Summary report, 23–29 September 2023

5th International Conference on Chemicals Management and Resumed 4th Meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering SAICM and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020

At 10:20 am on Saturday morning, 30 September 2023, the remaining exhausted delegates who had worked through the night and into the morning cheered as they formally adopted the new global framework for the integrated management of chemicals and waste, the Global Framework on Chemicals – For a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste. The fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) finally came to a successful conclusion over 16 hours after its scheduled end. A visibly moved ICCM5 President Anita Breyer, who had overseen a fraught final plenary session where the final text was cleaned up and agreed upon, repeatedly thanked delegates for keeping the faith.

A high-level Friends of the President group steered a similarly difficult process during the week to finalize the Bonn Declaration, a political statement that was drafted over months of informal consultations and finally agreed in the final hours. Consequently, the High-level Segment was unable to formally adopt the declaration before ministers and other high-level international representatives concluded their talks. As with the Framework, much of the delay was caused by entrenched positions that led to repeated appeals for delegates to exhibit the Bonn Spirit of “live and let live.” In particular, text referencing the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), technology transfer “on mutually agreed terms,” and the polluter pays principle remained bracketed until the very last moment in both negotiations.

Notwithstanding, the determination of many to achieve a positive outcome yielded agreement on an instrument that many stakeholders believe meets the aspiration for a post-2020 framework on chemicals and waste. Throughout the week, many spoke of the heavy toll—especially on the most vulnerable populations—from the unsustainable use of chemicals and waste. With the new instrument, there is hope that the stage has been set for renewed multi-stakeholder collaboration at all levels to address these challenges.

The 12-part “Global Framework on Chemicals,” its three annexes, and the accompanying 12 resolutions provide a rationale, targets, and actions to ensure that a broad cross-section of stakeholders from governments, international technical agencies, civil society, and the private sector can collaborate on such issues as phasing out the most harmful chemicals, strengthening capacity building, particularly for countries with weak enforcement regimes, and creating better linkages across diverse sectors, including health and occupational safety, trade, agriculture, energy, and transport.

With important targets on export prohibition and guidelines adopted as part of the Framework, there is much to celebrate for many delegations who toughed it out in plenary to the very end.

Multi-stakeholder alliances established or reaffirmed at the Conference include the work of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) in offering technical guidance and coordinating joint initiatives, and the launch of a Global Alliance on Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). In addition, ICCM5 launched a process for creating implementation programmes for the new Framework that should result in new sector-focused initiatives involving key heavy users of chemicals, such as the textile and construction sectors.

As noted by German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke, stakeholders now have a concrete tool with which to raise the profile of chemicals and waste issues at the UN General Assembly and other global fora. Demonstrating the continued commitment of the host country, the German government pledged EUR 20 million to the newly birthed Framework.

ICCM5 convened in Bonn, Germany, from 25-30 September 2023. It was preceded by the second resumed session of the Fourth Meeting of the Intersessional Process (IP4) on 23-24 September, which continued its negotiations on the new Global Framework.

A Brief History of SAICM

Although the idea that became the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) was first raised by the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council in the mid-1990s, it was the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 that specifically called for the creation of a SAICM and set the goal that by the year 2020, chemicals would be used and produced in ways that minimize significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.

After three rounds of negotiations from 2003-2005, SAICM was established in 2006 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the First International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM1) as a policy framework to promote chemical safety and support nations in achieving the WSSD’s 2020 goal. The framework consists of the Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management, an Overarching Policy Strategy, and a Global Plan of Action. A Quick Start Programme (QSP) was also launched, with a Trust Fund to support enabling activities for the sound management of chemicals in developing countries, least developed countries, small island developing states, and countries with economies in transition.

SAICM is distinguished by its multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral character, emphasis on chemical safety as a sustainable issue, and formal endorsement or recognition by the governing bodies of key intergovernmental organizations.

Key Turning Points

ICCM2: ICCM2 convened in 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland, and identified four emerging policy issues (EPIs) for cooperative action by SAICM stakeholders: chemicals in products; lead in paint; nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials; and hazardous substances within the lifecycle of electrical and electronic products.

ICCM2 also adopted a decision on considering other EPIs and established an Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) to meet intersessionally to prepare for each ICCM. They further invited international organizations participating in the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) to consider stewardship programmes and regulatory approaches to reduce emissions of perfluorinated chemicals, and to work toward their global elimination, where appropriate and technically feasible.

ICCM3: ICCM3 met in 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya, and agreed to extend the QSP Trust Fund until ICCM4. The Conference adopted resolutions on the EPIs, including one designating endocrine-disrupting chemical as an EPI and another engaging the healthcare sector in SAICM implementation.

ICCM4: ICCM4, held in 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland, reviewed progress toward the 2020 goal and established an intersessional process (IP) to maintain momentum until ICCM5, originally planned for 2020. ICCM4 adopted the overall orientation and guidance for achieving the 2020 goal and added environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants as an EPI, and highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) as an “issue of concern.”

Intersessional Process

IP1: The first meeting of the Intersessional Process (IP1) was held in Brasilia, Brazil, in February 2017. Participants engaged in an initial exchange of views and ideas regarding what sort of global platform or framework might be preferable to the existing SAICM process to promote the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

IP2: IP2 was held in Stockholm, Sweden, in March 2018. Participants discussed six elements of a possible future framework proposed by the IP Co-Chairs: vision, policy principles, objectives and milestones, implementation arrangements, governance, and high-level political commitment.

UNEA4: Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2019, the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) adopted resolution 4/8 calling for a relevant ICCM5 resolution on a crosscutting and holistic approach for the long-term, including enhanced involvement of all relevant stakeholders. It also called on governments and other stakeholders to consider ways to strengthen the science-policy interface (SPI) for chemicals and waste, and requested UNEP to prepare two reports by 30 April 2020 for consideration by ICCM5, on:

  • an assessment of options for strengthening the SPI at the international level; and
  • relevant issues when emerging evidence indicates a risk to human health and the environment identified by SAICM, the Global Chemicals Outlook, or the Global Waste Management Outlook, including an analysis of existing regulatory and policy frameworks and their ability to address these issues towards the achievement of the 2020 goal, in particular for lead and cadmium.

OEWG3: OEWG3 met in Montevideo, Uruguay, in April 2019. Participants assessed progress toward the 2020 goal, prepared for ICCM5, and produced a composite text on the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020.

IP3: IP3 was held in Bangkok, Thailand, in October 2019. Most of the meeting was conducted through four thematic groups focusing on features of a possible post-2020 platform.

IP4: After a nearly three-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first segment of IP4 met in Bucharest, Romania, from 27 August – 2 September 2022, with resumed sessions in Nairobi, Kenya, from 27 February –3 March 2023 and in Bonn, Germany, from 23-24 September 2023. At the end of the second resumed session, the Co-Chairs led participants through a paragraph-by-paragraph review of the text, seeking to resolve differences wherever possible to produce a “cleaner” text on a post-2020 framework for ICCM5. The draft post-2020 framework covered the vision, scope, principles, strategic objectives, targets, institutional arrangements, implementing measures, financial considerations, and procedures for designating “issues of concern” for special attention and concerted action.

ICCM5 Report

On Monday, 25 September, SAICM Coordinator Pierre Quiblier opened the Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management.

Steffi Lemke, Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, Germany, noted chemicals management is a global problem that cannot be addressed through national measures alone, and thus requires international cooperation. She said bringing together all the elements to achieve effective chemicals management is no small feat and requires balancing diverse interests and engaging all stakeholders working together as equals. Lemke called on all ICCM5 delegates to bear this in mind as they worked toward consensus and urged the Conference to send a clear message to the world that “we are ready to tackle the pollution crisis.”

Noting his region is the heart of German chemicals production and is very experienced in managing chemical risks to soil, air and water, Oliver Krischer, State Minister for Environment, Nature Protection, and Transport, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, emphasized the importance of a successful ICCM5.

Katja Dörner, Mayor of Bonn, described Bonn as “Germany’s UN city and a center of sustainability,” and wished delegates fruitful negotiations.

Observing that chemical pollution is directly responsible for more than two million deaths a year, Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen, said without decisive action on a post-2020 framework many more will die “and this will be on us.” She urged delegates to, inter alia: provide clear guidance on what governments as well as industry and their financial backers should do; create an inclusive platform; and repurpose incentives and subsidies to create a chemicals industry “that has a positive balance sheet for people and planet.”

ICCM5 President Anita Breyer (Germany) expressed confidence that the Conference would generate broad and high-level political commitment to adopt an ambitious and long-term international framework.

Adoption of the Agenda and Organization of Work: Delegates then adopted the agenda (SAICM/ICCM.5/1 and Add.1) and agreed to the order of work proposed by the President. Delegates agreed to establish an informal, open-ended and high-level Friends of the President group (FOTP) to work on the High-level Declaration (HLD), co-facilitated by Mohammed Khashashneh (Jordan) and Eva Kracht (Germany). President Breyer said the group’s discussions would be guided by her proposed zero draft of the Declaration. She requested regional groups and other stakeholder communities to nominate a small number of representatives to facilitate the group’s work.

Delegates agreed to establish a Committee of the Whole (CoW), co-chaired by Reggie Hernaus (Netherlands) and Keima Gardiner (Trinidad and Tobago), to work on the substantive content and text of the recommended framework instrument, as transmitted by the intersessional process.

Election of Officers: On Monday, President Breyer reviewed the current composition of the Bureau, and announced that Magdalena Frydrych (Poland) would serve as ICCM5 rapporteur. She invited regional groups and non-governmental participants from the health, industry, trade union, and public interest groups to continue consultations to nominate their representatives for the next Bureau, announcing elections would be held later in the week. President Breyer further noted that in accordance with the rules of procedure, the Chair of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), and four non-governmental representatives representing each of the health, industry, trade union, and public interest groups are also invited to participate in the work of the Bureau.

On Saturday morning, the Conference accepted nominations from regional groups for the Bureau as follows: African Group: Santos Virgilio (Angola); Asia-Pacific: Zaigham Abbas (Pakistan); Central and Eastern Europe: Magdalena Frydrych (Poland); Latin America and Caribbean: María Vanessa Aliaga Araujo (Peru); Western Europe and Others: Audun Heggelund (Norway). The IOMC will be represented by its current Chair, Jorge Ocana, UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

On Monday, nongovernmental stakeholders confirmed the nomination of Rory O’Neill, International Trade Union Confederation, for trade union groups; Susan Wilburn, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), for health groups; Sara Brosche, International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), for public interest groups; and Chrysanthi Sofokleous, International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), for industry.

President Breyer noted that since it was Asia-Pacific’s turn to chair the Bureau, Abbas would chair the Bureau and become the president of the next Conference.

Opening Statements: Representatives of regional groups, individual countries and stakeholder groups then delivered opening statements.

High-level Segment

On Thursday, SAICM Coordinator Quiblier opened the High-level Segment (HLS), which was co-chaired by German Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection Steffi Lemke and UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

Via video message, Olaf Scholz, Federal Chancellor, Germany, acknowledged chemicals bring benefits and are an indispensable part of the global value chain, but stressed that their mismanagement has led to a pollution crisis across the planet that requires joint action. He urged adopting ambitious commitments in the declaration that can provide guidance and serve as a point of reference for other initiatives, while creating global awareness and prompting joint action.

HLS Co-Chair Andersen said since the original deadline for adopting a new framework in 2020, close to six million people have likely died from direct chemical pollution, countless ecosystems and species have been polluted and poisoned, and trillions of dollars in damages likely have been incurred. She called for adopting a framework “in the strongest, most specific and most inclusive terms, backed with the right finance for developing nations” and urged delegates to use compromise and creativity to achieve that goal.

HLS Co-Chair Lemke said her country’s goal for ICCM5 is to adopt ambitious targets and effective measures for sound chemicals management. She announced Germany’s commitment to give EUR 10 million for future activities for capacity building, knowledge sharing, and helping countries set up chemicals management regimes.

Racheal Nestor, Chemicals and Waste Youth Platform, announced the development of the “first ever” youth declaration on chemicals and waste, calling for, inter alia, recognizing uncontrolled practices related to chemicals and waste are an intergenerational hazard, and children and youth have a heightened exposure to them.

Valerie Hickey, Global Director, Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy, World Bank, called for political action towards solutions for the safe use of chemicals with a focus on tracking progress, increased financing, and developing partnerships.

Marcos Orellana, UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights, said the growing chasm between scientific evidence and actions to address chemical pollution “is not an accident,” and leads to a focus on “minimizing” risks or “sustainably managing” chemicals that ignores the reality of those who bear the brunt of chemicals exposure. Orellana suggested that a human rights approach offers strong tools for bridging this gap.

ICCM5 President Breyer described the long consultative process to develop the zero draft of the HLD. She said the resulting draft text is short and concise, outlines global challenges as well as priority areas to be addressed, and communicates parties’ determination to take bold and urgent action.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, European Commission, underlined the strong interlinkages between integrated action on chemicals and waste and achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

Key Stakeholder Representatives’ Reflections: Moderator Nikhil Seth, Executive Director, UNITAR, invited the panel to offer some takeaways in their personal and institutional capacities.

Haoliang Xu, UN Development Programme (UNDP), said he was struck by young people’s perspectives and expressed hope the “reckless” paths of development of the past will not be repeated. He stressed the importance of learning from good examples of legislation, policies, and institutions.

Ciyong Zou, Deputy Director General, UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), discussed how UNIDO works with actors from industry and academia to explore more sustainable solutions and strengthen capacity building and technology transfer.

Noting significant alignment among the speakers, Maria Neira, World Health Organization (WHO), urged going beyond analysis to undertake action to remove the identified obstacles. Citing decisive action on lead, she quipped that “we will become even more intelligent and take more action in the future!”

Joaquim Pintado Nunes, International Labour Organization (ILO) recalled that Member States recognized occupational safety as a fundamental right in 2022, noting this is an opportunity to hold states accountable.

In conclusion, Moderator Seth identified the key ingredients for spurring transformational change: policy, institutional reform, data, money, partnerships, and leadership.

High-level Roundtables: On Thursday, high-level participants from governments, industry, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations participated in closed “world cafe” style roundtable discussions on three themes:

  • Strengthening chemicals and waste management systems and capacities: Bridging implementation gaps through multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration;
  • Fostering solutions and sustainable chemistry innovation in economic and industry sectors along value chains: Mobilizing leadership; and
  • Maximizing contributions of sound management of chemicals and waste in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Creating linkages and fostering action.

On Friday, Achim Halpaap, UNEP, moderated a session where the rapporteurs and moderators of the roundtables reported key messages on each of the themes. Among other things, the panelists highlighted the following:

  • industry would like a clear definition of what constitutes green or sustainable chemistry;
  • it is not possible to solve everything with public money, we need partnerships;
  • there was general agreement that those responsible for putting chemicals on the market should be responsible for managing the risks associated with them, and acceptable cost recovery;
  • data—what is needed and is available, who has it, who can access it—was a big focus of discussion;
  • the Global Alliance on Lead in Paint and the Latin American Forum on Chemicals Management were cited as good examples of collaboration;
  • keys to collaboration are high-level ambition and political will, and a focus, such as vulnerable groups like children;
  • small projects with funding often can be used by countries to bring attention to the need for chemicals management at the national level;
  • innovation is urgently needed in particular areas, such as improving recycling;
  • partnerships can be effective if they have right mix of elements, and multi-stakeholder partners do well when all partners benefit;
  • greater transparency and accountability will help attract more private financing for chemicals and waste management;
  • to mobilize leadership and ensure proper cooperation between governments and industry, good legislation should be in place;
  • more leadership needs to be shown by governments, not just passing laws and regulations, but moving to implement and enforce them; and
  • cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder teams are good, but they need financing to keep going.

Statements: On Friday, Co-Chair Lemke invited high-level officials and others to deliver statements. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO, via video, stated the roughly two million people dying annually from chemical pollution is a preventable tragedy, and reaffirmed the WHO’s commitment to support the implementation of the new framework.

Manuela Tomei, ILO, highlighted that the ILO is in a unique position to support the new framework, pointing to the groundbreaking ILO Convention 170 on Chemicals adopted in 1990. She reminded participants that the mismanagement of chemicals threatens the achievement of decent work and social justice for all. 

Zakia Khattabi, Minister for Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal, BELGIUM, highlighted her country’s efforts to eliminate double standards, namely by prohibiting the export of banned substances. She recalled that business as usual is no longer an option and urged transition to achieve a sustainable future free of harm.

Adalberto Maluf, National Secretary of Urban Environment and Environmental Quality, BRAZIL, stated that Brazil is eager and committed to ambitious targets, among many other urgent matters. He expressed confidence in multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approaches to reach agreement and urged moving from a linear to a circular economy.

Vivianne Heijnen, Minister of Environment, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, NETHERLANDS, stated that while chemicals are essential and can be found everywhere, they can remain in our environment for a long time after use, and can create a burden for future generations. She urged all stakeholders to take on responsibilities and highlighted that more funding is needed.

Haoliang Xu, Associate Administrator, UNDP, recognized while chemicals play a pivotal role in our society, they also can lead to serious consequences. He called for the precautionary principle to be embraced by industry and urged the prioritization of product reuse to mitigate waste.

Rebecca Pow, Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience, UK, highlighted actions taken by her country, including incentivizing integrated pest management to transition farmers away from chemical pesticides, and the launch of a new chemicals strategy and national action plan for pesticides. She urged more coordinated action at the global level, pointing to the UK’s GBP 350 million contribution to the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, GHANA, welcomed SAICM’s support to address the impacts of exposure to hazardous chemicals and waste, stressing that the framework to be adopted at this Conference will need a dedicated international fund to ensure its full implementation.

Katrin Schneeberger, Director, Federal Office for the Environment, SWITZERLAND, described efforts at ICCM5 as a sign of the international community’s commitment to address entrenched challenges in an integrated way. She stressed the need to ensure that decisions and actions under the new framework are based on sound science and build on the expertise of the IOMC and other existing institutions “that are well placed to continue and amplify this work.”

Solomon Pavliashvili, Deputy Minister, Environmental Protection and Agriculture, GEORGIA, said experience shows that the effective management of chemical substances and waste is a “difficult, time-consuming and long-term process” that requires creating management systems in line with those in the most developed countries. He described the inclusion of the Extended Producer Responsibility principle as a progressive element of Georgia’s new waste management legislation.

Christiane Rohleder, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, GERMANY, lauded progress on the HLD, describing it as a “clear commitment” to sound chemicals management worldwide, but stressed additional funding and institutional support as well technology transfer and capacity building are needed to enable countries to establish their chemical regimes.

Marta Gómez Palenque, Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, SPAIN, expressed her country’s firm commitment to a greener EU pact to spur innovations towards a toxic free planet. Among strategies to achieve this, she highlighted: “re-industrializing” the EU for the low-carbon transition; consolidating social rights; and enhancing awareness among producers and consumers.

Jorge Ocana, UNITAR, identified capacity building as one of the central features of the new framework, and highlighted UNITAR’s work to develop new tools to enable countries to implement the Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), as an important link between trade, transport, and decent work.

Yutaka Matsuzawa, Vice-Minister for Global Environment Affairs, Japan, proposed developing an advanced and user-friendly online tool to strengthen the engagement of all stakeholders in monitoring and reporting on compliance. He highlighted Japan’s contribution to diverse regional and global initiatives, including a large-scale study on the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on neural development.

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, BASEL, ROTTERDAM AND STOCKHOLM (BRS) CONVENTIONS, emphasized the contribution of the BRS Conventions, “as dynamic, global, and legally binding instruments,” in supporting countries to explore greater linkages to tackle the triple planetary crisis. He noted the recent agreement by the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the BRS Conventions to take into account the strategic objectives and targets of the global chemicals and waste framework, once adopted.

Grace Magembe, Ministry for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, TANZANIA, underscored that predictable and sustainable financing is a prerequisite for the effective implementation of the new framework.

Ciyong Zou, UNIDO, highlighted their support for developing countries and economies in transition to reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals and meet obligations under the major multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). He stressed the importance of joint learning, strengthening public awareness, and creating business models to incentivize green investments.

Owen Tudor, Deputy General Secretary, INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION, called for a new QSP “at scale and at speed,” with all governments following the German example on funding. He echoed Chancellor Scholz’s call for an ambitious HLD.

Berenice Quiroz, Ministry of Environment, ECUADOR, said SAICM helped her country improve its chemicals management. She declared Ecuador’s “unwavering commitment” to an ambitious framework, and promised Ecuador would implement it.

Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary, MINAMATA CONVENTION, reported that the next Minamata COP will consider the outcome of ICCM5. She declared her Secretariat ready to engage with the framework, adding that the strengthening of chemicals management in any one sector provides benefits to chemicals management in other sectors.

Noting that the global revenues of the chemicals industry were under USD 3 trillion when SAICM was created in 2006, and is expected to be triple that by 2030, Tadesse Amera, Co-Chair, IPEN, noted the changes sought in the Dubai High-level Declaration. He hailed the anticipated ICCM5 resolution establishing a Global Alliance on Highly Hazardous Pesticides.

After discussing interlinkages between current challenges faced by the Montreal Protocol and the draft framework, Sophia Mylena, OZONE SECRETARIAT, declared that the Ozone Secretariat stands ready and looks forward to working with Framework stakeholders towards the common goal of advancing chemicals and waste safety around the globe for a healthy and sustainable future.

John Thompson, State Department, US, underscored his country’s commitment to the Integrated Approach to Financing and its three pillars of mainstreaming, private sector support, and dedicated external financing. He said the US will advocate for increasing support for the Chemical and Waste Focal Area in the ninth replenishment of the GEF.

Agnieszka Dudra, President, Bureau of Chemical Substances, POLAND, said the HLD will “drive our future achievements,” setting the basis for transparent action, defining dedicated tasks, and establishing clear and measurable goals involving and fostering ownership among all relevant sectors and stakeholders.

Cedric Bourillet, Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, FRANCE, underscored the private sector and industry’s responsibility to develop better products that do not further contribute to problems. Highlighting the importance of finance, especially for developing countries, he pledged EUR 400,000 for the implementation of the new framework, if adopted, in 2024.

Naresh Pal Gangwar, Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, INDIA, stated his country has already banned 72 HHPs to move to safe alternatives. However, he stressed his country’s need for robust technology transfer to achieve the sound management of chemicals.

Mohammed Khashashneh, Environment Ministry, JORDAN, emphasized the world is losing millions of lives every year because of exposure to hazardous chemicals, and called for this loss to be treated as a deafening alarm not to be ignored. He drew attention to Jordan’s comprehensive approach to improve the management of chemicals, and looked forward to tangible results emerging from this process.

Tania Ramirez Muñoz, Natural Resources and Environment Secretariat, MEXICO, underscored the challenges of chemicals management, especially with thousands of substances present throughout global trade. She highlighted Mexico’s new regulations for the mining sector and efforts to protect pollinators, and called for ICCM5 to adopt an ambitious framework.

Mamogala Musekene, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, SOUTH AFRICA, underscored manufacturers have a duty to classify and label products in line with the GHS. She called for a collaborative approach to fund the new instrument, reiterating the need to adopt a polluter pays approach, since governments cannot be expected to bear the full burden of chemicals management.

Ana Paula Souza, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), called for chemicals management “with more teeth” and questioned whether decision makers were ready to meet this challenge. She noted states are bound to protect people from harm caused by environmental degradation, and negotiation efforts to do anything but protect people are a distraction.

Patrick Child, EUROPEAN COMMISSION, highlighted the robust chemicals management strategy at the European level, and drew attention to the importance of stakeholder engagement and capacity building in developing countries. He urged a last dose of courage and determination to get the framework over the finish line.

Chris Jahn, ICCA, reiterated the importance of chemistry in achieving a lower carbon future. He highlighted three objectives: transparency, especially on data; support for at least 30 countries in their implementation of effective chemical management systems by 2030; and industry engagement in a voluntary financial mechanism linked to the strategic objectives of the new framework.

Abheet Solomon, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), explained that toxic chemicals can be found in air, water, soil, food, and consumer products, with 40-50% of children tested having dangerous levels of lead in their blood. They thanked the Caribbean Youth Environmental Network for keeping them accountable.

Thabile Ndlovu, ESWATINI, spoke of the elimination of HHPs, and said she remains positive that sound management of chemicals can be achieved when stakeholders are included.

Stressing there is no time to lose, Emily Rees, President and CEO, CROPLIFE INTERNATIONAL, highlighted the launch of CropLife’s Sustainable Pesticide Management Framework to uphold best practices and standards, and its roll out in several countries in Africa and the Middle East. She endorsed the HLD for reflecting shared commitments and renewed energy to strengthen global action.

Closing: Co-Chair Lemke thanked the FOTP Co-Chairs for steering the HLD drafting process, saying the final text will be actionable and hold all stakeholders accountable for the sound management of chemicals and waste. She informed the Conference that the FOTP had agreed to call the new framework, “The Global Framework on Chemicals – For a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste,” and announced a doubling of Germany’s pledge to EUR 20 million. She urged all stakeholders to step up efforts to ensure the adoption of chemicals and waste as a “permanent agenda item” at the UN General Assembly to send a clear message to industry to continue to develop green chemistry innovations.

Adoption of the High-Level Declaration: The HLS was originally scheduled to endorse the HLD, with formal adoption to come later in an ICCM5 resolution adopting both the new Framework and the Declaration. Co-Chair Lemke announced on Friday, however, that the FOTP had been unable to finalize the HLD in time for HLS endorsement due to continuing discussions on passages referring to the principle of CBDR, finance, and technology transfer, which were linked to portions of the Framework still under discussion.

The resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.15) adopting both the Framework and the HLD was accepted by the Conference in the early hours of Saturday, 30 September, after conducting side-by-side negotiations of the relevant framework and declaration passages.

Outcome: As adopted, ministers, heads of delegation, and stakeholder leaders declare in the Bonn Declaration (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.15/1) that they, among others:

  • endorse the Global Framework on Chemicals (GFC);
  • will prevent exposure to harmful chemicals, and phase out the most harmful ones, where appropriate, and enhance the safe management of such chemicals where they are needed;
  • commit to strengthening capacity building, technology transfer on mutually agreed terms, and financial support, including from domestic sources, regional and international development cooperation and assistance, including from the private sector and philanthropy;
  • commit to effective and efficient management of chemicals and waste through accountability, transparency, access to information on chemicals relating to the health and safety of humans and the environment, and to justice, as well as inclusive and meaningful participation that enables multi-sector and multi-stakeholder collaboration;
  • will strengthen their coordination and cooperation efforts at all levels to enhance coherence and complementarity in the chemicals and waste sectors;
  • will actively promote research and innovation for the development of safe and sustainable chemicals, materials, products and processes, including solutions drawn from Indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge systems;
  • invite the governing bodies of the UN, and other relevant international organizations, including the ILO, WHO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), in accordance with their respective mandates, to strengthen their cooperation and coordination to support the GFC and to integrate its goals into their programmes of work and budgets, as appropriate; and
  • commit to engage in the international efforts currently underway to establish a science-policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution, as well as to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.

Stakeholders further commit to implement the GFC by:

  • protecting and respecting human rights for the benefit of present and future generations;
  • developing and adopting the necessary national chemicals and waste frameworks, strategies, legislation, and action plans to improve the management and control of pollution from chemicals and waste;
  • enhancing national action that supports the implementation and complements the achievement of other existing relevant chemicals and waste-related UN multilateral agreements, standards, and commitments;
  • enhancing the safe production of food, feed, and fiber, by preventing or, where not feasible, minimizing the adverse impacts of pesticides on health and the environment;
  • protecting human health, particularly of women and children, with special attention to early childhood;
  • promoting decent, safe, healthy and sustainable work throughout value and supply chains;
  • strengthening sustainable, predictable, adequate and accessible long-term financing from all sources to ensure no one is left behind;
  • strengthening the development and provision of safe and sustainable chemicals with reduced adverse impacts for downstream industry users, workers, and consumers; and
  • enhancing cooperation to combat the continued illegal traffic of hazardous chemicals and waste.

The Global Framework on Chemicals

Negotiations on the Global Framework on Chemicals has been ongoing since ICCM4 in 2015. Just prior to ICCM5, IP4.3 tried to reach agreement on as much of the Framework as possible, but was unable to break impasses in many key sections. The IP Co-Chairs transmitted a “consolidated text” (SAICM/ICCM.5/L.1) of the Framework to ICCM5. Negotiations took place throughout the week in the CoW and a number of contact and informal groups.

Several crosscutting issues during the IP and ICCM5 negotiations, which were the subject of bracketed placeholder text throughout the draft Framework, were only agreed in the final hours of ICCM5. Chief among these were the final name of the framework, and how to reference wastes. On the latter, some delegations wanted just a simple reference to waste so that the Framework would cover all waste management, while others, led by the US, wanted it to be “chemicals and their associated wastes.” The final compromise was to use “the life cycle of chemicals, including products and waste” in the Framework’s scope, and just “chemicals and waste” elsewhere else, except where there is a reference to the life cycle.

At the end of the final plenary delegates agreed to entrust the Secretariat with the task of going through the Framework text and changing the placeholders to the agreed compromises.

The following summary is organized according to the text of the final Global Framework.

I. Introduction: During IP4.3, delegates agreed to language calling for multi-stakeholder collaboration and strengthening countries’ capacity to manage chemicals and waste across the entire lifecycle.

At ICCM5, the CoW examined the introductory section on Wednesday, focusing on paragraphs about the role of chemicals and their potential adverse impacts, and about the foundations of the framework and its multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach. On the former, delegates disagreed about references to “when not managed properly.” On the latter, they could not agree to reference the “triple planetary crisis” or whether the framework should catalyze a transformational shift to “green and” sustainable chemistry, “sustainable, including green” chemistry, or simply “sustainable chemistry.”

During the final plenary on Saturday morning, delegates agreed to refer to “the triple crisis for our common environment of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution” and to “sustainable chemistry.”

Outcome: The introduction of the GFC has six introductory paragraphs stating:

  • the sound management of chemicals and waste is essential for protecting human health and the environment;
  • the sound management of chemicals is crucial to prevent, and where not feasible, minimize adverse impacts on human health and the environment;
  • exposure to hazardous chemicals and waste throughout their supply chains and lifecycles threatens human health and disproportionately impacts vulnerable and at-risk groups;
  • the intent of the framework is to catalyze a transformational shift towards sustainable chemistry in the chemical and downstream sectors in a lifecycle approach, through guiding principles, clear strategic objectives, defined time-bound programmes and initiatives, and measurable targets;
  • the aim of the framework is to prevent or, where prevention is not feasible, minimize harm from chemicals and waste to protect the environment and human health, including that of vulnerable groups and workers; and
  • the Framework will contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and remain relevant for action beyond 2030.

II. Vision: This section was transmitted to ICCM5 with two alternatives: “A toxics free planet. Advancing chemicals and waste safety for a healthy future”; and “Healthy Planet and People: Making Our Future Chemical and Waste Safe.” The CoW discussed it on Wednesday, deciding to forge a new text. After some debate, delegates agreed to exclude the mention of innovation.

Outcome: The GFC’s vision is: “A planet free of harm from chemicals and waste for a safe, healthy and sustainable future.”

III. Scope: During IP4.3, IP Co-Chair Williams proposed a short compromise text for this section noting the new framework covers chemicals “throughout the lifecycle across production and use as well as chemicals in products and waste,” and takes into account existing agreements. Many delegations agreed with the proposal, with the US and BRAZIL saying they could agree if the scope instead referred to “chemicals and associated waste.” IOMC, CANADA and others called for reference to the multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nature of the framework, and SOUTH AFRICA, the GLOBAL ALLIANCE ON HEALTH AND POLLUTION (GAHP), the EU, NIGERIA, and KENYA stressed the need to include the entire lifecycle of chemicals and waste.

On Thursday, CoW Co-Chair Hernaus tasked an open-ended informal group to work on the scope, facilitated by Thomas Nickson (UK). Discussions focused on the placement of the term “products” and consideration of “the production” of chemicals within the text. There were also diverging views on whether the scope should cover “the lifecycle of chemicals” or “chemicals throughout their lifecycle,” and how to highlight the inclusion of waste management.

Delegates worked all Friday night to forge consensus on scope.

Outcome: The scope of the GFC covers the lifecycle of chemicals, including products and waste. The GFC promotes initiatives to enhance the sound management of chemicals and waste, takes due account of other chemicals and waste instruments that have been developed to date, and is flexible enough to take account of new instruments.

The GFC is conceived as multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral in nature. It encompasses the involvement of all relevant sectors, including environment, health, agriculture, and labor, and stakeholders across the lifecycle of chemicals at the local, national, regional, and global levels, as well as consideration of environmental and social aspects that are critical to the sound management of chemicals and waste.

IV. Principles and Approaches: This section was discussed extensively at IP4.3. Only paragraphs on transparency and hierarchical preventive approaches were agreed to ad referendum.

On Wednesday, the CoW debated whether to reference specific principles in the chapeau of Section IV. Some delegations, including the US, JAPAN, UK, EU, PAKISTAN, SWITZERLAND, CANADA, OMAN and AUSTRALIA, opposed including references to specific principles in the chapeau to avoid hierarchy and duplication of principles that would guide the new framework.

Others, including INDIA, MEXICO, CHILE, COLOMBIA, VENEZUELA, PERU, IRAN, MALDIVES, EL SALVADOR, CHINA, BRAZIL, CUBA, ARGENTINA, and the AFRICAN GROUP, urged highlighting the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, particularly the CBDR principle. PERU, CUBA, COLOMBIA, BRAZIL, CHILE, and the AFRICAN GROUP suggested deleting CBDR from Annex B’s list of principles and keeping it in the Section IV chapeau as a compromise solution to avoid duplication.

The CoW decided to establish a breakout group to achieve a compromise, but the group was unable to break the impasse.

In plenary on Saturday morning, delegates negotiated a compromise in parallel with related changes in the HLD regarding references to the Rio Declaration and its CBDR principle. The chapeau to Section IV now only references the Rio Declaration, without a mention of CBDR.

At the insistence of the US, the section’s reference to the precautionary approach was replaced with language lifted directly from the Rio Declaration.

 Outcome: Section IV includes a chapeau stating that implementing the Framework should take into account the Rio Declaration and the principles and approaches listed in Annex B and those listed in the main text of Section IV. Those listed in Section IV are grouped around the following topics:

  • knowledge and information;
  • transparency;
  • human rights;
  • groups in vulnerable situations;
  • gender equality;
  • preventive approaches;
  • precautionary approach;
  • just transition; and
  • collaboration and participation.

V. Strategic Objectives and Targets: This section was discussed during IP4.3 on both Saturday and Sunday and extensively negotiated at ICCM5: including in plenary; in the CoW on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; in an informal group on targets facilitated by Mari-Liis Ummik (Estonia); an open-ended working group (OEWG) on financial considerations and related informal negotiations on finance issues; and various other small groups and sideline discussions. The targets on export prohibition, the development of guidelines, the use of “sustainable” and/or/including “green” when referring to chemistry, and the timelines of many targets were subject to much debate.

The draft framework text on Strategic Objectives remained largely unchanged from IP4.2, with Strategic Objective E being reformulated in Bonn to add elements like resource mobilization, partnerships, cooperation, and capacity building as key to enhanced implementation.

The introductory paragraphs to the section were subject to debate over how to acknowledge the need for finance to achieve the goals, and in the early hours of Saturday morning, the US proposed to include a paragraph on the need for the three components of the integrated approach to financing to achieve the strategic objectives and targets of the framework.

A proposal by the EU for text linking SAICM’s Overall Orientation and Guidance with the strategic objectives of the new framework (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.5) was not taken up by the Conference.

Outcome: The GFC contains five Strategic Objectives with associated targets.

Strategic Objective A on legal frameworks, and institutional mechanisms and capacity in place:

  • Target A1: By 2030, governments have legal frameworks and institutional capacity to minimize adverse effects from chemicals and waste as appropriate for their national circumstances;
  • Target A2: By 2030, intergovernmental stakeholders build on the IOMC Toolbox to develop guidelines to support interested governments;
  • Target A3: By 2030, companies implement measures to minimize adverse effects;
  • Target A4: By 2030, stakeholders have prevented illegal traffic of chemicals and waste;
  • Target A5: Governments work towards prohibiting the export of domestically prohibited chemicals, in line with international obligations;
  • Target A6: By 2030, all countries have access to poison centers; and
  • Target A7: By 2035, stakeholders have taken measures to phase out highly hazardous pesticides.

Strategic Objective B on comprehensive and sufficient knowledge, data and information:

  • Target B1: By 2035, data and information on the properties of chemicals are accessible;
  • Target B2: By 2035, stakeholders make information on chemicals in materials throughout the value chain available;
  • Target B3: By 2035, stakeholders generate and publicize data on the production of chemicals;
  • Target B4: By 2035, stakeholders apply appropriate guidelines and standardized tools;
  • Target B5: By 2030, gender responsive education and training on chemicals are implemented;
  • Target B6: By 2030, all governments have implemented the GHS as appropriate for their national circumstances; and
  • Target B7: By 2030, stakeholders generate and share monitoring data on chemical concentrations and exposure in humans, biota and the environment, disaggregated by relevant health determinants.

Strategic Objective C on Issues of Concern are identified, prioritized and addressed, with one target,

  • Target C1: Processes and programmes of work are implemented for issues of concern.

Strategic Objective D on safer alternatives and innovative and sustainable solutions:

  • Target D1: By 2030, companies invest in sustainable chemistry and resource efficiency;
  • Target D2: By 2035, governments implement policies encouraging circular, safer and sustainable approaches;
  • Target D3: By 2030, the private sector implements policies and strategies alongside reporting standards;
  • Target D4: By 2030, relevant stakeholders give priority to sustainable and safer alternatives to harmful substances in research and innovation;
  • Target D5: By 2030, governments implement policies supporting safer and more sustainable agricultural practices;
  • Target D6: By 2030, sustainable strategies have been implemented in major economic and industry sectors to reduce their impact; and
  • Target D7: By 2030, stakeholders implement occupational health and safety practices and environmental protection throughout the supply chain.

Strategic Objective E on resource mobilization, partnerships, cooperation, capacity building, and integration in decision processes to enhance implementation:

  • Target E1: By 2030, governments have mainstreamed the sound management of chemicals and waste in sectoral plans, budgets and development plans;
  • Target E2: By 2030, partnerships among sectors are strengthened;
  • Target E3: Financial resources from all sources are mobilized in alignment with the GFC in all sectors;
  • Target E4: Funding gaps are identified and considered for capacity building;
  • Target E5: By 2030, governments internalize costs; and
  • Target E6: By 2030, stakeholders strengthen linkages between chemicals and waste management and other key policies like climate change, biodiversity, human rights, and health.

VI. Mechanisms to Support Implementation: Work on this section of the Framework was completed at IP4.3 on Sunday. Some aspects, however, such as implementation programmes, and guidelines for national focal points, were the subject of specific ICCM5 resolutions.

Outcome: A. Implementation Programmes: This subsection says the Conference may adopt programmes to support implementation to achieve its Strategic Objectives. It suggests that such programmes should:

  • have their own focus and engage relevant sectors and stakeholders;
  • include, in a flexible and dynamic format, the actions that  stakeholders intend to initiate or contribute to at the national, regional, and/or international levels to successfully meet the relevant targets;
  • include any necessary mandates, terms of reference, workplans or other mechanisms, including actions to address identified issues of concern where relevant; and
  • invite the IOMC participating organizations and other intergovernmental organizations to contribute actively to the implementation programmes to support the GFC and to further strengthen international cooperation and multi-sectoral engagement in the sound management of chemicals and waste.

The Framework further notes that the Conference may establish ad hoc working groups to provide direction and momentum for the work, as well as to mobilize engagement.

B. National Implementation: This subsection calls on governments to, inter alia:

  • establish arrangements to ensure all concerned national departments and stakeholders are represented and all relevant substantive areas are addressed; and
  • designate a national focal point to facilitate communication and coordination at the national, regional, and international levels with respect to the Framework.

Governments are also encouraged to develop a national plan of action or programme in consultation with other stakeholders while taking into account existing arrangements or other reporting efforts.

C. Regional Cooperation and Coordination: This subsection underscores the role of multi-level collaboration in supporting the sound management of chemicals and waste, but recognizes that priorities and capacities for implementation vary among regions. Where appropriate, regions are encouraged to:

  • identify common priorities;
  • develop regional implementation plans for the sound management of chemicals and waste, and consider regional or sub-regional approaches and projects; and
  • appoint a regional focal point.

D. Enhanced Sectoral and Stakeholder Engagement: In this subsection, the Framework notes the importance of involving all relevant sectors and stakeholders at the local, national, regional and international levels for the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle. It calls on national governments, as appropriate, to undertake actions to build or improve regulatory and non-regulatory frameworks and institutional structures and capacity for multi-sectoral coherence. Among other actions, the GFC also encourages:

  • relevant regional conventions, programmes, centers, bodies and processes, such as such as ministerial forums on health, labor, and environmental issues, to “support and augment” such national efforts;
  • the IOMC and intergovernmental organizations to continue to promote broad engagement and coordination of the policies, work programmes, and activities of relevant intergovernmental organizations;
  • the public sector, including health and care services, to enhance the contribution to the sound management of chemicals and waste through safe and sustainable chemicals and waste policies, contracts, and practices in workplaces and communities, and through procurement policies that prioritize protective practices;
  • industry and the private sector to conduct due diligence to ensure that international standards, including ILO standards, on health and safety in the management of chemicals and waste are put in place throughout their value chains to protect health and respect human rights; and
  • health sector stakeholders to use the WHO Chemicals Road Map, as appropriate, as a tool to facilitate cross-sectoral collaboration and to identify concrete actions that the health sector can contribute towards the achievement of the strategic objectives of the framework.

VII. Issues of Concern: Debate on Section VII of the draft framework was concluded during IP4.3 on Saturday.

 Outcome:  Section VII defines an Issue of Concern (IOC) as “…an issue involving any phase in the life cycle of chemicals which has not yet been generally recognized, is insufficiently addressed, or arises as a potential concern from the current level of scientific information, and which may have adverse effects on human health and/or the environment that would benefit from international action.”

Section VII then outlines the process to be used by stakeholders for nominating, selecting, and adopting IOCs. It is further noted that in case several issues are nominated, the Conference may choose to prioritize the issues that are most important for protecting human health and the environment, and regarding which the most progress can be made, considering the precautionary approach.

Among other tasks, the Conference is mandated to:

  • decide whether to establish an ad hoc multi-stakeholder working group or assign further work on an issue to participating organizations of the IOMC, national governments, other organizations, and/or contributing stakeholders to lead the work as outlined in Annex A of the GFC; and
  • identify, where possible, specific activities or actions and related timelines for each issue adopted that the Conference believes likely to contribute to the success of the work under the issue and the framework.

The draft framework text also outlines specific activities to be undertaken by the ad hoc multi-stakeholder working groups to coordinate the development and implementation of workplans, targets and indicators for actions agreed to by the Conference. Such a workplan should include targets and indicators specific to each issue to allow results to be assessed.

VIII. Capacity Building: Delegates reached agreement on this portion of the Framework at IP4.3 on Sunday. At ICCM5, the GAHP introduced a proposal (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.10) to replace the text forwarded by IP4.3 with a more balanced version of what was proposed originally in the IP Co-Chair’s non-paper on the subject. After consultations with interesting parties, GAHP introduced a revised version of its proposal to the CoW on Wednesday. GAHP’s proposal was met with general acceptance from delegates, although sticking points remained, such as how to refer to technology transfer and whether to add language about the “establishment of a data bank.”

During the closing CoW session on Friday, delegates agreed to remove the reference to a data bank, and after a lengthy discussion, also agreed to remove the reference to “voluntary” relating to technology transfer favored by many Western European and Others Group (WEOG) countries. Following opposition by PAKISTAN, INDONESIA, ARGENTINA, IRAN and others, delegates agreed to retain “technology transfer on mutually agreed terms.”

Outcome: Section VIII recognizes that increased mobilization of resources, in accordance with the integrated approach to financing, is critical to capacity building, and that scientific and technical cooperation and technology transfer on mutually agreed terms are essential for the successful implementation of the framework. It calls on stakeholders to:

  • cooperate to provide, within their respective capabilities, timely and appropriate support, including through regional, subregional, and national arrangements, and other multilateral and bilateral means including alliances, partnerships, voluntary peer reviews and other innovative approaches, especially with the private sector; and
  • align activities with those undertaken by other MEAs, multilateral development banks, and other institutions to increase the effectiveness of cooperation including with efforts to address climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, health, labor, agriculture and human rights.

Thereafter, the Conference is to regularly assess the impact and improve the effectiveness of the strategy, as well as consider the capacity building needs of all stakeholders and make any necessary recommendations.

IX. Financial Considerations: This section had been contentious since IP3 and attempts at IP4.3 were unable to produce any notable breakthroughs. The section was under negotiation throughout ICCM5, going from the OEWG on Financial Considerations to the CoW and back, with little appreciable movement. Some of the key points of contention were:

  • the proposal by the AFRICAN GROUP, supported by the CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW to endorse a “globally coordinated fee” on basic chemicals, with the collected revenues used to supply a dedicated global fund for the sound management of chemicals and waste, which was opposed by CHINA, the US, SAUDI ARABIA, INDIA, BANGLADESH, PAKISTAN, and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION;
  • an attempt to qualify the mainstreaming portion of the Integrated Approach to Financing the sound management of chemicals and waste (IAF) with “in accordance with their national circumstances and priorities”;
  • whether and how to refer to the funding gap between developed and developing countries, and to the “ever-increasing needs” of developing countries;
  • the provisions on private sector involvement, including references to non-financial resources, internalizing costs, cost recovery mechanisms, the polluter pays principle, liability for pollution, and the obligations of the financial sector;
  • the provisions on dedicated external finance, including whether to reference “innovative donor sources,” what to ask of GEF and multilateral development banks, and whether to recommend to UNEA that it reform the Special Programme.

These differences kept the OEWG on Financial Considerations in gridlock throughout ICCM5. To break the jam, an “informal informal” facilitated by Sverre Thomas Jahre (Norway) and involving a few members from each regional group hammered out a delicate compromise with two principal components: “clean text” on all paragraphs of the Framework section on financial considerations, and new provisions and an annex with terms of reference, modeled after previously agreed text on the establishment of the QSP, to create a new GFC Programme Fund.

Outcome: The GFC states that adequate, predictable and sustainable financing, technical assistance, capacity building, and technology transfer on mutually agreed terms are essential for achieving its objectives and targets. The participation of representatives of all involved stakeholders and sectors at national, regional, and international levels should be ensured in the IAF. Section IX contains two sections: Section A covers the IAF for the sound management of chemicals and waste; and Section B covers establishment of and engagement in multi-sectoral partnerships.

A. Integrated Approach to Financing: The GFC states all three components of the IAF are “are equally important and mutually reinforcing.”

1. Mainstreaming: This subsection states it is key that needs are met nationally and that support through national budgets, bilateral development assistance plans, and multilateral assistance framework processes is mobilized. It also encourages international, regional and national financial institutions and their governing bodies, as well as the private sector and investors, to expressly integrate sound management of chemicals and waste activities in the scope of activities that they fund.

2. Private Sector Involvement: This subsection calls on the private sector to:

  • increase its efforts to internalize costs, as well as increase its financial and non-financial contributions to the implementation of the sound management of chemicals and waste in order to avoid; or, where that is not possible, reduce their risks and mitigate their adverse impacts on the environment and human health;
  • support the GFC objectives and targets of sound management of chemicals and waste by providing contributions; and
  • further advance the sound management of chemicals and waste through commitments to innovation, training, safety and sustainability initiatives as well as compliance with chemical and waste regulatory requirements and including relevant elements of occupational safety and health in jurisdictions around the globe.

3. Dedicated External Financing: This subsection calls on stakeholders to strengthen the component of dedicated external financing, including by leveraging private finance, promoting innovative and blended finance, considering strategies for increasing resources, and encouraging the private sector to invest in the sound management of chemicals and waste.

The GFC decides to establish a Global Framework on Chemicals Programme to support stakeholders in the implementation of the Framework. The Programme will contain a voluntary, time-limited trust fund and may include multilateral, bilateral and private sector sources. The trust fund will be administered by UNEP. It invites governments and other stakeholders to provide resources to enable the Secretariat of the Framework to fulfil the tasks set out in this section, including by:

  • inviting UNEP to arrange for the transfer of the remaining funds from QSP Trust Fund to initiate the GFC Programme Fund;
  • inviting all countries and regional economic integration organizations to contribute; and
  • inviting the private sector, including industry, foundations and other non-governmental organizations, to also contribute.

B. Establishment of and Engagement in Multi-sectoral Partnerships: This subsection encourages stakeholders to create and implement multi-sectoral transparent and accountable partnerships. Stakeholders are also encouraged to explore funding opportunities by engaging mechanisms in all sectors.

X. Institutional Arrangements: Negotiations on this section, including revisions to a subsection on the Conference’s relationship with the proposed science-policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution, and the Conference’s role in considering possible revisions or updates of the Framework, were largely concluded during IP4.3 on Saturday. However, during the ICCM5 final plenary on Saturday, delegates decided to change the frequency of the Conference to every three years.

Outcome: Section X provides detailed guidelines for setting up the Conference, Bureau and Secretariat of the GCF.

In Section A, the Framework says the Conference will:

  • oversee implementation, review progress to address gaps at the national, regional, and international levels, and take appropriate action;
  • promote the strengthening of national chemicals and waste management capacities;
  • promote awareness, including based on scientific information, regarding new developments and trends, and to identify and communicate links to sustainable development;
  • consider relevant outcomes of the work of the science-policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste;
  • determine processes for guiding appropriate science-based action on issues of concern;
  • promote the implementation of the elements of the integrated approach to financing the sound management of chemicals and waste; and
  • initiate the process of updating or revising the Framework, as appropriate.

The Conference is also invited to: engage stakeholders from the environment, health, labor, industry, and agriculture sectors involved in chemicals management and safety issues, and design its agenda in a manner that allows meaningful discussions of priorities, gaps and implementation issues faced by different sectors.

It is also agreed that the Conference will meet every third year, “unless it decides otherwise,” and that, when appropriate, sessions of the conference should be held back-to-back with meetings of the governing bodies of relevant intergovernmental organizations in order to enhance synergies and cost effectiveness.

Section B states that the Bureau should be set up in accordance with its rules of procedure, should reflect the multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nature of the framework, and should pay due regard to the principle of equitable geographical representation and gender balance.

Section C states the Secretariat, under the guidance of the Conference, is required to:

  • promote and facilitate the implementation of the Framework, including capacity building and technical assistance;
  • continue to strengthen working relationships with participating organizations of the IOMC and their networks, other UN bodies and the secretariats of relevant international agreements in order to draw upon their sectoral expertise;
  • facilitate and promote the exchange of relevant scientific and technical information, including the development and dissemination of guidance materials to support stakeholder implementation, and to provide information clearinghouse services;
  • facilitate the meetings and intersessional work of the Conference;
  • support the functioning of technical, policy and scientific subsidiary and ad hoc expert bodies established by the Conference;
  • promote, enhance and support the participation of all sectors and stakeholders in the international conference and the programme of work; and
  • report to the Conference on implementation by all stakeholders of the framework.

In Section D on stakeholder engagement, the Framework notes the importance of involving all relevant sectors and stakeholders at the local, national, regional and international levels for the sound management of chemicals throughout their lifecycle. It calls on national governments, as appropriate, to undertake actions to build or improve regulatory and non-regulatory frameworks and institutional structures and capacity for multi-sectoral coherence. Among other actions, the Framework also encourages:

  • relevant regional conventions, programmes, centers, bodies and processes, such as health and ministerial forums on labor and environmental issues to “support and augment” such national efforts;
  • the IOMC and intergovernmental organizations to continue to promote broad engagement and coordination of the policies, work programmes and activities of relevant intergovernmental organizations;
  • the public sector, including health and care services, to enhance the contribution to the sound management of chemicals and waste through safe and sustainable chemicals and waste policies, contracts, and practices in workplaces and communities, and through procurement policies that prioritize protective practices;
  • industry and the private sector to conduct due diligence to ensure that international standards, including ILO standards, on health and safety in the management of chemicals and waste are put in place throughout their value chains to protect health and respect human rights; and
  • health sector stakeholders to use the WHO Chemicals Road Map, as appropriate, as a tool to facilitate cross-sectoral collaboration and to identify concrete actions the health sector can contribute towards the achievement of the strategic objectives of the framework.

Financing the Secretariat: This subsection was initially under Section IX (finance) but was moved to Section X during the final day. During the final CoW session on Friday evening, delegates considered a proposal to enhance funding for the Secretariat through specifying an indicative contribution, possibly to be linked to the UN scale of assessments.

JAPAN, with INDIA, the US, PAKISTAN, CANADA, SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT, and CHINA, stressed that despite broad recognition of the role the Secretariat plays, any contributions should be voluntary in nature, and referencing the UN scale of assessments would be in contravention of this principle. As one of the proponents of this proposal, NORWAY, supported by SWITZERLAND, the EU and the UK, stressed the intent was to “robustly and sustainably” fund the new Framework’s Secretariat, also noting that no consequences are attached to non-payment.

Recalling continued difficulties with raising funds for the Secretariat under current arrangements, GAHP said a voluntary indicative scale of contributions can serve as a gentle nudge, and the same approach was used to mobilize more funding for UNEP.

Noting no consensus, the CoW Co-Chair suggested the passage be removed, and delegates agreed.

Outcome: The Framework specifies that a core budget shall be identified covering staff costs for non-seconded staff, office costs, and travel costs for the Secretariat, and the costs of conference services and meetings. The core budget is to be financed by voluntary contributions from governments, the private sector, and all other stakeholders. The Conference also calls for:

  • the Secretariat to invite each government and other stakeholder groups via their focal points to make a voluntary financial contribution before the start of each calendar year;
  • all stakeholders to support the work of the Secretariat by voluntarily contributing financial and in-kind resources, as appropriate, including but not limited to, voluntary financial contributions, in-kind resources, such as secondments, and sector-related work by the Secretariat; and
  • hosting of meetings, sector participation at meetings, and support for production and dissemination of outputs of the GFC.

The Framework further states that, where possible, such contributions should be defined at the beginning of the budget cycle by an agreement between the respective organization and the Secretariat.

XI. Taking Stock of Progress: This text remains largely unchanged from IP4.2. Only a paragraph on the measurability structure garnered attention in an informal group during IP4.3 on Saturday, which agreed on language in a paragraph referencing the measurability structure.

Outcome: This section invites all stakeholders to report to the Conference, through the Secretariat, on implementation efforts and the progress of indicators and milestones, and contributions to implement the instrument in meeting the Strategic Objectives and their associated targets.

It calls for, inter alia:

  • a reporting process that occurs “regularly and sufficiently often, as decided by the Conference.”
  • all stakeholders to provide information on their implementation efforts, to be compiled by the Secretariat for presentation to the Conference;
  • sharing of data from complementary reporting processes of relevant agreements, initiatives, and the IOMC organizations; and
  • independent evaluation of the overall effectiveness of the instrument on a schedule to be decided by the Conference.

The text also references the measurability structure in Annex C, which illustrates the different categories of indicators that may be used to track progress and impact of the framework.

XII. Revising and Updating the Framework: This section on modalities for revising and updating the framework was discussed on Thursday and Friday in the CoW. Some argued in favor of including a paragraph on the Conference’s ability to initiate a streamlined process to revise or update an annex of the framework. CHINA and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION argued the process for updating or revising should be the same for any part of the framework. MALDIVES and GAHP questioned whether the Framework annexes included anything that would be subject to “scientific, policy, technological or technical developments” justifying the special procedure. The paragraph on revising annexes was eventually deleted.

Outcome: Section XII says the Conference can update or revise any part of the Framework after taking into account information from stakeholders and periodic evaluations to review the Framework’s effectiveness. Governments can propose updates or revisions, which will be communicated to all stakeholders at least six months in advance and will require formal adoption by the Conference.

Annex A – Issues of Concern: Work on this annex was finalized during IP4.3 on Saturday and adopted by ICCM5.

Outcome: Annex A contains three sections setting out the criteria for identifying new IOCs, the process for submitting nominations by stakeholders, initial review and publication of nominations by the Secretariat, and implementation of identified actions. It calls for implementation of actions to address issues to be guided by a workplan with clear timelines and milestones and encourages all stakeholders to take the necessary actions, including providing funding and necessary assistance.

Annex B – Principles and Approaches: On Wednesday, the CoW discussed a proposal to remove the brackets on the whole of Annex B. In plenary on Thursday, CoW Co-Chair Hernaus tasked the informal OEWG on scope to include work on principles and approaches. On Friday, the group met several times in informal settings to restructure the annex and agreed to request the Secretariat to organize the order of the documents considering their legally-binding nature.

Outcome: Annex B contains a long list of documents that includes the 2030 Agenda, several declarations of principles such as the Rio Declaration, guiding documents such as WHO’s Chemicals Roadmap, and, “where applicable,” a list of MEAs and other agreements, such as the BRS Conventions, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and the ILO’s Chemicals Convention.

Annex C – Measurability Structure: IP4.3 developed a measurability structure based on submissions from the UK (SAICM/IP.4/CRP.1) and the IOMC (SAICM/IP.4/CRP.7) that became Annex C. The annex was reviewed in a small group on Monday and Tuesday. Questions arose over whether to have a minimum set of indicators, and interested parties were welcomed to discuss further on the margins. The focus of discussions was mainly on how the draft monitoring and evaluation resolution would affect the annex.

Outcome: This annex provides information and context on the measurability structure of the GFC. It outlines that the measurability structure is composed of:

  • a high-level indicator on vision (global environmental burden attributed to chemicals and waste);
  • headline indicators on strategic objectives (to be determined - TBD);
  • process indicators on actions taken (TBD);
  • impact indicators on results (TBD); and
  • other indicators as decided.

The annex explains that indicators are a mix of readily available and new indicators and meet the following criteria: relevance; availability of baselines; a designated custodian; regularly updatable; easy data access; and comparability.

Progress Towards the Achievement of the 2020 Goal of Sound Chemicals Management

Regional and Sectoral Achievements in the Context of Working Towards the Objectives of the Strategic Approach and Overall Orientation and Guidance on the 2020 Goal: On Monday, the Secretariat introduced its report on the progress in Strategic Approach implementation for 2017-2022 (SAICM/ICCM.5/INF/02).

The AFRICAN GROUP said that to some extent SAICM has achieved success, mainly attributed to its voluntary governance structure and holistic approach, such as the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint. The EU said national and regional implementation is crucial for achieving the strategic approach and gave examples of their regulations and policy, saying, “we do not limit our ambition and action at national level—we go global.”

The RUSSIAN FEDERATION highlighted national policies protecting the population and the environment from hazardous chemicals. The IOMC, HCWH, and IPEN highlighted their activities addressing chemicals and waste. JAPAN noted their contributions to the work of the intersessional process. PAKISTAN presented a project to strengthen legislation and institutional capacity to implement the Basel, Rotterdam, Minamata and Stockholm Conventions.

Delegates welcomed the Secretariat’s report and updates from stakeholders.

Quick Start Programme: On Monday, President Breyer noted the QSP contributed substantially to building and strengthening capacity in developing countries and countries with economies in transition by providing seed money for specific activities towards attaining the objectives of the Strategic Approach. The Secretariat presented the report (SAICM/OEWG.3/7) on the creation, functioning and closure date for the QSP. Delegates noted the QSP Trust Fund was operational until 31 December 2019 and thanked all donors.

Independent Evaluation of the Strategic Approach for the Period 2006-2015: On Monday, the Secretariat introduced the final evaluation report for the period 2006-2015 (SAICM/ICCM.5/INF.1) and invited delegates to consider how this information might be used in the finalization of the new framework and in deciding on any further intersessional activities. Delegates welcomed the report.

Emerging Policy Issues and Other Issues of Concern: On Monday, President Breyer recalled that one of the functions of the Conference is to focus attention and call for appropriate action on EPIs as they arise and to forge consensus on priorities for cooperative action. IOMC introduced its reports on EPIs and IOCs (SAICM/ICCM.5/INF/16). Delegates welcomed the report. The IOMC also presented their proposal for a resolution on EPIs and IOCs, which was referred to the Resolutions Contact Group for detailed discussion.

Planned Activities and Draft Budget of the Secretariat for the Period 2024-2026

On Monday, President Breyer stated that as stipulated in resolution ICCM4/5, the Secretariat is to report to the Conference on its activities from July 2015 to June 2023, including the proposed draft budget for 2024-2026 to continue the work of the new Framework (SAICM/ICCM.5/3/Rev.1). Delegates agreed to establish a Programme of Work (PoW) and Budget Working Group, co-chaired by Přemysl Štěpánek (Czechia) and Olubunmi Olusanya (Nigeria), to coordinate closely with other groups on necessary work, activities and their cost implications proposed in the period for 2024-2026.

Venue and Dates of the Next International Conference

Noting that the new Framework says the Conference shall be held every three years, President Breyer said this means the next Conference will be convened in 2026. Given that no offers to host the next Conference were submitted, delegates agreed to let the Bureau decide on the dates and location of the Conference.

ICCM5 Resolutions

IP4.3 forwarded without discussion a package (SAICM/ICCM.5/L.1/Add.1) of 11 draft resolutions: eight drafted by the Secretariat with guidance from the IP Co-Chairs at the request of IP4.2 about IP actions and outcomes and proposals for implementing the new Framework, one proposed by IOMC at IP4.2 and two proposed by the African Group at IP4.2. On Monday in plenary, proponents offered seven more draft resolutions.

The 18 resolutions were forwarded to the Resolutions Contact Group co-facilitated by Kay Williams (UK) and Judith Torres (Uruguay), where they were discussed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Another resolution on labor-related issues (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.11), co-sponsored by the International Trade Union Confederation and the ILO, was not discussed during ICCM5 because it was submitted past the deadline for plenary introduction.

Several resolutions were merged during ICCM5 deliberations, one was withdrawn by its sponsor, and another’s negotiations were not completed in time for plenary adoption. The resulting 12 resolutions were adopted by the final plenary on Saturday.

High-level Declaration and Framework: The original version of this resolution was part of a package of resolutions forwarded by IP4 (SAICM/ICCM.5/L.1/Add.1). The Resolutions Contact Group made no significant changes to the draft resolution. However, during its adoption on Saturday, it was realized that the resolution needed to be amended to: reflect the final name of the Framework, and the name of the HLD as “The Bonn Declaration”; and clarify that the Framework is the successor to, not the replacement of, SAICM and therefore retains its rules of procedure.

Outcome: In resolution V/1 (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.15), the Conference adopts the Framework and the Bonn Declaration, which are annexed to the resolution.

Implementation Arrangements: The original version of this resolution was part of a package of resolutions forwarded by IP4 (SAICM/ICCM.5/L.1/Add.1). The Secretariat introduced the draft resolution to the Resolutions Contact Group on Tuesday. Its aim was to ensure a future framework can be effectively implemented and maximize synergies with relevant initiatives. With several delegations revisiting the issue of overlaps in an operational paragraph relating to finance and other means of implementation (MoI) across several resolution texts, the Co-Chairs noted that the contact group would not take up any negotiations touching on MoI before they had been addressed in the CoW.

On Wednesday, the contact group merged the resolution with elements of an annex proposed by the IOMC with the relevant section of the Framework. Negotiations on five operative paragraphs relating to the establishment of an ad hoc working group to develop recommendations on modalities and other arrangements required to operationalize the new Framework continued in an informal group.

Outcome: In its resolution V/3 (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.20), the Conference:

  • urges stakeholders to comprehensively implement the GFC as a framework for national and international action and cooperation;
  • calls on all stakeholders to develop effective management policies, systems, and capacities that address all stages of the life cycle in all countries, in key economic and industrial sectors throughout the production value chains and the chemicals life cycle;
  • urges all stakeholders to commit themselves to the implementation of the GFC and invites the IOMC to play a facilitating and coordinating role in encouraging their engagement;
  • encourages non-governmental stakeholders to support the implementation of the GFC at the local, national, regional and global levels, including through partnerships with governments;
  • invites the UNEP Executive Director to provide continued support for the GFC, including in preparing for the next session of the Conference;
  • invites the UNEP Executive Director to continue assuming overall administrative responsibility for the Secretariat of the GFC, including for the continuity of Secretariat services and administrative support for Conference resolutions;
  • encourages the UNEP Executive Director to work closely with the IOMC, other relevant UN organizations, and other multilateral agreements to foster effective cooperation and collaboration in promoting the implementing the GFC;
  • requests the Secretariat to define required arrangements for operationalizing the GFC as adopted at ICCM5, to be considered at the next session;
  • invites the IOMC and other stakeholders to collaborate on proposals for implementation programmes;
  • encourages undertaking further activities concerning all areas of work during the intersessional period; and
  • requests the Secretariat to report on progress in the implementation of current and future programmes, activities and initiatives related to the implementation of the GFC to the Conference at its next session.

Emerging Policy Issues and Issues of Concern: The original proposal for this resolution was part of the package forwarded by IP4.3 to ICCM5 (SAICM/ICCM.5/L.1/Add.1). During Monday’s plenary, IOMC introduced a proposal on how to handle existing EPIs and IOCs recognized before ICCM5 (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.1).

In the Resolutions Contact Group on Tuesday, the IOMC introduced a new proposal on merging the two draft resolutions. Many delegations favored basing their work on this new text. However, some expressed concern about the omission of several operative paragraphs from this version, while others were against an open-ended mandate for dealing with existing EPIs, with some delegates cautioning against “automatically” adopting existing EPIs and IOCs in the new framework.

Negotiations on the text continued in an informal group and were finalized in the Contact Group on Thursday.

Outcome: In resolution V/4, (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.14), ICCM5:

  • welcomes the Assessment Report on IOCs prepared by UNEP in response to UNEA resolution 4/8 on sound management of chemicals and waste;
  • decides that all existing EPIs and other IOCs recognized before ICCM5 should transition on an interim basis to “issues of concern” as part of the new Framework until the next session of the Conference, at which time the Conference will determine their path;
  • strongly encourages all relevant stakeholders to continue their work, as needed, on existing EPIs and other IOCs recognized before ICCM5; and
  • invites the responsible IOMC organizations, in consultation with stakeholders and taking into account the IOMC’s Report on SAICM EPIs and Other IOCs, the Assessment Report on IOCs and the Global Consultation on Chemicals and Waste Issues of Concern, to provide a progress report to the next session of the Conference.

Monitoring and Evaluation Framework: The draft resolution on a measurability framework was part of a package of draft resolutions forwarded by IP4.3 (SAICM/ICCM.5/L.1/Add.1). The draft resolution was referred to the Resolutions Contact Group, which agreed the work of the designated OEWG would be carried out electronically. Additions were also made to the draft resolution to show appreciation to the UK and IOMC for their intersessional work on the Framework section on taking stock of progress. The resolution was adopted in final plenary on Saturday.

Outcome: In its resolution V/5 (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.21), the Conference:

  • decides to establish an open-ended ad hoc working group on measurability;
  • calls on the Secretariat to support the group;
  • invites the UN Statistical Commission, IOMC participating organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to participate in the work of the open-ended ad hoc group on measurability and indicators and support the development of the measurability structure; and
  • requests the Secretariat to report on progress made at the next Conference.

International Cooperation and Coordination: A skeletal draft resolution on international cooperation and coordination was part of the package of draft resolutions forwarded by IP4 to ICCM5 (SAICM/ICCM.5/L.1/Add.1). This draft resolution was discussed on Tuesday in both the Resolutions Contact Group and informally, and primarily saw proposals to streamline the text and combine some paragraphs.

The contact group also decided to merge elements of a draft resolution introduced by UNEP during Monday’s plenary (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.3) on potential areas of collaboration and cooperation between the Framework and the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

Outcome: In the resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.17), the Conference:

  • brings the Global Framework to the attention of relevant stakeholders and invites them to support the framework;
  • encourages stakeholders to consider interlinkages between the Global Framework and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other instruments and frameworks;
  • encourages the UNEP Executive Director to work closely with relevant organizations to foster cooperation and collaboration in promoting the Framework’s implementation;
  • stresses the importance of establishing a science-policy panel, and the legally binding instrument on plastic pollution;
  • requests the Secretariat cooperate closely with the future science-policy panel;
  • welcomes the adoption of the GBF, and requests the Secretariat to prepare a report on interlinkages and opportunities for enhanced collaboration with the GBF; and
  • requests the Secretariat to report to the Conference at its next session on its activities to implement this resolution.

Programme of Work and Budget: The Programme of Work (PoW) and Budget Working Group met throughout the week to review the programme and budget implications of the Framework and the ICCM5 resolutions. Their work product was adopted as a resolution by the plenary on Saturday morning.

Outcome: In its resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.13), ICCM5 sets out a PoW, budget, and staff structure for 2024-2026 (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.13/Add.1) totaling USD 14,245,988 for the period. The proposed activities based on the recommendations by the intersessional process submitted for consideration by the Conference in the Programme of Work 2024-2026 include:

  • developing an information paper on the scope of modalities and other arrangements required to fully implement the Framework;
  • submitting relevant outcomes of the Conference to different forums, such as UNEA, the World Health Assembly, and the COPs of the BRS Conventions, and others, as appropriate;
  • identifying possibilities for increased cooperation under the framework with other bodies on relevant issues such as the GBF on mutually supportive targets on pollution and chemicals management;
  • liaising and following up on the developments of the science-policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution and the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution;
  • ensuring relationships and engagement with an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution;
  • organizing the next session of the Conference in 2026;
  • organizing the next meeting of the OEWG to help prepare for the next Conference;
  • developing a gender action plan; and
  • participation in the coordination of the Global Alliance on HHPs.

Financial Considerations: During Monday’s plenary, the AFRICAN GROUP introduced their proposal (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.9) on a draft resolution on financial considerations for implementation of the new framework. The proposal was assigned to the financial considerations OEWG. After the OEWG and the CoW were unable to produce a consensus, the draft was referred to a small informal group. The small group worked out a comprehensive compromise package comprised of new text for the Framework and the draft financial resolution, which was examined by an informal group and the CoW on Friday. With regard to the draft resolution, the heart of the compromise is the creation of, and terms of reference for, a new fund modeled after the QSP. 

Outcome: In its resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.27), the Conference:

  • requests the Secretariat with all relevant stakeholders to assess the existing financial and investment flows and needs associated with implementation;
  • welcomes the financial and non-financial contributions of the private sector to the Framework; and
  • invites relevant IOMC organizations to update the existing costs of inaction report, taking into account quality-assured new research and latest information on the economic and social costs of unsound management at the national regional, and international levels.

On the GEF, the Conference:

  • welcomes the robust increase in funds for the Chemicals and Waste focal area made by donors;
  • encourages the GEF to continue to assist recipient countries in accessing resources in a timely and efficient manner; and
  • encourages governments to duly consider ways to increase the financial resources allocated for implementation.

On the UNEP Special Programme to support institutional strengthening at the national level for the implementation of the BRS Conventions, the Minamata Convention, and SAICM, the Conference:

  • welcomes the UNEA decision to extend the duration of the Special Programme; and
  • encourages UNEA Member States to consider reviewing the terms of reference of the UNEP Special Programme to support institutional strengthening of the aforementioned.

Under the GFC Programme, the Conference:

  • decides to establish a Programme and adopt the terms of reference and strategic priorities set out in Annex I;
  • decides the objective of the Programme is to support implementation in developing countries, least developed countries, small island developing states, and countries with economies in transition;
  • calls for the Programme to include a trust fund and forms of cooperation;
  • invites the UNEP Executive Director to establish a trust fund to provide resources to support the objectives set out in Annex I;
  • decides the first meeting of the Conference of the GFC will review the provisionally adopted terms of reference, taking the assessment of existing financial and investment flows into account;
  • invites governments and other stakeholders to contribute to the programme and Trust Fund;
  • decides to establish the Programme’s Executive Board consisting of two government representatives of each of the UN regions and all the bilateral and multilateral donors and other contributors;
  • decides that at each Conference, two national government representatives from each UN region will be appointed to the Executive Board for the intersessional period; and
  • welcomes the contributions to the GFC Programme transferred from the QSP Trust Fund and those already offered.

The resolution also includes an annex on terms of reference, which includes sub-sections on: identifying the administering organization; the objective; the fund’s lifespan; strategic priorities; sources of financing; eligibility rules; project assessment and approval; guidance by the Executive Board; and accounts and audit.

Implementation Programmes: In Monday’s plenary the IOMC introduced its proposal for a resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.2) on implementation programmes to support the Framework’s strategic objectives. The draft was referred to the Resolutions Contact Group, which reviewed it on Wednesday. Negotiations on five operative paragraphs relating to the establishment of an ad hoc working group to develop recommendations on modalities and other arrangements required to operationalize the new Framework continued in an informal group. However, in light of the overlap with parallel discussions on means of implementation, subsequent discussions were taken up in groups working on financial considerations. The resolution was adopted by the final plenary on Saturday.

Outcome: In the resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.2), the Conference:

  • calls on the first Conference of the GFC to adopt the mandates, terms of reference and workplans for Implementation Programmes, taking into account the following topics: developing integrated national chemicals and waste management systems and capacities in countries and regions; integrating sound chemicals and waste management in economic and industry sectors along value chains; and integrating sound chemicals and waste management in sustainable development decision-processes;
  • requests the IOMC, governments, the private sector, civil society, labor and health groups, as well as other international organizations, to work together in developing a proposal on the mandates, terms of reference and workplans for the programmes for further consideration and adoption of the first Conference session of the GFC;
  • encourages the first Conference session of the GFC to consider the establishment of ad hoc expert working groups for each programme to guide and scale implementation and mobilize stakeholder commitment; and
  • welcomes further intersessional activities and work post ICCM5 concerning all programme topics, in particular activities to scale-up economic and industry sector action along value chains through industry strategies and other means.

Development of Guidelines for National Focal Points: On Monday, the AFRICAN GROUP presented their proposal (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.6) on guidelines for national focal points (NFPs). The proposal was referred to the Resolutions Contact Group, where it faced no opposition. The final plenary adopted the resolution on Saturday.

Outcome: In the resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.18), the Conference emphasizes the key role NFPs will play in the implementation of the GFC, and:

  • requests the Secretariat, with IOMC participating organizations and other stakeholders, to develop guidelines for the role and activities of NFPs;
  • urges that the guidelines also include guidance on how to build the capacity of NFPs intersessionally; and
  • urges that the guidelines also include guidance on how NFPs can promote multi-sectoral collaboration, coordinate this collaboration, and promote risk communication and awareness raising.

Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective and Promoting Gender Equality and Empowerment of All Women and Girls in Chemicals and Waste Management: During Monday’s plenary, the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) and many co-sponsors introduced their proposal (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.4) on mainstreaming a gender perspective and promoting gender equality and all women’s and girls’ empowerment in chemicals and waste management.

On Tuesday, the Resolutions Contact Group examined a revision of the draft resolution developed by a small group and offered further amendments after a debate about asking stakeholders to act before the gender action plan is approved by the Conference, and the modalities of reporting progress in mainstreaming a gender perspective. One delegate also expressed misgivings about the use of the term “gender-responsive policies,” but others pointed out this is previously agreed language from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP.

The plenary adopted the text on Saturday morning, as agreed by the Resolutions Contact Group.

Outcome: In its resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.12), the Conference:

  • requests the Secretariat, with the participation of interested stakeholders, to develop a gender action plan for consideration by the Conference at its next session to advance towards full, equal and meaningful participation by all women in decision-making, and to promote gender-responsive policies and mainstreaming a gender perspective in the implementation of the framework;
  • encourages all stakeholders to support interim actions towards the aforementioned goals;
  • requests the Secretariat to foster collaboration, as appropriate, with secretariats of MEAs and with relevant UN agencies and programmes, including UN-Women, OHCHR, and other relevant partners in the field of gender equality, in relation to the implementation of the framework; and
  • invites all stakeholders to include information on progress made in mainstreaming a gender perspective in their reports to the Conference.

Global Alliance on HHPs: The AFRICAN GROUP presented a proposal for a draft resolution on a Global Alliance on HHPs during IP4 (SAICM/IP.4/INF/38). The draft resolution was included in the package of resolutions forwarded to ICCM5 by IP4 (SAICM/ICCM.5/L.1/Add.1). During Monday’s plenary, the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) called on all stakeholders to support the African proposal. The AFRICAN GROUP offered a modified version in the Resolutions Contact Group on Wednesday. When the resolution was considered during final plenary on Saturday, proponents noted that three outstanding issues could be solved by borrowing language agreed in target A7 of the GFC on HHPs. CHINA asked to delete bracketed text referring to human rights, which, after initially resisting, PAN agreed to delete.

Outcome: In its resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.24), the Conference:

  • endorses the formation of a Global Alliance with a goal of taking effective measures to phase out HHPs in agriculture where the risks have not been managed, as a voluntary multi-stakeholder initiative under the auspices of the FAO, UNEP, WHO, UNDP, and the ILO;
  • invites the FAO, UNEP, WHO, UNDP, and the ILO to coordinate the Global Alliance, with the FAO in the lead;
  • requests the Global Alliance to support the implementation of relevant targets set by ICCM5;
  • requests the Global Alliance to develop and implement an action plan with clear targets and milestones for progress, developed in consultation with stakeholders and guided by the 2014 International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management and the related 2016 Guidelines on Highly Hazardous Pesticides; and
  • invites the Global Alliance to report on progress to the next GFC Conference.

The resolution also calls for raising awareness about HHPs by:

  • identifying and promoting safer and more sustainable agricultural practices, including agroecology, integrated pest management, and the use of non-chemical alternatives;
  • sharing examples of countries having successfully phased out HHPs;
  • supporting low- and middle-income countries in their efforts to strengthen national regulatory frameworks and phase out HHPs and promote safer alternatives when they are not available; and
  • mobilizing support for farmers and agricultural workers in their transition from the use of HHPs towards less hazardous alternatives.

Development of an International Code of Conduct on Chemicals and Waste Management: This draft resolution proposed by the AFRICAN GROUP was part of a package forwarded to ICCM5 from IP4.3 (SAICM/ICCM.5/L.1/Add.1) and assigned to the Resolutions Contact Group. The Contact Group reviewed the text on Wednesday evening. While most supported the overall aim of providing more guidance to countries with weaker enforcement regimes, the Contact Group was unable to reach agreement on whether a code of conduct—described as too prescriptive by some—was the best approach.

During the closing plenary on Saturday morning, Resolutions Contact Group Co-Facilitator Torres reported the Group had explored alternatives such as “best practices” or “guidelines” but was unable to reach consensus. Despite renewed calls from the AFRICAN GROUP, supported by IPEN, World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA), and PAN, and tabling of alternative suggestions by the EU and US to revisit the draft resolution during the intersessional period, it was concluded that due to the link to a similar target that did not gain traction and a lack of time to reformulate the resolution accordingly, it could not be adopted.

Outcome: The draft resolution was not adopted by ICCM5 due to lack of time to further consider the proposed alternatives.

Establishment of a Capacity-building Hub: In Monday’s plenary, ICCA outlined their proposal (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.7) for an online capacity-building hub. They explained that ICCA will support this hub—financially and otherwise—until the first Conference of the new Framework is held.

On Monday, the Resolutions Contact Group held an initial exchange of views on the draft text, during which divergent views were expressed, with several stakeholders expressing reservations about the link to the chemical industry and possible conflict of interest. One speaker highlighted the need for capacity building for the industry itself. Other questions touched on the link between the hub and the Secretariat, which has been proposed as host of the hub. Many expressed concerns about limited capacities as well as possible overlaps in funding sources.

With consensus elusive, ICCA withdrew the resolution during the closing plenary on Saturday, expressing regret and stating they would reflect further on how to proceed. President Breyer thanked them for their constructive spirit and urged them to continue to engage with the Framework.

Outcome: The draft resolution was withdrawn.

Health Surveillance Systems: In Monday’s plenary, GRULAC introduced a proposal (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.8), cosponsored with Panama, the African Group, and the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE), on a health surveillance system to support the monitoring process of adverse effects from chemicals on human health. The resolution was assigned to the Resolutions Contact Group. Discussions on the resolution were largely taken up informally along the margins of the Conference and led to additions to the base document on the availability of antidotes and reformulation on the role of poison centers.

Outcome: In its resolution (SAICM/ICCM.5/CRP.25), the Conference encourages:

  • the strengthening of institutional links between poison centers and health authorities;
  • stakeholders to strengthen surveillance systems; and
  • the creation of a proposal for a global network on health surveillance data.

The Conference invites the World Health Assembly to consider the ICCM5 resolution during its consideration of the updated Chemicals Road Map at its 78th session in 2025 and to support its implementation.

Closing Plenary

Due to the late hour, there were no closing statements from stakeholders. ICCM5 President Breyer thanked the Conference for their focus to urgently address chemical pollution. She expressed hope that the Framework would raise awareness and empower stakeholders to take steps to address chemical pollution faster than ever before. The Conference concluded at 10:20 am on Saturday morning, 30 September 2023.

A Brief Analysis of ICCM5

In 2006 in Dubai, the first International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) concluded a multi-year, multi-stakeholder, and multi-sectoral process to prepare a Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). The purpose for SAICM was to enhance coherence among international chemicals activities and agreements, and to cover gaps in international chemicals management, so that by the year 2020, chemicals are used and produced in a way that protects human health and the environment throughout their life cycle.

Nine years later at ICCM4 in 2015, participants recognized there were still challenges in achieving the 2020 goal, and it was time to start contemplating the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020. With this in mind, ICCM4 established an intersessional process whereby all stakeholders would contribute to the creation of this new post-2020 framework, which would be adopted at ICCM5. After three meetings of the intersessional process (IP), negotiations came to an unexpected halt due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and ICCM5, which was supposed to convene in 2020, was postponed for three years. The IP was able to reconvene in late 2022 and then held two additional resumed sessions, including during the two days before ICCM5, in the hope of reaching an agreement on the post-2020 framework.

Yet, the additional time did not make the negotiations any easier. And when ICCM5 finally convened in Bonn, Germany, delegates were faced with an incomplete post-2020 framework and a high-level declaration still under negotiation, not to mention many resolutions yet to be finalized. It took until Saturday morning—16 hours after the scheduled close of the Conference—before exhausted delegates were finally able to adopt the Framework, the declaration, and 12 resolutions.

This brief analysis will look at why a new Framework is needed, the challenges faced at ICCM5, the new Global Framework on Chemicals, and the road to ensure that chemicals are managed so that human health and the environment are protected from their dangers.

Moving Beyond 2020

Since ICCM4, there has been broad consensus among SAICM stakeholders and others that the 2020 goal of minimizing the adverse effects of chemicals on human health and the environment would not be achieved and that the gap between developed and developing countries in achieving this goal is widening, with the poor and most vulnerable left behind. But SAICM did have its strengths.

Over its lifetime, SAICM was successful in identifying emerging policy issues (EPI), including lead paint, which led to the establishment of the multi-stakeholder Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). UNEP engaged with representatives from the toy, electronics, clothing and construction sectors around the gaps, obstacles, and common areas of interest under the Chemicals in Products EPI, which led to a voluntary international programme for information on chemicals in products along their supply chain. Under the Nanotechnologies EPI, the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) contributed to awareness-raising workshops, pilot activities, production of a report, an e-learning course, and the production of online assessment tools.

The Quick Start Programme (QSP) represents another successful SAICM outcome, with 184 approved projects over a ten-year period, many of which helped create an enabling environment for sound chemicals management in developing countries. During the High-level Segment of ICCM5, several countries praised how QSP changed the way they manage chemicals and waste, and equipped them with basic management and policy tools. SAICM also made progress in developing a monitoring and evaluation framework for assessing progress.

But there were also weaknesses, including the delay in activities under the EPIs due to lack of funds and/or capacity of lead organizations. SAICM also lacked effective monitoring of progress on indicators, a well-funded Secretariat, commitment at the highest levels of some UN agencies and multilateral environmental agreements; and good information sharing among stakeholders. Furthermore, there needed to be better involvement of stakeholders from academia, scientific bodies, and segments of industry beyond the chemical producers.  

Yet, while there was general agreement on what was needed to strengthen the management of chemicals and waste, the devil was in the details.

ICCM5 Challenges

The biggest challenge facing negotiators at ICCM5 was that, despite the work of the IP sessions, far too many tasks remained for delegates once the Conference began. Large portions of the Framework text, including those on scope, targets, principles, and finance, remained heavily bracketed, indicating lack of consensus. Some 18 resolutions still had to be negotiated, many of them seeking to operationalize the new Framework, others addressing contentious issues such as highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs), and a proposal for an international code of conduct on chemicals and waste. And the High-level Declaration still needed attention from ministers and other high-level officials. The “to do” list was overflowing from the start.

As a result, the Bureau felt the pressure and established as many as four negotiating forums operating simultaneously: the plenary, Committee of the Whole (CoW), contact groups, informal groups, and small groups. This, in turn, led to frenetic and, at times, confused shuffling between forums by overstretched delegations working long hours. The pace of negotiations and the resulting stress took its toll on everyone, as illustrated by growing confusion and missteps as the week wore on.

The differences in vision for the Framework that have existed since IP1 also created difficulties. Some wanted high ambition, covering management of both chemicals and all waste, with tough, time-bound targets, strong institutions, a real monitoring, tracking, and reporting structure, and substantial and predictable financing to back it all up. Others seemed to favor a slightly improved but still relatively modest SAICM, with focus remaining on chemicals or perhaps chemicals and their associated wastes.

During ICCM5 these differences were most apparent in the negotiations on scope, targets, and finance. On scope, the debate was over how to handle wastes: narrowly or broadly. In the end, delegates agreed to “the life cycle of chemicals, including products and waste,” which can be interpreted by different stakeholders however they wish.

On targets, the issue was ambition: how specific, which ones are linked to other aspects of the Framework and/or proposed resolutions (such as the one on HHPs), whether quantitative targets should be included (such as a certain level of financing), and what deadlines to set (match the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development or set a later deadline). This struggle played out through the week, target by target.

As for finance, on one side was the proposal by the African Group—with support from the Latin American and Caribbean Group and several NGOs—to have a “globally coordinated fee” on basic feedstock chemicals that would feed a standalone fund for supporting the sound management of chemicals and waste. On the other side were several countries, including China, the EU, US, Japan, Iran, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation, who opposed a “coordinated” fee and said a voluntary agreement should not have a tax or fee or create a special fund. In the end, delegates agreed to resurrect the QSP under a different name but with similar terms of reference.

ICCM5 negotiations were also bedeviled by some of the issues that have held up numerous other sustainable development negotiations since 1992, including how to refer to technology transfer and to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. These issues blocked the adoption of the HLD and parts of the Framework until the early hours of Saturday.

The Global Framework on Chemicals

Why does the new Framework matter, and how does it differ and/or improve upon SAICM?

Many stakeholders emphasized throughout the IP and again at ICCM5 that there are things they valued about SAICM and wanted to preserve and strengthen in the new Framework. They value the dialogue among government and non-governmental stakeholders that SAICM has fostered, and, in most countries, did not exist in any formalized way before SAICM. Numerous speakers at the High-level Segment (HLS), including Brazil and Kenya, touted how they had created multi-stakeholder mechanisms at the national level inspired by SAICM. Many NGOs said that SAICM opened doors for them with many national governments. The new Framework preserves and seeks to strengthen this culture of engagement and partnership.

SAICM often served as a springboard for bringing emerging issues in chemical and waste management to the attention of policymakers and regulators, engaging intergovernmental organizations to launch work on these issues, and forming partnerships to take joint action in the vein of the Global Alliance on Lead in Paint. ICCM5 launched the Global Alliance on HHPs and the Framework provides for a more vigorous process for discussing and seeking common action on emerging issues. Furthermore, the Framework puts in place a clearer process for taking up EPIs and issues of concern.

At the HLS and during the negotiations, many stressed that the principles, targets, and ideas enshrined in the Framework can be cited as a reference, used, and built upon elsewhere—at home at the national level, within the governing bodies of multilateral environmental agreements and the participating organizations of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), in treaty texts such the one being negotiated on plastic pollution, in the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), and even the UN General Assembly (UNGA). For example, proponents of the “globally coordinated tax” at ICCM5 confessed they introduced the idea in part to influence negotiations currently underway in the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on plastics. Another example is the target on exports of hazardous substances, which many campaigners expect to use in their lobbying of major chemical exporting nations.

One of SAICM’s success stories, the QSP, has been resurrected with the new Framework. It is up to donors to make sure the new fund is a success, but so far only Germany and France have announced contributions.

The Framework also adds some elements that SAICM lacked. For example, while the concept of an online capacity-building hub funded by industry failed to gain acceptance at ICCM5, the Framework does have specific provisions on capacity building, the programme of work and budget for the new entity features work on a hub, and it is envisioned that the new fund will focus, at least initially, on capacity building.

Another new element is the set of thematic and time-bound targets, which may prove more effective in spurring actions, partnerships, and campaigns than the general 2020 goal. A third is the measurability framework, which will be populated by indicators and tracked, keeping stakeholders accountable for their progress (or lack thereof). Fourth is the more active role envisioned for the IOMC participating organizations, seen as central to much of the Framework’s implementation. Fifth are the guidelines for national focal points called for by an ICCM5 resolution, which are expected to strengthen them and their catalytic roles in countries. Finally, the set of implementation programmes called for by an ICCM5 resolution should prompt sector-based initiatives to improve chemical management among major chemical users such as textiles.

How Do We Ensure a Planet Free of Harm from Chemicals and Waste?

As delegates left Bonn, many were conscious that their work was only just beginning, not finished. They need to work to quickly set up and operationalize the new fund and feed its coffers. Several traditional contributors to activities in the chemicals and waste cluster have indicated off-the-record that they are considering contributing and may announce pledges before or during UNEA6 in early 2024. Some have also indicated they may ask the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to consider ways to increase the proportion of money and co-financing now given to SAICM for the Framework, as requested by ICCM5.

During the HLS, both the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and the Minamata Convention Secretariats promised that the next meeting of the Conferences of Parties (COPs) for their respective MEAs will consider how they can contribute to implementation of the Framework and the ICCM5 resolutions. Also at the HLS, the German Environment Minister announced her country’s intention to ask the UNGA in 2024 to build upon the Framework to raise the profile of chemicals and waste management within the UN system.

What will be closely watched by many will be what, if anything, happens with the targets agreed in Bonn. Will they be used as yardsticks for measuring performance, like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? Or will they be implemented through binding national regulations or legislation? In this sense, it is possible that these more specific targets may prove more useful for prompting action than the overly general and vague 2020 goal set for SAICM. But what remains to be seen is whether there is political will to support both this new Framework and this multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral process so it can actually ensure that chemicals are managed so that human health and the environment are protected from their dangers.

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