16 January 2019: The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) Secretariat launched a project on global best practices on emerging chemical policy issues of concern. The project – which is the first such Global Environment Facility (GEF) full-size project – will be implemented in over 70 countries over a four-year period, with initial results presented to the International Conference on Chemicals Management in 2020.

Jacob Duer, Chief of Chemicals and Health Branch, UN Environment Programme, opened the two-day workshop launching the project. He suggested that while participants consider the project’s work plans, budgets and communications plans that will seek to advance the implementation of chemicals management at the national level, they should also reflect on how the project will contribute to the broader development agenda. He highlighted that the project will help to raise awareness of the chemicals and wastes agenda.

Brenda Koekkoek, SAICM Secretariat, explained that SAICM is a voluntary platform for stakeholders to work together and that it contributes in particular to achieving SDG target 12.4 (By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment). She noted that the “emerging policy issues” (EPIs) that SAICM focuses on are lead and paint, highly hazardous pesticides, chemicals in products, hazardous electronics, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, pharmaceutical pollutants, nanotechnology, and perfluorinated chemicals.

Koekkoek said the project’s initial results will be presented to the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5), convening in 2020. She highlighted that the project seeks to accelerate the adoption of national and value chain initiatives to control EPIs, as well as to contribute to SAICM’s 2020 goal and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The project will focus on three components: phasing out lead in paint; lifecycle management of chemicals in products; and knowledge management and stakeholder engagement. The implementing agency is the UN Environment Chemicals and Health GEF unit, and the SAICM Secretariat is the executing agency. IISD, through its SDG Knowledge Hub, is a partner in the delivery of the knowledge management component of the project.

The project was launched during a workshop for project partners at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, from 15-16 January 2019. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources] [SAICM website]