Progress made on global agreement on chemical, waste management


Governments, industry, civil society organizations and chemical experts from across the world moved closer to a global agreement to better manage chemicals and waste and protect the environment and human health, especially that of vulnerable populations.

In a second round of talks in Nairobi, which concluded on 3 March, the role of youth, women, Indigenous peoples and local communities in chemical and waste management was strengthened to ensure that all voices will be heard, and no one will be left behind. Goals and guiding principles of the new chemicals and waste management framework were agreed to, and essential targets related to sustainable production and use of chemicals were refined. Stakeholders also agreed that science-based decision making should be foregrounded in the implementation of the future instrument.

“I want to thank all of the stakeholders for their hard work, their commitment to consensus, and their honest engagement in the deliberations this week. While more work is needed, I feel stimulated by this “Nairobi spirit” and more than ever I am convinced that collectively we will create a powerful international framework that further generates multi- sectoral and stakeholder commitment and collaboration to deliver concrete action integrated across sectors and value chains,” said Anita Breyer, President of the Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5). She added that a future chemicals and waste instrument must be durable over the longer term, but also flexible and adaptable as progress is being made over the coming years.

The new framework is expected to be adopted during the high-level segment of ICCM5 in Bonn, Germany in September 2023.

“The efforts in Nairobi were considerable and will play a crucial role in finalizing a transformative post-2020 framework that will scale-up behaviour change” said Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, Director of Industry and Economy at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Aggarwal-Khan highlighted the need for an innovative system where economies and major economic sectors through the value chain can flourish, but where pollution to the environment and human health is prevented and worker and consumer safety is ensured.

The agreement on the new instrument was supposed to be completed in 2020 to replace the previous targets agreed to at the 4th meeting of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2015 but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the process was extended for three years.

The first round of deliberations was held in Bucharest, Romania 29 August – 2 September 2022.