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Chemicals and Waste Declaration Discussions Focus on Structure, Key Elements

An informal drafting group on a possible High-Level Declaration (HLD) on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 held its first meeting. Participants conducted a preliminary discussion on structure and key elements.
Co-Facilitators’ Summary of the meeting includes a compilation of input from stakeholders and guidance on draft elements of an HLD, which is expected to the finalized and adopted at the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) in July 2021. Kay Williams (UK) and Angela Rivera (Colombia) are co-facilitating the informal drafting group.

ICCM5 President Gertrud Sahler established the virtual informal drafting group to advance progress on a possible HLD, given the postponement of meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the 24 November 2020 drafting group meeting, she said the HLD would help pave the way for enhanced cooperation between international organizations, sectors and institutions, contributing to both the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. She also expressed hope it would provide a higher political profile to mobilize financial resources. While the COVID-19 pandemic might threaten to draw attention and resources away from chemicals work in the short term, she stressed that chemicals have, in fact, been crucial in responding to the pandemic. 

The informal group is expected to develop an HLD draft for negotiations at the fourth meeting of the Intersessional Process Considering the Strategic Approach and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP4) and ICCM5. The group’s composition was determined through a nominating process to ensure group size is small but representative to allow for an efficient working mode and a broad range of views

During the virtual meeting on 24 November, participants:

  • supported a pragmatic, forward-looking, and ambitious document;
  • agreed on the need to engage all relevant sectors and stakeholders including vulnerable groups, and to enhance coherence and coordination of activities with them; and
  • supported exploring the best ways to raise the political profile of the issue, including whether to reference the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in the declaration.

Regarding the HLD’s structure, the group generally agreed to include: an introductory/overarching statement; identification of advances and gaps; commitments and actions, while recognizing different capacities and impacts; and strengthened collaboration. Regarding specific elements for inclusion in an HLD, the group prioritized inclusion of: sustainable/green chemistry; partnerships; scientific evidence; multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder; strengthened cooperation and collaboration; and links to other environmental challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity.
 
Participants also mentioned as potential elements for inclusion: capacity building, life-cycle and circular economy, the role of industry and the private sector, precautionary principle, objectives and targets, gender, financing, COVID-19, and plastics. Additional elements discussed included: strengthening the science-policy interface (SPI); confidential business information and benefits of chemicals; importance of health for sound chemical and waste management; and fundamental rights at work.

The second virtual informal drafting group meeting will take place on 8 December 2020 to continue discussing structure and element. Following the submission of feedback from 23 December to 15 January 2021, a third meeting will take place on 9 February 2021 to discuss the first draft of the HLD.