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SAICM Brief Previews Chemicals Management Needs Beyond 2020

The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) published a policy brief on lessons learned since 2006, to inform discussions on future arrangements of SAICM and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

The brief, which was released in April 2020, explains that, while SAICM has m­­­ade significant progress regarding strengthening capacity, commitment, technical knowledge, and political will to implement and mainstream chemicals into national planning, its objectives and 2020 goal to minimize the adverse impacts of chemicals and waste will not be achieved.

More ambitious action is needed, and the brief describes progress made and considerations in moving beyond 2020 related to:

  • reducing the widening gap between countries;
  • inspiring political will to act at national levels;
  • sharing knowledge and information;
  • securing stable finances and resources;
  • strengthening collaboration and including all stakeholders in SAICM’s process, work and structure;
  • improving the monitoring framework to assess progress; and
  • addressing emerging policy issues (EPIs).

On reducing inequality between developed and developing countries and addressing human rights issues, the brief emphasizes the need to protect vulnerable and marginalized groups from chemicals exposure at work, in the home and in the environment, including through the provision of technical infrastructure, such as poison centers, and strengthened collaboration between actors in chemicals management and human rights focusing on gendered impacts of exposure and childhood exposure.
Regarding inspiring political will, considerations in moving beyond 2020 include, among others: building National Focal Point (NFP) capacity so they can fulfill mandates and encourage stakeholder buy-in and mobilization of resources; increasing ownership of SAICM to encourage implementation of the integrated approach to financing; and improving representation of health, agriculture, finance, and other relevant sectors to support national efforts to mainstream SAICM across departments. 
Regarding sharing knowledge and information, the brief mentions: establishing a global system to share and fill information gaps on hazardous chemicals and waste; and creating a scientific forum with the potential to develop internationally agreed methodologies for risk and hazard assessment.
On securing stable finances and resources, the policy brief underlines the need to: mainstream SAICM’s strategic objectives into national development plans and budgets; and utilize economic instruments, such as the ‘polluter pays principle,’ to address externalities resulting from chemicals production, use and disposal.
On strengthening collaboration and including all stakeholders in SAICM’s process, work and structure, recommendations include enhancing linkages and collaboration between sectors to support efforts to mainstream SAICM across government departments and create linkages to each country-level UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework.
The document also discusses improving the monitoring framework to assess progress by strengthening linkages to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic and Time-bound) indicators to complement or replace existing indicators.

On emerging policy issues (EPIs), recommendations include recognizing ‘highly hazardous pesticides’ as an EPI, and agreeing on the most suitable testing regime for endocrine disrupting chemicals. [Publication: Policy Brief: Lessons from the past to inform SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020]