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Vol. 30 No. 6
November-December 2008

The Project Place | Information about new, current, and complete IUPAC projects and related initiatives
See also www.iupac.org/projects

Options for IUPAC Engagement in SAICM Implementation

How can IUPAC support SAICM implementation? This question was the topic of discussion during various meetings that COCI coordinated between IUPAC and SAICM, UNEP, and WHO in June 2008.

At the World Chemistry Leadership Meeting in Torino in August 2007,1 IUPAC was invited by UNEP to help strengthen the bridge between science and policy as SAICM moves into the implementation phase. The publication of the WCLM report and follow-up with the UN agencies has led to a formal request for IUPAC to meet with them to discuss how IUPAC might interact with SAICM in the context of the current planning for the second session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management in 2009. This consultation activity complements IUPAC’s interest in the public appreciation of chemistry, including planning for the International Year of Chemistry, and its efforts to seek formal UN recognition to engage more effectively on industry relevant issues.

On 19 June 2008, the IUPAC project team,2 consisting of Mark Cesa, Colin Humphris, John Duffus, and Stanley Langer, met in a succession of meetings with representatives of SAICM, UNEP, and WHO:

  • SAICM: Lesley Onyon and Matthew Gubb
  • UNEP Chemicals Branch, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics: Kaj Madsen, Senior Program Officer, and Heidelore Fiedler, Scientific Affairs Officer
  • WHO: Tim Meredith (Coordinator of the International Program on Chemical Safety)

The task group reported that this proved a highly illuminating and valuable series of meetings, particularly in relation to the current IUPAC interest in broader engagement with the UN and the promotion of chemistry as highly relevant to world needs and sustainable development. SAICM can provide an opportunity to extend the impact of existing IUPAC chemistry information, educational materials, and activities on capacity building. It also provides the opportunity for financial support for specific projects IUPAC might propose in support of SAICM. IUPAC’s project structure is ideal to ensure selective and focused engagement in SAICM. Read more about this meeting in the May-June 2007 CI.

The task group made a series of recommendations to IUPAC executives, with the main goals of engaging more fully with SAICM and in particular encouraging IUPAC to take part in the next SAICM implementation conference (ICCM2) in May 2009. Following are the recommendations:

  • IUPAC should establish a formal link and science clearing house to enable SAICM stakeholders easy access to IUPAC information and educational materials.
  • Divisions and standing committees should be encouraged to review their project strategies in light of the science support needs of SAICM and with a view to seek financial support from SAICM. For example, COCI will work with SAICM to obtain funding to extend the current Safety Training Program.

A representative of this IUPAC task group will participate in the SAICM technical and legal planning meeting in Rome in October 2008 to ensure IUPACs views are taken into account.

What is SAICM?

The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is an initiative in international cooperation to protect human health and the environment. It was adopted in Dubai on 6 February 2006 at the International Conference on Chemicals Management following a consultative process involving representatives of governments, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society (industry, NGOs, trade unions). SAICM provides a policy framework to guide efforts to achieve the Johannesburg Plan (2002) that by 2020 chemicals will be produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and on human health. SAICM acknowledges the essential contribution made by chemicals to modern societies and economies.

In effect, SAICM will act as an umbrella for a number of chemical conventions, including Rotterdam, Stockholm, Basle, and chemical weapons. The overarching strategy is available in six languages at: www.chem.unep.ch/saicm/SAICM%20texts/SAICM%20documents.htm.
SAICM is managed by an interagency secretariat co-hosted by UNEP and WHO that is based in Geneva. The secretariat is responsible for supporting the institutional arrangements to implement SAICM, which include coordination of national and regional actions and the organization of periodic (three yearly) reviews of the progress of implementation. The secretariat regards the scientific community as a key stakeholder in the process, one that they are keen to engage fully. This was their objective in meeting with IUPAC.

References

  1. WCLM proceedings: www.iupac.org/publications/ci/2008/3001/3_humphris.html
  2. Mark Cesa is chair of the Committee on Chemistry and Industry, Colin Humphris is project leader and a titular member of COCI, John Duffus is a titular member of the IUPAC Division of Chemistry and Human Health, and Stanley Langer is secretary of CHEMRAWN.

A long version of this report is accessible from the project page. For more information/comments contact Colin Humphris <cjhumphris@btinternet.com>.

www.iupac.org/web/ins/2008-012-1-022


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