Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 15 No. 90
Wednesday, 12 November 2003
SAICM PREPCOM1 HIGHLIGHTS:
TUESDAY, 11 NOVEMBER 2003
The morning Plenary heard a brief report on the
progress of the contact group on rules of procedure. Morning and
afternoon Plenary discussions focused on possible ways to structure
deliberations on the SAICM, and on potential action items to be
considered in the SAICM. Following these discussions, a break-out
group was established to consider the details of a global plan of
action, while the Plenary focused on coordination aspects.
Facilitator of the contact group on rules of
procedure, Cam Carruthers (Canada) reported that provisional
agreement was reached the previous day, and said the contact group
would reconvene that morning to consider the revised draft rules.
On possible ways to structure discussions on the
SAICM, Chair Thorgeirsson (Iceland) outlined his proposal on the
Possible Headings for SAICM (SAICM/PREPCOM.1/CRP.3), which
comprises five headings: policy aspects; coordination aspects;
capacity building, development assistance and related aspects;
implementation aspects; and further development of the SAICM as an
open, transparent and inclusive process. The policy aspects comprise
six sub-headings: statement of needs; goals and objectives;
principles and approaches; scope; science-based activities to
support decision-making; and action items. He highlighted two other
conference room papers circulated by SWITZERLAND and AUSTRALIA on a
Possible Structure of SAICM (/CRP.1) and a Non-paper on
SAICM Working Groups (/CRP.2) respectively. He suggested
advancing discussions by considering science-based activities and
action items under policy aspects.
Highlighting that the proposals do not conflict with
one another, SWITZERLAND noted that its paper focuses on the
possible structure of the SAICM, while the Chair’s proposal
organizes discussions. SWITZERLAND also supported the Secretariat’s
proposed structure (/6), and suggested that its own proposal be
included in the Annex of the PrepCom1 report. AUSTRALIA supported
the Chair’s proposal, noting that it organizes the work efficiently
and addresses capacity building in an integrated manner.
In response to a question by Italy, on the behalf of
the EC, its member States and acceding countries, Chair Thorgiersson
explained that implementation aspects are generic, while action
items under policy aspects are specific. SENEGAL stressed the need
to clearly define the scope and framework of the SAICM at the
earliest stage. SLOVENIA supported the establishment of a
coordination group to prepare the structure of the report, bearing
in mind the different proposals and IFCS Forum IV’s outcomes.
The AFRICAN GROUP, BRAZIL, EGYPT and SENEGAL
stressed that the lack of interpretation services in parallel groups
would limit some countries’ participation in the SAICM discussions.
Chair Thorgeirsson suggested raising the issue of interpretation in
Plenary on Thursday under the agenda item on further development of
the SAICM. EGYPT announced he would submit a proposal on behalf of
participating Arab countries, stressing that the SAICM should be a
set of general non-binding principles. ARGENTINA emphasized the need
to define what the SAICM is, why and how it is to be developed, and
who will be responsible for its implementation. NEW ZEALAND outlined
a suggestion to merge elements of the various proposed documents as
a way forward. Adding to New Zealand’s proposal, SWITZERLAND
recommended five action areas for further consideration:
implementation of the GHS; life-cycle considerations; prioritization
of chemical safety in development cooperation; education; and the
development of synergies between relevant existing processes and
On possible action items, ISRAEL stressed the need
to monitor adverse effects on humans from exposure to hazardous
chemicals. ECUADOR called for a regime to manage chemicals in
protected areas. Underscoring the need for a holistic life-cycle
approach, the ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH FUND urged consideration of waste
reduction at source for all consumer products containing chemicals,
not just hazardous chemicals.
The BASEL CONVENTION proposed three categories for
concrete measures and actions: minimization of chemical wastes;
promotion of their environmentally sound management; and promotion
of cleaner production techniques. HAITI emphasized the need to
address the uncontrolled release of waste into coastal areas.
JAMAICA called for an action item on increasing awareness among
mothers and caregivers to prevent accidental poisoning of children.
The IUF stressed the need to address acutely toxic pesticides,
particularly paraquat, and highlighted relevant ILO instruments that
could be of assistance.
AUSTRALIA cautioned against generating another list
of items and proposed structuring deliberations under three
headings: incomplete tasks; extending the current agenda; and new
problems needing urgent attention. Supported by FAO, he called for
implementing existing instruments and stressed the need for
regulatory systems to provide frameworks for chemicals management.
Recognizing the need for risk assessment, KENYA and
BURUNDI underscored the need to develop cost effective and durable
equipment for on-site analyses. CHILE stressed the need for risk
management and capacity building to implement existing agreements.
NORWAY, the EU, GRULAC, FAO, the US and others
emphasized the role of the IFCS decisions and Thought Starter in
steering discussions on the SAICM. Stating that the SAICM is dynamic
and should go beyond implementing existing chemicals agreements,
NORWAY supported broadening the scope of chemicals-related policies
to address new and emerging issues, such as life-cycle management
and consideration of heavy metals, endocrine disruptors, and
substances that are persistent bioaccumulative and toxic, and
carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction. NIGER called for
the sound management of pesticides and stockpiles. UNIDO and others
supported a focus on cleaner production, waste minimization and
The INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON MINING AND METALS
recommended the development of tools and instruments that
differentiate between organic and inorganic chemicals, noting that
some heavy metals, such as iron, pose little concern. GRULAC
recommended focusing on obsolete stockpiles, illegal traffic,
emergencies, and new innovative chemicals. BURUNDI said the SAICM
could encompass all chemicals and all related conventions. BENIN and
ECUADOR urged the consideration of cleaning up contaminated sites.
Chair Thorgiersson summarized the discussions,
noting the calls for concrete actions and measures for the SAICM. He
also noted the need for targets and timeframes, and proposed a
break-out group to focus on these questions.
COORDINATION ASPECTS: The afternoon Plenary
considered coordination aspects at the international, regional and
Many delegates stressed the importance of building
on, ratifying, implementing and enhancing synergies among existing
instruments and initiatives. AUSTRALIA, supported by SWITZERLAND,
suggested that the Secretariat present information on the outcomes
of the International Environmental Governance process. The US
recommended: coordination among MEAs, including their co-location
and administrative efficiencies; and inter-institutional
cooperation, noting the IOMC as a positive example. He also
recommended considering the future role of the IFCS within the SAICM.
URUGUAY requested clarification of the relationship between IFCS and
TONGA suggested providing assistance to existing
regional centers in the Pacific for coordination purposes. The
RUSSIAN FEDERATION, with SWITZERLAND, recommended greater use of the
Basel Convention Regional Centers network. She questioned whether
SAICM PrepCom1 has a legitimate mandate for addressing the issue of
coordination among MEAs. The Chair said the SAICM could decide
whether there is a need for such a mandate. BELARUS suggested the
possibility of regional agreements coming under the umbrella of the
SAICM, and stressed the need for coordinating financing mechanisms
for global projects and to respond to events of global significance,
highlighting the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
SENEGAL, supported by SWITZERLAND, stressed the need
for concrete mechanisms to ensure coordination among the focal
points of various MEAs at the national level. EGYPT explained how a
committee on chemical-related activities can help to ensure
synergies at the national level, and, consequently, at the
international level. UGANDA requested identifying areas where
cooperation is most needed, and proposed developing guidelines and
checklists on existing development strategies and MEAs to coordinate
implementation of the SAICM.
HAITI and TANZANIA recommended creating sub-regional
and national coordination bodies to ensure cooperation among
different ministries. NIGERIA emphasized that such bodies would need
resources and capacities to be effective, and recommended that more
governments participate in UNITAR workshops.
SWITZERLAND recommended integrating chemicals issues
in national development and poverty eradication strategies,
organizing more back-to-back meetings to maximize resources and
enhance coherence, and exchanging scientific information at the
international level. He stressed the importance of the IFCS and of a
central financial mechanism, and suggested creating a chart to
identify potential areas for enhancing coherence and cooperation
among all institutions, including ILO and WHO.
IPEN said synergies can be improved through guidance
on commonalities in implementation, institutional and legal
requirements, capacity building and information exchange, noting
that synergies in implementation could coordinate public
participation. The CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC highlighted the problem
of dispersion of expertise and called for raising awareness among
indigenous peoples. ILO urged national-level coordination, and
suggested that the SAICM request countries to establish national
coordination and consultation mechanisms on strategic chemicals
management. CANADA highlighted UNEP Governing Council guidelines on
compliance and enforcement, supported coordination between trade and
environment issues, and stressed the need for governments and
international agencies to establish priorities and reduce
competition for resources.
UNITAR briefed participants on two workshops that it
had organized in 2002, which focused on national coordination and
financial resource mobilization, and announced an upcoming workshop
on synergies for capacity building under international agreements
addressing chemicals and waste management, to be held in March 2004.
AUSTRALIA recommended: requesting UNITAR and other organizations to
report to PrepCom2 on work done on integration and cooperation; and
considering the potential for international partnerships. The
MONTREAL PROTOCOL described how experiences in implementing the
Protocol can contribute to the SAICM.
A break-out group facilitated by Nicholas Kiddle
(New Zealand) met in the afternoon to begin deliberations on
possible items to be considered in a global plan of action for the
SAICM. Delegates generated a preliminary list of action items and,
after protracted discussions, agreed that the Secretariat would
extract relevant items from the recommendations of the: Executive
Summary of IFCS Forum IV (/INF/10); Report on SAICM-Related
Work at IFCS Forum IV (/INF/3); and Proposed Structure of the
SAICM Report for Consideration by the Preparatory Committee (/
6). A new document will be presented to Plenary on Wednesday, where
it will be decided whether further work by the group is required, or
if the document can be forwarded to PrepCom2.
IN THE CORRIDORS
As PrepCom1 crossed its halfway mark, many delegates
seemed disoriented as to which route to follow on the "SAICM
roadmap." A number of proposals for a path forward have been tabled,
but some confusion exists as to whether the Plenary is supposed to
be considering the SAICM, the structure of its report, or the
structure of the meetingï¿½s discussions. In any case, it would be
easier to proceed if everyone was reading the same map.
Some delegates noted that the expressed desire for
the IFCS and SAICM paths to converge is finally being realized
through the break-out group, which had based the proposed global
plan of action for the SAICM on IFCS outcomes. Some delegates have
suggested that such working groups should have been established
earlier to advance progress on discussions. However, the limitations
posed by the lack of interpretation for parallel discussion sessions
hindered this possibility.
Optimism regarding the outcome of Mondayï¿½s contact
group on rules of procedure has also been slightly eroded, as one
delegate continued to put the brakes on matters of participation on
Tuesday morning. As a result, some are concerned that the rules may
not be adopted at this meeting.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: Delegates will convene at 9:00 am in
Plenary to decide on the way forward. The revised rules of procedure
will be circulated, as will a conference room paper containing the
possible set of subheadings for the continued work on coordination
aspects, and the outcome document from the break-out groupï¿½s
discussions on the global plan of action.