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Nordic workshop prepares global goals for enhancing chemicals safety worldwide

An informal Nordic workshop was held in January 19, 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden bringing together 55 experts from all over the world to brainstorm on the possible content of measurable objectives and milestones for sound management of chemicals and wastes worldwide. The workshop was organized to support the formulation of a new global framework (“Beyond 2020-framework”) for sound management of chemicals and wastes after year 2020. Per Ängquist, Secretary of State of the Swedish Ministry of the Environment and Energy, opened the workshop.  Niko Urho, Senior Fellow at the Center for Governance and Sustainability, gave a keynote presentation about the governance options for the new framework focusing on measurable objectives and milestones, national action plans, reporting, review and scientific support.

Niko Urho gave concrete examples for designing the governance of the new framework looking into lessons learned from other international regimes, including the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the High-level Political Forum. He stressed that global objectives and milestones need to be supported by at least two important governance features to give them real effect. First, the introduction of a national action plan mechanism is needed to generate prospective policy planning at the national level aiming to institutionalize the objective and milestones across government sectors. Second, national reporting is needed for retrospective self-evaluation of progress helping to determine if governments are on track to meet the objectives and milestones. Lastly, Niko Urho presented a “Cooperative Framework for Sound Management of Chemicals and Wastes” as a way forward to coherently address existing gaps of SAICM (Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management) in designing of the new framework.

Other presentations included those by Achim Halpaap, UN Environment and Jorge Ocana, UNITAR who jointly informed about the results from a previous workshop held in Berlin, January 15-16, 2018 focusing on lessons learned from the Aichi Biodiversity Targets that have been fundamental for providing aspiration and increased commitment for the biodiversity cluster since their adoption in 2010. Furthermore, Nina Cromnier, Swedish Chemicals Agency gave a presentation on the trends and challenges in the global management of chemicals that includes expected rapid growth of the production of chemicals and its shift to developing countries, where safety standards are weak. Thereafter, participants divided in five small groups to first identify root causes for prevailing poor chemicals and wastes management practices and then to think about solutions needed to overcome these challenges. The exercises created important elements for possible measurable goals and targets, including mandatory toxicity and safety testing for chemicals on the market and access to hazard and risk information.

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