We are pleased to share the fourth edition of the SAICM Newsletter to provide latest highlights, updates of the Virtual Working Groups to support the work of the intersessional process, news of our stakeholder’s engagement, SAICM-GEF project updates and upcoming events for 2021!

With our best wishes,

SAICM Secretariat


UN-Secretary General addresses  “The State of the Planet”

State of the PlanetOn 2 December 2020, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed “the State of the Planet” and made an urgent appeal for a course correction to avert a climate catastrophe. In his speech, he referred to the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) to establish the beyond 2020 framework on chemicals and waste as an important part of the solution towards healing our planet. He highlighted that according to the World Health Organization, sound chemicals management could prevent at least 1.6 million deaths per year. Not only the terrestrial but also the marine environments suffer from chemical and waste pollution which he urged must be reduced drastically.

Reflection from Ms. Gertrud Sahler, President of ICCM5

Dear SAICM stakeholders,

In a few days, an extremely challenging year 2020 will end. The COVID 19 pandemic has had an impact on our journey to adopt a new and ambitious framework for the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 and to achieve a high level of political commitment for our issues through a High-Level Declaration.

Despite this, there is good news too. After postponing IP4 and ICCM5 to 2021, the ICCM5 Bureau decided to set up a virtual process in order to keep momentum and to prepare for the negotiations next year. This work does not replace face-to-face negotiations at IP4 and ICCM5. It is our common understanding that the virtual work must be as transparent and inclusive as possible. For this purpose, the Co-chairs of the intersessional process elaborated a scenario note and mandates for the four Virtual Working Groups on targets, indicators and milestones, on governance and mechanisms to support implementation, on issues of concern and on financial considerations. Additionally, an informal drafting group for a ICCM5 High-Level Declaration was established. All Virtual Working Groups have started their work. I would like to thank all Bureau members, the IP Co-chairs, all Co-facilitators of the Virtual Working Groups and the SAICM Secretariat for their strong support.

The great interest of SAICM stakeholders to participate in the virtual work is really encouraging. I appreciate that you are working across different time zones and recognize that some of us have problems with connectivity. Therefore, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all stakeholders who have participated in the virtual meetings and have provided written submissions.

The worldwide impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic underline the need for the sound management of chemicals and waste. Initial evidence indicates that exposure to hazardous chemicals may pose a greater risk for people in developing severe symptoms from COVID-19. We also need the innovation potential of the chemical industry to support the world to overcome the pandemic.

I am grateful that different vaccines will be available soon. Then, a fair distribution across all countries is the next important step.

In moving forward in 2021, I am confident that we can overcome the pandemic and that we can adopt an ambitious framework for the sound management of chemical and waste beyond 2020. I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders, with the ICCM5 Bureau, with the IP Co-Chairs and VWG Co-facilitators and the SAICM Secretariat.

I wish you all a happy new year!

Yours truly, Gertrud Sahler
The work in the Virtual Working Groups (VWGs) started on 22 October 2020 with a kick-off meeting. Now, we are halfway through the process. This has been a learning process for all of us, and we see a lot of progress made through the virtual meetings and written submissions in advancing the deliberations towards ICCM5. We would like to thank all stakeholders for their continued engagement, commitment and flexibility and the Co-facilitators for their outstanding efforts and dedication.
Mandates of the Virtual Working Groups
The VWG1 on Targets, Milestones and Indicators has made progress to achieve the group mandate.  A total of three virtual meetings have been held and electronic feedback has been requested on three occasions between November and December 2020. We have had over 100 participants in each virtual meeting. In addition, we have received a total of 21 written submissions for the first request (13 November 2020) and a total of 19 written submissions for the second request (30 November 2020). The group will have its last virtual meeting on 12 January 2021, with the objective to finalize a set of recommendations for targets under Strategic Objectives A-E and a proposal for recommendations for a process to establish indicators and milestones that will be put forward for further deliberations in the SAICM beyond 2020 discussions.
Good progress has been made by the VWG2 on Governance and Mechanisms to Support Implementation in light of a comparably large mandate. A total of four virtual meetings have been held and electronic feedback has been requested on four occasions between November and December 2020. We have had over 100 participants in each virtual meeting. In addition, we have received 44 sets of written submissions from a broad range of stakeholders and these have been analyzed by the Co-facilitators resulting in revised text proposals with a focus on identifying areas of agreement on mechanisms to support implementation of the new framework. An interesting open discussion on options for a Science-Policy Interface for the sound management of chemicals and waste was facilitated – and there will be more to come.
The VWG3 on Issues of Concern met on 16 November 2020 and on 14 December with over 90 participants in attendance. The group is making progress on their mandate and working with a collaborative spirit. In total, we received 12 submissions on the first round of electronic comments relating to: (i) Annex B; and (ii) to provide inputs on how to address the current emerging policy issues and other issues of concern. The focus of the first virtual meeting on 16 November 2020 was to review Annex B of SAICM/IP.4/2 on issues of concern. On 30 November 2020, the co-facilitators released a proposal on how to address the current emerging policy issues and other issues of concern based on the written inputs. The discussions on 14 December 2020 focused on the co-facilitator’s proposal. The proposal on the current emerging policy issues and other issues of concern is open for written comments until 21 December 2020.

The group will have its final meeting on 18 January 2021 with the aim of wrapping up the work and finalizing its review of the process for considering new issues of concern (Annex B of the compilation document) and how to address the current emerging policy issues and other issues of concern.
The VWG4 on Financial Considerations have met twice since October with over 90 participants in attendance. Two requests for electronic feedback have been requested so far to gather inputs and comments on the integrated approach to financing the sound management of chemicals and waste, capacity building, strategic partnerships, financing the secretariat, resource mobilization, cost-recovery mechanisms and other economic instruments. More than 23 submissions have been received upon the call for electronic feedback, which included group submissions representing a number of regions.
The VWG also agreed to establish a small group to advance discussions on private sector involvement and the establishment of a “Capacity building Clearinghouse” and will be coordinated by ICCA – to identify points of convergence on this topic and/or propose recommendations for consideration at IP4.
The VWG will hold a final meeting on 20 January 2021 to review all submissions and inputs received on financial considerations and consolidate recommendations to advance the intersessional process discussions.

High-level Declaration informal drafting group

The ICCM5 President Ms. Gertrud Sahler launched the work on drafting a possible High-level Declaration for the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 with a call for stakeholder submissions on essential elements for a possible High-level Declaration. In parallel, an informal drafting group was established, comprising of 3 representatives per UN region and stakeholder group ensuring a regional, sectoral, stakeholder and gender balance.

To date, the informal drafting group has convened two times in virtual meetings under the guidance of the two Co-facilitators Ms. Kay Williams from the United Kingdom and Ms. Angela Rivera from Colombia. The next virtual meeting will take place on 9 February 2021.

Technical briefings

The ICCM5 Bureau and IP Co-chairs proposed that the intersessional process continues its work on some key issues through a variety of virtual means, including online Technical Briefings (TBs).

Information on the Technical Briefings as well as video recordings are available on the SAICM website.
The Global Forum: Towards cost-effective management systems for industrial and consumer chemicals
The Forum took place from 3 to 4 November 2020, organized by the OECD as part of the activities of the OECD Joint Meeting on the Chemicals Committee and the Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology.

The Global Forum on Environment discussed the challenges posed by chemicals and provided knowledge on effective and sustainable policies for the sound management of chemicals. Together, leading actors in the field of chemicals management promoted effective engagement, collaboration and action on the sound management of chemicals and waste. The speakers included regulators and policy-makers in charge of chemical safety in OECD member and partner countries as well as relevant stakeholders from International Governmental Organisations, private industry organisations and companies, civil society, philanthropies and more. More information.

The new IOMC Toolbox

The IOMC Internet-based Toolbox for Decision Making in Chemicals Management (IOMC Toolbox) is aimed at countries who wish to address specific national issues regarding chemicals management. It 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 IOMC Toolbox has been redesigned to provide easier and more direct access to eight management schemes, five toolkits, and more than 500 IOMC tools, guidance documents, and training materials. This new and improved platform enables users to access information with less steps and less clicks. The IOMC Toolbox can now also be viewed on all devices and an offline version is coming soon. More information.

Scaling up industry involvement – Tell us your ideas and experiences

The Integrated Approach to financing the sound management of chemicals and waste was adopted in 2013 by UNEP’s Governing Council Decision 27/12 and is the key financing approach for SAICM. It is composed of three complementary components: mainstreaming the sound management of chemicals and wastes into national development plans, industry involvement and dedicated external financing.

The evaluation of the implementation of the integrated approach (2019) highlights existing gaps in the component concerning industry involvement and indicates a need to develop guidance to outline the scope for implementation of this component. In response, the SAICM Secretariat is coordinating the development of a guidance document for enhancing industry engagement.  With the view to inform its development, the Secretariat has circulated a questionnaire to all SAICM Stakeholders and welcomes responses by 8 January 2021. The questionnaire aims to identify areas in need of improvement and possible solutions, endeavoring to help scale-up industry involvement in the Beyond-2020 Framework. The questionnaire can be accessed at:

The SAICM Knowledge Platform has a new URL!  -

With the launch of the new URL, the SAICM Knowledge platform has also enhanced information available on the platform. Since November 2020, knowledge and information on all SAICM Emerging Policy Issues (EPIs) have been added to this platform and it has doubled the number of publications and resources available since its launch in April this year.
Communities of Practice - SAICM Emerging Policy Issues

Communities of Practice – Update!

The SAICM Communities of Practice (CoP), established in partnership with the University of Cape Town (UCT), continued to host online discussions on the SAICM EPIs during the last quarter of 2020:  

HHPs - 21 October 2020: Overview of the HHP Global Action Plan and way forward
Lead in Paint - 10 November 2020: Compliance and enforcement mechanisms in a lead paint law
Chemicals and SDGs - 25 November 2020: Accelerating the implementation of SDG 12.4
Chemicals in Products - 10 December 2020: Management on classes of chemicals and flame retardants in the textiles sector

Summaries of these discussions are all available at

More than 800 members have registered in the four SAICM Communities of Practice. If you have not yet joined, you are invited to sign up at

Gender and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020

A report titled Gender Review Mapping with a focus on Women and Chemicals: Impact of Emerging Policy Issues and the relevance for the Sustainable Development Goals was recently published by the SAICM Secretariat and prepared by the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN).
The Knowledge Management activities of the SAICM Secretariat are supported by SAICM project on ‘Global Best Practices on Emerging Chemical Policy Issues of Concern under SAICM’, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
Sixteenth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention
Online, 11-16 January 2021

Joint meeting of the Bureaux of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Online, 27-29 January 2021

United Nations Environment Programme
Virtual session of the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly Online, 22-26 February 2021

World Health Organization
Fourth Global Vaccine and Immunization Research Forum (GVIRF) Online, 22-25 February 2021

Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management
Fourth meeting of the intersessional process considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (IP4) March 2021 (Date and venue to be confirmed)

Ozone Secretariat
11th Meeting of the Ozone Research Managers Geneva, Switzerland, 14-16 April 2021

International Union for Conservation of Nature
IUCN World Conservation Congress Marseille, France (Postponed)

Convention on Biological Diversity
Third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation Canada, First quarter of 2021 (Tentative)
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Joe Dijangi for his commitment and dedication to the SAICM process over the past two decades. We wish him the very best for the future and new adventures as he enters retirement in 2021. We would like to warmly welcome Ms. Sara Brosche as incoming representative of civil society organizations to the ICCM5 Bureau.

In these digital times, and not being able to introduce ourselves in person, we have prepared a video introducing the SAICM Secretariat

Finally, the SAICM Secretariat would like to wish you all a wonderful holiday in good health and serenity and ours best wishes for a safe and prosperous new year.

With our best wishes,

SAICM Secretariat
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