The 8th edition of the SAICM Newsletter is a bumper review of our work over the course of 2021, providing our readers with highlights of the Secretariat’s support to Member States, our broad stakeholder engagement, as well as the latest knowledge products and results from the SAICM-GEF project. 

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the ICCM5 President, members of the ICCM5 Bureau, and to all our stakeholders for the ongoing commitment and support extended to the Secretariat as it continues to deliver on its mandate.

Season’s Greetings as we look forward to greater collaboration in 2022!

SAICM Secretariat



2021 can be characterized as a year of pivoting and adapting. A year after the COVID-19 pandemic emerged the international community continued to adjust to a ‘new normal’ – a transition to alternative ways of living, working and honoring our development commitments. For the SAICM Secretariat, embracing change has meant being increasingly thoughtful about what our stakeholders need, and how best we can adapt to meet these needs.

In spite of the postponement of the Fourth Meeting of the Intersessional Process (IP4) and the Fifth Session of the International Conference for Chemicals Management (ICCM5), the Secretariat under the guidance of the ICCM5 Bureau and co-chairs of the intersessional process, continued to support ongoing consultations albeit virtually among governments and other stakeholders groups. By the end of February, four Virtual Working Groups had completed discussions to support the intersessional process. In tandem a process initiated by the President of ICCM5 to develop recommendations on essential elements of a possible High-level Declaration for a SAICM successor instrument was completed.

As part of our ongoing efforts to build and maintain momentum toward ICCM5, stakeholders including civil society and the private sector, were provided with opportunities over the course of the year to actively engage in discussions at the regional and global levels. Underpinning these informal consultations was the clear understanding that a comprehensive global framework is needed, with ambitious priorities, coherent indicators, and incentives to foster commitment and engagement by all relevant actors across a broad range of sectors. It was particularly encouraging to see the high level of dedication and commitment among all stakeholders to ensure that the chemicals and waste agenda remains part of the broader global development agenda.

Certainly, a bright spot in our 2021 work programme has been the successful execution of a Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded project on Global Best Practices on Emerging Policy Issues of Concern that aimed to achieve the SAICM goal by accelerating implementation at the national level.
More than forty countries have so far benefited from the project. Within the context of the integrated approach to financing of chemicals and waste, and in particular the third component on dedicated external financing, the SAICM Secretariat continued to work with the GEF on the upcoming GEF-8 Replenishment and the Special Programme for its fifth and subsequent rounds of applications.
Throughout 2021, we continued to convene stakeholders, expand partnerships with technical and scientific networks as well as with downstream sectors, and actively collaborate with the academic community. The SAICM Communities of Practice series has exponentially grown in active membership and our knowledge management continues to produce a range of products, including studies on gender and chemicals as well as on deepening private sector engagement for the sound management of chemicals and waste.

The year also saw Dr. Anita Breyer of Germany assume the role of President of ICCM5, and we are excited by her commitment to place the chemicals agenda high on the global agenda alongside climate, biodiversity and pollution.

Going forward, our programme of work in 2022 aims to place strategic importance on streamlining efforts in order to avoid duplication, increase visibility of priority topics, and bundle resources to achieve common goals and targets.

On behalf of the Secretariat, I wish you all a peaceful and healthy new year!

“I have been impressed by the active engagement and commitment of all stakeholders in the SAICM process despite the current circumstances we find ourselves in. We had to learn from scratch how to communicate. But I am convinced that by adapting our current thinking we can ensure that the sound management of chemicals remains at the forefront of the global agenda.”


Notwithstanding the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretariat continued to actively engage a broad range of stakeholders including civil society, the academic and research community, youth groups and industry.

Through UNEP, an MoU with  the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) was extended into 2021, to work on Gender and Chemicals, through a focus on women. In parallel, discussions started on a new UNEP-IPEN partnership focusing on the SDGs, the new beyond 2020 instrument, and the pollution pillar of UNEPs Medium Term Strategy 2022-2025.

One of the highlights on the global chemicals calendar that we were especially proud of was the Secretariat’s collaboration with the World Future Council on its award. The 2021 award recognized the most effective policy solutions that minimise the adverse effects of the exposure to chemicals on human health, with a focus on children’s health, and the environment. 

Get to know the winners and their winning
entries CLICK HERE.

Recognizing the vital role youth can play in raising awareness of chemicals and waste, especially among their peers, SAICM continued to collaborate with a growing group of engaged youth. A new platform for youth to connect with UN bodies working on chemicals and waste issues was launched in February on the margins of the Youth Environment Assembly. The launch attracted around 100 young people from across the globe with diverse backgrounds including chemists, social scientists and activists.
The platform was established by two former SAICM interns under the banner of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth.

To find out about the UN’s Youth Engagement Strategy for 2030, CLICK HERE.

In May, around 50 stakeholders from governments, NGOs, academia and youth groups joined the latest SAICM Community of Practice (CoP) in partnership with the University of Cape Town and in cooperation with the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, on ‘Meaningful Youth Engagement with Different Stakeholders in the Chemicals and Waste Dialogue’.
Concrete solutions on how to meaningfully engage youth were proposed by participants throughout the CoP. These include capacity building and training activities, open dialogue and communication between relevant stakeholders and youth, as well as awareness-raising campaigns.
To access the CoP Digest on Meaningful Youth Engagement, CLICK HERE.


An important global event  supported by Germany in 2021 yielded positive outcomes for the global sound chemicals management agenda. The Berlin Forum on Chemicals and Sustainability held in July provided a space for Government representatives and stakeholders to exchange views on potential outcomes from the ICCM5.

Significantly, during the Ministerial Dialogue, the Governments of Denmark, Germany, and the UK reaffirmed their commitment to improving sound chemicals management, by announcing additional contributions to the UNEP Special Programme on Institutional Strengthening for the Chemicals Cluster.

During the Stakeholder Dialogue, which attracted over 800 participants, there were repeated calls for the establishment of a science-policy interface on chemicals and waste – noting that any such body should be global, authoritative, “horizon scanning,” prestigious, independent, and inclusive. 

The Forum aimed to complement the ongoing multi-stakeholder SAICM intersessional process.

For the full summary of the two-day meeting: READ HERE.

As part of advancing discussions around developing indicators and reporting for ‘SAICM beyond 2020’, a webinar was held to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to take a closer look at how other UN frameworks have proceeded with similar tasks.

Organized by the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), in co-ordination with the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), and  supported by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the webinar attracted 158 participants from over 35 countries, of which 89 were from Government, 32 from NGOs, 9 from the private sector, and 26 from UN agencies.

The report presents a summary of the presentations in the webinar, along with the results of interactions among participants.
The webinar presentations, pre-session documents and meeting information can be found HERE.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)  under  the guidance of the Secretariat, and support from the Government of Sweden through its Ministry of Environment developed a report on Engaging the Textile Industry as a Key Sector in SAICM- A review of PFAS as a Chemical Class in the Textile Sector. The report examined the scientific basis, and the practical and policy reasons for approaching PFAS as a class, reviews relevant private sector commitments made regarding supply chain management and identifies enabling conditions for advancing improved public health and environment protection in the textiles sector for consideration by SAICM and other stakeholders.

The report can be found HERE.

In September, the SAICM Secretariat issued the draft "Study on industry involvement in the integrated approach to financing the sound management of chemicals and waste".

The overall objective of the study was to provide clarity on the scope and modalities for industry involvement in the sound management of chemicals and waste and elaborate how industry involvement can be scaled up and monitored in conjunction with the Framework/Instrument.

The draft study is available on the SAICM Website
The final version of the study will be available in early 2022.
During 2021, the SAICM Knowledge Platform has grown exponentially. There has been an increase in terms of the number of knowledge and information products produced as well as the number of strategic collaborations with research institutions and the scientific community.

To kick off the year the KM portal issued over 50 country profiles have been created to showcase the available information on the national legislative and regulatory framework on chemicals and waste management per country including: the SAICM focal point, participation in chemicals and waste MEAs, poison centres, and relevant databases.

Here below you will find highlights of the knowledge products and publications from the SAICM GEF project 9771 on Emerging Policy Issues issued over 2021.
  • Chemicals of concern in electronics: UNEP Review of legislative and regulatory approach
    This UNEP report provides a comprehensive but not necessarily exhaustive overview of the various regulatory approaches for CoC in EEE. Further inputs from the international community are welcomed to complement the research, especially with regards to relevant regulations that are not yet captured in the report.
  • Chemicals of Concern in the Building and Construction Sector
    This UNEP report aims at providing an overview of the challenge that chemicals of concern pose in the context of products relevant for the building and construction sector. It outlines the relevance and linkages of chemicals of concern with regards to a building life cycle and highlights existing gaps, challenges and opportunities regarding the imperative of increasing circularity in the building and construction sector.
  • UNEP Review of chemicals related Toy Safety Policies and Regulations in selected Low and Middle Income Countries
    Given the special vulnerability of children to potential impacts, chemical use in toys is a relatively highly regulated area throughout the world. To obtain a baseline and starting point for further activities under SAICM and the GEF funded project 9771, an overview analysis of toy safety policies addressing chemicals of concern in toys was conducted by UNEP. The focus of the analysis was put on policies in low- and medium- income countries that are importing toys from China.
  • A review of PFAS as a Chemical Class in the Textiles Sector – SAICM Policy Brief
    This SAICM policy brief examines the scientific, policy, and practical reasons for approaching PFAS as a class. It also identifies enabling conditions for advancing improved public health and environment protection in the textiles sector, for consideration by SAICM and other stakeholders.
  • Sustainable Building Finance: Supporting green mortgage development in Sri Lanka
    This UNEP FI guide was developed as a resource to inform industry actors on possible approaches to green finance product development. The information can be used by Sri Lankan banks and other building and property stakeholders for capacity building on green finance within institutions and across the sector.
  • Estimating mouthing exposure to chemicals in children’s products
    Existing models for estimating children’s exposure to chemicals through mouthing currently depends on the availability of chemical- and material-specific experimental migration rates, only covering a few dozen chemicals. This study develops a mouthing exposure model to predict migration into saliva, mouthing exposure, and related health risk from a wide range of chemical-material combinations in children’s products.
  • Chemicals of concern in building materials: A high-throughput screening
    Chemicals used in building materials can be a major passive emission source indoors, associated with the deterioration of indoor environmental quality. This study aims to screen the various chemicals used in building materials for potential near-field human exposures and related health risks, identifying chemicals and products of concern to inform risk reduction efforts
For more:
The Knowledge Management activities of the SAICM Secretariat are supported by the SAICM project GEF 9771 on ‘Global Best Practices on Emerging Chemical Policy Issues of Concern under SAICM’, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Scientific knowledge to assess the exposure to nanomaterials continues to improve. The OECD compiled an inventory of available models and tools for assessing occupational, consumer and environmental exposure to Nanomaterials. 54 tools and models were initially compiled and following in-depth analyses, 10 occupational, 7 consumer and 6 environmental tools/models were recommended or evaluated as suitable for assessing exposure to nanomaterials. The detailed information on the analyses and evaluations are provided in the reports accessible from the Series on Nanomaterials website (No. 98, 99, 100 and 101).

You can also listen to the recently held webinar.
Membership registration and stakeholders’ participation in the SAICM Communities of Practice (CoP) continued to increase. Established in partnership with the University of Cape Town, these communities of practice provide a platform for global discussions on SAICM Emerging Policy Issues and linkages with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

During 2021, 16 online sessions took place. Click on the links below to download the summary of the discussions.

If you have not done so yet, sign up to our Communities of Practice and participate in the 2022 discussions.

Community of Practice on Lead in Paint
Community of Practice on Chemicals in Products
Community of Practice on Highly Hazardous Pesticides
Community of Practice on Chemicals and SDGs
*  To be made available soon
The work of the four Virtual Working Groups (VWGs) that began during the last quarter of 2020  was finalized in February 2021. The SAICM Secretariat would like to thank all stakeholders, especially the co-facilitators for their engagement, commitment and flexibility. The final report of the outcomes of each for the 4 VWGs can be found HERE.

As part of the background information provided to the briefings, video summaries presented  by the Co-Facilitators on the outcomes of each of the VWG were shared. They can be found HERE.

The SAICM Secretariat issued an online survey which was circulated to all SAICM stakeholders to review the SAICM virtual working group process held between October 2020 and February 2021. The objectives of the survey include gathering information to inform the design of a future work programme as well as to increase shared responsibility and ownership of SAICM’s overall goals.

Overall, the survey received 111 responses from 66 countries. While the majority of respondents (86 % expressed satisfaction with the virtual format of the VWGs, there were concerns raised about the scheduling of the meetings, technical difficulties related to technology and insufficient preparation time.

Going forward, the ICCM5 Bureau is considering how to maintain the momentum and will consider a roadmap towards IP4 and ICCM5 at their next meeting in February 2022.

The survey can be found HERE; responses to each question can be found HERE.

To bring the year to a close, the Secretariat’s proposed Programme of Work and Budget was approved In December via silent procedure for the period 2021-2023. The decision also invited the Global Environment Facility, in line with resolution IV/1, to continue to support projects that implement the Strategic Approach, taking into account the areas identified in the Overall Orientation and Guidance, and to consider enhancing funding for the Strategic Approach. Further, it invited the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals and relevant conventions and countries, in line with resolution IV/1, to enhance support to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to achieve the 2020 goal, and to continue close and coordinated cooperation between IOMC participating organizations regarding activities to implement SAICM.

Stakeholders were encouraged to make further voluntary contributions to support the work of the Strategic Approach
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