On Friday, October 2, 2015, the fourth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) concluded in Geneva, Switzerland. Over 450 delegates, from governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations and industry participated in the week-long conference.
The USCIB member delegation included American Cleaning Institute, American Petroleum Institute, Boeing and the Toy Industry Association. Other USCIB members including ACC, CropLife America, Exxon, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble participated in the week-long meeting under other international delegations.
ICCM4, the decision-making body for the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) made several important decisions meant to promote the 2020 goal “that chemicals are used and produced in ways that minimize adverse effects on human health and the environment.” Additionally, the conference decided on the process for continuing international efforts towards the sound management of chemicals beyond 2020. The process includes an independent evaluation of SAICM and a schedule of meetings, to be agreed by March 2016, to prepare recommendations to be considered at the fifth ICCM in 2020.
“USCIB was indispensable in the negotiations and succeeded in strengthening the role of industries that use chemicals in addition to the chemical industry itself,” said Ernie Rosenberg, president and CEO of the American Cleaning Institute. “The work of USCIB laid the foundation for a leading role as the SAICM process moves forward to the next International Conference on Chemicals Management and the development of a new process beyond 2020.”
USCIB members actively participated in several of the negotiations, one of which was the Chemicals in Products (CiP) program. That program will move into the implementation phase as a voluntary, initiative which would be open to SAICM stakeholders’ input. The program would also be flexible enough to accommodate existing and developing industry schemes. USCIB made interventions to ensure that a separate CiP secretariat would not be created. Instead, the United Nations Environment Programme, in cooperation with the CiP Steering Group, would continue to develop in an open and inclusive manner. Future updates of the guidance documents would be considered as appropriate.
“Beyond the ICCM4 meeting, my, and TIA’s, involvement with SAICM and CiP has been an important component of TIA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of our members,” said Alan Kaufman, senior vice president for technical affairs at the Toy Industry Association. “Helen Medina has done a terrific job of coordinating disparate industry sectors, keeping us all informed, and consolidating and articulating our positions in a coherent manner.”
On the topic of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), USCIB united with CropLife International, and the International Council of Chemical Associations to highlight that the science on EDCs remains very contentious. Industry noted in the outcome document that the 2012 WHO-UNEP ‘State of the Science Report’ is not an accurate perspective on the current science. Risk assessment was also reaffirmed by many countries as the preferred approach to manage EDCs, and industry successfully supported governments in avoiding a call for the development of lists of EDCs and/or potential EDCs.
With regards to Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), the crop protection industry worked to introduce sound scientific language on the approach that insists on risk management and risk mitigation. The industry also defeated an NGO-initiated movement to form a Global Alliance to Phase-out HHPs. The Alliance would have been a duplication of efforts on the management of HHPs already being undertaken by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and supported by voluntary industry commitments and actions.
On hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products, the outcome document invites the UN Industrial Development Organization in partnership with the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) to work with others to develop a work plan for hazardous substances used in electrical and electronics products. Original equipment manufacturers should implement various measures including take-back programs, industrial hygiene and environmental monitoring programs, and safer and more sustainable chemistry in manufacturing.
ICCM4 also adopted environmentally persistent pharmaceutical products as a new “emerging policy issue”. The IOMC will develop a work plan, including information generation and sharing, to fill identified knowledge gaps. For more detailed information on the outcomes of ICCM4, please contact Helen Medina.