EU supports international management of chemicals
By Anne Eckstein | Thursday 14 June 2012
The EU confirms its commitment to ensure that, by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimise detrimental effects on health and the environment. In conclusions adopted on 11 June
(1), the 27 environment ministers confirm their support for implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). They thus set out the EU’s position for the upcoming meeting of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM), from 17 to 21 September in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Commission’s position for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Mercury (INC4), from 27 June to 2 July in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The 27 will press for the future instrument on mercury to be coordinated with other instruments and/or agreements on chemicals.
The strategic approach is a political framework adopted in 2006 in Dubai. Its aim is to bring about sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals will be produced and used in ways that minimise adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
The Council confirms the EU’s support for the SAICM and for the objective of closing gaps in capacity to achieve sustainable management of chemicals and waste through partnerships, technical assistance and financial assistance. It notes that this approach implies the participation of all parties, including the private sector. The Council commits to enhance implementation of the SAICM by advocating the adoption of a health sector strategy and a dialogue among all stakeholders on joint actions. It also calls for emerging problems to be addressed, such as hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products and nanomaterials, encourages the adoption of specific policies on endocrine disrupters and recommends periodic review of the strategic approach.
The international negotiations for the conclusion of a legally binding international agreement to reduce production, use and transfers of mercury were launched in February 2009. They are being conducted under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and are expected to conclude in early 2013. At EU level, mercury has been subject to a full range of control measures (production, use, storage and disposal) since 2005. In its conclusions, the Council points out that the key objective must be to reduce and if possible to eliminate over the longer term releases of anthropogenic mercury into the air, water and land. The Council reiterates its will to work constructively within the intergovernmental committee but also notes that the new mercury instrument and the strategic approach should be included in the cooperation and coordination process with the Basel (cross-border movements of hazardous waste), Stockholm (persistent organic pollutants) and Rotterdam (transfers of chemicals) Conventions.
The conclusions also raise the question of financing implementation of the SAICM and helping the developing countries assume their obligations. The Council takes note that adequate funding will have to be provided over the long term from varied sources (national policies, private sector or external sources). It welcomes the decision by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to finance the SAICM’s activities and to serve as the financial mechanism for external financing of the new mercury convention, “thereby avoiding proliferation of funding mechanisms and associated administration”.(1) The document is available at
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