The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) convened a series of regional meetings ahead of the fourth meeting of the intersessional process reviewing the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (IP4 ) and the fifth meeting of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5). The African Regional Meeting provided an opportunity for countries to exchange information and knowledge and provide updates on progress towards SAICM goals in the region.
The meeting was held in Accra, Ghana from June 27-29, 2022. It addressed the outcomes of the four Virtual Working Groups (VWGs) established to maintain momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. Delegates also considered text from the IP3 outcome not considered during VWGs on the vision, scope, principles and approaches, and strategic objectives of the new framework.
Addressing the meeting, Cynthia Asare-Bediako, on behalf of Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ghana, noted that Africa was importing chemicals and was often used as a “dump” for older, dangerous electronics and electrical products. chemicals, the continent lacks the capacity to manage the related challenges.
Anita Breyer, Chair of ICCM5, via video, highlighted the objective of the meeting to ensure that Africa is well prepared for IP4. She said the outcomes of the VWG were not intended to replace formal face-to-face deliberations at IP4 and/or negotiations at ICCM5, but were intended to build understanding and prepare delegates to these negotiations. She welcomed the decision of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) to establish a science-policy group to further contribute to the sound management of chemicals and wastes and the prevention of pollution. .
Participants heard updates from the secretariats of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) and Minamata Conventions, members of the Inter-Organization Program for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) and the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEP). The IOMC Chair presented the proposed integrated approach to chemicals and waste management that includes various ministries and sectors, as well as integration into broader economic, social and sustainable development goals.
On VWG1 outputs on targets, indicators and milestones (SAICM/RM/AFR.7/4), co-facilitator Silvija Kalnins highlighted the formulation of five strategic objectives, 25 targets and over 80 indicators. As options for moving forward, she proposed: further work on targets, indicators and milestones by a group of policy experts; or combine the work of a group of policy experts with a technical subgroup that would prepare specific work on indicators. She noted the region’s concern that inputs were not well taken into account, and encouraged a stronger sense of ownership of the process. Participants stressed the need for indicators on access to financial resources by recipient countries to better assess the effective use of resources, and supported the design of goals and targets consistent with the SDGs.
Discussing the VWG2 outcomes on governance and implementation support mechanisms (SAICM/RM/AFR.7/5), co-facilitator Karissa Kovner mentioned recommendations for establishing a science-policy interface and for further examining issues in the “Parking Lot” document, which reflects issues that require further attention. Many agreed that SAICM should not duplicate the work of the science and policy group under UNEP, but rather build on and strengthen its relationship with the group. Delegates also discussed: national reporting functions, including a proposal from Japan on improving reporting and information sharing; capacity building of national focal points; and industry involvement.
Regarding the outcomes of VWG3 on issues of concern (SAICM/RM/AFR.7/6), the co-facilitators presented recommendations on an omnibus resolution on existing SAICM emerging policy issues and other issues worrying. Tanzania requested including waste in the criteria for nominating areas of concern and said Africa lacks the capacity to assess health and environmental risks. Côte d’Ivoire said waste should include hospital and nuclear waste. Nano-waste and battery waste have also been identified as areas of concern. The interface with UNEP’s science and policy group, which will help the region assess issues of concern, was also discussed.
On VWG4 outcomes on financial considerations (SAICM/RM/AFR.7/7), co-facilitators highlighted:
- agreement to strengthen funding for the Secretariat;
- the draft resource mobilization strategy and the review document on cost recovery mechanisms and other economic instruments;
- SAICM lacks adequate funding due to the lack of a good funding mechanism, suggesting that it be more creative and expand its sources of funding beyond the Global Environment Facility (GEF);
- broad support for the proposed 0.5% chemicals tax to fund chemicals and waste management; and
- the crucial role that the GEF will play in the new SAICM framework.
An exchange of regional information and knowledge and a review of progress towards current SAICM goals followed. Some supported the development of an industry code of conduct for chemicals and waste management. Delegates heard presentations on a pilot project to help implement the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) in the region, and the ChemOb Africa project, among other topics. Participants highlighted the cooperation between the Ministries of Health and Environment on ChemObs, and stressed the need to, among others, provide financial and technical assistance to address national legislation and infrastructure.
IP4 will meet from August 29 to September 2, 2022 in Bucharest, Romania, with regional and stakeholder consultations preceding it from August 27 to 28. ICCM5 is tentatively scheduled for the third quarter of 2023. [Report of the Africa Regional Meeting] [SAICM Regional Meetings Website] [SAICM Roadmap Towards IP4 and ICCM5] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on CEE Regional Meeting] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on LAC Regional Meeting] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on EU-JUSSCANNZUK Regional Meeting] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting]