Close-shot of a chemical facility in front of a cloudy skyClick to enlarge
SAICM should minimize adverse impacts of chemicals on the environment and human health.
Source: Jürgen Feldhaus /

Under the leadership of the United Nations, an International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) adopted on 6 February 2006 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) as a policy framework to foster the sound management of chemicals.

SAICM was developed by a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral Preparatory Committee to help achieve the goal agreed at the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development of ensuring that, by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health. Another goal of SAICM is to bundle the variety of existing activities and initiatives for a safe chemicals management within an overall framework.

Important results of the second international conference on chemicals management

On the second international conference on chemicals management (ICCM 2) in May 2009 in Geneva delegates from 150 governments, UN-organizations, further interested organizations and non-government organizations participated.

On the conference participants reported about the most important implementation proceedings since the first international conference in 2006 and initiated procedures for the further development of SAICM. Discussed topics were amongst others, new emerging policy issues with special need for action. Emerging issues are topics of global importance which concern the production, trade and application of chemicals. Therefore information gaps should be closed and risks for human health and environment from these chemicals should be minimized.

Topics were:

  1. Lead in paint: A global partnership under SAICM has the aim of raising awareness of toxicity to human health and the environment in developing countries and countries with economies in transition and giving assistance for a global phase-out. The global partnership is open to all interested stakeholders.
  2. Concerning the issue of nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials developing countries and countries with economies in transition should be increasingly included into information exchange. Therefore regional workshops and enhanced provision of information in all participating countries are planned.

  3. The emerging issue ”chemicals in products” is based on an initiative of the European Union. The goal is mainly to collect and review existing information systems on chemicals in products. Proposals for steps towards a better exchange of information should be developed and existing systems should be merged.

  4. The problem of near-end-of-life and end-of-life electrical and electronic products should be tackled together with the Basel convention and approaches for a green design of the products should be discussed.

National Implementation of SAICM in Germany

A ”National conference on implementation of SAICM in Germany” was held on 6 June 2008 in the German capital Berlin. The conference involved a wide range of stakeholders responsible for chemicals management. The conference represents a first substantial step towards a comprehensive SAICM implementation process in Germany. The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety takes the lead in this process assisted by the Federal Environment Agency. The conference also brought together representatives of other ministries and agencies with relevant responsibilities, for instance in agriculture, consumer health and economics and technology. The special focus of the conference was to inform stakeholders and encourage them to contribute to SAICM.

A total of 130 participants from ministries, authorities, industry and non–governmental organisations presented their ongoing initiatives for a safe chemicals management in relation to the work areas of the SAICM Global Plan of Action. Thus, the conference also made a substantial contribution to summarising all relevant and existing national instruments and measures to implement SAICM as a basis for identifying gaps and further need for action. Existing measures for SAICM implementation in Germany are summarized in a progress report.

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