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The 9th edition of the SAICM Newsletter is a review of our work over the first quarter of 2022. It provides 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 as we embark on our collective  journey toward key milestones to ensure the sound management of chemicals and waste.


SAICM Secretariat

HIGHLIGHTS

The resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) took place online and in Nairobi from 28 February – 2 March 2022.

Hosted by the UN Environment Programme, UNEA brought together representatives of the 193 Member States of the UN, businesses, civil society and other stakeholders to agree on policies to address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

The overall theme for UNEA-5 was ‘Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’, highlighting the pivotal role nature plays in our lives and in social, economic and environmental sustainable development

In a historic decision, Heads of State, Ministers of environment and other representatives from 175 nations endorsed a resolution at UNEA-5 to End Plastic Pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024. The resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.

It was particularly encouraging that at UNEA5, there was the adoption of a resolution that amongst other issues invited all stakeholders to put in place an ambitious, improved and enabling framework to address the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

This provides SAICM with much-needed momentum to push ahead toward a successful IP4 and ICCM5.

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
Pilot Project to support African Countries in overcoming barriers in implementing the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (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 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 benefits 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.
 


Launch of E-learning Course on Industrial Chemicals Databases and Information Sharing

True to its multistakeholder and multisectoral mandate, SAICM continued to work closely with a range of partners.

Following a collaborative study by UNEP and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), which provided a comprehensive inventory of the publicly available databases on industrial chemicals in commerce, SAICM coordinated the development of an e-learning course to bridge the information gap by improving accessibility to environment, health, and safety (EHS) information for industrial chemicals.

In an interactive and engaging way, this course provides guidance on locating and using information on industrial chemicals in commerce and identifies some barriers to identifying and using chemicals data and defines areas where more information is required. It also presents the key findings of the related study published by UNEP and the ICCA, upon which the course is based.
The content includes four lessons:
  • MODULE 1 - Introduction to Chemicals Databases and Information Sharing Page
  • MODULE 2 - Information Portals
  • MODULE 3 - Chemicals Databases
  • MODULE 4 - Regulatory Decisions Information Sources
The e-learning course aims to raise awareness, educate, and equip a targeted audience, with key basic information on locating and utilizing chemical EHS information. Target audiences include relevant policymakers and officials in national ministries charged with chemical-related functions, private sector producers, importers, distributors with a focus on reaching small-and-medium enterprises, as well as civil society organizations with mandates or interest in the sound management of chemicals.

Given the varying degrees of awareness across regions as well as to facilitate effective communication in different languages, regional webinars and roundtable discussions are envisaged. Targeting each of the SAICM regions, with a ‘tailored’ launch of the e-learning module is expected to secure buy-in from a wide range of actors at the regional level.

The e-learning course on Industrial Chemicals Databases and Information Sharing has been deployed on InforMEA platform  under the category Chemicals and Waste.
It is directly accessible HERE...
 

Secretariat welcomes Rafal Brykowski to the team.

The Secretariat welcomes Rafal Brykowski to the team to provide expertise, policy input and support to the International Conference on Chemicals Management and its subsidiary bodies, intersessional process, regional meetings and other related programmes, as well as to support delivery of the SAICM work programme.

Rafal has worked for over 15 years on various aspects of sound chemicals management. His experience includes supporting the governments and other stakeholders in the implementation of instruments, processes and best practice on chemicals management.

 


IOMC launches improved toolbox for decision-making in chemicals management 

In February, the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) launched an Internet-based Toolbox for Decision Making in Chemicals Management Phase III: From Design to Action.

The toolbox is aimed at countries who wish to address specific national issues regarding chemicals management and is a problem-solving tool that enables countries to identify the most appropriate and efficient national actions to address specific national problems related to chemicals management.

The redesigned toolbox, originally launched in 2012, has been improved, redesigned and updates continuously to provide easier and more direct access to the management schemes, toolkits, tools, guidance documents, and training materials.

Main improvements include among others:
  • The redesigned IOMC Toolbox is faster and more user-friendly. The lay-out is modern and intuitive to navigate, and the content is more easily accessible and searchable. Users can now access information with less steps and less clicks and on all devices, including tablets and mobile phones
  • A new management scheme on Best Available Techniques has been added. The concept of BAT has emerged as a key policy tool to prevent and control industrial emissions, thus ensuring a high level of environmental and human health protection
  • A revised management scheme on Occupational Safety and Health and chemical safety
  • A new Toolkit on Occupational Safety and Health and chemical safety
  • A new toolkit on Green Chemistry
  • The development by FAO of a several tools to complement the FAO Pesticide Registration Toolkit
  • The development by WHO of a tool on Poison Centre. The tool contains the updated WHO Guidelines for Poison Control providing approaches for harmonized data recording and latest policy and technical advice for setting up poison centres and related facilities.
For more information on improvements, please visit the new toolbox platform at www.iomctoolbox.org


Update: IOMC project for further work on indicators

At its 56th meeting in October 2021, the IOMC agreed to a project plan for further work on indicators as a basis for work to be done by a working group of interested IOMC Participating Organizations (POs) and interested non-IOMC international organizations and bodies.

The project will build on work done to-date and will develop a report of further work on indicators including criteria, an inventory/listing of existing indicators, and possible other elements. This work also corresponds to the Co-facilitators’ final report of the outcomes of Virtual Working Group on targets, indicators and milestones (VWG-1) that:

Regarding the indicators process, the IOMC Organizations, as well as UNECE have expressed their willingness to support the development of an inventory of currently available indicators and this was generally welcomed by VWG-1.  

In addition to IOMC organizations, the working group currently also includes the SAICM Secretariat, BRS and Minamata Convention Secretariats, UNECE, and UNICEF. The IOMC working group has held two meetings to date.  While the working group reports to the IOMC as an IOMC-supported project, it is anticipated that an update about the results of the work will be provided at IP-4; the ICCM Bureau is also kept informed via the IOMC participant at Bureau meetings.
 
KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT AND INFORMATION
New GEF Medium-Size Project to support SAICM implementation approved  

The GEF has approved for funding the Medium-Sized Project GEF ID 10119 - Global best practices on emerging chemical policy issues of concern under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceutical Products, EPPP).  
 
The objective of the project is to accelerate measures to regulate SAICM Emerging Policy Issues (EPIs) and to make available global policy guidance on EPPP emissions for Low-and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). UNEP will be the Implementing Agency and WHO the Executing Agency.
The SAICM Secretariat will be involved in the project implementation supporting all related knowledge management activities including communities of practice and knowledge dissemination through the SAICM KM platform.

 
New Publication
Addressing the Issue of Chemicals of Concern in Electronics: Challenges and recommendations for labelling initiatives

The aim of this UNEP report is to explore how ecolabels that cover electronic products may be able to further incentivize reduction and/or improved management of chemicals of concern. The report provides an assessment of how ecolabels covering electronic products currently address chemicals of concern, discusses the main challenges that labelling programmes currently face in this regard, and puts forward recommendations on how CoC-related criteria can be further incorporated into these programmes.

For access: https://bit.ly/36iRs3G
 
UPCOMING COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
ON SAICM EMERGING POLICY ISSUES
 

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS):
recent work by the OECD

 
Webinars:
Watch the webinar replay on Risk Reduction Initiatives for PFAS
 
Reports:
PFAS and Alternatives in Food Packaging (Paper and Paperboard): Hazard Profile
 
A report on “PFASs and alternatives in food packaging (paper and paperboard): Commercial availability and current uses” was published in 2020 and summarised the commercial availability and current uses of short-chain PFAS and non-fluorinated alternatives in paper and paperboard food packaging. Given the technical suitability of some of the alternatives highlighted by the OECD (2020) report, it is important to also understand their hazard profiles. The likelihood of regrettable substitution could be high if the health and environmental hazards of these alternatives are not understood and communicated. This study aims to complement the 2020 report by compiling information on the hazard profile of the alternatives identified in terms of hazard classifications from authorities and industry and available assessments from authorities on persistence, bioaccumulation, environmental and health hazards.

For more: https://bit.ly/3IQ5mr3


Fact Cards of Major Groups of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs)
 
This document contains a set of 15 fact cards on major groups of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), prepared by the OECD/UNEP Global PFC Group between June 2018 and June 2021. The fact cards aim to provide non-expert stakeholders a quick initial glance into these groups of PFASs with some basic information on: (1) chemical identities, synthesis and inherent properties such as bioaccumulation and transformation, (2) historical and ongoing industrial practices and commercial uses of some major commercial products, (3) regulatory status, (4) examples of reported occurrences in the environment and humans, and (5) major knowledge gaps in terms of previous sections.
 
For more: https://bit.ly/3LlnoTJ
BEYOND 2020 and
UPDATE ON ROADMAP TOWARD INTERSESSIONAL PROCESS 4
Meeting of the ICCM5 Bureau

The 19th and 20th meeting ICCM5 Bureau were held online on 15 February 2022 and 15 March 2022, respectively. Key areas of the agenda included the proposed SAICM Roadmap leading up to IP4 and ICCM5, the status of the compilation of outcomes of the Virtual Working Groups, which were held between October 2020-February 2021.
The document provides the roadmap towards IP4 and ICCM5, including the next steps for a decision by the ICCM5 Bureau. The document also includes information on progress made since the third meeting of the Intersessional Process considering the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste (IP3) held in October 2019 to date.

The following SAICM Regional Meetings will be held:
UPCOMING KEY EVENTS
BRS
  • Twelfth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention (OEWG-12)
    Nairobi, Kenya
    4-6 April 2022 (face-to-face segment)
     
  • Regional preparatory meeting for the face-to-face segment of the 2021/2022 COPs for the Africa region
    Nairobi, Kenya
    7-9 April 2022
     
  • 6th Meeting of the Environmental Network for Optimizing Regulatory Compliance on Illegal Traffic (ENFORCE)
    Online
    11-13 April 2022
     
  • First 2022 Meeting of the Effectiveness Evaluation Committee under the Stockholm Convention
    Geneva, Switzerland
    12-14 April 2022
     
  • Meetings of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions
    Geneva, Switzerland
    6 -17 June 2022 (face-to-face segment)
Geneva Environment Network 
  • Life Below Water and Microplastic Pollution:
    From Science to Policy | RFSD2022

    Online
    6 April 2022
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