23 September 2019: The Secretariat of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) has issued a report on a technical expert workshop on indicators for SAICM Beyond 2020 to help guide discussions on targets, milestones and indicators during the third meeting of the Intersessional Process Considering the Strategic Approach and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP3).

The report (SAICM/IP.3/INF/2) was prepared by the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) in advance of IP3, taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 30 September to 4 October. The workshop convened in Cambridge, UK, from 3-5 September 2019.

According to the report, the technical expert workshop’s overarching message underscored the need to develop both targets and indicators for the Beyond 2020 process in parallel to ensure their mutual effectiveness. Workshop participants also stressed that all indicators should be reliable, measurable and globally relevant, and suggested: prioritizing and limiting the number of indicators; identifying a few high-level indicators to help communicate with the public and decision makers; and establishing a process to ensure that stakeholders can contribute to and have ownership of indicators and targets.

The workshop also stressed that indicators should have an engaging, clear message to avoid incorrect reporting, and be efficient and cost effective, while data collection underpinning indicator frameworks will require money and human resources. It called for:

  • clarity regarding who is responsible for producing the indicators;
  • balance between impact and process indicators;
  • use of multiple indicators to provide a more holistic picture of progress; and
  • a “layered approach,” whereby a set of minimum indicators for all countries would be produced, with additional indicators to be used where appropriate.

Acknowledging that many relevant conventions, frameworks and processes have their own indicator and reporting processes as well as data collection efforts, the workshop emphasized the need for synergies and the potential to capitalize on and support those that already exist rather than “starting from scratch,” mentioning in particular the SDGs, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, as well as indicators related to, among others, industry, health and labor.

The report further notes that participants suggested a mapping exercise for existing global and regional data and indicators, highlighted the potential for innovation using new and emerging technologies and data sources such as big data, satellite imagery and citizen science, and pointed to existing mechanisms to collect industry data, which can be helpful for data availability and target measurability in the ‘Beyond 2020’ framework.

Another message from the workshop highlighted in the report underscores the importance of: the structure of the suite of indicators, to reflect differing circumstances and priorities of different stakeholders; and assigning custodians to indicators or groups of indicators to ensure consistency and accuracy of data collection over time.

IP3 is expected to develop recommendations for consideration by the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) related to: targets, milestones and indicators; institutional arrangements; mechanisms to support implementation; and financial considerations.

The ‘Beyond 2020’ process was launched in Brasilia, Brazil, in 2017, and aims to create a new and enhanced platform to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, as well as consider the broader pollution agenda. The goal is to have the new framework ready for adoption at ICCM5 in October 2020 in Bonn, Germany. [Report of the Technical Expert Workshop on Indicators] [IISD RS IP3 Coverage] [Meeting Webpage]