Asia-Pacific Reviews Progress on Chemicals Management Beyond 2020
The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) convened a series of regional meetings in advance of and to prepare for the fourth meeting of the intersessional process considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (IP4) and the fifth meeting of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5). The Asia-Pacific regional meeting provided the opportunity for countries to exchange information and knowledge and to provide updates on progress towards SAICM objectives in the region.
The Asia-Pacific regional meeting, which convened from 5-7 July 2022 in Dead Sea, Jordan, discussed the outcomes of the four Virtual Working Groups (VWGs) that were established to maintain momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also reviewed IP3 outcome text not considered during the VWGs on vision, scope, principles and approaches, and strategic objectives.
Noting concerns regarding inclusiveness of the virtual process, ICCM5 President Anita Breyer said the basis for IP4 discussion will be IP3 outcomes with VWG outcomes constituting valuable input. Among others, she highlighted the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) resolution on establishing a science-policy panel on chemicals and waste management.
Participants considered the outcomes of the VWGs. VWG1 on targets, indicators, and milestones (SAICM/RM/AP.6/4) addressed: possible formulation of targets based on areas where stakeholders’ views converge; recommendations for a process to establish indicators and milestones for finalized targets; and an annex with new targets proposed by stakeholders, not included in the main text of the VWG’s report. The VWG discussed options for a process to further develop draft targets, either through a policy expert group alone or through a policy expert group and a technical expert subgroup to help develop the indicators framework. Co-facilitator Silvija Nora Kalnins noted that stakeholders explicitly requested an indicator on the legal framework and that complementary indicators could address the varying timeline of targets under multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). Participants suggested agreeing on a limited number of indicators at ICCM5.
VWG2 on governance and mechanisms to support implementation (SAICM/RM/AP.6/5) addressed proposals on: establishing a science-policy interface; national, sub-regional, regional, international, sectoral, and stakeholder cooperation and coordination; and mechanisms for taking stock of progress on the Beyond 2020 framework. One participant called for addressing financial and technical capacities of countries in the VWG2 outcome document. Another cited the lack of resources as the reason for the lack of reporting under SAICM, and called for simple reporting under the future SAICM, with automated dissemination of information to ensure broader participation.
VWG3 on issues of concern (SAICM/RM/AP.6/6) addressed proposals related to the definition of “issues of concern,” the nomination process, and determining the need for further work on an issue. Participants highlighted the importance of a system to deal with emerging issues, and called for reflecting financial and technical requirements in the nomination and selection process.
VWG4 on financial considerations (SAICM/RM/AP.6/7) included proposals related to an integrated approach to financing, private sector involvement in chemicals and waste management, a clearinghouse mechanism to track development assistance, and a strategy for resource mobilization, including dedicated external financing. Suggestions included: strengthening financing of the Secretariat with contributions from all stakeholders; increasing private sector involvement to also cover technical and in-kind assistance; and equal and non-discriminatory access to funds provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Delegates heard updates from the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions and Minamata Convention Secretariats and the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC). Participants discussed: addressing fragmented management of chemicals at the national level in the context of BRS work; and the importance of including labor aspects in MEAs and other international chemicals work.
Participants discussed substantive preparation for IP4, including text not considered during the VWGs. Participants cited the need to: reconsider the timeline for achieving the goals of the future framework; and reflect all SDGs under the SAICM process and not only SDG 12.4 (environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes throughout their life cycle). On “Strategic Objectives,” one participant suggested an additional objective to follow up on the SDGs. Another noted linkages between a future science-policy panel and the Beyond 2020 process.
A discussion on capacity building addressed mechanisms and actions regarding capacity building across sectors to support the Beyond 2020 programme of work. Participants also considered: finding a common ground in the region; using a questionnaire to assess capacity-building, technical assistance, and financial needs of the Asia-Pacific SAICM stakeholders; the launch of the Arab Center for Environmental Health in Amman, Jordan, which will promote the concept of dental amalgam-free dentistry; and the relevance of incorporating human rights aspects into the future framework.
IP4 will take place from 29 August to 2 September 2022 in Bucharest, Romania. ICCM5 is tentatively scheduled for the third quarter of 2023. [Report of the Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting] [SAICM Regional Meetings Website] [SAICM Roadmap Towards IP4 and ICCM5] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on CEE Regional Meeting] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on the LAC Regional Meeting] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on the EU-JUSSCANNZUK Regional Meeting]