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A Brief Introduction to the SAICM

The concept of a SAICM has been discussed by the UNEP Governing Council (GC) in various forms since 1995, including in:

UNEP GC decision 18/12 of May 1995, which invites UNEP’s Executive Director to convene an expert group to consider and recommend further measures to reduce risks from a limited number of chemicals;
an expert group meeting in April 1996, which made recommendations in four areas, namely: inadequate capacity of developing countries to handle issues of hazardous chemicals and pesticides; disposal of unwanted stocks of pesticides and other chemicals; insufficient information for chemicals management decision-making and action; and possible need to ban and phase out certain chemicals; and
UNEP GC decision 19/13 of February 1997, which requests a report on options for enhanced coherence and efficiency among international activities related to chemicals.

21ST UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL: At its 21st session in 2001, the UNEP GC adopted decision 21/7, which requests UNEP’s Executive Director, in consultation with governments, the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), IFCS and others, to examine the need for a SAICM.

SEVENTH SPECIAL SESSION: In February 2002, at its seventh special session, the UNEP GC agreed in decision SS.VII/3 that the further development of a SAICM was needed, and requested UNEP’s Executive Director to develop such an approach with the IFCS Bahia Declaration and Priorities for Action Beyond 2000 as its foundation. This process was to entail an "open-ended consultative meeting involving representatives of all stakeholder groups" jointly convened by UNEP, IFCS and IOMC.

WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (WSSD): The WSSD convened from 26 August to 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and adopted, among other outcomes, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI). The JPOI is a framework for action to implement the commitments made at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, and includes a number of new commitments. The issue of chemicals management in the JPOI is addressed primarily in Chapter III on Changing Unsustainable Patterns of Production and Consumption, which reflects a renewed commitment to the sound management of chemicals. Chemicals-related targets contained in the JPOI include:

the aim to achieve, by 2020, the use and production of chemicals in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment;
the development, by 2005, of a SAICM based on the Bahia Declaration and IFCS Priorities for Action Beyond 2000; and
the national implementation of the new globally harmonized system for the classification and labeling of chemicals (GHS), with a view to having the system fully operational by 2008.

22ND UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL: The 22nd session of the UNEP GC, held in February 2003, adopted decision 22/4 endorsing the concept of an international conference, with preparatory meetings, as the basis for developing a SAICM. In its decision, the UNEP GC also recognized the need for an open, transparent and inclusive process for developing the approach. The decision further requests UNEP to compile possible draft elements of a SAICM for consideration by PrepCom1, and invites governments, relevant international organizations and other stakeholders to contribute to this work.

SAICM INFORMATION MEETING: A stakeholder information and consultation meeting took place on 29 April 2003, in Geneva, Switzerland. Representatives from 38 Governments, 11 IGOs, and 11 NGOs attended the meeting. Participants heard a briefing on the background of the SAICM process, an outline of the preparatory process, and perspectives from organizations in the SAICM Steering Committee, comprising: IFCS, FAO, ILO, OECD, UNEP, UNIDO, UNITAR, WHO, UNDP and the World Bank. Participants also heard an update by UNEP on PrepCom1 documents, and a presentation on the progress concerning the compilation of possible draft elements for a SAICM.

56TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY: The WHO’s World Health Assembly at its 56th session in May 2003, adopted resolution 56.22, which supported UNEP GC decision 22/4, and recognized the need for health interests at the country level to be reflected in, and addressed by, the SAICM. The decision urges Member States to take full account of the health aspects of chemical safety in the further development of a SAICM and requests the WHO Director-General to, inter alia, contribute to the SAICM through submission of possible health-focused elements, and submit a progress report to the Assembly before the SAICM process is concluded.

91ST SESSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL LABOR CONFERENCE: The ILO’s International Labor Conference at its 91st session in June 2003, adopted conclusions calling on the ILO to contribute to the further development of a SAICM, to ensure full participation of employers’ and workers’ organizations in this process so that their views and interests are duly taken into account, and to present the final outcome of the SAICM process to the ILO decision-making bodies for their consideration.

IFCS FORUM IV: The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS Forum IV) took place from 1-7 November 2003, in Bangkok, Thailand. Approximately 630 participants representing over 100 governments, IGOs, NGOs and industry were in attendance. Convening under the theme "Chemical Safety in a Vulnerable World," Forum IV took stock of the progress achieved on the commitments and recommendations made at Forum III in 2000, and focused on topics relating to: children and chemical safety; occupational safety and health; hazard data generation and availability; acutely toxic pesticides; and capacity building. Delegates also considered and took decisions on illegal traffic and the GHS.

In response to decisions SS.VII/3 and 22/4 IV of the UNEP GC, Forum IV discussed the further development of a SAICM, and forwarded the outcome of its deliberations to SAICM PrepCom1 in the form of the Report on SAICM-Related Work at IFCS Forum IV (SAICM/PREPCOM.1/INF/3). This non-negotiated, compilation report contains a preface, a summary, and sections on:

centrality of chemicals in a modern world;
life-cycle management of chemicals since Agenda 21;
new and ongoing challenges;
chemicals management regimes;
gaps in life-cycle chemicals management;
resources for capacity development and implementation; and
increased coordination and linkages.

It also contains an overview of the main discussion points raised in Forum IV, and an annex containing tables that identify key themes in the Bahia Declaration and IFCS Priorities for Action Beyond 2000. 

SAICM PREPCOM1: The first session of the Preparatory Committee for the Development of a Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM PrepCom1) took place at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok, Thailand, from 9-13 November 2003. PrepCom1 is the first substantive step in the SAICM process, which will culminate in a final "International Conference on Chemicals Management." Convened jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS), the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), PrepCom1 brought together more than 400 participants representing over 120 countries, 14 UN bodies, four intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), 24 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other observers.

During the course of the meeting, delegates provided initial comments on potential issues to be addressed during the development of a SAICM, examined ways to structure discussions on the SAICM, and considered possible outcomes of the SAICM process. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Committee adopted the report of PrepCom1, which comprises: a summary of discussions held during the session; an addendum containing issues to be addressed during the development of a SAICM; and several annexes containing items to be forwarded to PrepCom2 and a proposal for intersessional activities.

While many delegates expressed commitment to the SAICM with calls for an ambitious objective and scope, the future of the process and when PrepCom2 will convene ultimately depends on financial support from all stakeholders. Minimizing the adverse effects of chemicals on human health and the environment is a universally critical objective, but its achievement will require significant political commitment and a paradigm shift over the coming years.

SAICM PREPCOM 2: The second session of the Preparatory Committee for the Development of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM PrepCom2) took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 4-8 October 2004. During the meeting, participants discussed elements for an overarching policy strategy for international chemicals management, made progress in creating a matrix of possible concrete measures to promote chemical safety, and provided comments on an initial list of elements to be included in a high-level political declaration. At the session, participants agreed that SAICM will consist of an overarching policy strategy, a global plan of action, and a high-level declaration, and progress made was during the session in identifying and elaborating the elements for the overarching policy strategy. The work of the PrepCom will culminate in a final “International Conference on Chemicals Management” in 2006.

SAICM PREPCOM 3: The third session of the Preparatory Committee for the Development of a Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM PrepCom-3) was held from 19-24 September 2005 in Vienna, Austria. During the week, delegates discussed the SAICM high-level declaration, overarching policy strategy, and global plan of action. The primary objective of PrepCom-3 was to produce final text to be forwarded to the “International Conference on Chemicals Management,” to be held from 4-6 February 2006, in Dubai. However, delegates did not reach agreement on many elements in the three documents under consideration. Areas of disagreement remained in all three documents, including: principles and approaches; description of the SAICM as “voluntary”; financial considerations; and the timing and frequency of International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) meetings. PrepCom-3 did make significant progress in the GPA, including in some sections of the executive summary and a number of work areas, and in sections of the OPS, including international illegal traffic, governance, and key parts of the implementation section. However, there are still many politically sensitive issues that remain unresolved, and will have to be taken up by the ICCM in Dubai. More information.

ICCM-1: The first International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM-1) was held from 4-6 February 2006, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Delegates completed negotiations and adopted SAICM, including an overarching policy strategy and global plan of action. The Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management was also adopted. In the Declaration, participants committed to strengthening the capacities of all concerned in order to achieve the sound management of chemicals and hazardous wastes at all levels, and to continue mobilizing national and international financing from public and private sources. They also reaffirmed the goal to minimize the significant adverse effects on human health and the environment by 2020.

OELWTG-1: The first meeting of the Open-ended Legal and Technical Working Group (OELTWG-1) of the ICCM and informal discussions on preparations for the second meeting of the ICCM (ICCM-2) convened from 21-24 October 2008, in Rome, Italy. The OELTWG discussed the rules of procedure for the ICCM, but did not complete its work. These discussions will continue at ICCM-2. The informal discussions involved preparatory dialogue on issues to be considered at ICCM-2, including: financial and technical resources for SAICM implementation, including evaluating the performance of financing of SAICM; and the relationship between the IFCS and SAICM.
SAICM
Introduction
ENB Archives

PIC
Introduction
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POPs
Introduction
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BASEL
Introduction
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IFCS
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Mercury
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SAICM
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Rotterdam Convention
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