ICCM5: International Conference on Chemicals Management Adopts Global Framework

Bonn Declaration for the Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste Worldwide Sends Strong Political Signal

02.10.2023 - The 5th International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5), held last week in Bonn, Germany, established a new global framework to prevent damage from chemicals and waste. With the adoption of the global framework, the pollution crisis is recognized as a third planetary crisis alongside the climate crisis and the species extinction crisis.

It was emphasized that the synergies between climate, nature and resource protection should be used even more effectively. For example, the safe management of chemicals and waste contribute significantly to achieving the climate targets of the Paris Agreement and the goals of the Montreal World Conservation Agreement.

Under the German chairmanship, representatives of governments, civil society, intergovernmental organizations, industry and UN organizations agreed on a new global framework for chemicals. The international community and all other stakeholders are committed to making the handling of chemicals safer worldwide, to phasing out the use of the most hazardous chemicals where possible, and to ensuring the safe handling of those chemicals whose use is currently without alternative.

The Bonn Declaration also sends out a strong political signal. German Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke commented: "After eight years of intensive work, we have succeeded in jointly setting the course for a world free of damage from chemicals and waste. This is good news for the protection of people, the environment and the circular economy. We have succeeded in agreeing progressive targets and effective steps for safe chemicals management worldwide." Now, she said, it is important to implement the agreed targets worldwide with effective measures.

The framework applies to all chemicals and products made from them, from start to finish, i.e. from manufacture, through use, to waste. Among other things, it provides for the establishment of important foundations in the approximately 100 countries that do not yet have sufficient experience in handling chemicals, some of which are highly hazardous. For example, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) has been in place since 2002, through which workers and consumers are warned by easily recognizable hazard symbols, among other things. This system has not yet been implemented in around 100 countries. Support for the introduction of the GHS, for example, is to be offered through specific projects.

The chemicals framework also foresees the creation of a new fund to support such projects. Federal Environment Minister Lemke announced a contribution from Germany of €20 million so that this new fund can begin its work as soon as possible. Industry also announced contributions to this new fund.

The Bonn Declaration, which was also adopted at the conference at the level of ministers, CEOs and heads of international organizations, emphasized, among other things, that the implementation of the new framework now requires, above all, integration in other policy areas (e.g. occupational health and safety, agriculture, health sector). Numerous heads of international organizations participated in the high-level segment of the event and pledged to implement the resolutions of the conference.

Tackling the earth's pollution is also important for economic reasons. Lack of chemical management could amount to up to 10% of global gross domestic product (according to the United Nations Environment Program, UNEP, Global Chemicals Outlook II, 2019).

Commenting on the ICCM5 results, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) said in a press release: “The International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), representing more than 90% of global chemical sales, has been a strong supporter of the UN-led Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management (SAICM) and a new Global Framework on Chemicals and Bonn Declaration, utilizing the voluntary, multi-stakeholder approach that enables all relevant stakeholders to contribute to building a stronger foundation for sound management of chemicals and waste.”

Ahead of the UN Conference on the Future of SAICM, ICCA announced in a statement the launch of three goals to promote global chemical safety. SAICM is an UN-led framework adopted in 2006 that aims to promote sustainable chemicals management.

The ICCA statement said: "Achieving the ambitious goals of the new global framework on chemicals and the Bonn Declaration will require meaningful partnerships among the stakeholders pursuing these goals. We welcome the many contributions highlighted by all at ICCM5, and we look forward to the collaboration that will be necessary to ensure the ultimate success of this framework."


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