Summary report, 13–15 March 2018

2nd 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

The Second 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 Stockholm, Sweden, from 13-15 March 2018. Approximately 360 delegates attended, including representatives of 68 governments, 51 industry and non-governmental organizations, and 16 intergovernmental organizations.

The Second Meeting heard a preliminary report of the results of the independent evaluation of SAICM, and suggested improvements that could be made before the report is finalized and forwarded to the third meeting of SAICM’s Open-ended Working Group (OEWG3) slated for February 2019. For the rest of the meeting participants focused on discussing the six elements of a possible future framework on chemicals and waste proposed by the Co-Chairs of the intersessional process:

  • vision;
  • policy principles;
  • objectives and milestones;
  • implementation arrangements;
  • governance; and
  • high-level political commitment.

Although delegates were unable to provide finalized text suggestions on several elements, as the Co-Chairs had hoped for, they identified a number of areas of convergence and disagreement, as well as a number of new ideas.


Although the idea that became SAICM was first raised at the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council in the mid-1990s, it was the Johannesburg Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 that specifically called for the creation of a SAICM and set the goal of achieving 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.

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 goal agreed at the WSSD. The framework consists of the Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management, and 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.

ICCM2: The second International Conference on Chemicals Management held in 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland, 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. It also adopted a decision on considering other EPIs, established an 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: The third International Conference on Chemicals Management, held in September 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya, agreed to extend the QSP Trust Fund until 2015 and adopted resolutions on the EPIs 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.

Between ICCM3 and ICCM4 the first UN Environment Assembly (UNEA1) adopted resolution 1/5 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 the need for continued strengthening of SAICM; and invited the IOMC to consider ways to support the SAICM Secretariat.

ICCM4: The fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management held in 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland, reviewed progress toward the 2020 goal and established an intersessional process to maintain momentum until ICCM5 in 2020. ICCM4 adopted the overall orientation and guidance (OOG) for SAICM and added environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants as an EPI and highly hazardous pesticides as an “issue of concern.” The ICCM also adopted resolution IV/4 on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, which initiated the process of preparing recommendations for ICCM5 and directed the OEWG to consider conclusions of an independent evaluation of SAICM.

FIRST INTERSESSIONAL MEETING: The first of the intersessional meetings was held in Brasilia, Brazil, in February 2017. Most of the meeting was devoted to an initial 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.


On Tuesday, 13 March, Jacob Duer, Chief, Chemicals and Health Branch, UNEP, opened the meeting.

Karolina Skog, Environment Minister, Sweden, said sound management of chemicals and waste is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to realize sound management will require more ambitious and concrete action. She called for setting a post-2020 chemicals and waste management vision that is both aspirational and inspirational. She articulated the need for a global deal for chemicals, perhaps based on the model of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and welcomed a deeper conversation on what mechanisms are needed to make that happen.

ICCM5 President Gertrud Sahler (Germany) said SAICM beyond 2020 should remain voluntary, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder, but the message emerging from regional meetings is that it needs legally-binding elements, with the question being which elements should remain voluntary and which should be legally-binding. She also urged the meeting to address how to give the chemicals and waste sector greater visibility, and how to organize scientific support for policy making on chemicals and waste.

Ligia Noronha, UNEP, stressed that SAICM has provided a valuable space since 2006 for all stakeholders to work together towards the sound management of chemicals and waste. She also underscored the central role of chemicals in achieving UNEA3’s vision for a pollution free planet and highlighted that the meeting, in considering strategic directions post-2020, provided an opportunity to strengthen even further the linkages between SAICM member states, relevant international agencies, and a broad range of involved stakeholders.

Adoption of the Agenda: Co-Chair David Morin (Canada) introduced the provisional agenda (SAICM/IP.2/1/rev.1), which was adopted without amendment.

Organization of Work: Co-Chair Leticia Reis de Carvalho (Brazil) outlined the organization of work as included in the scenario note (SAICM/IP.2/3). She explained that 10 individuals would be appointed as “co-hosts” of five discussion groups scheduled to meet on Wednesday. These co-hosts would prepare an account of the groups’ discussions to report back to plenary with a view to a final account, if the meeting so decided, to be forwarded to OEWG3 in 2019. She further noted that the Secretariat would prepare a formal meeting report that would be made available on the SAICM website for stakeholder comment. Participants adopted the proposed organization of work.

Preliminary results of the independent evaluation of the Strategic Approach 2006-2015

Robert Nurick, consultant, presented the preliminary results of the draft report of the independent evaluation of SAICM (SAICM/IP.2/4). Highlighting that the draft report provides an opportunity to correct any errors within, he noted that the evaluation was based on the outcomes of a document review, an online survey, focus group discussions, and follow-up engagement with stakeholders. He initially presented on and defined the “theory of change” for SAICM as originally conceptualized in order to achieve the 2020 goal. He then presented the findings of the evaluation, including the institutional structure and related stakeholders, strengths, and weaknesses of the Strategic Approach, and lessons learned. 

Among the SAICM strengths identified, he noted, were:

  • the voluntary approach has allowed the voices of non-governmental stakeholders to be heard;
  • some successes in knowledge and information sharing, facilitating risk reduction, and building capacity;
  • promoting ratification of chemicals conventions;
  • identifying EPIs;
  • some success with the lead in paint campaign;
  • planning and implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) in some countries; and
  • user-friendly indicators of progress.

He further listed SAICM’s weaknesses as identified in the evaluation:

  • a Secretariat always strapped for resources;
  • capacity and structural constraints of national focal points;
  • funding constraints for implementation;
  • little progress on the OPS objective on illegal international traffic;
  • limited progress on EPIs apart from lead in paint;
  • no mechanism for monitoring the effectiveness of SAICM implementation, including the absence of indicators on impacts on human health and the environment;
  • limitations on what IOMC participating organizations can do for SAICM because SAICM is not their governing body; and
  • poor attendance by many IOMC participating organizations at SAICM regional meetings.

Nurick invited stakeholders to submit comments and feedback on the draft report by 16 April 2018.

India, Iran, and Japan expressed dismay regarding the late submission of the draft report and not being able to provide substantive comments in time for the meeting. Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia-Pacific noted that some issues were not adequately captured under the report given their complexity and, from the perspective of a non-governmental organization (NGO), SAICM has contributed very little to sound chemicals management. Iran noted that funding under SAICM should complement available national resources for SAICM implementation

The US suggested highlighting the need for further implementation at the national level, underscoring the success of the multi-stakeholder approach, and underlining the need for concrete, measurable objectives.

Switzerland said there was insufficient evaluation discussion of the OOG. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) suggested discussing how the IOMC agencies might play a more important role in a future SAICM.

The International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) suggested the evaluation was thin on analysis of financing for national implementation. 

The Africa Institute said more discussion was needed on the role of industry, the need to involve the academic community, and the need for adequate and sustainable financing. 

The BRS Secretariat noted the report focused only on the interaction of the BRS and SAICM Secretariats, and not on the contribution of the conventions to SAICM’s goals. 

Nicaragua noted there was no discussion about how SAICM national focal points interact with IOMC organizations. 

Madagascar suggested discussing the effectiveness of NGO participation in helping countries implement SAICM.

In response to comments, Nurick:

  • said what was missing in SAICM through 2015 was an effective monitoring system, with the 20 indicators of progress not really measuring whether SAICM is having a positive impact on chemicals management, human health, and the environment;
  • said his revision of the evaluation will include more discussion on the OOG;
  • agreed that while IOMC organizations play an essential role, there are institutional constraints that prevent many of them from fully realizing the contributions they could make to SAICM;
  • observed that while everyone lauds the voluntary nature of SAICM, it does bring its own set of problems;
  • agreed that financing is a key issue, especially since financing currently is overly dependent on a handful of donors;
  • said industry comments are reflected in the report, but promised to make them more visible in the final version;
  • welcomed any written submissions that would strengthen discussion of the relationship between the BRS Conventions and SAICM;
  • noted that he had sent emails to all focal points with specific follow-up questions, but so far had only heard back from six;
  • cautioned that suggestions about evaluating the effectiveness of SAICM should not become a critique of each stakeholder group, which could make the evaluation a divisive document; and
  • suggested that given that IOMC agencies were the executing agencies for many QSP-funded projects, there is huge unrealized potential for sharing lessons learned from project implementation.

Nurick also emphasized that since he was required to have the final version of the evaluation report ready by 30 June to allow sufficient time to circulate it to stakeholders for their  reflection and discussion over the months leading up to OEWG3, he needed feedback on the preliminary report no later than 16 April.

Co-Chair Morin urged discussions to continue “offline” and for those focal points that had received emails to respond to them. He said the final report would be translated into all UN official languages and circulated to stakeholders by November 2018.


On Tuesday afternoon, Co-Chair Reis de Carvalho introduced the Co-Chairs’ overview paper to support preparations for the second intersessional meeting (SAICM/IP.2/5), noting that it proposes a structure for developing the future approach with six elements:

  • vision;
  • policy principles;
  • objectives and milestones;
  • implementation arrangements;
  • governance; and
  • high-level political commitment.

She further noted it provides considerations to take into account for each element, and proposes to:

  • add discussion of the framework’s scope and stock-taking under “objective and milestones”;
  • divide “implementation” into three sub-issues: national implementation, EPIs and issues of concern, and financing; and
  • include the issues of promoting broader participation and a possible science-policy interface under the “governance” discussion.

The Secretariat then introduced the documents to support discussions on the elements of the post-2020 framework regarding: gender and the sound management of chemicals and waste (SAICM/IP.2/6); IOMC plans for future actions to implement the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda (SAICM/IP.2/7); a Secretariat proposal prepared with ICCM5 Bureau guidance on objectives in support of the 2030 Agenda and related milestones (SAICM/IP.2/8); financing the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (SAICM/IP.2/9); and a review of existing governance models of potential relevance to the sound management of chemicals and waste, including science-policy interfaces (SAICM/IP.2/10).

Co-Chair Reis de Carvalho also introduced the document compiling comments from stakeholders on the Co-Chairs’ summary of the first intersessional meeting (SAICM/IP.2/INF.3). She then invited regional and sector representatives and organizations to provide their official remarks on the Co-Chairs’ overview paper and overarching perspectives on addressing the management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE CO-CHAIRS’ OVERVIEW PAPER: The European Union (EU), also on behalf of Japan, the US, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Norway and New Zealand (JUSSCANNZ) urged strengthening the framework for management of chemicals and waste taking into account the complementarity of global plurilateral and multilateral instruments protecting human health and the environment, including SAICM. He noted working together more effectively is essential for meeting the 2030 goals on chemicals and waste and encouraged dialogue on concrete proposals, including an aspirational vision, to be forwarded to OEWG3 in 2019.

The African Group underscored that the African region continues to be on the receiving end of banned chemicals and waste, noting that the region’s institutional and enforcement capacities are not strong. He called for policy actions and adequate, sustainable, and predictable finance, including from the private sector, to enable sound management of chemicals and waste. He also called for technical guidance and knowledge transfer to continue following the end of the QSP.

The Latin American and Caribbean Group noted the success of the QSP in supporting governments and NGOs, and called for a similar mechanism post-2020, providing better access to adequate, sustainable, and predictable funding. She stressed high-level political commitment is needed to ensure strengthened chemicals management post-2020.

The Asia-Pacific Group stated it has had some success in pursuing SAICM goals but urged donors to provide new, predictable, sustainable, and adequate finance. He stressed the importance of protecting vulnerable groups such as women and children.

The Central and Eastern European Group highlighted the essential role of regional meetings in reviewing progress. He noted that UNEA resolution 1/5 and SDG 12.4 (environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle) are good reference points for developing a post-2020 vision. He highlighted that the increasing levels of chemicals production in developing countries presents new challenges that the post-2020 strategy needs to address.

IPEN noted that the need for chemicals and waste management is referenced or implied in nearly all the SDGs. He called for SAICM to be upgraded to enable achieving chemical and waste management related SDG targets.

PAN Asia-Pacific highlighted its contribution to the intersessional process and the beyond 2020 agenda through the documenting of learning experiences in general pesticides management, and highly hazardous pesticides and their alternatives.

The UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), on behalf of IOMC, noted that the multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach of SAICM is uneven with some having greater representation in SAICM than others.

Citing its detailed submission regarding sound management of chemicals and waste post-2020, the European Union (EU) reiterated previously expressed sentiments of the need to work on all fronts, noting that it is important to keep in mind the work different organizations and sectors are already performing in conjunction with the present mandate.

Highlighting its role in the existing SAICM framework and intersessional process, the BRS Secretariat called for the establishment of a new group for the secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) that are not members of the IOMC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) underscored that the ultimate vision for the new framework should be the protection of human health and the environment, and highlighted its roadmap to enhance health sector engagement in SAICM adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2017.

Canada proposed that the post-2020 vision not have a designated time limit and that milestones be linked to the 2030 Agenda.

The US called for a clearly defined vision, actionable implementation objectives with an ambitious timetable, and suggested that discussing policy principles might waste limited deliberation time. She said discussion on objectives and milestones should build on the Secretariat’s proposal.

Noting its submission on the issue, Greenpeace called for constructing a better science-policy interface to integrate into the post-2020 framework.

The International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) urged linking OOG elements with possible action by each stakeholder, such as national implementation of the GHS and basic policies on the regulation of chemicals.

The International Panel on Chemicals Pollution urged greater engagement of scientists and facilitating science-policy dialogue.

IPEN said measurable objectives are needed with a clear connection to minimizing harm from chemicals and waste. He urged retaining and integrating EPIs and issues of concern, and adding new ones: zero waste, workplace right to know, agroecology, plastics, and women and chemical safety.

DISCUSSION ON EACH ELEMENT OF THE PROPOSED STRUCTURE FOR DEVELOPING THE FUTURE APPROACH: On Tuesday afternoon the Co-Chairs invited participants to offer initial observations on the six elements identified in their overview paper, but grouped in two clusters: “what” a future platform should encompass, and “how” such a platform would be implemented.

On Wednesday participants met for most of the day in five parallel discussion groups that addressed all the elements except high-level political commitment. Discussion on each element was guided by a different duo of “co-hosts” representing the five United Nations regions as well as the five sectors represented in the ICCM Bureau, namely public interest organizations, health sector NGOs, labor sector NGOs, industry, and the IOMC. At the end of the day plenary reconvened to hear the co-hosts’ reports on the outcome of discussion group deliberations on their respective elements.

On Thursday morning, the plenary heard comments on a document that consolidated the co-hosts’ reports on discussion group outcomes, followed by a brief plenary discussion on high-level political commitment. Co-Chair Reis de Carvalho advised participants that this document, revised to reflect comments from Thursday’s plenary, would be annexed to the draft official meeting report to be made available to delegates in four weeks’ time. Comments could then be made before the meeting report is finalized and posted on the SAICM website.

The following account of delegations’ positions on elements of a potential post-2020 framework reflects statements made in plenary throughout the meeting.

Proposals Covering “the What” of the Future Approach: Proposed Element: Vision:During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, Germany favored a timeless vision beyond 2020 based on the emphasis in UNEA resolution 1/5 on the lifecycle approach, prevention, and addressing the three dimensions of sustainable development. She supported the development of a motto that conveys a clear and positive message that motivates joint action.

India supported an aspirational framework flexible enough to accommodate the evolving nature of the challenges associated with sound management of chemicals and waste, but underscored it must take into account the special needs and development challenges associated with developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

Argentina supported an aspirational, ambitious, and timeless vision as seeking a pollution-free planet, and suggested the SDGs and UNEA resolutions as source materials for the vision for the post-2020 framework.

Brazil expressed support for a non-time bound vision drawing on agreed language.

IPEN, Ethiopia, Sweden, and UK supported drawing on both SDG target 12.4 and UNEA resolution 1/5 in developing a new SAICM vision.

Thailand suggested that the vision could draw on the concept of “detoxifying the future.”

The US expressed support for a clear, short vision that is aspirational.

During Wednesday afternoon’s plenary, Vision discussion group co-host Bob Diderich (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)), explained the methodology he and his co-host Suzana Andonova (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) used in the discussion groups. He explained they initially invited ideas for relevant concepts to be reflected in the vision, then organized and grouped them to reflect patterns of support that had emerged during the day’s discussions: the desirability of a short slogan supplemented by a longer sentence describing the overall goal of the framework. Andonova reported that the slogan that received the most support from the groups was “healthy [environment] [planet], healthy people” and the longer sentence most supported was “[United][working together] [committed] to prevent [reduce] [against] harm from chemicals and waste [throughout their life-cycle]”, noting that the brackets indicated disagreement over wording.

On Thursday morning in plenary delegates indicated general comfort with the document’s account of discussion group’s deliberations on vision.

Proposed Element: Policy Principles: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, Germany urged reiterating previous policy principles, and adding sustainable chemistry. She said the post-2020 framework should focus on more than chemical safety, looking at the contribution of chemicals and waste management to sustainable development and emphasizing “non-regrettable substitutions” to hazardous substances that take into account resource efficiency, climate impacts, reusability, and social consequences of changes in chemicals or processes.

India suggested SAICM’s existing policy principles should suffice for the post-2020 framework.

Argentina suggested adding the following principles: right to a healthy environment; access to health; the polluter pays principle; extended producer responsibility (EPR); and the constant search for environmentally sound replacements and alternatives.

Brazil stated policy principles need to be strictly related to chemicals and waste and reflect the three pillars of sustainable development.

Thailand supported EPR throughout the life-cycle of chemicals management. Nigeria said EPR was a critical emphasis for the post-2020 framework, and industry should be asked to make commitments on taking back their end-of-life products.

PAN Asia-Pacific called for human rights to be included as a principle.

Croplife International expressed support for the life-cycle, cradle-to-grave principle, which lies at the heart of its stewardship principles.

The US emphasized that spending time spelling out policy principles is not required provided there are strong and measurable objectives and milestones.

During Wednesday afternoon’s plenary, Policy Principles co-hosts Yahya Msangi (Welfare Togo) and Maria Inés Esquivel Garcia (Panama) reported that there was general agreement that:

existing agreed principles set out in the OPS and Dubai Declaration are still relevant and should be retained; and

the principles in UNEA resolution 1/5 should be reflected in the new framework.

They reported a split between those stakeholders who wanted to list all relevant principles, including new ones, those wanting just to reference already agreed principles, and those who did not want to spend time on articulating additional principles. He said among the potential additional principles discussed were:

  • circular economy;
  • lifecycle approach;
  • EPR;
  • gender equity;
  • agro-ecology;
  • green chemistry;
  • sustainable chemistry;
  • trans/inter-generational equity;
  • liability and compensation;
  • substitution/promoting alternatives;
  • worker safety;
  • accountability;
  • consistency;
  • non-regression; and
  • minimal harm.

During the Thursday morning plenary, the US said the account of the discussion groups should include a reference to an option that was discussed but not reflected in the report: focusing on elaborating a strong vision and strong set of objectives and milestones and foregoing discussion on adding new principles to those already agreed. Japan, together with the US, did not consider that consensus was achieved on any particular option. Nigeria reiterated its call for embedding EPR and product take-back in the post-2020 framework.

Proposed Element: Measurable Objectives and Milestones: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, Germany supported the development of measurable objectives and milestones, with the Secretariat’s proposal as one input and the workshops hosted by UNITAR and Sweden on the Aichi Targets model as another.

India suggested the OPS objectives and 11 OOG elements will remain relevant beyond 2020, but should be strengthened to complement the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs and targets. He welcomed exploring the Aichi Targets model’s possible application to the chemicals and waste agenda, but stressed that any targets should be matched with the financial and technical assistance necessary to achieve them.

Argentina said the Secretariat’s proposals were “a good starting point,” but needed further work and analysis to make them more concrete, reflecting individual countries’ circumstances. She cautioned against overlapping milestones and too many milestones.

Brazil suggested including objectives and targets for all relevant sectors, including labor and agriculture.

UNITAR stressed that the Aichi Targets model had relevance for chemicals and waste management. He noted that the Aichi Targets are limited in number, which helps focus communication.

The UK noted that a post-2020 framework should include milestones developed, owned, and delivered by the legally-binding conventions.

UNEP said the framework would benefit from strategic goals, with milestones and implementable targets drawing on bottom-up and top-down elements.

During Wednesday afternoon’s plenary, Objectives and Milestones discussion group co-hosts Nina Cromnier (Sweden) and Rico Euripidou (GroundWork) reported general agreement that:

  • strategic objectives should be limited in number, well-defined, simple, effective, and cover the scope at global, regional, and national levels;
  • objectives and milestones should cover all aspects of chemicals and wastes, and not just SAICM;
  • milestones should be measurable;
  • goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, resource-based, and time-bound (SMART), as well as realistic and action-oriented; and
  • objectives and milestones should be multi-sector and multi-stakeholder so that all can contribute to attaining them.

They noted all groups considered the Secretariat’s paper and a “thought starter” circulated by the EU, and that these documents had been included in annexes to the co-hosts’ report.

During Thursday morning’s plenary, Objectives and Milestones co-hosts Cromnier and Euripidou explained that the consolidated paper’s summary of their discussion groups reflected what was actually discussed or agreed to in all of the groups. Cromnier also noted that the related annexes to the report allowed for the sharing of different proposals put forward, including the Secretariat’s proposal, the EU thought starter, and written comments submitted by some discussion group participants. The co-hosts invited all stakeholders to continue to make submissions in writing for inclusion in the related annexes.

The US, Argentina, Zambia, and China stated that the inclusion of written submissions on objectives and milestones by delegates into annexes of the consolidated co-host’s paper was inappropriate since the paper was supposed to summarize discussions only. China called the annexes counterproductive. The EU clarified that their submission was a draft one, not a proposal or agreed document. Japan noted that the process should be transparent and fair to all the stakeholders.

Co-Chair Reis de Carvalho proposed that the annexes be removed before finalizing the meeting report to avoid any difficulties. Delegates agreed.

Scope: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, Germany stressed that the post-2020 framework should enable a circular economy, so the objectives and milestones could advance a circular economy throughout global value chains and across the entire lifecycle of chemicals. Brazil did not support references to green chemistry or the circular economy. Argentina urged focusing exclusively on chemicals and not to expand into waste management.

Taking Stock of Progress: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, Germany said taking stock of progress should be done through a clear reporting and review mechanism based on national reports focused on agreed objectives and milestones, and suggested UNEP’s Global Chemicals Outlook (GCO) could become the cornerstone of chemicals review at the global level. Thailand proposed a review of action plans every five years.

Proposals Covering “the How” of the Future Approach: Proposed Element: Implementation Arrangements: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, the US emphasized that whatever implementation arrangements are adopted should clarify how the post-2020 arrangement will support the measurable objectives agreed. The ICCA said governance elements should be “a balanced mix,” such as those used under the Basel and Minamata Conventions, supplemented by voluntary standards. Brazil suggested using existing regional centers to build capacity and promote technology transfer in chemicals and waste management.

Responding to new and emerging issues: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, Denmark stated that the framework must be used to address new and upcoming chemicals management issues. The UK called for consideration of new issues of concern, such as plastics. Sweden said that after 2020, the main focus would be on implementation and that only the truly current issues should be transferred to the new framework.

UNITAR urged continuing work on nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials.

Germany, supported by IPEN, urged merging EPIs and issues of concern into simply “issues of concern.” She said these issues should be matched with a work plan that is regularly reviewed on the basis of criteria that are SMART.

The US supported adopting criteria on prioritizing and sunsetting issues of concern, and noted that not all of SAICM’s EPIs can still be considered “emerging.”

During Wednesday afternoon’s plenary, Implementation discussion group co-host Mohammed Khashashneh (Jordan) reported significant support for the German proposal to just have “issues of concern,” albeit modified to become “global issues of concern,” and on the need for criteria for adding issues, although there was no agreement on which criteria to use. He said possible criteria suggested included:

  • whether the issue has a “stakeholder champion” that would carry the issue forward;
  • the level of interest among stakeholders;
  • the scientific interface; and
  • the proposed timeline for action.

Co-host Olga Speranskaya (IPEN) added that many stakeholders indicated that work should continue past 2020 on existing EPIs, and that the GCO could help identify new issues.

National implementation: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, India said any implementation framework should be facilitative and not create additional or cumbersome mechanisms or reporting obligations.

Germany said the future framework should include a streamlined review system for national action plans and progress reports. She also suggested agreeing on global and industry-wide standards and codes of conduct, with an expectation that the private sector will disclose its efforts to adhere to those standards.

Argentina, Thailand, and IPEN called for adopting an action plan that prioritizes activities in order to comply with SAICM’s objectives. IPEN suggested action plans could be combined with periodic reporting and evaluations of progress. Nigeria suggested national action plans will not be implemented unless a dedicated financial mechanism is created that is sustainable and accessible.

During Wednesday afternoon’s plenary, Implementation discussion group co-host Speranskaya reported interest in national implementation plans (NIPs) with measurable objectives linked to the 2030 Agenda, and in mainstreaming chemicals and waste issues into national development plans. She noted many cautioned that NIPs would require financial resources in order to be implemented.  She said there was support for supplementing NIPs with regional action plans addressing shared priority issues.

Financing implementation of the sound management of chemicals and waste: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) noted the paucity of data for quantifying financing needs for the sound management of chemicals, and the current limitations in Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding. He suggested that a levy of 0.1% on the chemical industry’s annual global turnover of US$4.1 trillion would provide US$4.1 billion in funding for SAICM implementation, 300 times the GEF amount provided over four years.

Argentina emphasized that adequate, sustainable, and predictable funding is crucial, calling for specific commitments from donors without expiration dates and the creation of a specific fund for wastes and chemical management. She also suggested the creation of specific SAICM guidelines regarding alternatives such as fiscal reforms, tax incentives, or subsidies that could finance chemical management at the national level.

Highlighting the QSP as one of SAICM’s successes, Brazil called for establishing a new international fund similar to the QSP but with more funds, with the participation of the financial institutions involved in the IOMC.

Thailand called for an adequate and sustainable financial mechanism to support chemicals and waste management at all levels.  She said without a good financial mechanism, any post-2020 governance system may fail.

The US said discussions about financing should take into account the integrated approach to financing chemicals and waste management referenced in UNEA resolution 1/5.

The ICCA said the global chemical industry already supports chemicals management through the taxes and fees it pays, and pledged its continued commitment to financial and in-kind support to building capacity.

During Wednesday afternoon’s plenary, Implementation discussion group co-host Khashashneh reported general agreement that:

  • SAICM had been underfunded;
  • the QSP had been successful and should be replicated on a larger scale;
  • the new framework should take into account the three components of the integrated approach to financing, namely mainstreaming, industry engagement, and dedicated external financing, as well as new sources of funding such as private foundations.

He reported that other options discussed included:

  • fees and levies;
  • EPR;
  • public-private partnerships; and
  • getting multinational corporations to provide financial resources, capacity building, and technology transfer.

In plenary on Thursday morning the EU noted that SAICM is a voluntary approach that does not require a financial mechanism. Brazil reiterated its call for a new fund. Switzerland emphasized that sustainable financing for the Secretariat must be ensured.

Proposed Element: Governance: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, Germany, supported by IPEN, suggested the ICCM should be held biennially starting in 2020, with every alternate ICCM organized as a multi-sectoral ministerial conference to enhance high-level engagement. The Africa Institute welcomed the Secretariat’s document on governance models. Brazil said that a strength of SAICM is its flexibility, which should be enhanced. Thailand suggested that SAICM focal points could form the backbone of a governance system.

Promoting broader participation: During initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, India emphasized any functional approach to governance should promote broader participation and ensure adequate representation for all stakeholders. Brazil called for greater participation in SAICM by FAO, the International Labor Organization, and WHO, and by downstream industry.

During Wednesday afternoon’s plenary, Governance discussion group co-hosts Mark Gordon (South Africa) and Csilla Magyar (ICCA) reported that participants agreed on the need to enhance stakeholder and sector participation at all levels, and to review the engagement methods of IOMC participating organizations. They also reported the groups identified the stakeholders and sectors missing in the current approach as including:

  • downstream industry;
  • agriculture;
  • retailers and distributors;
  • waste management sector;
  • consumers;
  • science and academia;
  • youth;
  • education;
  • insurance;
  • women;
  • youth;
  • vulnerable populations;
  • indigenous peoples;
  • human rights community;
  • small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • maritime organizations; and
  • agro-ecology community.

Science-policy interface:  During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, the EU called for any new science-policy interface body not to undermine existing mechanisms under the MEAs. The UK said that member states cannot afford to set up a new and complex structure akin to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and suggested instead drawing on existing institutions to carry out similar functions. Nigeria insisted that establishing a science-policy interface is key for the post-2020 framework.

IPEN cautioned that a science-policy interface “is not a magic solution,” citing how the Stockholm Convention parties do not always follow the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee’s (POPRC) recommendations, and how the science on lead in paint has been clear for some time, yet many governments still have not acted to remove lead from paint. He urged focusing on the crucial issues of implementation instead.

Germany cautioned against duplicating existing efforts, but acknowledged some gaps and unmet needs. She suggested using the GCO as the basis for measuring and reviewing progress, along with a comprehensive, scientific report on the costs of inactions on chemicals and waste.

The Africa Institute disagreed that existing sources of scientific information on chemical impacts do enough to raise awareness and provide access to new information on chemicals, and urged considering a new mechanism that encourages access to new chemicals information and promotes science-policy dialogue.

While he agreed that a science-policy interface on chemicals and waste is needed, Brazil suggested UNEA is a more appropriate place to discuss that issue.

In Wednesday afternoon’s plenary, Governance discussion group co-hosts Gordon and Magyar reported general agreement among participants on:

  • the need for increased transparent science engagement beyond 2020, with a two-way dialogue between the science community and policymakers, as well as awareness raising among scientists;
  • the need to avoid duplication and overlap; and
  • the likelihood that funds available for a science-policy interface will be limited.

Proposed Element: High-level Political Commitment and Visibility: During the initial plenary discussion on Tuesday, the EU said high level political commitment is key to taking the steps needed to go beyond 2020. The EU stressed that UNEA, the UN General Assembly, and the High Level Political Forum should all be involved, through a high-level ministerial conference, in giving momentum to a post-2020 framework.

During Thursday morning’s plenary discussion, the EU again stressed it is essential that management of chemicals and waste engage all sectors at the highest level. The Centre for International Environmental Justice noted SAICM needs to increase its profile in many countries, and called for Ministers to develop a document for ICCM5 on the post-2020 strategic approach. The Africa Institute said high level commitment is also needed in the industry sector and called for strengthened environmental laws, including more prosecutions, post-2020. Norway noted the need for enough substance in the new framework to engage the highest level of political engagement. Youth Welfare Togo called on the framework to take account of youth participation. Nigeria noted that the involvement of political leaders had driven the success of the Paris Agreement.


On Thursday afternoon, Co-Chair Morin introduced the proposed timetable for the remainder of the intersessional process (SAICM/IP.2/INF.1), highlighting that OEWG3 would be in February 2019 and the third intersessional meeting in June 2019. Delegates approved the proposed timetable.

ICCM5 President Sahler commended the participants on their work during the meeting, and the many new ideas shared. She expressed hope that she can count on stakeholders to make further progress at OEWG3. President Sahler urged delegates to begin their preparations early for OEWG3.


The Co-Chairs thanked the Ministry of the Environment of Sweden for hosting the meeting and the meeting delegates for their robust participation, urging them to continue providing feedback in the months before OEWG3.

Co-Chair Reis Carvalho closed the meeting at 3:21 pm.


Delegates gathered in a chilly Stockholm conscious that time was running out. This second intersessional meeting represented the halfway mark on the road to the fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) and Co-Chairs had urged delegates to develop draft text for third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG3) to consider in February 2019. The Co-Chairs were intensely aware that the more progress made here in Stockholm the more likely it would be that OEWG3 could succeed in finalizing draft recommendations for ICCM5 on the post-2020 directions for the sound management of chemicals and waste. 

The meeting Co-Chairs had set clear expectations for the meeting:

focus on articulating for the third Open-ended Working Group (OEWG3) the “what” elements of a post-2020 regime: its vision, possible policy principles, objectives and milestones; and

have an initial discussion on the thornier “how” elements of implementation arrangements, governance, and high-level political engagement, given that it will be difficult to settle on specifics without the vision, principles, and objectives and milestones.

The Co-Chairs’ hopes for progress were high while delegates’ expectations were much lower. So in the end the Co-Chairs may have been disappointed but delegates were pleasantly surprised by the progress achieved in a series of parallel discussion groups.

This brief analysis looks at the second intersessional meeting’s progress in setting the stage for OEWG3 in February 2019 by assessing the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management’s (SAICM) weaknesses, strengths, and lessons learned since its adoption in 2006, articulating “what” chemicals and waste management should achieve post-2020, and exploring “how” to pursue such achievements.


“You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” – Maya Angelou

Deliberations on the future evolution of the global agenda on chemicals and wastes at this intersessional meeting were supposed to be informed by a preview of the independent review of SAICM’s achievements and shortcomings since 2006. However, the review document was unavailable until just before the meeting convened, leaving delegates little time to review, digest, and reflect on it before embarking on substantive discussions. Some delegates considered it very much a first draft with several gaps to be filled in the analysis. Participants nevertheless welcomed some of its conclusions, particularly those around SAICM’s success in building trust and collaborative relationships between and among stakeholders and encouraging transparent sharing of information.

Delegates were less comfortable with a core finding that SAICM was unlikely to have sound chemicals management activities underway in the majority of participating countries by 2020. While many agreed on the evaluation’s initial diagnosis of SAICM’s strengths and weaknesses, some suggested its “lessons learned” were underdeveloped and offered limited insights to guide deliberations on the post-2020 framework. As a result, references to the evaluation during this meeting were few. A final report should be ready in time for digestion and reflection before OEWG3 convenes in February 2019, but the question remains, since deliberations on the post-2020 regime have already begun, how much the evaluation will actually influence the post-2020 regime.


“Start small, think big. Don’t worry about too many things at once. Take a handful of simple things to begin with, and then progress to more complex ones. Think about not just tomorrow, but the future. Put a ding in the universe.”  – Steve Jobs

During the three days of discussion it became clear that SAICM means different things to different stakeholders, and consequently there are different views on what is required in the next stage of its evolution.

Swedish Environment Minister Karolina Skog flagged, both at a high-level event on the eve of the meeting’s opening and in her opening remarks at the meeting, the need for a “grand plan” on sound management of chemicals and waste with both voluntary and legally-binding components, akin to the Paris Agreement. Skog hosted a separate invitation-only high-level dialogue just before the meeting to consider such a possibility, and to start the process of building a coalition of like-minded high ambition stakeholders to organize a ministerial or high-level push at ICCM5 to adopt an expansive post-2020 framework.

The EU also insisted on thinking big. Pointing to ICCM4 resolution IV/4’s reference to waste beyond 2020, the EU consistently asserted that this meant the post-2020 framework must cover the entire chemicals and waste management agenda, across all relevant forums, and involving all relevant actors in a framework not bound by a termination date. In contrast, many other delegations interpreted the ICCM4 resolution more narrowly, as essentially improving SAICM’s performance to achieve more effectively its original but yet-to-be-fulfilled mandate.

The issue of scope also came into play under waste management. Many delegates agreed that wastes should be included, but they disagreed on which wastes would be covered and what aspects of their management should be addressed in the post-2020 regime. This disagreement was also reflected in the fact that all of slogans proposed for the post-2020 vision omit the word “waste.” Likewise, several of the proposals for explanatory statements neglected to mention waste, while some have bracketed text attempting to limit it to “associated waste.”

The EU in particular pushed for all wastes to be covered inclusive of household and liquid wastes, reflecting the importance of waste management in achieving many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Other delegations argued that a more focused definition of “wastes,” namely chemical wastes and waste articles containing hazardous substances, was more appropriate. Delegates debated whether the inclusion of a broader scope for waste beyond 2020 would overburden SAICM, which has already seen poor implementation of its objectives, or whether it would allow for a more comprehensive approach to establishing an integrated chemicals management regime for the global community.

The deliberations over the priority principles within the new framework also underscored the issue of scale in the future framework. Many delegations believed already agreed text from the Overarching Policy Strategy, Dubai Declaration, United Nations Environment Assembly resolutions, and other sources within the multilateral sphere of chemicals and waste management would suffice for the future framework, while others wanted to augment the future framework with a long list of additional principles, with little consideration for the burden this would place on stakeholders during its implementation.


“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk

The Co-Chairs attempted to encourage delegates to give priority focus to clarity on the vision, policy principles, and objectives and milestones. Their goal was to generate text elaborating “what” the future framework would address to make room for the anticipated long, potentially contentious negotiations on “how” it would be implemented. The Co-Chairs, however, did not get the clarity, focus, or agreed text they hoped for. Most delegates, however, seemed pleased by the depth, collegiality, and give-and-take of the discussions on the framework elements. Many expressed hope that the resulting goodwill would carry over to OEWG3

This artificial separation between the “what” and “how” clusters proved difficult to maintain. Indeed, during the discussion on objectives and milestones the cross-cutting issue of finance to support the negotiated post-2020 framework surfaced repeatedly, as did the cross-cutting discussion about whether the post-2020 framework needed quasi-mandatory elements, such as national action or implementation plans and progress reporting requirements.

With little to no consensus on the “what” elements, let alone the trickier “how” elements, what are the expectations for OEWG3? All six elements will be on the table, but this time there will be a larger and more diverse set of stakeholders involved, many of whom did not attend the Brasilia and/or Stockholm intersessional meetings and may not understand or respect what it took to get the modest progress made so far. Add to that mix submission of a completed independent evaluation, a new proposal by the Co-Chairs reflecting discussions at this intersessional meeting, plus any emerging issues that might be flagged by the second edition of the GCO, which is expected to be released by early 2019. Taken together, these considerations and the lack of consensus at the intersessional meeting led many delegates to admit that the more formal OEWG3 meeting in February 2019 will be a challenging one indeed.


First Meeting of the Expert Working Group on the Review of Annexes of the Basel Convention: The Expert Working Group was mandated by the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP13) to conduct a review of Annexes I (categories to be controlled), III (hazardous characteristics), IV (disposal operations) and related aspects of IX (wastes that will not be considered hazardous wastes unless they contain enough Annex I material to exhibit an Annex II hazardous characteristics) with priority given to Annex IV and related aspects of Annex IX.  dates: 20-23 March 2018  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8271  fax: +4-22-917-8098  email:  www:

13th International Conference on Waste Management and Technology: The 13th International Conference on Waste Management and Technology (ICWMT) is a platform for specialists and officials to discuss scientific problems related to solid waste management, exchange experiences, and look for innovative solutions. Initiated by Basel Convention Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific and approved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China, ICWMT has been held 12 times since 2005.  dates: 21-24 March 2018  location: Beijing, China  contact: Shi Xiong, Basel Convention Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific  phone: +86-10-82686410  fax:+86-10-82686451  email:  www:

Eighth Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific: The Theme of the 8th Regional 3R Forum is “Achieving Clean Water, Clean Land and Clean Air through 3R and Resource Efficiency.”  The Regional Forum is organized and co-hosted by the UN Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD). The Forum is intended to serve as a framework for 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) policy dialogue among high-level government representatives from Asia-Pacific countries, city mayors and administrators and other professionals, as well as technical assistance for country projects, and information sharing and networking for the promotion of 3R policies in Asia and the Pacific.  dates: 9-12 April 2018  location: Indore, India  contact: C.R.C. Mohanty, UNCRD  phone: +81-52-561-9416  fax: +81-52-561-9374  email:  www:

Second Meeting of the Expert Working Group on the E-waste Technical Guidelines: The Expert Working Group is expected to advance the work on further developing the technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electrical and electronic waste and used electrical and electronic equipment, in particular regarding the distinction between waste and non-waste under the Basel Convention, pursuant to decision BC-13/5 adopted at the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP13).  dates: 17-19 April 2018  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8271  fax: +4-22-917-8098  email:  www:

First Meeting of the Household Waste Partnership Working Group: By its decision BC-13/14 on creating innovative solutions through the Basel Convention for the environmentally sound management of household waste, the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention established the Household Waste Partnership with the objective of promoting the environmentally sound management of household waste.  dates: 13-16 May 2018  location: Port Louis, Mauritius  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8271  fax: +4-22-917-8098  email:  www:

Meeting of the Intersessional Working Group on Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Rotterdam Convention: Rotterdam Convention COP8 called for a working group to identify a set or prioritized recommendations for enhancing the Convention’s effectiveness, and develop a report for consideration by COP-9.  dates: 4-6 June 2018  location: Riga, Latvia  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8271  fax: +41-22-917-8098  email:  www:

GEF Sixth Assembly and Associated Meetings: The Global Environment Facility serves as the financial mechanism for the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and has started funding some projects related to SAICM. The GEF Assembly is the governing body of the GEF and is composed of all 183 member countries. It meets every four years at the ministerial level to: review general policies; review and evaluate the GEF’s operation based on reports submitted to Council; review the membership of the Facility; and consider, for approval by consensus, amendments to the Instrument for the Establishment of the Restructured Global Environment Facility on the basis of recommendations by the Council.  dates: 23-29 June 2018  location: Da Nang, Viet Nam  contact: GEF Secretariat  email:  www:

High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2018: The theme of HLPF 2018 is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.”  Among the sub-set of SDGs to be reviewed in depth by HLPF 2018 will be SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), which includes chemicals and waste management. dates: 9-18 July 2018 location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact:  www:

Eleventh Meeting of the OEWG of the Basel Convention: The OEWG is expected to discuss, inter alia: the Convention’s strategic framework, technical guidelines, the review of annexes, the Basel Convention Partnership Programme, and new agenda items on marine plastic litter and micro-plastics and waste containing nanomaterials.  dates: 3-6 September 2018  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8271  fax: +4-22-917-8098  email:  www:

Thirteenth Meeting of the Basel Convention Implementation and Compliance Committee (ICC): The ICC at its 13th meeting is expected to consider the activities of its 2018-2019 work programme, including undertaking activities aimed at improving national reporting, combating illegal traffic, controlling transboundary movements of covered wastes, developing legislation, the matter of insurance, bond and guarantee, and reviewing the operation of the implementation fund. dates: 8-10 September 2018  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8271  fax: +4-22-917-8098  email:  www:

Fourteenth Meeting of the Rotterdam Convention Chemical Review Committee: The Chemical Review Committee (CRC13) will review chemicals and pesticide formulations for possible listing under Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.  dates: 10-14 September 2018  location: Rome, Italy  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8218  fax: +41-22-917-8098  email:  www:

Fourteenth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee: The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC-14) will review the possible listing of hazardous chemicals under the various annexes of the Stockholm Convention.  dates: 17-21 September 2018  location: Rome, Italy  contact: BRS Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8729  fax: +41-22-917-8098  email:  www:

Second Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury: Among other things, COP2 is expected to: adopt the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with GEF; adopt revised guidelines on interim storage; consider proposals from an expert group on monitoring arrangements and elements of an effectiveness evaluation framework; consider a report on waste thresholds; and consider member state identification of point sources of releases.  dates: 19-23 November 2018  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: Minamata Convention Secretariat  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email:  www:

Third Meeting of the SAICM Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG3): The OEWG is to consider the results of the first two meetings of the intersessional process and prepare for ICCM5. dates: February 2019  location: TBD  contact: SAICM Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8273  fax: +41-22-797-3460  email:  www:

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