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'Critical momentum' on SAICM 'could be lost', warns IPEN

Chemical Watch:

Critical momentum' on SAICM 'could be lost', warns IPEN 

Global NGO says issue must be addressed at ICCM4, next week 

The International POPs Environment Network (IPEN) says next week’s conference on the UN’s key chemical safety programme, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), must address the issue of what happens after the programme’s current mandate expires in 2020. 

In proposals published this week, it says that if the conference fails to do so, and SAICM expires, “there will be a gap; and critical momentum will be lost.” 

Next week, representatives from over 100 countries will converge on Geneva for the fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4). The meeting will seek to guide progress towards SAICM’s aim of minimising the adverse impacts of chemicals on humans and the environment by 2020, and is the last before this deadline. 

IPEN’s proposals say meeting the goal is "highly unlikely" as most of the objectives identified in the SAICM Global Plan of Action are "still far from being achieved" and most emerging policy issues "are just beginning to be understood and addressed".  In addition, new challenges will emerge as chemical production and use rapidly expands in developing and transition countries. 

To plan ahead, IPEN says intersessional meetings should be held in 2016, 2018 and 2019. A high-level session at ICCM5 in 2020 could then consider and adopt post-2020 institutional arrangements for sound chemicals management. 

Beyond 2020, SAICM should also use the enabling capabilities and frameworks it is currently developing, to take action at national and local level to minimise and eliminate sources of exposure to hazardous chemicals, says the group. 

On SAICM’s so-called “emerging policy issues”, the group says:

·                all countries should ban lead paint by 2020;

·                individuals’ and communities’ right to know about chemicals in products should be ensured;

·                electronics manufacturing processes, products and disposal methods should not involve hazardous chemicals;

·                a protocol is needed to evaluate the safety of nanomaterials in products entering the market; and

·                endocrine disrupting chemicals should be identified and their hazards addressed. 

It also reiterated its support for setting up a Global Alliance to phase out highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) – which was suggested by African countries at a preparatory SAICM meeting, last year (CW 17 December 2014). A similar approach has been taken to lead in paint. 

ICCM4 will consider a proposal to address the substances from the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNEP and the World Health Organization.