Helen Medina, USCIB’s director of life sciences and product policy, recently attended the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) meeting of the UN’s International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) which was held November 15-18 in Belgrade.
In 2006, ICCM adopted the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) as a policy framework to foster the sound management of chemicals. SAICM was developed by a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral preparatory committee, and supports the achievement of the goal – agreed at the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development – of ensuring that, by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health.
The functions of the OEWG are to consider the implementation, development and enhancement of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals, and to make recommendations for ICCM3, which will be held in September 2012 in Nairobi.
The overarching issue that impacted the discussions at the OEWG surrounded the financing and technical resources for implementing SAICM goals. This included the financing of the Quick Start Program and of SAICM itself. As such, many delegates felt that unless financing and technical issues were resolved, there was little point in discussing other issues for possible inclusion on the provisional agenda of ICCM3.
To deal with the issue of long-term and short-term finance issues, the president of the meeting created a “Group of the Friends of the President” and a “Committee of the Whole (COW)” to prepare draft decisions or resolutions for possible adoption by ICCM3. Although there were several issues of interest that USCIB followed during the meeting, it was the Chemical in Products project which has generated the most interest among USCIB’s members.
SAICM is a voluntary policy framework, implemented in a multi-stakeholder process, and sets as one of its main objectives that information and knowledge about chemicals contained in products “is available, accessible, user friendly, adequate and appropriate to the needs of all stakeholders.” As a step towards fulfilling this objective, the second session of the governing body of SAICM, the International Conference for Chemicals Management (ICCM2), in May 2009 recognized chemicals in products as an emerging policy issue, and adopted a resolution which invited UNEP to lead a Chemicals in Products (CiP) project.
Since ICCM2, the UN Environment Program, the lead agency for this topic, has been focusing its work on understanding the availability of information on CiP. There were in-depth studies in specific sectors on this topic and a workshop was held to make suggestions on how to move this project forward. The major recommendation from the workshop was to develop a voluntary framework to facilitate the flow of information on CiP.
For a more detailed report of the meeting please refer to the Draft Report of the Work of the Open-ended Working Group of the International Conference on Chemicals Management at its First meeting, the Addendum to the Draft Report of the OEWG, and the Draft Decisions Submitted by the Committee of the Whole.
Staff contact: Helen Medina