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Intersessional Work Advances Towards Beyond 2020 Chemicals Framework

The intersessional work has progressed substantially on advancing the Beyond 2020 chemicals framework. Four topical working groups have concluded their discussions, technical briefings are in progress on several issues, and an informal group on a high-level declaration has considered a first draft text. 

The outcomes of the intersessional work - all of which has been taking place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic - will be discussed during the fourth meeting of the intersessional process considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (IP4) and the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5). These events were scheduled to convene in person in the first half of 2021, but were recently postponed.

Virtual Working Group 1 (Targets, indicators and milestones) worked to develop recommendations on establishing indicators and milestones for a set of targets proposed in February 2020 by a technical working group. VWG 1 held five meetings between 2 November 2020 and 1 February 2021, and has issued a final report

Virtual Working Group 2 (Governance and mechanisms to support implementation) aimed to make proposals on: national, sub-regional, regional, international, sectoral and stakeholder cooperation and coordination; the science-policy interface (SPI); mechanisms for taking stock of progress; mechanisms for updating the framework; and possible subsidiary and ad hoc bodies. VWG 2 met eight times between 27 October 2020 and 4 February 2021.
 
Virtual Working Group 3 (Issues of concern) met four times between 16 November 2020 and 2 February 2021, and was tasked with: reviewing Annex B (Issues of Concern) of SAICM/IP.4/2 (Compilation of recommendations regarding the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020), and identifying possibilities for compromise, gaps, or alternative text in areas of divergence; developing proposals for draft procedures for the identification, nomination, selection, review and prioritization of Issues of Concern; determining the need for further work on an issue of concern and duration for considering such issues; and developing proposals on how to deal with existing Emerging Policy Issues and other Issues of Concern.

Virtual Working Group 4 (Financial considerations) was tasked with addressing: an integrated approach to financing the sound management of chemicals and waste; capacity building; strategic partnerships; financing the Secretariat; cost-recovery mechanisms and other economic instruments; and a resource mobilization strategy. The group met four times between 18 November 2020 and 10 February 2021, and has issued its final report.
 
The series of technical briefings began with a discussion on financing the sound management of chemicals and waste Beyond 2020, in November 2020. Experts presented a proposal for an international tax on 35 basic chemicals. Also in November, technical briefings addressed: options for strengthening the SPI at the international level; and the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Assessment Report on Issues of Concern, during which experts called for new ways to identify and address Issues of Concern.

Future technical briefings will address, inter alia: the new International Labour Organization (ILO) legal comparative study on ILO chemical instruments; the High Ambition Alliance, which aims to enhance awareness and understanding regarding the urgency to act on chemicals and waste at all levels in the context of the Beyond 2020 process; and implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

An informal drafting group on a possible High-level Declaration for consideration by ICCM5 has met three times. A draft of the Declaration was circulated on 23 December and discussed by the informal group on 9 February. A fourth meeting is scheduled for 9 March. [Technical briefings webpage]