Pilot Project to support African Countries in overcoming barriers in implementing the UN GHS
Four African countries - Kenya, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Nigeria will benefit from a new pilot project to support their national implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). To date, the lack of scientific capacity, readily accessible information, and resources have been barriers for many countries as they attempt to implement GHS. In the African region, so far, only three countries, Mauritius, South Africa, and Zambia, have implemented the GHS.
The GHS has been identified as one of the fundamental tools to achieve the sound management of chemicals. In the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002, countries were encouraged to implement the GHS as soon as possible with a view to having the system fully operational by 2008. In 2015, several high-level decisions relating to the sound management of chemicals were adopted, for instance: Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its target (12.4) on chemicals and waste management and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) Overall Orientation and Guidance.
This four-year pilot project, a collaboration between the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), the European Union (EU), the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), sets ambitious goals to progress in the implementation of GHS in the proposed recipient countries. For example, legislation to implement the GHS, activities that facilitate cost recovery mechanisms, as well as ensuring that the necessary capacity, guidance, and tools are in place to implement and enforce the legislation.
A key feature of the pilot project is the emphasis on tailored, long-term support and a capacity-building emphasis for the recipient countries based on the respective national development plans and priorities. The success of the project will depend on commitment of all project partners, including the national-level stakeholders and the supporting agencies, to maintain the momentum in implementing the GHS in the long run.
The project is also part of wider initiatives to contribute to the global implementation of GHS, such as those under the Global Partnership to Implement the GHS. The project will test and evaluate the bene4ts of a long-term approach to supporting countries through the implementation and adoption process with financial and technical assistance. GHS implementation can be a long and challenging process needing several years until it is fully in place.
It is expected that if successful, the outcomes of the project will contribute to increased political support for the implementation of GHS and generate a regional ‘aspiration’ effect encouraging other countries to follow suit. In addition, transferring knowledge gained and lessons learned from the project to other countries will be an important contribution. Ultimately, the benefits of GHS implementation include minimizing the adverse impact of chemicals on human health and the environment and reducing barriers to trade by harmonizing standards.