SAICM Reviews Participation in Decision Making on Chemicals

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By IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub , June 16, 2020

The Secretariat of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) prepared a summary of obstacles and possible incentives for strengthening multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral participation in decision-making on the management of chemicals and waste, for the period beyond 2020.

The note was released in advance of the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5), which was postponed until July 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants at the third meeting of the intersessional process (IP3) considering the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, which met in October 2019, requested the Secretariat to prepare the paper.

The note contends that achieving the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 requires participation by and commitment of all stakeholders and sectors at the local, national, regional, and global levels. Obstacles limiting stakeholder engagement include: differing priorities and unaligned goals; lack of clearly identified or developed roles and responsibilities; perception that meetings target only environment sector participation; lack of political will to, for example, mainstream SAICM objectives across relevant ministries; and insufficient resources to support underrepresented stakeholders.

Benefits of participation include: linkages between existing initiatives to help fill gaps, tap into complementary knowledge and expertise, and build on existing work while avoiding duplication of effort; and contributing to cross-cutting national and global commitments towards the SDGs and other relevant international environment, health, labor, and agriculture agreements and agendas.

The authors explain that targeted messaging could encourage participation and collaboration of groups not adequately represented in SAICM, including chemical and waste management stakeholders along the entire value chain, and the academic and scientific community. 

The document details possible incentives and actions to promote participation and buy-in of all stakeholders and sectors. The incentives include:

  • sharing ownership and accountability by establishing a common vision, goals, and targets beyond 2020, such as by developing a protocol or measures on multi-sectoral engagement as part of the adopted texts for the instrument on the future beyond 2020;
  • acknowledging and rewarding efforts made by stakeholders and sectors contributing to the sound management of chemicals and waste;
  • engaging and involving all relevant groups in projects, meetings, outreach, and knowledge management efforts to ensure all voices are heard;
  • better demonstrating connections between chemical safety and relevant sectors for achieving the SDGs and a circular economy;
  • highlighting the costs versus benefits of inaction through an analysis of potential savings from proper management of chemicals and waste;
  • encouraging and formalizing wider joint actions on projects and programmes;
  • capitalizing on key events and meetings in ways that would strengthen engagement, by, for example, providing a space for side events or exhibition spaces;
  • providing opportunities to contribute to communication and knowledge-sharing efforts, emphasizing linkages to the SDGs, such as publications, campaigns, and outreach efforts using social media; and
  • identifying gaps and providing resources to build stakeholder capacity through, inter alia, technical assistance and technology transfer, and financial support to attend meetings.

The document also identifies possible next steps, including: using ICCM5 to promote enhanced engagement with underrepresented stakeholders and sectors; reviewing the role of national and regional focal points in the beyond 2020 instrument; building national focal point capacity to enhance their work with stakeholders; developing a communication strategy and action plan to raise awareness on issues and developments regarding the sound management of chemicals and waste; and ensuring that the IP compilation document (SAICM/IP.4/2) supports enhanced participation of all relevant stakeholders and sectors. [Publication: Promoting Multi-stakeholder and Multi-sectoral Participation - Summary of known obstacles and possible incentives: Note by the secretariat]