions to be actionable with less delay. However, discussion expanded to consider whether workplans could be developed by stakeholders or left to an ad hoc multi-stakeholder committee created by the conference. The Group agreed to address this at a later date, given the relevance of this question to other sections of the recommendations.

Other provisions in this section, on functions of the ad hoc committees, workplans, tracking progress, and determining the need for further work on an issue, were left for future deliberations.

Proposal for the Name of the New Instrument: On Monday, the Secretariat introduced its document proposing names for the post-2020 instrument (SAICM/IP.4/8/Rev.1), explaining that the document was requested by IP3.

Of the Secretariat’s four options, GAHP said “UN Chemicals and Waste” was most comprehensive, but also supported mention of “united,” “health,” and “people” in other alternatives.

The UK favored “framework” rather than “strategic approach.”

Co-Chair Williams said further reflections on the name could be provided in writing to the Secretariat.

Linkages with the Future Science-Policy Panel (SPP): On Wednesday, TG2 addressed the issue of how the science-policy interface discussed at IP3 might interact with, or be replaced by, the SPP for chemicals and waste mandated by UNEA resolution 5/8. UNEP presented information on the newly initiated process of establishing the SPP, noting, inter alia:

  • discussions among UNEA Member States and other stakeholders about its focus;
  • establishment of an OEWG to develop the SPP, for endorsement by an intergovernmental meeting by the end of 2024;
  • guiding principles similar to those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), including transparency, impartiality, policy relevance, but not policy prescriptiveness, and interdisciplinarity; and
  • the need for considering the interface between the SPP, SAICM, the BRS Conferences of the Parties, and other intergovernmental bodies.

He then explained the function of an SPP to produce scientifically rigorous global studies on topics defined by Member States, in consultation with others, that give a range of scenarios and options for action based on scientific principles.

In the ensuing discussion, there was general agreement that the SPP must include participation from all affected sectors and constituencies, particularly health, labor, agriculture, and local communities on the ground. One delegate noted that many organizations in these areas are not involved with UN bodies for which they must be accredited in order to be eligible to participate in UNEA, so their involvement must be addressed structurally. Another expressed the view that health is the main issue that “moves the general population.” Several participants from organizations already active in related work offered to provide information to the OEWG developing the SPP or to the SPP itself.

The Group decided to address the relationship with the SPP through subparagraphs added to the section on the functions of the post-2020 instrument’s governing body, the Conference. While delegates readily agreed to one subparagraph calling for the Conference to consider relevant outcomes from the SPP, once it is established, they could not reach consensus on phrasing on how the Conference would invite the SPP to undertake work for their consideration.

Approval of the Co-Chairs’ Single Consolidated Document

Opening Friday afternoon plenary session, IP Co-Chair Williams expressed her gratitude to stakeholders for providing their valuable ideas and proposals. She invited the Co-Facilitators of the Thematic Groups to share their summaries of outcomes from the week.

TG1 Co-Facilitator Rivera highlighted the group’s success in identifying 28 priority targets, but noted that further work would be necessary, including on the development of indicators.

TG2 Co-Facilitator Wiriwutikorn said the Group had been able to clear a large number of paragraphs under issues of concern, taking stock of implementation, and institutional arrangements. She mentioned that the section on the functions of the Secretariat was not finished, and that further work is required on the procedural elements of issues of concern. She also highlighted further work foreseen on guidelines for national focal points, handling existing EPIs and issues of concern with the help of the IOMC’s proposal (SAICM/IP.4/CRP.4), and on the provision for enhancing multi-sectoral involvement.

TG3 Co-Facilitator Hernaus said the Group had completed a first reading on capacity building and financial considerations, partnerships, and financing the Secretariat. He highlighted topics in need of further discussion, including the establishment of a dedicated fund or other method to assist countries in need to implement the framework, and the involvement of the financial sector in the sound management of chemicals and waste.

Co-Chair Williams introduced the Co-Chairs’ single consolidated document and reviewed its elements. In response to a request by IRAN, the Co-Chairs agreed to provide stakeholders with seven working days to consider the consolidated text and provide written feedback on any errors or omissions they find in their review of the document.

Williams stated that the document would form the basis for discussion at a resumed session of IP4 (“IP4.2”), in early 2023 at a date and location to be determined by the Bureau in consultation with stakeholders. She then invited UNEP Legal Officer Stadler Trengove to explain the procedure of having UNEP process the document for standard editing.

ITUC stated they will continue efforts to promote labor rights as a key part of the sound management of chemicals and waste and urged the Co-Chairs to request wider participation for the next meeting, including labor ministries.

GRULAC requested the consolidated text’s format be presented as three columns, comparing the results of the VWGs, the final text of IP4(.1), and explanatory notes on changes made between the two texts.

IPEN highlighted the strengths of meeting face-to-face and stressed the need to upscale facilities to enhance participation, particularly interpretation services.

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE expressed appreciation for meeting in person and IP4(.1)’s impact on fostering ownership of the work among stakeholders. They thanked the IOMC for their continued involvement in increasing inclusiveness and stated that “we are in agreement of what we want to achieve, even if we use different words.”

The AFRICAN GROUP suggested having an open discussion between stakeholders and the chemical industry before IP4.2 about financial issues and, with ASIA-PACIFIC and GRULAC, called for wider and more balanced participation of stakeholders, with a target of 60% of participants from developing countries.

The WORLD FEDERATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATIONS called for putting human health at the center of thought and speech. Ruth Spencer, on behalf of NGOs working on gender issues, including, among others, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the German NGO Forum on Environment and Development, HEJSupport, IPEN, MSP Institute, and Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), stressed the need for inclusion of women and non-binary people, and proposed the inclusion of a gender action plan at ICCM5. The MAJOR GROUP FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH requested financing for youth participation at ICCM5. The CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT called for interpretation services at future meetings and, with TOXIC LINK, urged meaningful and broad participation at the next session.

The EU announced that it will do its utmost to ensure broad participation at IP4.2.

Preparations for ICCM5

ICCM5 President Breyer reported on preparations for ICCM5, to be held in Bonn, Germany, on 25-29 September 2023, with pre-meeting technical briefings on 23-24 September. She said ICCM5 will also include a high-level segment for ministers, side events, and exhibitions.

Breyer thanked everyone for their constructive efforts and the progress made at IP4, and congratulated participants in achieving consolidation of elements for the new framework into a single document. She officially invited everyone to Bonn for ICCM5.


Co-Chair Torres adjourned IP4(.1) and opened the first session of IP4.2, saying the report of IP4(.1) will be finalized by the Secretariat in consultation with the Co-Chairs. She asked participants to send all statements to the Secretariat so they may be accurately captured.

She thanked Romania for its hospitality, donors for their support, the Secretariat, support staff, and Co-Facilitators for their hard work throughout the week, and all participants for their constructive participation. She declared IP4(.1) adjourned at 5:57 pm.

A Brief Analysis of the Meeting

International processes can frequently lose sight of the objective that was the reason for meeting in the first place, becoming self-contained like a perpetual motion machine. This questioning of the objective was in some participants’ minds as they struggled to figure out the future of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). Yet with the fifth meeting of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) on the horizon, is SAICM working for itself as part of a tradition of long bureaucratic processes that are created and exist mainly to sustain themselves, or will it effectively respond to the adverse effects chemicals and waste on human health and the environment?

What Are We Doing?

The fourth session of the Intersessional Process for Considering the SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP4) was one step along a path that was set out in 2002’s Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, which outlined a goal to minimize the adverse effects of chemicals on human health and the environment by 2020. This was further developed to include waste and now governments and other stakeholders are trying to strengthen efforts and make them more effective in a new “post-2020 instrument.”

Many instruments and processes already exist that contribute to achieving the “2020” goal, including the Stockholm, Basel, Rotterdam and Minamata Conventions. These treaties possess the effectiveness of government authority—that is, their objectives can be implemented through regulation within states. SAICM, as a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral platform, does not have the power of a binding multilateral treaty. Rather, it is a tool in which governments, civil society organizations, international organizations, academia, the private sector and other stakeholders have an equal say on the platform’s work. And therein lies its value and the challenges in negotiating an updated Strategic Approach.

Why Are We Doing It?

One of the challenges for the “post-2020 instrument” process is to achieve a balance between the authority of a multilateral treaty and the inclusiveness of a voluntary, multi-stakeholder platform. This challenge was evident throughout the week as participants discussed their recommendations to ICCM5, scheduled for September 2023, which must adopt the post-2020 international chemicals and waste regime that will succeed SAICM. Many of the debates raised at least indirect questions about who the instrument’s mandates are for: governments, civil society stakeholders, the private sector, or all of the above. This creates something of a dilemma: an intergovernmental process cannot directly give orders to the private sector; but conversely, a voluntary, multi-stakeholder platform cannot tell governments what to do.

The sound management of chemicals and waste is complex. Part of the complexity is expressed in balancing the needs of the industries that produce or use chemicals with the human rights to health, safety, and a clean environment—an issue illustrated, for example, by the fact that some countries continue to export products that are banned domestically. This reinforces the gaping divide between the needs, expectations, and capacities of countries at different levels of development.

What stands out about SAICM is that, because of its multi-stakeholder nature, it includes a wide variety of actors with diverse levels of backgrounds and understanding, who, as a result, may more nimbly identify problems and propose solutions to tackle many of the challenges chemicals and waste pose to human health and the environment than traditional intergovernmental bodies. This seems to give the SAICM process a real impetus to produce a satisfactory outcome, but finding a pathway that carries the action-oriented mindset of its participants through the politics of international processes and institutions to deliver effective solutions is the challenge the SAICM has to overcome. This is why a multi-stakeholder platform, where industry, civil society, and governments participate at the same level, is an effective way to frame the “post-2020 instrument.” The challenge is how to provide this instrument with the power to achieve the necessary results.

Where Are We Going?

Stakeholders must decide what they want SAICM to be. This appeared to be the main issue at IP4: how will this process achieve the vision set out 20 years ago in Johannesburg? This negotiating process must address the challenges of our reality: the increasing production and sale—set to double by 2030—of chemicals, the evident inequalities in their use and commercialization, and the consequences they have on human health and the environment.

IP4 provided a space where SAICM members had the opportunity to return to “brick and mortar,” after two years of online “chat rooms,” to share their views on the best way to finally achieve the Johannesburg goals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these Virtual Working Groups seemed to make progress building on several of the IP3 outcomes in 2019. However, during IP4 the Thematic Groups’ co-facilitators struggled to hold onto the outcomes of the Virtual Working Groups, given some delegations’ cautioning that their virtual nature presented many challenges—especially for those with connectivity problems, more difficult experiences during the pandemic, and lack of access to adequate technology—making it difficult to accept the entirety of those outcomes.

This concern was amplified by the call from many to ensure broader participation of stakeholders from the developing world and from different sectors, as well as better representation of youth, women, and non-binary people, to ensure transparency and ownership of the future outcome. However, additional concerns were raised by several delegates that some of their proposals were ignored by the Co-Facilitators. Going forward, this perceived neglect will have to be addressed to ensure increased representation of the aforementioned groups achieves the goals of transparency and ownership.

During the meetings of the Thematic Groups, the Co-Facilitators asked delegates to consider where different concepts should be placed in the text, and discussed whether they should be considered objectives, targets, or indicators, or if they were cross-cutting issues that should be broadly reflected throughout the text. Some delegates were hesitant to agree on a text that consolidates issues or relocate them elsewhere in the outcome document, worried that they might lose what had been achieved in previous IP meetings, or the concept in question disappears altogether, and ultimately agreed to keep the text in placeholders for later consideration. This includes significant subjects, such as how the new instrument will tackle obstacles created by inadequate funding, and a call for more participation of entities and ministries other than those working in the environmental arena, to address the fact that the sound management of chemicals is an issue that encompasses many different sectors, both within countries and at the international level.

There are few alternatives for moving forward, but the only real option is to try to improve upon SAICM. The most optimistic outcome would constitute a multi-stakeholder platform containing mechanisms that can request governments to regulate a wider range of issues proposed by stakeholders during the intersessional process. On the other hand, creating a framework agreement that encompasses different environmental, health, and other issues related to chemicals and waste, with the necessary power to compel implementation and enforcement of commitments, as some participants had pushed for in the early days of the intersessional process, would be improbable given the equal status of all stakeholders in the deliberations. It would also be much more ambitious than some participants appear willing to contemplate.

Although some issues were contentious—most notably the African Group’s proposal for a globally coordinated fee of 0.05% on the sales of feedstock chemicals to provide the revenues for a standalone international fund to support developing countries in chemicals and waste management—IP4 did make progress. Participants succeeded in consolidating elements into one unified document that will serve as the basis for negotiation at the next meeting and bringing the tasks ahead of ICCM5 into sharper focus. Some longtime SAICM participants were gratified to see the strong leadership role shown by Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) at IP4 as a hopeful sign for the post-2020 instrument.

However, the future of SAICM remains in the hands of stakeholders. With IP4 suspended and set to be reconvened in early 2023, the ICCM Bureau has a lot on its shoulders as it prepares for the next stage of negotiation. With both dedication and flexibility, delegates at the resumed session can continue work on building common understandings that can be translated into the desired outcome in the most feasible, yet effective way.

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