A VIEW FROM THE CHEMICALS INDUSTRY
Representative to the United Nations
international chemical industry supports the World Summit on Sustainable
Development as an opportunity to improve the implementation of Agenda
21. To this end, it will be important to agree on a focused and
forward-looking agenda for the follow-up to the 10-year review. It will
be equally important that all stakeholders will be willing to contribute
to the implementation of such an agenda. Also, it will be crucial to
preserve the balance between the environmental, economic and social
pillar of a sustainable development.
International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) is the world-wide
voice of the chemical industry, representing chemical manufacturers and
producers all over the world. It accounts for more than 80 percent of
chemical manufacturing operations with a production exceeding US $1,6
trillion annually, almost 30 percent of this production is traded
major contribution of the chemical industry to advancing sustainable
development and to further improving the health, safety and
environmental performance of its operations and products is the global
extension of its Responsible Care initiative. The commitment to
Responsible Care has now spread to 46 countries (see the Responsible
Care Status Report 2000, ICCA web site http://www.icca-chem.org).
Consistent with this commitment, the international chemical industry
strongly supports all efforts to implement Chapter 19 of Agenda 21 with
the aim of promoting the environmentally sound management of chemicals.
is critical to recognize that the ultimate goal of chemical safety
related activities is to ensure that chemicals can be handled safely
from production, processing and use to disposal at global level. This is
why the chemical industry is committed to providing the necessary
information for the safe use of its products. The ICCA High Production
Volume (HPV) Chemicals Initiative is aimed at producing an
internationally agreed and harmonized data and information package,
which will be made publicly available.
is ICCA's clear view that risk management measures have to be based on a
sound scientific risk assessment, as the key principle. A science based,
precautionary approach to risk management is fundamental to our health,
safety and environmental protection efforts and is consistent with
application of Principle #15 of the Rio Declaration. The precautionary
principle applies only when there is a "lack of full
scientific certainty" regarding the degree of risk, not where there
is an absence of any scientific knowledge. This means there must be a
credible threat of serious or irreversible harm based on sufficient data
to make this determination.
through Responsible Care, encourages companies to work towards
characterizing products with respect to their hazards and their risks
and, in concert with their customers, taking appropriate risk management
Via ICCA, the chemical
industry has launched its Long Range Research Initiative (LRI) to
contribute to the improvement of scientific knowledge in environmental
and human health and also to the further improvement of risk assessment.
In this context, 18 LRI projects were initiated in 2000. It is ICCA's
belief that LRI will also contribute to an enhancement of the reputation
of the industry in line with Responsible Care .
welcomes that Chapter 19 of Agenda 21 recognizes the need for
co-operative government, industry and public actions to ensure that the
countries of the world make further progress in their efforts in each of
the six program areas.
takes the view that the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS)
should play a leadership role as a deliberative body through which the
stakeholders can prioritize international problems associated with
chemicals, and then recommend the most reasonable way forward. The
independence of the IFCS is a fundamental prerequisite of this approach,
as is its role as an open forum rather than an implementing or
has played a major role in IFCS activities, through ICCA, from the
Forum's outset in 1994. A particular benefit of the Forum has been the
ability for non-governmental organizations to participate as equal
partners, along with governments, in developing analysis and policy
guidance on work on international chemicals management.
the Forum III Meeting in Bahia, Brazil, in October 2000 the participants
identified where tasks had been completed or where progress was still
ongoing to accomplish the intent of Chapter 19. On this basis, a
strategy and priorities for addressing future issues up to Forum IV
(expected in 2005 or 2006) were agreed on, set out in the Bahia
Declaration on Chemical Safety and in the Priorities for Action Beyond
2000 (see the official IFCS Website for both reports http://www.who.int/ifcs/forum3/final.html).
focus energies and resources and to measure progress, the Forum made a
committment to achieve specific goals for review at Forum IV and Forum V
and identified a list of key goals to be met on a yearly basis. The
Forum was able to gain consensus from all participants including
governments from developed and developing countries, international
organizations dealing with chemicals management issues who participate
in Forum activities and from non-governmental organizations representing
industry, labor, scientific community and environmental groups
chemical industry also supports the Inter-Organization Program for the
Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), an international mechanism to
promote and to improve co-ordination of policies and activities of the
participating organizations. We welcome progress made, among others, in
the field of capacity building.
ICCA recognizes and is further supporting the role of the United Nations
Environment Program (UNEP) in chemicals management. The recently adopted
Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC), and the
finalization of the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
are remarkable milestones in the co-operation between UNEP, Governments,
Industry and NGOs.
principle, ICCA also welcomes the Governing Council 21 decision to request
the Executive Director, in consultation with Governments, the
Inter-Organization Program for the Sound Management of Chemicals, the Intergovernmental
Forum on Chemical Safety and other relevant
organizations and stakeholders, to examine the need for a strategic
approach to international chemicals management and to prepare a report
on this subject for detailed consideration at the seventh special
session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in
Such an exercise could be useful considering that various organizations and fora are involved in and dealing with chemical
safety issues at the global level. In this respect, it is important to
clarify which issues are really of global concern, which fora are
responsible for leading such issues globally and to explore how to
further strengthen the international cooperation, including the option
of an more coherent approach.
considering the extensive challenges that we presently face and the
limited means available to all of us, it is crucial to consider the ways
in which our collective efforts and resources can be maximized to best
effect in achieving our mutual objectives.
this background, in our view, IFCS will have to play a strong role in
examining the need for a possible strategic approach, especially
considering that the agreement reached at the Third Session of the Forum
held in October, 2000, on the "Bahia Declaration" and on
"Priorities for Action beyond 2000", may in large part meet
the requirements of such a task.
a conclusion, we would like to highlight that further progress in the
implementation of Agenda 21 will require the coordination of work at
global level and a good cooperation not only of all relevant
international organizations but also of the national governments,
especially when it comes to the implementation of activities agreed at
global level. In the same time, the involvement of all stakeholders
should be encouraged. The international chemical industry is prepared to
contribute to these efforts.
For further questions
please visit our web site under http://www.icca-chem.org
or contact me directly (phone # +49 69 2556-1425, e-mail email@example.com.