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Informal Group Reviews Draft High-level Declaration for ICCM5

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By IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub , February 22, 2021

An informal drafting group has concluded its work to develop a first draft of a possible high-level declaration on the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020. The declaration would be presented for adoption during the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5).

The informal drafting group includes representatives from government, industry, civil society, and international organizations from different regions and sectors. The first meeting convened in November 2020 to consider the group's aims and objectives, organizational matters, and the structure and approach of the proposed declaration. 

The group's second virtual meeting on 8 December 2020 continued discussions on the declaration's structure and elements, building on the outcomes of a survey on potential elements for inclusion. Suggested elements that received support from all stakeholders included: multi-stakeholder and multisector; partnerships; green and sustainable chemistry; links to other environmental challenges; and scientific knowledge and evidence. For these elements, co-facilitators Kay Williams (UK) and Angela Rivera (Colombia) proposed text based on the written submissions and existing language from relevant documents. The drafting group commented on where in the proposed structure of the declaration each element would best fit and whether or not the proposed text covered the essence of the element.

Other elements mentioned in the survey received majority but not unanimous support. These were: capacity building; life-cycle and circular economy; role of the private sector and industry; precautionary principle; strategic objectives and targets; gender; and financing. No text was proposed for these elements, but participants identified relevant sections in the declaration structure where they could best fit.

On 23 December 2020, the first draft was circulated for members' consideration. The drafting group held its third virtual meeting on 9 February 2021 to discuss the text. The co-facilitators presented the issues that members had raised via written submissions. These included:

  • the declaration should build on the Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management;
  • the declaration should be no longer than two to three pages;
  • disagreement regarding the scope involved whether it should focus on the beyond 2020 instrument or include the entire chemicals and waste agenda as well as linkages with other issues such as biodiversity and climate;
  • the need for a stronger commitment to the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and
  • the level of ambition.

The group reviewed the elements of the Dubai Declaration and found that six were not addressed in the first draft of the high-level declaration, namely: human rights, which participants generally agreed should be included; industry’s obligation to make data available, public access to information, and protection of confidential business information; the non-binding character of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), with participants agreeing the declaration would implicitly convey the non-binding nature; and the importance of implementation and taking stock of progress.

Written submissions had also cited the importance of illegal traffic, although several participants noted that the legal trade of chemicals that are banned/restricted in the country of origin can also lead to adverse effects. Some highlighted the need to refer to a science-policy interface (SPI) for chemicals and waste.

Following the announcement by the ICCM Bureau in early February that ICCM5 would be further postponed, an additional meeting of the informal drafting group was announced. It will take place on 9 March 2021, to continue discussions on the draft declaration. [SDG Knowledge Hub story on first virtual meeting of informal drafting group] [Webpage of informal drafting group]