Global Commitment Platforms to Increase Action in Global Chemicals and Waste Management

A new report from UMass Boston’s Center for Governance and Sustainability analyzes and identifies key functions and elements of ten existing global commitment platforms for stimulating necessary actions from a wide array of actors around the globe. It then outlines recommendations to increase action to support the implementation of the forthcoming global agenda for chemicals and waste management beyond 2020.


Learning from existing global commitment platforms


Global commitment platforms can be understood as means of supporting governments and other stakeholders in achieving what has been agreed internationally as well as addressing regional and global regulatory gaps. They may display different functions and fulfill varying needs, but ultimately, they aim to complement and reinforce existing regulatory approaches. The report finds that global commitment platforms can help to incentivize action, but that requires careful design of its functions to accommodate for accountability, credibility, and transparency.


The report examines ten existing global commitment platforms, making it the first in-depth analysis of such platforms. This includes the Global Climate Action Agenda that supports the delivery of the Paris Agreement by involving also non-state and sub-state actors. Platforms in areas where global regulation is not yet in place are also considered, including two focusing on oceans: Our Ocean Conference and the UN Ocean Conference. The Partnerships for SDGs Online Platform ̶ that aims to provide an overarching registry for commitment platforms ̶ is also studied.


Towards a new framework for the sound management of chemicals and waste


The analysis has been used to outline possibilities for increasing action in support of the Beyond-2020 Framework for the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste. This new framework is envisaged to be adopted by the Fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM-5) to be held in Bonn, Germany. It will replace the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) that was adopted in 2006.


The report provides recommendations on possibilities for commitment platforms to step up action to tackle issues of concern that warrant global action, including harmful chemicals, materials, and products. The report focuses on identifying ways to increase commitments to address issues of concern brought forward for adoption under the new framework, including already adopted issues of concern.


How can action be scaled up under the new framework?


A global commitment platform can enable the delivery of concrete and measurable outputs when addressing issues of concern, by providing a space for going beyond legislation, for innovation, learning, and partnership building, and, ultimately, for achieving the sound management of chemicals and waste. This will also help to deliver the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.


The report highlights the importance of setting clear targets and developing action plans to address issues of concern, as well as identifying and nominating champions for increasing visibility and raising ambition. Credibility can be ensured by setting criteria for making substantial and significant commitments and the screening of proposals before their announcement. Facilitating the organization of high-level events, technical dialogues and other activities will help to provide a spotlight for ambitious commitments, identify further opportunities for scaling up action and promote peer learning. Moreover, commitments need to be tracked and displayed online to ensure transparency and accountability. Lastly, campaigns can be used to communicate issues of concern and spur individual commitments at the grassroots level.


The report was funded by the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KemI).


Access the report:

Urho, N. (2021). “Commitment Platforms and the Global Agenda for Chemicals and Waste Management.” Center for Governance and Sustainability, UMass Boston. https://www.environmentalgovernance.org/reports

Questions relating to the report

Contact lead author: Niko Urho, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Governance and Sustainability, Tel +1 617.763.7378, E-mail: niko.urho@umb.edu


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