Modern society relies on chemicals to enable the products and technologies that make our lives, and our world, healthier, safer, more sustainable and more productive. And while the chemical industry is one of the most globalized segments of the world economy, different countries have significantly different capacities and capabilities to manage chemicals soundly throughout their life cycle.
Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)
To address this challenge, in 2006 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a multi-stakeholder policy framework to promote sound chemicals management around the world.
SAICM is the core international forum for achieving a key goal set in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development — that, by 2020, chemicals will be used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.
Third Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM-3)
The Third Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM-3), taking place this week at UNEP in Nairobi, Kenya, is an opportunity to track our progress in meeting this goal, and to give force to the call to strengthen SAICM made earlier this year at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
Representatives from ACC and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) are joining leaders from government and non-governmental organizations to review progress toward SAICM implementation. This includes addressing emerging policy issues, promoting the sharing of best practices and technical assistance, and ensuring the proper resourcing of SAICM – all in an effort to strengthen SAICM and enhance sound chemicals management globally.
Responsible Care, Global Product Strategy
ICCA’s two flagship industry-led initiatives – Responsible Care® and the Global Product Strategy (GPS) – demonstrate our strong commitment to SAICM by focusing on improving product stewardship and ensuring that chemicals are manufactured, handled and used in a safer, environmentally sound manner.
Measureable progress has been made in strengthening chemicals management through these initiatives, as well as through public-private, capacity-building programs targeting national chemical policies. To date, ICCA has published nearly 2,500 product safety summaries for high priority chemicals under GPS and, since ICCM-2 in 2009, conducted over 40 capacity building workshops in developing countries, with a particular focus on small and medium-sized enterprises.
Meeting the 2020 Goal
In order to meet the 2020 goal, ICCA is calling on all SAICM stakeholders present at ICCM-3 to:
- Reaffirm political commitment to advance progress in SAICM implementation;
- Recognize the need to strengthen chemicals management through collective and national efforts, including, for developing countries, elevating chemicals management in national development plans;
- Ensure that both SAICM and domestic agencies are properly resourced to fulfill the 2020 goal of sound chemicals management.
The challenge for the chemical industry, and for our world at large, is to continue the process of innovation that will allow the development of new chemical products and applications, while also ensuring protection of human health and the environment around the world, to promote a more sustainable future.