Managing the use of synthetic chemicals to achieve the SDGs

The following is taken from an adelphi policy paper, Stakeholder views on SAICM beyond 2020 – Results from an interview series. Chemicals beyond 2020 Series, 01/2017


Synthetic chemicals are a major contributor to economic development and human well-being. They provide innumerous services and enable the manufacturing and use of a broad range of products. They offer significant bene­fits to society, and are thus an essential pre­condition for achieving the Sustainable Devel­opment Goals (SDGs). However, their use often has significant consequences for human health and the environment, and therefore it is pivotal to manage them sustainably.

The sound management of chemicals and waste (SMCW) requires the participation of all stakeholders and the involvement of various sectors from the local to the global level, from chemical producers to downstream users like textile, car or toy manufacturers as well as consumers. At the fourth session of the Inter­national Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) in 2015, delegates launched an in­tersessional process. Through this process, stakeholders ought to provide recommenda­tions on the future framework for chemicals and waste governance beyond 2020, including the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), and prepare a decision at ICCM5 in 2020.

To support the discussion, adelphi conducted a series of nearly 40 expert interviews. The results show almost universal approval of the voluntary, multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nature of SAICM. They highlight the need for further efforts to en­hance implementation of the Strategic Approach, to increase participation of key sectors and stake­holders, and to prioritise action. The findings suggest a clear demand for enhancing SAICM based on its current strengths, and they reveal considerable room to manoeuvre through the intersessional process.

Synthetic chemicals are a major contributor to economic development and human well-being. They provide innumerous services and enable the manufacturing and use of a broad range of products. They offer significant bene­fits to society, and are thus an essential pre­condition for achieving the Sustainable Devel­opment Goals (SDGs). However, their use often has significant consequences for human health and the environment, and therefore it is pivotal to manage them sustainably.

The sound management of chemicals and waste (SMCW) requires the participation of all stakeholders and the involvement of various sectors from the local to the global level, from chemical producers to downstream users like textile, car or toy manufacturers as well as consumers. At the fourth session of the Inter­national Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) in 2015, delegates launched an in­tersessional process. Through this process, stakeholders ought to provide recommenda­tions on the future framework for chemicals and waste governance beyond 2020, including the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), and prepare a decision at ICCM5 in 2020.

To support the discussion, adelphi conducted a series of nearly 40 expert interviews. The results show almost universal approval of the voluntary, multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nature of SAICM. They highlight the need for further efforts to en­hance implementation of the Strategic Approach, to increase participation of key sectors and stake­holders, and to prioritise action. The findings suggest a clear demand for enhancing SAICM based on its current strengths, and they reveal considerable room to manoeuvre through the intersessional process.

Read the full paper at adelphi.de

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