Summary report, 7–9 February 2017

1st Meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020

The First Meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 convened in Brasilia, Brazil, from 7-9 February 2017. Approximately, 270 delegates attended, including 67 governments, 39 industry and non-governmental organizations, and 16 intergovernmental organizations.

While the meeting reviewed the SAICM progress since 2014 and heard an interim report from the consultant conducting the independent evaluation of SAICM, most of the meeting was devoted to an exchange of views and ideas regarding what sort of global platform might be preferable to promote the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, the year when SAICM’s original mandate will end. Participants discussed: vision and scope; whether to maintain the current voluntary, multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach; what process should be used to respond to new and emerging issues; financing implementation of the sound management of chemicals and waste; linkages to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and how the concepts of sustainable chemistry and green chemistry might fit into a post-2020 agenda. The meeting also considered the timetable for other meetings during the intersessional process, and the documentation they would like to see from the Secretariat to inform discussion.


The issue of chemicals management and the idea of a Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) have been discussed first by the UN Environment Programme’s Governing Council (UNEP GC) and then the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), as well as other forums, since the mid-1990s.

WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (WSSD): 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: lifecycle management of chemicals since Agenda 21; gaps in lifecycle 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 lifecycle, 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 International Conference on Chemicals Management (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 nanotechnologies 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.

ICCM 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 nanotechnologies and manufactured materials, amending the time limit of fund disbursements under the QSP, and 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 lifecycle of electrical and electronic products; lead in paint; nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials; and engaging the healthcare sector in SAICM implementation. The conference also convened a high-level dialogue to discuss ways to strengthen SAICM for more effective implementation.

UNEA1: The first UNEA (UNEA1) convened in Nairobi, Kenya from 23-27 June 2014. Among other things, UNEA1 adopted resolution 1/5 on strengthening the sound management of chemicals and waste which, inter alia: articulated a long-term vision for the sound management of chemicals and waste; created a Special Programme to help implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) conventions, the Minamata Convention, and SAICM; emphasized that sound management of chemicals and waste is an essential and integral cross-cutting element of sustainable development; emphasized the need for continued strengthening of SAICM; and invited members of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) to consider ways to support the SAICM Secretariat.

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; nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials; endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs); highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs); the sound management of chemicals and waste in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and preparations for ICCM4.

ICCM4: ICCM4 convened from 28 September - 2 October 2015, in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference reviewed progress toward the 2020 goal and an intersessional process to maintain momentum until ICCM5 in 2020. IICM4 adopted an omnibus resolution on EPIs, as well as separate resolutions on HHPs, the overall orientation and guidance (OOG), the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, and the activities of the Secretariat and budget.


On Tuesday, 7 February, Jacob Duer, Principal Coordinator, SAICM Secretariat, opened the meeting, saying the intersessional meeting would start the discussion of a new approach for the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 and that the process will define how this agenda will help countries achieve the SDGs by 2030, and perhaps even define work beyond 2030. He suggested that significant progress has been seen in the sound management of chemicals since SAICM was created in 2006 in areas such as risk reduction, governance, capacity building and technical cooperation, and that the common denominator for the success has been the multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach.

Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF), via video, suggested that now is the time to consider a different approach to the sound management of chemicals, to transform the ways chemicals are produced, sold and used, and to seek multiple benefits from chemicals management in areas such as health and sustainable cities. She said that sustainable consumption and production may offer new ways to reallocate and refocus resources in chemicals and waste management. She noted the GEF has provided funding to advance green chemistry and is working with SAICM and UN Environment (UNEP) to develop a comprehensive project to advance several SAICM priority issues, including lead in paint.

Amb. José Antônio Marcondes de Carvalho, Under Secretary-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil, stressed the importance of SAICM’s voluntary, multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder approach to treat chemical safety issues in a cross-cutting manner and have an inclusive dialogue on beyond 2020. He urged focusing the intersessional discussions on three priorities: how to identify and deal with emerging chemicals and waste management challenges; how to strengthen the role of other sectors in SAICM, building on the example set by the recent World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution 69.4; and setting the level of ambition for work beyond 2020. He suggested setting an ambitious agenda, goals and means of implementation (MOI).

ICCM5 President Gertrud Sahler (Germany) said that the international community will probably fall short of the 2020 target for chemicals and waste management set by the WSSD due to the challenges involved. She agreed that the cross-cutting, stakeholder-inclusive approach practiced by SAICM is the right one. She said the ICCM5 Bureau thinks the voluntary and flexible nature of SAICM should remain. She added that the sound management of chemicals and hazardous waste as part of a sustainable chemicals policy will be a key factor to achieving the SDGs, suggesting it is the third major challenge in global environmental policy, next to climate change and biodiversity loss.

Marcelo Cruz, Executive Secretary, Environment Ministry, Brazil, underscored that use and waste of chemicals particularly affect the most vulnerable members of society, stressed that chemical safety and security must be a priority of national and international agendas, and called for the commitment of all stakeholders to take the challenge to analyze progress made and explore alternatives for beyond 2020.

Election of Co-Chairs: Delegates elected Leticia Reis Carvalho, Environment Ministry, Brazil, and David Morin, Health Canada, as Co-Chairs of the intersessional process.

Adoption of the Agenda: Co-Chair Carvalho introduced the provisional agenda (SAICM/IP.1/1 and SAICM/IP.1/2). Pakistan, supported by South Africa, Iran and the Centre for International Environmental Law, requested adding a separate agenda item or sub-item on financial resources and MOI. Participants adopted the agenda as orally amended (SAICM/IP.1/Rev.1).

Organization of Work: Co-Chair Morin outlined the organization of work as included in the scenario note (SAICM/IP.1/3/Rev.1) and noted that in addition to the report of the meeting to be adopted on Thursday, a Co-Chair’s summary will also be discussed on Thursday, summarizing the points of convergence that emerged from the meeting. He further noted the Co-Chairs’ summary will be further developed with stakeholders’ inputs during the intersessional period and will form the basis of a white paper to be ready by mid-2018. Participants adopted the proposed organization of work.

On Thursday, the Secretariat clarified that the report of the meeting will be shared electronically with participants toward the end of February for any factual edits, and then formalized under the guidance of the Co-Chairs.


Felix Dodds, Tellus Institute, discussed the 21st century challenges for chemicals and waste in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He traced the road from the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in 2015. He observed that the Millennium Development Goals demonstrated the value of a target and indicator approach.

Dodds suggested SAICM needs to engage and build linkages with other parts of the SDGs’ implementation process, such as work on oceans, and highlighted SDG-related discussions in which SAICM should consider participating. He stressed the importance of stakeholder engagement, but recommended asking whether the right stakeholders are involved in the SAICM process, and at the right level. He suggested learning from the SDGs partnerships process, including current work on “smart criteria” for multi-stakeholder partnerships, and considering a science-policy interface for chemicals and waste.

He discussed possible sources of funding for SAICM and the chemicals and waste process beyond 2020, noting the possibility of clustering possible governmental and non-governmental funding sources around specific themes, as is currently happening on aspects of the 2030 Agenda. 


Update on the Independent Evaluation of SAICM 2006-2015: On Monday morning, Robert Nurick, consultant, presented the interim independent evaluation report and related documentation (SAICM/IP.1/5 and Add.1, SAICM/IP.1/INF/4), noting the report is based on the results of an online survey of SAICM stakeholders, and that the evaluation is participatory and based on the Theory of Change approach, which will allow assessing SAICM’s complex nature and provide both an explanation of past achievements and an exploration of future directions. He informed that the final report of the independent evaluation will be submitted by mid-2018. Nurick reported that the survey indicates a mixed success of the five SAICM objectives, with knowledge and information sharing as the most successful, although with significant gaps in developing countries, while addressing international illegal trade of chemicals was the least successful. On indicators of progress, he noted they represent a good baseline but need to be further aligned with the SDGs and allow for the measurement of impacts.

Responding to comments made by delegates, Nurick clarified that: the interim report is based only on responses to the online survey; the breakdown of responses by regions is included in the report; the profile of respondents will be provided at a later stage; and the scope of evaluation is limited to SAICM stakeholders, thus leaving out relevant groups, including those directly impacted by chemicals.

Update on the 2014-2016 SAICM Report on Progress: The Secretariat introduced the update on Strategic Approach progress reporting activities for 2014-2016 (SAICM/IP.1/INF/3), noting the report was requested by ICCM4 resolution IV/1. She explained that Part I of the report included a joint draft workplan for the report prepared by the SAICM Secretariat and the World Health Organization (WHO), while Part II provided an initial analysis of indicators of progress and the potential linkages to the 2030 Agenda.

IOMC recalled that at ICCM4 the IOMC Participating Organizations offered a set of indicators to track SAICM’s future progress, emphasizing that they were not intended to replace the existing SAICM reporting arrangements, but to augment them with global data collection by IOMC Participating Organizations and the Secretariats of the BRS and Minamata Conventions.

UN Environment noted it had received funding to work with three countries on how the SDGs and chemicals and waste management come together at the national level. The European Union (EU) recalled that ICCM4 had asked IOMC to highlight the work each Participating Organization can do on SAICM issues within their own mandate.


On Tuesday afternoon the Secretariat introduced the “thought starter” prepared by the ICCM5 Bureau (SAICM/IP.1/4) and the note prepared by UN Environment on the Development of the Second Global Chemicals Outlook (GCO) in 2017-2018 and its Relevance to the Beyond 2020 Process Under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM/IP.1/INF/1).

The Africa regional focal point called for: SAICM to play an active role in the application of the extended producer responsibility principle to the chemical industry; the chemical industry to do more to financially support the effective implementation of relevant SAICM activities, as well as support capacity building for mainstreaming sound chemicals management priorities in national development policies and plans; and the development of a clear roadmap on the mobilization of existing and new, predictable, sustainable and dedicated sources of financial support for SAICM implementation.

The Asia-Pacific regional focal point emphasized capacity building and knowledge sharing, the provision of additional predictable, sustainable and dedicated sources of financial support, and technology transfer as prerequisites for his region to achieve the 2020 goal. He also said common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) should be the guiding principle in designing elements of a post-2020 chemicals agenda, and underlined the importance of linkages with the SDGs.

The focal point for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) observed that while significant steps have been taken under SAICM, significant steps remain to be taken. He said the SDGs show that sound chemicals management is not a standalone issue, but relevant to many crosscutting issues. He expressed hope that the meeting would reflect whether and how SAICM can use the 2030 Agenda to link strategically to other areas such as climate change, water, food safety, biodiversity and policy concepts such as sustainable consumption and production and sustainable chemistry. He welcomed the thought starter as a sound basis for discussion of SAICM priorities beyond 2020.

The EU said it supported continued SAICM work to close the gap in achieving the sound management of chemicals and waste and to fulfill the goals outlined in UNEA resolution 1/5, and underscored the need for a strengthened multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach after 2020. He noted that the 2030 Agenda offers opportunities to renew the commitment to integrate chemicals and waste issues in national development planning and sectoral policies and action, and to forge links to other areas such as biodiversity and climate change.

The focal point for the Health Sector stressed the need for the sector to address chemicals-related illnesses and show the example of “first do no harm” in their practice. She underscored the need to prioritize the elimination and substitution of hazardous substances and the need for transparency in the chemicals supply chain.

The focal point for Public Interest Groups suggested the meeting outcomes should include: an option paper on governance; developing measurable objectives in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and establishing an intersessional working group on this subject; a paper on new sources of financing; and establishing a working group to develop recommendations on women and chemicals.

The focal point for IOMC noted: lack of clear focus of SAICM and incentives for implementation; the need for better communication; a disconnect between ICCM requests to the IOMC Participating Organizations for action when the agencies receive their directions from their respective governing bodies; and the need to develop clear objectives and measurable targets.

The focal point for Industry noted the convergence emerging for maintaining the multi-stakeholder nature of SAICM. She highlighted the implementation of clear national policies and management methodologies as the most effective means for safe chemicals management and stressed the importance of engaging countries that are major producers of chemicals and of ensuring that basic capacity for chemical safety is put in place in developing countries.

The focal point for Trade Unions expressed concern about the slow progress on protecting health and the failure to respect workers’ rights, including the right to health. She suggested that leveraging the body of public international law provided by 15 International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions related to the prevention of exposure to hazardous chemicals would strengthen realization of SAICM and play a central strategic role in the post-2020 SAICM agenda in the context of the SDGs.

Vision and Scope: On Wednesday morning, Co-Chair Morin opened discussion of this agenda item by posing some questions for consideration: What is the ambitious plan that we want?  What is SAICM – is it just about helping countries that do not have chemicals management systems to develop them?  Or do we want to raise the bar for SAICM? What role is there for the UN bodies in SAICM?  How should we take the 2030 Agenda into consideration?

The EU, Germany, Canada, Norway and Finland referred to ICCM resolution IV/4 and UNEA resolution 1/5 as providing a basis for post-2020 work and for linkages to the 2030 Agenda. The EU said discussions are not just about the future of SAICM, but the broader chemicals and waste dimension as well, including the BRS Conventions, work by IOMC Participating Organizations, and national work. The EU, Germany and Russian Federation noted that SAICM did not necessarily require a time horizon, but perhaps could be “timeless,” i.e., ongoing.

Germany emphasized linking post-2020 work to the 2030 Agenda and to priority issues such as climate change and, with Sweden, suggested that the vision should contain messages that are easy to communicate. She called for a post-2020 framework that: has a renewed vision, concrete goals and indicators; asks countries to bring national action plans linked to a future reporting system on targets as part of a SAICM review mechanism; exploits synergies and addresses remaining gaps; and encourages multi-stakeholder partnerships based on “smart criteria.”

Canada underscored the importance of high-level commitment by all stakeholders to take targeted, measurable actions. She suggested looking at something similar to the roadmap under development by the WHO for the health sector.

Iran called for continued assistance to support achieving the set goals, and for the CBDR principle to be maintained. He stressed: governance, sustainable finance and technological cooperation, and noted that the multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach is important but duplications and overlap should be avoided.

Noting that any vision and strategic approach beyond 2020 would benefit from focusing on global, national and sectoral targets building on the overarching strategy adopted at ICCM4, UN Environment suggested the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Aichi Targets as a model for setting targets and measuring progress under SAICM.

The International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) recommended preserving and expanding SAICM as the only framework covering all sources of toxic exposure not covered by the chemicals conventions. He called for the Secretariat to develop a paper on governance options, based on the SAICM 2006 basic texts and UNEA resolution 1/5.

Sweden noted the OOG’s continued relevance beyond 2020, and stressed: strengthening chemicals and waste management, not just in the 2030 Agenda but also in a Delivering as One initiative; national ownership; implementation of the GHS; and information sharing.

Finland underlined that SAICM is a framework for implementing the 2030 Agenda to ensure country ownership, and stressed the contribution of sustainable chemistry to the circular economy and the need to protect human rights.

Nigeria called for rethinking SAICM governance and financing models and ensuring that SAICM is incorporated into relevant global initiatives.

Denmark and Switzerland noted the validity of the goals and documents beyond 2020 and stressed having realistic milestones to measure progress. Denmark called for: a platform to address both chemicals and waste; a flexible structure, a paper describing benefits and challenges, closer links to climate change and biodiversity, and work on indicators to measure both progress and implementation.

Switzerland stressed that SDG Target 12.4 (environmentally sound management of chemicals and waste) refers to all chemicals, and emphasized the need to focus on developing countries, taking up emerging issues, focusing on developing countries and taking on board emerging issues and tools that create win-win situations by creating business cases, lowering trade barriers and contributing to sound management of chemicals.

Brazil underscored SAICM’s flexibility and called for more focus on the practical level and ambitious commitment to support MOI and create multi-stakeholder chemicals management.

Norway said the post-2020 platform should have wider vision that is easier to communicate, cover all chemicals and waste work outside the BRS and Minamata Conventions, and work on priorities established by the ICCM or its successor.

Pakistan stressed the CBDR principle, and that any priority identified in a post-2020 platform should be linked to a specific source of financing.

Kenya, for the African Group, said SAICM’s broad scope should be retained, but its adaptation to other processes, ideas and concepts, which are well articulated in UNEA resolution 1/5, should be ensured.

The US suggested that the focus should be on basic chemicals and waste management, with emphasis on national action supported by international cooperation. She also said the OOG and UNEA resolution 1/5 should be taken into account, and warned against duplication of efforts undertaken in other fora.

Morocco suggested post-2020 work consider linkages with the SDGs on air and water, the science-policy interface, and efforts to fill gaps in scientific knowledge and risk assessment.

China shared the views expressed by Iran, Brazil and other developing countries. He said the 2030 Agenda provides a basis for work on sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

Pure Earth suggested assessing death and disability, particularly involving children, country-by-country or region-by-region, and prioritizing risk reduction and preventive actions to reduce those impacts based on that assessment.

Observing that not all chemicals and waste management issues can be solved by 2030, 2040 or even 2050, the Russian Federation suggested time limits for particular goals might be worthwhile, but not an overall SAICM time limit. He called for the future SAICM to have a stronger scientific basis, and, in that vein, proposed a science-policy interface similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Colombia said SAICM provides value added through its multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach, bringing together all relevant actors. He urged keeping this approach while reinvigorating partnerships and closing the gap between science and policy.

Voluntary, Multi-stakeholder and Multi-sectoral Approach: Delegates considered this agenda item on Wednesday morning. Maria Neira, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, WHO, via video, highlighted SAICM’s links with SDG Target 3.9 on reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals, Target 3.2 on child mortality and Target 3.4 on premature mortality from non-communicable diseases, and noted that many countries are poorly equipped to address chemicals safety issues. She highlighted progress made in the development of the Roadmap to enhance health sector engagement in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management towards the 2020 goal and beyond (“WHO Roadmap”).

All interventions supported the multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nature of SAICM as one of its strengths and called for maintaining it beyond 2020.

IPEN underscored the need to involve broader stakeholder groups and more diverse industry representation, such as manufacturers of safer alternatives to chemicals including bio-pesticides, and noted the value of the proposal on SAICM governance included in the Nordic Council’s paper “Chemicals and Waste Governance Beyond 2020 – Exploring Pathways for a Coherent Global Regime.”

CropLife International said SAICM’s multi-stakeholder nature is consistent with the 2030 Agenda and offered examples of the chemical industry’s commitment to partnerships in capacity-building activities with UN agencies, farmers and SAICM’s national focal points.

Children’s Environmental Health Foundation, Zambia, stressed that partnerships should add value to, rather than substitute for, financing mechanisms, and called for transparent and open cooperation with business complying with UN business and human rights standards.

The NGO Forum for Health, on behalf of Trade Unions and Labor, stressed leveraging public international law into the SAICM process and expressed concern about the continued mining and use of asbestos. She endorsed the proposal made by the Public Interest Groups to review the governance options for SAICM.

Noting that SAICM’s voluntary approach has not been able to address the issue of HHPs and supporting the proposal for a paper on options for improved governance of chemicals, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) emphasized the paper should pay particular attention to HHPs, including the option of a legally binding instrument.

The Research and Education Centre for Development, Cameroon, stressed that in many developing countries NGOs play a critical role. The Center for Environmental Justice and Development, Kenya, said SAICM’s current model needs to be upgraded. PAN Ethiopia suggested more partnerships with organizations with practical experience in non-chemical alternatives, and greater engagement in education.

Pure Earth, on behalf of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, called for greater priority on analyzing exposure to chemicals that harm public health, noting for example that lead in paint is only one of several avenues for lead exposure, and that little data exists on exposure and impacts regarding substances such as chromium and cadmium.

WHO, noting that its revised roadmap will be presented to the WHA in May 2017, highlighted that the WHA resolution asked the WHO Secretariat to update the roadmap based on the outcome of SAICM’s intersessional process. Observing that WHO is coordinating health sector inputs to the intersessional process, she suggested that in the post-2020 context stakeholder involvement could be improved by doing more sector-by-sector.

Japan suggested that the post-2020 platform should be similar to SAICM, i.e., not based on treaties, involving diverse stakeholders working individually and cooperatively on common goals and indicators. On indicators, he said maybe those in the OOG need to be updated, but creating new ones from scratch was not necessary.

Bhutan underscored the importance of maintaining the voluntary, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach, particularly the engagement of the health sector.

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) summarized some views expressed at the second “Inter-agency Meeting on Sound Chemicals Management” convened by IOMC in Vienna, Austria on 18 October 2016, including: the multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder character of SAICM is important for discussing new and emerging issues; participation by stakeholders is unbalanced, with some participating heavily and others not; and there is too much focus on negotiating resolutions, and not enough on engagement and action.

The EU urged enhancing engagement of, and ownership by, all relevant sectors in the post-2020 process. He suggested the next intersessional meeting should look at what actions each IOMC Participating Organization has taken and is able to take regarding the relevant targets of the 2030 Agenda, based on a document to be prepared by the Secretariat assisted by IOMC.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) noted it published in 2016 a survey of governance and rule-making in many international organizations including SAICM, which found that a majority of them rely on nonbinding policy instruments. He said the OECD was planning a follow-up to this study, which would look at how to strengthen international organizations’ governance, promote evaluation, and ensure engagement with non-governmental actors.

Finland urged scaling up engagement of the private sector and engaging more stakeholders in core activities. She noted that the recent Nordic Council’s paper points out two areas that need greater attention, public awareness and information management, and offers options for institutional strengthening.

Germany noted that a recent study of German stakeholders engaged in SAICM found universal approval of its multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder nature, with most wanting to keep the voluntary approach. She said Germany believed that having high level participation and a clear message at ICCM5 is key.

France urged bringing in new communities, such as risk managers and every industrial sector that utilizes chemicals in the future platform.

Zimbabwe, for the African Group, urged keeping the multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder approach beyond 2020, but with changes, such as sustainable financial resources, use of the extended producer responsibility principle, and greater engagement with sectors other than health.

Sweden supported the voluntary nature of SAICM and underscored that it is essential that all stakeholders can engage equally after 2020.

Responding to New and Emerging Issues: Delegates addressed this agenda item on Wednesday afternoon. The EU suggested considering four pillars for the new platform, based on the SAICM experience: information and knowledge base on chemicals and waste to inform the work; state-of-the-art understanding of chemicals; development and implementation of national chemicals management systems; and global action to fill the gaps between the chemicals conventions. He also noted the need to consider internal and external governance of the future platform.

The African Group emphasized the lack of resources for scientific work in the countries of the region and called for developing a transparent mechanism for the nomination and selection of emerging issues that allows accountability, including accountability at the highest political level.

IPEN pointed out that many EPIs at ICCM are not covered by existing international agreements, and suggested the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint is an example of how SAICM can successfully catalyze and enable multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral efforts. He suggested linking every EPI and other issues of concern to measurable, meaningful, real world outcomes: for example, SAICM could set the goal of 50 countries by 2030 must enact meaningful right-to-know regulations for workers producing electrical and electronic equipment.

Canada called for: ensuring that basic elements of sound chemicals management are in place, including knowledge sharing, implementation of the OOG and the 2030 Agenda; ensuring a transparent and efficient process for considering EPIs and deciding the appropriate forum to address each in order to avoid duplication; taking care not to engage in too many activities; spending more time in knowledge building and less in negotiating resolutions; and focusing on where additional work might be needed rather than where issues are already mature.

UN Environment said handling new and emerging issues is an important part of SAICM because it keeps the instrument dynamic, responsive, relevant and alive, and should be preserved beyond 2020, but that EPIs need to be addressed in a scientifically robust manner, using the most up-to-date science. He said that while UN Environment is open to discussing various options for a science-policy interface, he cautioned that form should follow function and said UN Environment is uncertain what issues the interface might address that are not already being tackled by UNEA, the GCO, the Global Waste Management Outlook, and the International Resource Panel.

Japan said the independent evaluation of SAICM should inform parties on which EPIs should be addressed beyond 2020, and expressed caution about increasing the number of items and scope rather than analyzing current issues more deeply.

The International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) said while SAICM plays an important role on emerging issues, it should pay more attention to basics such as regulatory regimes. He said the priority for EPIs should be dissemination of science-based information, and the SAICM evaluation of EPIs should be time limited. Noting the idea in the thought starter of addressing plastics, he said this topic is already being addressed by UN Environment so probably did not need to be added to SAICM.

Sweden, supported by Norway, suggested whether to impose time limits on addressing an EPI should depend on the issue, and if a science-policy interface were adopted it should not preclude SAICM participants from nominating new areas of concern.

Germany said that a platform beyond 2020 should identify global issues of concern that are not effectively covered by other international frameworks, with a focus on hazardous chemicals not covered in existing conventions. She also agreed with the African Group that the different needs at the regional level should be taken into account. She said a science-policy interface might be useful if it did not duplicate existing work elsewhere.

Switzerland pointed out that UNEA resolution 2/7 discusses how to identify emerging issues. He expressed hope that the second GCO will provide insights and trends that will inform setting the agenda of work for beyond 2020.

Toxics Link said SAICM needs to continue work on EPIs beyond 2020.

Greenpeace East Asia: urged more industry stakeholders to proactively phase out hazardous chemicals such as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from their supply chain and products; asked the OECD/UNEP Global PFC Group to further facilitate substitution of PFCs with safer alternatives and address the hazardous properties of short-chain PFCs; and called for policy makers to better understand the barriers and needs of true innovators in the industry in order to create a better enabling environment for innovation in sound chemicals management.

Health Care Without Harm emphasized the science-policy interface should not delay implementation by focusing on uncertainty of the hazardous effects of chemical substances, and highlighted the need for precise terms of reference of a possible scientific subsidiary body and for addressing conflicts of interest of that body’s members.

The US noted a future structure on EPIs should focus on persistent public health and environmental issues and welcomed discussion on how EPIs might be prioritized and retired if no longer supporting SAICM priorities. She noted that resources required for a scientific body would be better spent on implementation.

Norway suggested developing guidelines for sustainable chemicals production using a lifecycle approach and enabling product recycling. She did not support an additional scientific panel for chemicals and waste under a post-2020 platform.

Brazil stressed focusing on scientific capacity building and cautioned about diverting resources from implementation.

Financing Implementation of the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste: Delegates addressed this agenda item on Wednesday afternoon. Iran stressed that: additional resources will be needed for SAICM and SDGs implementation; the future platform should reflect regional priorities; the shared vision should be based on the principle of CBDR; countries should be treated equally for financial support; and discussions under this item should be included in the meeting report even if not included on the original agenda.

The GEF noted that the multi-sectoral nature of SAICM fits well with the increased funding for multi-focal area projects under the GEF. 

The Centre for Environmental Justice suggested preparing a paper on possible financing sources and mechanisms, including increasing official development assistance for chemicals and involving multilateral development banks in funding chemicals management.

Sweden stressed an integrated approach to financing and the opportunity provided by the SDGs to stimulate country-driven initiatives.

Saying MOI in SAICM have been inadequate, the African Group called for rethinking MOI and exploring other methods of financing. He called for a clear roadmap for new predictable and sustainable sources of financing for implementation beyond 2020.

Newport Technologies suggested that the Secretariat be mandated to produce a document looking at: various financing options, such as internalizing costs, promoting green economy; whether the Special Programme is meeting the aspirations of SAICM stakeholders; how best to involve international and regional financial institutions; how to encourage the private sector to play a major role in financing reduction of chemical hazards; and how to mainstream chemicals and waste management into other global, regional and national initiatives.

Kenya expressed hope that the GEF will give greater focus to chemicals management and disappointment in the performance so far of the Special Programme. He urged more “seed money” to help convince national planning departments that mainstreaming chemicals and waste management is good for national development.

Pakistan called for costing out what would be required financially to meet the high ambitions of the beyond 2020 agenda, saying it was necessary before agreeing to such an agenda.

The US and the EU recalled the integrated approach to the sound management of chemicals and waste annexed to UNEA resolution 1/5: mainstreaming in national budgets and development assistance plans, industry involvement, and dedicated external financing such as the GEF and the Special Programme. The US stressed that the financing discussions should recall these three elements.

Noting the launch of the first pilot projects funded by the Special Programme, Finland called the Programme “promising.” She also stressed the importance of the GEF multi-focal area.

South Africa said stakeholders cannot come up with beyond 2020 commitments without MOI, not just finances per se but also partnerships in technical expertise. She suggested looking at the experience of the Montreal Protocol’s Multilateral Fund.

Brazil agreed that an ambitious strategy needs an equally ambitious plan for MOI.

The EU emphasized that governments should consider legislation on incentives for the sound management of chemicals and waste and internalizing its costs.

Linkages to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: On Thursday Co-Chair Morin invited delegates to consider this agenda item with a focus on measurable indicators to support Agenda 2030, and on sustainable chemistry.

IPEN, supported by Palau, Germany, PAN Ethiopia and the African Group, noted chemicals safety is related to almost all the SDGs and suggested the Secretariat prepare a paper to explore these linkages comprehensively, noting the political relevance of showing the broad contribution of chemicals safety to sustainable development.

The Netherlands said that the idea of a set of milestones to measure progress is sensible and that the CBD Aichi Targets provide a good example. He supported producing a paper on indicators but as a tool rather than an end in itself.

Germany suggested a review mechanism, to be discussed with the science-policy interface.

Canada, with the US, while agreeing with the idea of measurable objectives and achievable targets, cautioned, supported by ICCA, against developing indicators at this early stage of definition of the beyond 2020.

ICCA recommended developing indicators that are easily reported by all stakeholders.

The Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) emphasized the importance of linking to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, but respecting all four elements, namely the Declaration, the SDGs and targets, MOI and Global Partnerships, and the follow-up and review mechanism.

Finland recalled ICCM resolution IV/4 provides for measurable objectives that can be achieved by translating the 11 Strategic Approach basic elements into measurable targets and flexible milestones. She added that these could be used by governments in the development of national action plans, while other stakeholders could be encouraged to develop action plans, too. She suggested the Secretariat prepare a proposal on objectives and milestones. She stressed linkages with the SDGs addressing sustainable cities, biodiversity and climate change.

While supporting linkages with the SDGs, Japan urged prioritizing the linkages with many possible 2030 Agenda goals and targets.

The US emphasized the value of focusing on national actions regarding the sound management of chemicals and waste, which may or may not be linked to SDGs implementation.

The Network for Action on Pesticides and their Alternatives in Latin America said fully implementing the ICCM4 resolution on HHPs would contribute to achieving SDG 2 on ending hunger, achieving food security and nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, and SDG 3 on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, but measurable quantitative milestones are needed, such as reducing cases of pesticide poisoning by 80% by 2030. She urged work to create hazard surveillance programmes in all regions, and offered to work with the Secretariat to facilitate dialogue with industry and the private sector to develop agricultural alternatives to HHPs.

CropLife International, emphasizing the progress made on HHPs, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/WHO/UN Environment guidelines on HHPs and FAO’s work on capacity building in Africa, said that enough tools are available to manage HHPs. He noted CropLife’s engagement with the Committee on Food Security in the development of indicators for sustainable agriculture and food security.

South Africa said HHPs should not even be on the market and noted they are banned in developed countries because of their effects on human health and the environment.

Regarding the idea of producing a Secretariat paper on linkages, Sweden cautioned that the 2030 Agenda is already in its implementation stage so any discussion on chemicals/waste linkages should be in the context of supporting implementation.

Brazil cautioned against “cherry picking” SDGs for the chemicals and waste agenda to support and against removing the SDGs from the context in which they were first conceived, suggesting care in observing agreed 2030 Agenda indicators. He urged an integrated approach to SDGs linkage, including all possible SDGs, such as SDG 1 on poverty. He also suggested that SAICM take advantage of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism created by the 2030 Agenda.

China agreed that measurable objectives to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda are desirable, but emphasized that in developing such objectives the CBDR principle must be considered.

The Russian Federation called for a paper on the role of chemicals in SDGs implementation to be prepared for the second intersessional meeting, as well as a separate paper on the options for a science-policy interface.

PAN Ethiopia suggested new SAICM initiatives on zero waste, agro-ecology, plastics and women and chemical safety, all linked to the appropriate SDGs, with clearly delineated quantitative and qualitative objectives, such as all cities with a population of one million or more achieving zero waste by 2025.

The African Group, supported by IPEN, agreed on the need for developing measurable chemicals and waste objectives to support the 2030 Agenda, with quantitative and qualitative indicators.

IPEN proposed creating a working group to develop recommendations for the second intersessional meeting on what SAICM and the post-2020 regime could do regarding women and chemical safety. The African Group indicated interest in the IPEN proposal.

PAN Asia Pacific suggested post-2020 milestones for SAICM include: make chemicals and women an issue of concern and EPI, include this issue as an integrated component of IOMC projects, and establish a multi-stakeholder working group on women and children.

Denmark reaffirmed the OOG as a basis for further work on indicators, and supported the proposal for a Secretariat paper on milestones, noting it should be continuously developed.

Iran recommended establishing a monitoring and evaluation team or working group to develop and propose measurable indicators in collaboration with the Secretariat.

The EU supported the preparation of a document by the Secretariat on measurable objectives in support of the 2030 Agenda and noted that while the 2030 Agenda has to be seen in its “unity,” concrete areas and activities should be identified related to chemicals and waste.

Palau suggested the organization of regional meetings to discuss linkages with SDGs.

France supported preparing a document on linkages with broader issues, such as climate change and stressed that chemicals and waste are important for effective implementation of the SDGs.   

UNITAR noted that mapping of IOMC Participating Organizations’ activities with regard to the SDGs will be ready for the next ICCM Bureau meeting and that the next IOMC meeting in March 2017 will discuss indicators.

China stressed that financial support, technical assistance, and capacity building are the priorities for sound chemicals management of developing countries and suggested that while exploring linkages with other SDGs, the focus should be clearly on the most relevant, such as Target 12.4 (environmentally sound management of chemicals and waste).

Switzerland supported mapping out relevant SDGs and targets, with the development of indicators at a later stage after progress on the vision, scope and design of the future framework. He referred to the Environmental Management Group (EMG) as a model of UN system stakeholder participation in SAICM.

Morocco endorsed the idea of linking to SDG 5 on gender equality.

Co-Chair Morin then invited delegates to express their views on the definition of sustainable chemistry, as used by the OECD, and discuss whether this can be a consideration for SAICM’s support to SDGs implementation.

Chile queried whether the concept is similar to green chemistry as defined in the Dubai Declaration.

Germany, drawing attention to the policy paper “Beneficiary Contributions of the Concept of Sustainable Chemistry to the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management Beyond 2020,” said green chemistry is one pillar of sustainable chemistry, and that sustainable chemistry could promote innovation such as non-toxic chemicals and promote substitution.

Iran said that the concept of sustainable chemistry should first be defined by SAICM experts and the agreed concept of green chemistry should not be sacrificed in the name of a concept that is not clear to all.

Pakistan emphasized that there are many views on what is sustainable and that the OECD definition of sustainable chemistry would not be holistic and appropriate for all countries.

OECD explained the definition was developed years ago to link OECD’s chemical safety programme to other policy areas and that it has been used to promote work on sustainable chemistry elements, such as prediction of chemicals properties and facilitation of substitution. He offered OECD’s cooperation in adapting the definition to SAICM’s needs and objectives.

Senegal said that if sustainable chemistry is intended to save the environment and human health, particularly that of women and children, then he supported the concept.

ICCA said green chemistry is really about the research and development stage and is part of the environmental pillar of sustainable development, whereas sustainable chemistry covers all three dimensions of sustainable development. He called attention to the reference document provided to the meeting on the ICCA-UN Environment workshop on sustainable chemistry held in Shanghai, China, in September 2016.

IPEN said sustainable chemistry cannot replace work on protecting human health and the environment. He noted that the concept is not well defined and lacks consensus on indicators and best practice, so it was probably premature to consider putting it into the beyond 2020 platform. By contrast, he said, green chemistry already should be obligatory in the sense of eliminating hazards as much as possible hazards before they come to market and providing right-to-know about those that do. He noted that UNEA requested UN Environment to collect best practices in sustainable chemistry, which IPEN hoped would lead to a report on hazard reduction. He suggested conducting a capacity-building workshop on green chemistry at SAICM regional meetings and for the private sector to develop and disseminate benchmarking tools to assure hazard reduction and avoidance in the design and new chemicals and assessment of current products.

The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) noted that its first green chemistry demonstration project, supported by the GEF, would be launched next week in Rio de Janeiro. He also mentioned UNIDO plans to develop technical guidance on green chemistry and offered to report back to SAICM.

South Africa urged supporting green chemistry in terms of addressing hazard reduction in the design and manufacture of chemicals, while continuing to explore the concept of sustainable chemistry.

The US expressed skepticism about whether SAICM could adopt a definition for sustainable chemistry, and noted that the OECD definition is aspirational.

UN Environment noted that UNEA asked it to collect best practices in sustainable chemistry and report back in 2018, and offered to provide this report, even if only in draft form, at the next intersessional meeting. He observed that the concept is still evolving and organizations are still exploring how it might be used in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Sweden supported future work on sustainable chemistry, and welcomed the new sustainable chemistry collaborative center to be launched in Germany in May. She stressed, however, that sustainable chemistry is just one tool among many.

Brazil expressed concern about discussing sustainable chemistry using an OECD definition not agreed by non-OECD nations and not reflected in the 2030 Agenda. Argentina also expressed wariness about using definitions not reflected in the 2030 Agenda.

Chile, noting the OECD definition is very technical and difficult, suggested a clearer definition be proposed at the next intersessional meeting.


On Tuesday afternoon a high level panel was held on the theme “A Holistic Approach to Addressing Sustainable Development.” Johanna Lissinger-Peitz, Senior Adviser and Climate Change Chief Negotiator, Sweden, moderated this session.

The session was opened by remarks from José Sarney Filho, Environment Minister, Brazil, and Ricardo Barros, Health Minister, Brazil. After outlining Brazil’s role in regional work related to the BRS and Minamata Conventions and its own national regulatory efforts on chemicals and waste, Sarney Filho praised the flexible and comprehensive nature of SAICM, urged intensive action to try to achieve as much as possible of the SAICM 2020 goal by the deadline, stressed that all 17 SDGs can benefit from the proper management of chemicals, and called for a bold design of the post-2020 chemicals and waste platform matched by funding “higher than current deficient levels.” While noting that chemicals bring many benefits to human health, Barros said they also have negative impacts, mentioning the over 200,000 cases of chemical intoxication registered in Brazil and their costs to the national health system. He outlined work by the Brazilian health system on chemical safety, including reviews of pesticides, monitoring of water quality, 33 different toxicological information networks, and a diagnosis of intoxications to identify priority public health actions needed.

Keynote presentations were offered by Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment, Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany, and Amb. José Antônio Marcondes de Carvalho, Under Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil. Solheim noted that sound chemical management is progressing in the right direction but not fast enough, and called for a pro-business solution to sound chemicals management, whereby states and business cooperate towards better public information and better regulated chemicals markets. He underscored the need for a new plastics economy to address the crisis of plastics ocean pollution.

Flasbarth said the chemicals industry is a driver for the transformation to a decarbonized economy and underlined: the importance of public knowledge on chemical products; the need to substitute hazardous substances; the importance of non-chemical technological solutions; and the need for a science-policy interface on chemicals.

Carvalho highlighted the complementary nature of the 2030 Development Agenda and the post-2020 agenda on chemicals and waste, particularly stressing that anything in the latter should match the 2030 Agenda theme of leaving no one behind, the inclusiveness principle and the universality of the SDGs. He underscored the importance of addressing MOI in the post-2020 chemicals and waste platform, saying it was crucial to know what kind of resources will be available to match any ambitious goals.

In the panel discussion, Fernando Musa, CEO, Braskem, emphasized the importance of science-based risk assessment informing the dialogue on chemical and waste issues, and observed that while global coordination is crucial, adaptation to the specific circumstances of each country is too. He discussed the ICCA’s implementation of the Responsible Care programme and global product strategy, and efforts by the Brazilian Chemical Industry Association to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises in chemical risk management. He also discussed Braskem efforts to make their operations and products more sustainable, and its research and development investments in finding sustainable solutions for the value chains they serve.

Marco Mensink, Director General, European Chemical Industry Council, said while some view industry as unwilling to change, the truth is that industry changes every day to meet perceived market opportunities. He suggested that the companies that will exist in 2050 will be those that recognize and respond to the opportunities represented by the SDGs. He reported that over the next two years ICCA intends to spread its Responsible Care programme to parts of the world it does not yet cover.

Jeffer Castelo Branco, Coordinator, Association for Combating Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), recounted his own history in dealing with worker exposure to toxic chemicals in Brazil, noting how some factory sites closed because their POPs contamination is still affecting clean-up workers today. He urged SAICM to address worker exposure more, and companies to become more serious in their reporting and dialogue with workers on exposures. He also suggested that other issues not yet touched by SAICM include contamination from incinerators and from channel dredging.

Erika Yamada, Independent Expert on the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, urged more consideration of issues affecting indigenous peoples, especially their right to knowledge and prior consultation on activities affecting them guaranteed by international instruments. She noted a recent study by Brazil’s Fiocruz Foundation showing high levels of mercury contamination in indigenous villages.

In their final remarks, panelists highlighted the opportunity to frame the path for sound chemical management in the context of the 2030 Agenda and “leaving no one behind.” They underscored the need: for a framework to connect international regulations on chemicals substances, rather than individual conventions for each substance; to speed up information availability on hazardous substances; to believe in the ability of the business sector to change; and to show all stakeholders that they stand to gain from the SAICM platform.


Two parallel thematic informal dialogues were held during the lunch break on Tuesday and Wednesday, and their results were summarized by dialogue moderators in a report to plenary.

Informal Dialogue 1: Looking ahead – SAICM and sound management of chemicals and waste in the light of future developments: Moderator Fernando J. Gómez, World Economic Forum, reported that the dialogue aimed to: identify important trends defining the future; consider their implications on the sourcing, use and post-use of chemicals; and consider the role of SAICM in the management of potential impacts on sustainability. He noted that: chemicals production is growing and shifting from high-income to middle-income countries, with more consumers throughout the world; and that value chains are increasingly more complex, creating new challenges in the traceability of materials. He highlighted the need for, inter alia: legal and regulatory frameworks and increased state readiness to respond to the growth in chemicals production; understanding the benefits and risks of new technologies; new models for sharing information for managing chemicals and waste with other policies such as trade and labor; and the need to treat chemicals and waste not separately but differently, since some chemicals issues are more related to production, while some waste issues are more related to consumption.

Informal Dialogue 2: Challenges and opportunities for sustainable chemistry to contribute to sustainable development: Moderator Achim Halpaap, UN Environment, reported on the dialogue, noting the growing momentum around the concepts of sustainable and green chemistry, although a better understanding of the sustainable chemistry concept is needed. Participants, inter alia, discussed: the role of the public, consumers, and indigenous knowledge; the continued need to prioritize action to address chemical pollution risks and legacies of the past, and ensure all countries have basic regulatory capacity to manage hazardous chemicals; focusing on exploring areas of concrete action and identifying the elements of an enabling framework for advancing sustainable chemistry, such as identifying alternatives, innovation, green chemistry education, and incentives structures; and sustainable financing in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

Informal Dialogue 3: Engaging partners to deliver the vision beyond 2020: Moderator Felix Dodds, Tellus Institute, reported on the informal dialogue, noting that participants recognized the need to engage with stakeholders in other areas beyond chemicals. He noted that participants examined different models of partnerships and suggested that on developing partnerships within SAICM, the following aspects should be considered, inter alia: reviewing academic and UN reports on the success and failures of multi-stakeholder partnerships; mapping of all stakeholders; a robust and transparent evaluation process; building a shared and transparent information hub; building trust; and recognizing that partnerships cannot replace government commitment or the role of regulations.

Informal Dialogue 4: Responding to a changing world: Addressing urgent and emerging issues: Moderator Carolyn Vickers, WHO, reported on the dialogue, highlighting that participants discussed, inter alia: data gaps regarding trends in diseases attributable to chemicals and pollution; the role of SAICM EPIs in catalyzing country actions; the challenges of complex chemicals issues such as contaminated sites, water and air pollution, and waste; the value of community engagement in identifying and acting on emerging issues; methodologies developed by countries and international organizations for identifying emerging threats and forecast mechanisms; the need to achieve balance between addressing core issues today and emerging issues that can become core issues if not addressed; and the need for in-depth consideration of these issues in the lead up to 2020.


On Thursday afternoon, WHO presented to the plenary a summary of the Health Sector meeting held during Thursday’s lunch break. She reported that approximately 50 participants representing different stakeholders shared their experiences and discussed the challenge of translating evidence into policy; suggested ways to use the WHO Roadmap, such as for developing national action plans and inter-sectoral cooperation activities; and discussed capacity building for implementing the Roadmap. She noted WHO’s offer to coordinate the health sector’s inputs in cooperation with the SAICM Secretariat.


On Thursday afternoon, Co-Chair Carvalho introduced the Co-Chairs’ Summary, emphasizing that it captures the Co-Chairs’ consolidated view of the discussions at the meeting and it does not intend to present a consensus or limit the inclusion of additional ideas and inputs during the intersessional process. She noted stakeholders will have the opportunity in the coming months to provide feedback and submit other substantive ideas to be included in the document that will be finalized by November 2017.

Co-Chair Carvalho also highlighted participants’ requests to the Secretariat to prepare eight papers regarding:

  • potential sources for financing resulting from 2030 Agenda;
  • review of the applicability of existing environmental governance models to the sound management of chemicals and waste;
  • mapping IOMC Participating Organizations’ chemicals-related policies and actions, and their future plans in the area of implementation of the 2030 Agenda;
  • an examination of all SDGs and targets relevant for SAICM and how SAICM elements are linked to particular SDGs;
  • financing elements and indicative basic costs of implementing an agenda for the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020;
  • a proposal for objectives and milestones in support of the 2030 Agenda that are aspirational, inspirational, limited in number and centered around the 11 OOG elements, along with establishing an intersessional working group open to all stakeholders;
  • science-policy interfaces that exist within other clusters such as climate change and biodiversity; and
  • an exploration of the relationship between women and chemical safety.

Several delegates expressed concern that the list of requested documents might exceed Secretariat resources, while others insisted all eight should be produced without assigning priority to one over another. The EU suggested noting the request would be fulfilled by the Secretariat “as available resources allow” and the Secretariat should be trusted to do the best it can. After further debate and consultations by the Co-Chairs and the Secretariat, Co-Chair Carvalho clarified that all the requests would be listed in the meeting report, and the Secretariat, working under the guidance of the Bureau, would produce what it could, bearing in mind available resources.

The Secretariat introduced the timeline for the intersessional process (SAICM/IP.1/6) highlighting: regional meetings in January and February 2018; the second intersessional meeting in March 2018; OEWG3 in October 2018 and the 3rd intersessional meeting in June 2019. He noted that a decision on a possible 4th intersessional meeting should be taken at OEWG3. Delegates approved the proposed timeline.


IPEN requested translation services and support for stakeholders’ participation at the next meeting.


On Thursday afternoon Co-Chair Carvalho invited closing remarks from delegations.

GRULAC stressed the region’s commitment to the intersessional process, the need to ensure translation and support for broad stakeholder participation and the need to recognize “the unity of the SDGs.”

The EU emphasized the importance of strong linkages with the SDGs, considered the meeting a successful “kick-off” of the process, and invited the Co-Chairs to consider a format for future meetings to enable participation.

The African Group noted the region’s commitment to work with the SAICM community to enrich the Co-Chairs’ Summary and requested translation of the meeting’s final outcomes into UN languages and called for support to organize regional meetings.

IPEN echoed the African Group’s request for translating the documents and emphasized taking meaningful decisions towards a toxic-free future.

Greenpeace called for countries to follow the example of China and others that have taken national-level action to achieve sound chemicals management.

The Co-Chairs thanked all delegates for their active participation and positive spirit and the Government of Brazil for organizing the meeting.

Co-Chair Carvalho closed the meeting at 6:33 pm.


“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”

 – George Bernard Shaw

Delegates came to Brasilia for the first intersessional meeting with their eyes firmly set on the future of the Strategic Approach after it reaches the end of its original mandate in 2020, and less on the work needed to fulfill the original mandate. 

ICCM4, held in 2015, mandated the intersessional process to assess the progress made toward the 2020 goal of sound management of chemicals and waste, which was set by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, and to offer ICCM5, in 2020, some recommendations on SAICM and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020. 

Delegates, however, only touched on progress made towards the 2020 goal and focused overwhelmingly on what sort of chemicals and waste forum they wanted post-2020 and on what time horizon would be set for further chemicals/waste work: 2030 to match the Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, or 2040, 2050, or even, as many argued, open-ended.

After its first 10 years, SAICM is now at a turning point, with its future character and responsibilities in question.  The first step of this process in Brasilia was primarily a brainstorming session, which will inform later negotiations on a future chemicals and waste platform. But already some of the key points of possible convergence and divergence are emerging. This brief analysis examines some of these points and what they suggest going forward.


There was no doubt that the SAICM community is interested in having a post-2020 process. This was exemplified by the level of participation and the number of participants, twice what was anticipated, and by everyone’s active engagement in discussions on the vision, scope, nature and financing of a future platform. 

The meeting agenda included a briefing on plans for a stocktaking of SAICM’s progress to date, but this garnered limited attention and discussion. As mandated by ICCM4, an interim report of the independent evaluation of SAICM was presented, but the survey on which it was based offered few actionable insights and the final report will only be ready in 2018. A Secretariat update, which included a workplan for developing the progress report to be submitted to OEWG3 in 2018, also sparked limited discussion.

Indeed throughout the week only a handful of participants mentioned what might need to be done to meet the 2020 goal, with some openly conceding that the goal cannot be met due to the enormity and complexity of the task. As a result, delegates seemed eager to get to “the main event”: discussing what will happen after 2020.


It appeared as though everyone wanted to focus on what goals to set post-2020 and what vehicle to choose. By the end of the meeting, some areas of convergence were apparent. The first area was the unanimous call to maintain SAICM’s flexible, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder nature beyond 2020, and expand it to enlarge the stakeholder base and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to forge new and relevant links with other sectors and processes, such as climate change and biodiversity.

Expanding the scope of SAICM to explicitly address waste and setting measurable objectives and achievable targets also received broad support, although discussions remained vague on what these could be, with no one apart from IPEN venturing to offer specific targets, and many expressing reluctance to discuss indicators at this early stage of the process.

Most participants appeared to favor maintaining the voluntary nature of SAICM, although some mused about “upgrading” governance in some fashion, perhaps by asking governments to prepare and report on national action plans, or defining targets and indicators that would be reported on and measured against. Several expressed interest in the governance options explored in a recent Nordic Council paper, but in the corridors many delegates expressed skepticism that the governance or voluntary nature of SAICM will change significantly post-2020.

An area flagged for possible future discord during the intersessional discussions is what should be the post-2020 process for addressing new and emerging issues. NGOs tended to view the current process as too slow, but wanted to retain the ability to put new issues on the table at will and forge coalitions or partnerships to address them. Some governments and IOMC Participating Organizations suggested that constantly adding new issues dilutes SAICM’s focus, and perhaps issues could be time limited or “retired once mature.” A number of stakeholders, such as industry and some developed country governments, argued for focusing primarily on getting “the basics”―a solid chemical regulatory regime and corresponding technical capacity―rather than debating and negotiating resolutions on emerging issues.

In the realm of the “definitely not agreed” remained the proposal for a science-policy interface (along the lines of IPCC or IPBES) for chemicals/waste and, above all, the issue dogging SAICM since its creation in 2006, MOI. On a possible science-policy interface, many delegates expressed interest in the idea, but were uncertain about what exactly such a new body would address that is not already being done elsewhere. Advocates of an interface clearly still have homework to do before they can silence the skeptics.

At the opening of the meeting, developing countries requested the issue of finance to be a distinct agenda item, but the three-day meeting did not really allow for a thorough consideration of potential sources and mechanisms. Developing countries said every issue in a post-2020 platform must have clearly defined source of funds and the application of the CBDR principle, while OECD countries referred to the concept of an integrated approach to financing for sound chemical management endorsed by UNEA1, composed of mainstreaming, industry involvement and dedicated external financing (primarily the GEF and the Special Programme).


As the EU said during the closing plenary, this first intersessional meeting was a “successful kick-off of the process.” Indeed, the intense work and the high level of participation have put the process on a clearer track by taking the pulse of stakeholders on areas of convergence and tasking the Secretariat to produce eight papers to provide clarity and background on critical issues to inform further negotiations. 

However, key aspects of any future platform, such as financing and governance, have only just begun to be considered and might prove challenging to find agreement in the time available. The lively participation in the first intersessional meeting got things off to a good start, and that intensity should serve the process well going forward, if maintained. However, as the Co-Chairs signaled during the week, a more interactive discussion, with greater exchange of ideas and more debate, rather than just stating positions, may be needed going forward in order to arrive at ICCM5 with a robust set of clear and concrete recommendations. 


Third Inter-agency Meeting on Sound Chemicals Management: This meeting is convened by the IOMC and hosted by WHO. As well as its regular agenda item on implementation of SAICM to reach the 2020 goal, the IOMC will discuss the outcomes of the 1st meeting of the intersessional process on beyond 2020, including possible contributions that IOMC can make for the 2nd meeting in 2018. IOMC will also meet with the SAICM evaluator to provide input into the independent evaluation.  dates: 30-31 March 2017  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: Carolyn Vickers, WHO  phone: +41-22-791-1286  email: www:

Basel COP-13, Rotterdam COP-8 and Stockholm COP-8: The 13th meeting of the COP to the Basel Convention, 8th meeting of the COP to the Rotterdam Convention and 8th meeting of the COP to the Stockholm Convention will convene back-to-back. The theme will be “A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and waste.”  dates: 24 April – 5 May 2017  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8729  fax: +41-22-917-8098  email: www:

“Mainstreaming Sustainable Chemistry”: The International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) will be formally launched on the occasion of the “Mainstreaming Sustainable Chemistry” conference. The conference will include a High Level Session on “Sustainable Chemistry and the SDGs: Policy Options to Achieve the 2030 Agenda.”  dates: 17-18 May 2017  location: Berlin, Germany  www:

70th World Health Assembly (WHA70): The annual session of WHO’s decision-making body will discuss, inter alia, the role of the health sector in SAICM towards the 2020 goal and beyond, including the revised Roadmap. WHA70 also is expected to discuss progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the role of WHO and health ministries in implementing the Minamata Convention.  dates: 22-37 May 2017  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: WHO Secretariat  www:

Helsinki Chemicals Forum 2017: The Helsinki Chemicals Forum 2017 is an independent forum engaging international authorities, industry leaders, NGOs, academics, the media and other interested parties in an open dialogue on key issues of global relevance regarding chemicals management and chemicals safety. 2017 marks the ninth year of the forum and it will also mark the tenth anniversary of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).  dates: 8-9 June 2017  location: Helsinki, Finland  contact: Chemicals Forum Association  email: www:

First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury: The first meeting of the COP to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1) will be held within one year of entry into force of the Convention, and is thus expected to take place in September 2017. Dates will be confirmed by the interim secretariat.  dates: 25-29 September 2017  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention  phone: +41-22-917-8511  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email: www:

CRC-13: The 13th meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC-13) of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade will consider draft decision guidance documents and review notifications of final regulatory action.  dates: 16-20 October 2017  location: Rome, Italy  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8729  fax: +41-22-917-8098  email: www:

POPRC-13: POPRC-13 will review proposals submitted by parties for listing new chemicals in accordance with Article 8 of the Convention.  dates: 23-27 October 2017  location: Rome, Italy  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8729  fax: +41-22-917-8098  e-mail: www:

Second Meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020: The second intersessional meeting is expected to continue the discussions on a possible post-2020 platform for chemicals and waste, with a view to providing input to OEWG3 slated for October 2018. It will be preceded in January-February 2018 by SAICM regional meetings.  dates: March 2018  location: TBD  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8273  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email: www: