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Greater Industry Engagement Key to Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste

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By IISD's SDG Knowledge Hub, May 18, 2022

Industry involvement is one of the three pillars of the integrated approach to financing the sound management of chemicals and waste, along with the mainstreaming of sound management into development planning and dedicated external financing. A study by the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) explores the issue, aiming to provide a holistic description of activities associated with industry involvement in the integrated approach, including options for action at various levels and for a range of actors.

Although the integrated approach is an aspirational tool for involving industry, its concrete implementation has been hampered by a lack of clarity regarding what constitutes industry involvement and the absence of a mechanism for monitoring progress, the study notes. It also highlights difficulties related to, among others, implementing the polluter-pays principle and the subsequent funding deficit. The study underscores the need to increase the accountability of industry at the international level in terms of internalizing the externalities of unsound management of chemicals and waste.

Informed by extensive data collection and broad consultation with SAICM stakeholders, the study includes a proposal for tracking progress in industry involvement in relation to the objectives and targets of a future framework for the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020. It is intended to provide context and recommendations to inform SAICM stakeholders in preparing for the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM-5), which is expected to adopt a framework for the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.
 
The study’s long-term goals are to: help stakeholders better understand the economic case for involving industry in the sound management of chemicals and waste; and accelerate the transformation of national economic models and industrial practices across the chemicals value chain so they appropriately internalize the cost of the production, use, trade, and disposal of chemicals and waste.
 
The report identifies activities for industry involvement, grouped into regulatory measures, economic instruments, and voluntary measures, as well as mixed measures that may be voluntary or mandatory, depending on the country. It describes each of the measures, provides examples, and discusses how they can be applied to the sound management of chemicals and waste.
 
The study supports tracking progress in industry involvement through the creation of an efficient tracking system to measure inputs, activities, outcomes, and impacts. It suggests collecting data through the existing reporting mechanisms and measuring broad financial inputs to track industry involvement, with an initial focus on three streams: funds collected through economic instruments; costs faced by industry in complying with regulations; and funds channeled through voluntary measures. As indicators are further refined and an outreach strategy to involve the private sector is developed, the study notes that a more comprehensive reporting mechanism could be developed to measure financial inputs and performance. 
 
The study also advocates for, inter alia:

  • Establishing a capacity-building clearinghouse mechanism, marketplace and/or a global commitment platform for the development, implementation, and monitoring of and communication about partnerships and other voluntary commitments;
  • Developing and promoting use of a comprehensive and harmonized set of recommendations for chemicals-related sustainability disclosures to help translate the objectives and targets of the beyond 2020 framework; and
  • Creating a technical expert group to expedite the mobilization of funds needed by developing countries, focusing on innovative forms of financing that primarily involve the private and financial sectors, including blended finance, a global coordinated tax, and an international fund for chemicals and waste. 

[Publication: Study on Industry Involvement in the Integrated Approach to Financing the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste]