While delegates to the resumed fourth meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP4) made substantial progress on a post-2020 instrument on the sound management of chemicals and waste, consensus remained elusive. Negotiations will continue immediately prior to the fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) in Bonn, Germany, in September 2023.

The IP is tasked with developing recommendations for consideration by ICCM5 for the Strategic Approach and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste beyond 2020. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the meeting notes that IP4 progressed on implementation mechanisms for a post-2020 instrument, including on capacity building, stocktaking, measurability, and modalities for considering new issues of concern. Delegates also made headway on elaborating ambitious targets for the instrument and determining what issues should be the subject of draft resolutions to be adopted at ICCM5. These include proposals for a new alliance on pesticides or negotiations on an international code of conduct on chemicals. However, as key portions of the draft instrument will require further work, IP4 was suspended and will reconvene two days prior to the start of ICCM5 to continue negotiations. 

During the session, John Elungata, for the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Kenya, called for framing the beyond-2020 instrument to reflect both risks and benefits, international political priorities, and the urgent need for action. He stressed it should be durable, flexible, adaptable, and able to respond to new developments and priorities as identified by member States and other stakeholders. Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), expressed hope for agreement on a framework that has an ambitious vision, strong strategic objectives, and targets that can change behavior and scale up action and finance.

The African Group called for the post-2020 instrument to serve as the launching vehicle for a global alliance on highly hazardous pesticides, noting that since 2016, thousands have been poisoned and died in the region from imported highly hazardous pesticides that are not being addressed by any international body. Many outside the negotiating rooms also mentioned the impacts of the toxic chemical cloud released by the recent train wreck in Ohio, US. 

Delegates agreed to create three thematic groups to advance work:

  • Thematic Group 1 on Strategic Objectives, Targets and Measurability, to: discuss coherence of vision; measure progress towards the vision and Strategic Objectives, using previously agreed language; and identify a suitable measurability structure;
  • Thematic Group 2 on Mechanisms to Support Implementation, to finalize text on means of implementation, excluding capacity building; and
  • Thematic Group 3 on Financial Considerations including Capacity Building, to finalize text to address finance in support of the targets.

In addition, the Co-Chairs announced the creation of a 30-member Friends-of-the-Co-Chairs group to focus on developing solutions to ensure coherence of the Consolidated Document and identify and address gaps. The plenary also created an Informal Dialogue to consider elements for ICCM5 resolutions and a possible name for the post-2020 instrument.

According to the ENB analysis of the meeting, during the session, the Consolidated Document was reorganized and streamlined, with key provisions largely completed on special implementation programmes, national implementation of the instrument, regional cooperation, and promoting enhanced engagement with more stakeholders and economic sectors that use chemicals. Provisions on capacity building, stocktaking, and a measurability structure are close to completion. However, text on targets/measurability and financial considerations remains heavily bracketed. In addition, due to a lack of time, several outstanding matters, including the instrument’s vision, scope, and finalized language for the strategic objectives, could not be completed, with some likely being pushed to ICCM6.

The fourth session of the IP, which began in August 2022, resumed work in Nairobi, Kenya, from 27 February to 3 March 2023. [ENB Coverage of Resumed IP4]