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Experts Call for Chemical Accident Prevention in Beyond 2020 Framework

The Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) convened a webinar on chemical accidents, preparedness, and response. It was the third in a series of webinars on issues related to the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

The webinar, which took place on 28 April 2021 and was moderated by Jorge Ocaña, UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), highlighted that chemical accidents must be considered in the Beyond 2020 process, given that the global chemical industry is expected to double by 2030, management practices must be put in place, and risks are and will be present.

Presenters and panelists included representatives of the Secretariat of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE), and the Governments of the UK and Malaysia.

Speakers emphasized that it is critical to assess risks and update risk assessment information, particularly in light of climate change and natural disasters, in order to prevent chemicals accidents. Among the tools, strategies, and materials to help countries prevent and prepare for chemical accidents that have been developed by IOMC organizations, presentations highlighted: International Health Regulations (WHO; the Chemicals and Waste roadmap (WHO); and more than 50 legal instruments to address chemicals accidents and prevention (ILO).

The webinar also informed participants that:

  • many developing countries require additional resources to establish chemical preparedness and response systems;
  • investing in chemical prevention, response, and preparedness will result in economic, social, and environmental benefits;
  • communication and cooperation at the national and international levels are essential; and
  • many accidents could have been prevented if experiences and lessons learned had been shared in a systematic manner.

The webinar series took place with support from the Government of Germany. Additional sessions have covered: leveraging green and sustainable chemistry for the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020illegal trade and traffic of industrial chemicals, pesticides and waste for sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020; and financial considerations for chemicals and waste management. [Webinar report] [Webinar series]