Helen Medina, USCIB’s director of life sciences and product policy, participated in the Consumer Specialty Products Association 7th Annual International Affairs Conference — Global Challenges, Trends and Outlook, December 4 and 5 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The CSPA program covered three areas: a downstream user’s perspective on compliance with the European Union’s REACH program to regulate use of chemicals; new regional product stewardship and trade developments impacting market access in Latin America; and developments at the global level.
The later topic area covered multilateral discussions of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, environmental and product sustainability, and consumer product safety. It included an in-depth panel discussion featuring Ms. Medina on global product strategy and product stewardship in the consumer products industry, and throughout the production chain.
Ms. Medina’s presentation demonstrated how international high-level discussions can impact chemical companies. Chemicals – and more specifically chemicals in products, and how they can impact human health and the environment – are high on the international agenda, she said. Although international negotiations may take years to conclude, eventually the outcomes of the talks make their way into national law and regulation.
Consumers, governments and NGOs are increasingly vigilant in requesting that companies disclose information concerning formulations, ingredients and chemicals used in products, Ms. Medina said. She cited the UN’s SAICM (Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management) as just one of many ongoing discussions related to chemicals and emphasized the importance of becoming involved in the UN’s preparations for the Rio+ 20 conference, which takes place in 2012 and will mark the 20th anniversary of the watershed 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
The main themes of Rio + 20, said Ms. Medina, are the green economy and governance for sustainable development, both of which will undoubtedly touch upon how chemicals are managed. These discussions are extremely important because the conference’s expected final document will most likely be a political one, while possible outcomes range from potential treaty negotiating mandates to institutional changes to promote greater scrutiny of chemicals worldwide. Additional expectations for business and other non-government actors are a given, she said.
The panel was moderated by John Phillips of Cardno ENTRIX. Other panelists included Greg Skelton of the American Chemistry Council and Patricia Barone of Unilever.
Staff contact: Helen Medina