The Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) concluded today in Bonn, Germany, with the adoption of a comprehensive global framework that sets concrete targets and guidelines for key sectors across the entire lifecycle of chemicals.
A unique international negotiating process – where representatives from governments, the private sector, Non-Governmental Organizations, intergovernmental organizations, youth, and academia participated at the same level – resulted in the historic decision to establish the “Global Framework on Chemicals – For a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste.”
Based around 28 targets, the framework outlines a roadmap for countries and stakeholders to collaboratively address the lifecycle of chemicals, including products and waste.
“Everyone on this planet should be able to live and work without fear of falling sick or dying from chemical exposure. Nature, free from pollution, should be able to thrive and support humanity for millennia to come,”
said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “This is why this framework provides a vision for a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste, for a safe, healthy and sustainable future.”
The newly adopted framework calls for the prevention of the illegal trade and trafficking of chemicals and waste, the implementation of national legal frameworks, and the phase out by 2035 of highly hazardous pesticides in agriculture. It also calls for the transition to safer and more sustainable chemical alternatives, the responsible management of chemicals in various sectors – including industry, agriculture and healthcare – and the enhancement of transparency and access to information regarding chemicals and their associated risks.
“Beating a target is better than meeting a target, so I call on governments, the chemicals industry and everyone involved to go above and beyond what has been agreed to protect people and the planet upon which we all depend,” said Andersen.
”Slow or weak implementation will come back to haunt us in the shape of more deaths, more assaults on nature and more economic losses.”
A decision was made to unlock financing for the implementation of the framework from different sources. A UNEP-administered Global Framework on Chemicals Fund will be set up, time-limited, that may include multilateral, bilateral and private sector sources. Germany, the president of ICCM5, pledged EUR 20 million to this fund. In parallel, the Global Environment Facility is being encouraged, as part of its ninth replenishment, to provide a greater focus on chemicals and waste.
With the adoption of the Global Framework on Chemicals, pollution and waste, is recognized at the same level as the crises of climate change and nature and biodiversity loss, which already have frameworks in place.
In addition to the Global Framework on Chemicals, ICCM5 participants adopted the Bonn Declaration, in which they committed to “prevent exposure to harmful chemicals, and phase out the most harmful ones, where appropriate, and enhance the safe management of such chemicals where they are needed”.
They also expressed their will to “actively promote and support transitions to circular economies, including through the development of safe chemical and non-chemical alternatives and substitutes, which protect health and the environment, and lead to reduced waste, recycling free from harmful chemicals, and efficient resource utilization”.