Improving international chemicals and waste management beyond 2020
The goal is no small one: chemical safety around the world. No small goal, especially when one considers that chemicals are used by all industries and that modern societies rely on chemicals in virtually all manufacturing processes. It makes chemical production one of the major and most globalized sectors of the world economy.
Role of Chemicals
Chemicals play multiple roles in our lives. They contribute to improved living standards, they have an essential economic role, but they also come with potential risks and costs. These include the chemicals industry’s heavy use of water and energy. Furthermore, they can have seriously adverse impacts on the environment and human health.
Regulation of Chemicals
More than 100,000 different chemicals are manufactured, used, and disposed of worldwide. Many of them pose a risk to human health and the environment if not handled sustainably. Nevertheless, most of these substances are not globally regulated, and many or not adequately managed especially in developing countries.
In order to improve the sound management of chemicals and waste, an adelphi team, in cooperation with Minu Hemmati, Alf Wills, and Paul Hohnen, are working on options for reforming the international governance system on chemicals and waste. The team also discusses reform proposals with stakeholders in workshops and side events, thus introducing them to the international negotiation process.
At the core of the reform discussions
is the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) – a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world.
The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)
This voluntary platform brings together state and non-state actors to increase chemical safety globally and to promote sound chemicals management. However, there have been significant problems with the implementation of SAICM objectives, especially in developing countries. As a consequence, the main objective of SAICM of minimizing significant adverse effects of chemicals on human health and the environment by 2020 will not be achieved. This poses the question of which type of platform would be more appropriate post-2020, and how it should be designed in order to achieve the SAICM objectives and related objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The results of the research project have practical relevance. In 2015, Germany was elected to the presidency of the Bureau of the 5th International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5). adelphi supports the German presidency through scientifically founded analyses and the development of institutionally promising and politically realistic concepts for the SAICM reform "beyond 2020". Most work is done in the background, by organizing stakeholder workshops or preparing preparatory papers for negotiations.