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Nordic countries propose post-2020 global chemicals framework

January 19, 2017

Nordic countries propose post-2020 global chemicals framework

19 January 2017

A group of Nordic countries has published a report, which sets out proposals for a post-2020 global chemicals framework, to replace the UN’s current voluntary programme, the UN Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (Saicm).

Saicm, adopted in 2006, aims to achieve sound chemicals management globally by 2020. The programme will then need to be extended or replaced.

Laying out a series of options, the report says that, with a “higher level of ambition”, 2020 could signal the beginning of a comprehensive new international treaty on the lifecycle of all chemicals in present and future circulation.

A binding agreement, it says, could be complemented by international standards, voluntary guidelines or protocols for different substances or groups of chemicals. Basic elements could include a definition of a hazardous substance and principles for managing potentially hazardous materials throughout their lifecycles.

By signing on, governments would commit to strengthening their national chemicals and waste legislation according to the relevant standards, guidelines or protocols.

However, it notes that the adoption of a new global agreement on chemicals could take decades and uses the UN Minamata Convention on mercury as an example, which took 15 years. Consequently, it says, this might happen by 2030−2040.

But, it adds, because an agreement would focus on future commitments tailored to national contexts, “it would be far less detailed and prescriptive than the Minamata Convention.” It also notes that negotiations towards the Paris climate agreement were launched just four years before its conclusion last year.

“A global framework convention for chemicals that resembles the Paris agreement in its structure could similarly be negotiated in a swift timeframe of under five years, given that states feel similar pressure to take action.

Read more at ChemicalWatch.

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