Delegates discuss SAICM 2.0 at 4th Intersessional Process Meeting

Stakeholders from national governments, the global chemicals industry, academia, and the international NGO sector met August 29-September 2, 2022, in Bucharest, Romania to discuss the future of the strategic approach to international chemicals management (SAICM). Delegates came together to the fourth meeting of the Intersessional Process (IP4) to decide on the recommendations for the Beyond 2020 Instrument, the overarching framework for global chemicals and waste management beyond 2020, which will be finalized at the fifth session of the International Conference for Chemicals Management (ICCM5) planned to take place in the second half of 2023.

BY SCOTT STEPHENS, MPA | SEP 6, 2022 12:29 PM EDT

Background

  • In 2006, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a voluntary, multi-stakeholder policy framework to promote chemical safety globally, with particular focus on building chemicals management capacity of developing countries and economies in transition. SAICM was originally created to meet objectives established in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, including the principal goal of manufacturing and using chemicals by 2020 in such ways that significantly minimize adverse effects on human health and the environment.
  • Participating framework members are not subject to obligations under SAICM like member states are under binding international agreements such as the BRS Conventions or the Montreal Protocol. Activities under SAICM are carried out on a voluntary basis.
  • In 2015, stakeholders initiated an intersessional process to prepare for SAICM’s future beyond its originally planned conclusion in 2020. Referred to as the “Beyond 2020” process, the upcoming ICCM5 is tasked with deciding on what objectives will be included in the Beyond 2020 Instrument under SAICM going forward. The ICCM5 is now set to be held in Bonn, Germany in September 2023.

Fourth Intersessional Process Meeting (IP4)

  • Canceled two years ago due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Fourth Intersessional Process Meeting considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (IP4) took place from August 29-September 2, 2022, in Bucharest, Romania, where stakeholders considered a list of recommendations to be agreed for inclusion on ICCM5’s agenda.
  • The discussion of these recommendations was planned under item 3 of IP4’s provisional agenda (see accompanying working document SAICM/IP.4/2/Rev.1 for detailed description of the compiled recommendations for ICCM5).
  • Five objectives are laid out on page 6 of the working document (“Strategic objectives A-E”). They include ensuring “measures are identified, implemented and enforced” to avert harm from chemicals and waste; sufficient knowledge and information are “available and accessible to all to enable informed decisions and actions”; “Issues of concern…are identified, prioritized and addressed”; “Benefits to human health and the environment are maximized and risks are prevented or, where not feasible, minimized through safer alternatives, innovative and sustainable solutions and forward thinking”; and the final objective, which for the first time emphasizes the sound management of chemicals and waste as an essential element to achieving sustainable development, the necessity of adequate financial and non-financial resources, faster implementation of these objectives, and the creation of partnerships to foster cooperation among stakeholders.

What’s Next?

  • On September 2, delegates to the IP4 adjourned the meeting until early 2023 after concluding that further consultations were necessary to agree on the final recommendations that will be considered in Germany at the ICCM5, according to a press release issued by the UNEP. “Over the week in Bucharest, we’ve seen considerable progress in creating a global movement to achieve a planet safe from chemicals and waste pollution, where our health is not at risk, and where economies and industry can flourish. This is the time when all sectors of the economy can play an active part, co-creating together. An exciting journey lies ahead,” Sheila Aggarwal-Khan of UNEP’s Economy Division is quoted as saying.
  • The IP4 participants were able to agree on a single consolidated documentcontaining the Beyond 2020 framework, including scope, vision, preliminary objectives and targets, and mechanisms to support implementation – from which delegates will continue consultations in the first quarter of 2023. A UNEP representative confirmed that the exact dates and venue of the resumed IP4 will be made public by the end of September 2022.

To contact the author of this item, please email Scott Stephens ([email protected])
To contact the editor of this item, please email Alec Gaffney ( [email protected])

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