29 No. 3
Chemical Industry and Sustainable Development: The Role of
ICCA and SAICM
The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management1
(SAICM)—a policy framework for international action
on chemical risks—is well on track one year after the
“Dubai Declaration.” Mandated by the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) and endorsed by the Johannesburg
World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002,2
this approach is aimed at ensuring that—by 2020—chemicals
are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse
impacts on the environment and human health.
Adopted by the International Conference on Chemicals Management on 6 February 2006 in Dubai, SAICM affords plenty of opportunities. These range from rational, science and risk-based regulatory policies and programs to greater consistency in national regulatory requirements worldwide to cooperative partnerships between the public and private sectors to improvements in chemical-handling capabilities worldwide. SAICM comprises three core texts:
- a High Level Declaration, known as the “Dubai Declaration,” embodying the political commitment of governments and stakeholders, including the private sector
- an Overarching Policy Strategy comprising key long-term strategic elements and principles to achieve the Johannesburg goal 2020
- a Global Plan of Action developed as a working tool and guidance document for national governments to set priorities in chemicals management
ICCA, the International Council of Chemical Associations,3 is the recognized voice of the global chemical industry. It is a trusted leader in international advocacy and a leader of world-class performance initiatives. The purpose of the ICCA is to exchange views and coordinate actions among its members and to help present the industry’s case to international organizations such as the World Trade Organization, International Maritime Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Commission on Sustainable Development, and the International Organisation for Standardisation.
ICCA is concerned with policy issues of international significance to the chemical industry. These include health, safety, the environment, the safety of international transport, intellectual property, and trade policy.
Contributions to SAICM Implementation
The global chemical industry makes a significant contribution to many UN chemicals-related activities. It has launched a number of voluntary actions to help achieve the World Summit on Sustainable Development’s goal of safe global management of chemicals.
Two major chemical industry initiatives—the Responsible Care Global Charter and the Global Product Strategy—were launched at a side event in Dubai,4 and have become important contributions to SAICM implementation. The Global Product Strategy and Responsible Care are consistent with SAICM and are built upon the chemical industry’s long-standing record of improving product stewardship.
Another example, which was presented as an ICCA initiative, is the Long-range Research Initiative. This initiative commits the industry to improving chemical safety throughout the supply chain and to learning from scientific progress as well as from public perception to update its knowledge and adapt its practices. The industry also committed to improving public access to chemical information to build confidence in chemicals and chemistry, building on the High Production Volume Chemicals Initiative.
Responsible Care Global Charter—a commitment
to improve environmental, health, and safety performance—is
to be signed
by chief executive officers of chemical companies that are
members of industry associations. The charter extends and
builds upon the original elements of Responsible Care5
and focuses on new and important challenges facing the chemical
industry and society, including sustainable development, effective
management of chemicals along the value chain, greater industry
transparency, and greater global harmonization and consistency
among the national Responsible Care programs. The charter
further expands the global chemical industry’s implementation
of the environmental principles of the United Nations Global
The Global Product Strategy is designed to
improve the product stewardship performance of global industries
by recommending measures to be taken by ICCA and its members
along the chemicals value chain, while allowing for considerable
flexibility in recognition of the different cultural and national
regulatory arrangements. It recommends a broad range of actions,
including voluntary industry actions, cooperative efforts
with industry groups and companies that are customers and
suppliers to the chemical industry, a potential role for partnerships
with international organizations and other stakeholders, and
a common global position on principles of regulation for the
sound management of chemicals.
These two complementary initiatives—Responsible Care Global Charter and Global Product Strategy—can make a substantial contribution to the SAICM implementation in terms of risk reduction, knowledge/information, and capacity building/technical cooperation.
panel discussion at the International Conference on
Chemicals Management in Dubai in February 2006. Panelists
(L to R) are Larry Washington, corporate vice president
of Sustainability, Environment, Health, and Safety at
Dow Chemical; Guilherme Duque Estrada de Moraes, director
general of the Brazilian association Abiquim; Masami
Tanaka, vice chairman and director general, Japan Chemical
Industry Association; Udo Oels, a member of the Board
of Management, Bayer AG; Peter Elverding, DSM Board
chairman, and ICCA chairman; Kiyo Akasaka, deputy secretary
general of OECD; Alain Perroy, director general, Cefic,
and ICCA secretary; Nance Dicciani, chief executive
officer of Honeywell Specialty Materials, and member
of the ACC Board of Directors; and Pieter Cox, chairman
Misinformation with Scientific Data
The chemical industry’s contribution is by no means
confined to these two initiatives. An equally significant
voluntary initiative relates to research. The Long-range Research
Initiative has become one of the industry’s signature
programs, a long-term voluntary effort to improve the scientific
basis for understanding the impacts of chemicals on public
health and the
The ultimate goals of the Long-range Research Initiative
are to fill the knowledge gap that is distorting public debate;
replace misinformation with scientific data; increase the
knowledge of the potential impacts that chemicals may have
on the health of human and wildlife populations and the environment,
especially sensitive sub-populations; replace decisions based
on hazard alone with decisions based on risk; address issues
such as bio-monitoring, methodologies, and endocrine disruption;
and develop alternatives to animal testing and persistent
bioaccumulative toxic substances.
in “Peer Review”
Another major program of the chemical industry is the High
Production Volume Chemicals Initiative. Launched
through the ICCA in 1998 in cooperation with Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this global
program builds on early cooperative work of chemical companies
with the OECD Chemicals Programme. Under the program, co-producers
of chemicals work together to share health, environmental
and safety data, assess chemicals, and engage in a “peer
review” of their assessments with government experts
of OECD member countries and nongovernmental organizations.
the end of November 2006, the number of ICCA substances accepted
by OECD was 465. It is expected that by April 2007 this will
be close to 600. With the European Union’s new chemicals
legislation, called REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation
of CHemicals), set to enter into force in June 2007, there
was some concern that data collection standards under REACH
would exclude data collected under the High Production Value
program. However, it now seems likely that the data collected
within the program will be recognized under REACH.
Cooperation with Intergovernmental Organizations
has worked closely with UNEP, UNITAR, the OECD, and
other international organizations and nongovernmental
organizations in the past, particularly in developing
SAICM and its own new initiatives. The global chemical
industry is now further developing its cooperation to
ensure that the implementation of its Global Product
Strategy contributes effectively to SAICM implementation
and the global improvement of chemical safety. In this
respect the main focus for ICCA is capacity building.
ICCA has nominated a SAICM Focal Point as contact with
UNEP Chemicals. ICCA is a member of the Executive Board
of the UNEP Quick Start Programme on capacity building.
The ICCA capacity building Task Force is currently developing
project proposals for further cooperation with UNEP.
ICCA is continuing its High Production Volume Chemicals
Initiative with the OECD Existing Chemicals Program.
Just after Dubai, the OECD 22nd Substance Information
Data Set Initial Assessment Meeting was a success, bringing
the number of finalized substances to 414. ICCA member
federations are providing financial support to ensure
continuation with the OECD New Chemicals Programme and
in kind support for further development of the Global
Is the Industry’s Contribution Recognized by Governments
around the World?
At the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002,
Responsible Care received the World Summit Business Award,
given by the International Chamber of Commerce and UNEP. In
the run-up to the International Conference on Chemicals Management,
organized by UNEP in Dubai from 4–6 February 2006, ICCA
President Peter Elverding and ICCA Council Secretary Alain
Perroy received a personal letter from United Nations Secretary
General Kofi Annan, warmly congratulating them on the launch
of the Responsible Care Global Charter and the Global Product
Strategy. Both of these initiatives were unveiled at the conference.
In his letter, Kofi Annan stated how impressed he was with
the two initiatives, expressing the hope that the chemical
industry would be successful in attracting interest in both
projects. These he described as “inspiring models of
voluntary self-regulation for other industries to consider
In Dubai, there was clear recognition of the added value of
Responsible Care and the Global Product Strategy by UNEP’s
Executive Director Klaus Töpfer.
number of agreements exist with regulatory agencies in Canada,
UK, USA, and some emergent countries. In the USA, for example,
the American Chemistry Council has an agreement with the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to help Responsible Care members qualify
more easily for membership in EPA’s Performance Track
Program. This can reduce the number of environmental inspections
for companies that participate because Responsible Care companies
are used to thinking in terms of systems, measurement, and
membership includes the national chemical associations
of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada,
Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany,
Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands,
New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic,
Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey,
UK, USA, and Uruguay.
the results of Responsible Care commitments have been discussed
with many national governments (and NGOs) in the context of
reducing emissions (air, water, waste, and greenhouse gases).
ICCA aims to position the chemical industry to offer solutions
to sustainable development and to demonstrate that the industry
cares, is acting responsibly, and is managing risks effectively.
It strives, moreover, to increase awareness of the positive
contributions of chemistry to everyday health, quality of
life, nutrition, and protection of the environment, and to
show that the chemical industry is proactively listening,
understanding, and responding to societal concerns. Last but
not least, it seeks to engage in constructive dialogue and
concrete partnerships with society and stakeholders, and to
ensure global coordination of communications efforts and consistency
of the messages of the chemical industry on global issues.
Irina Dumitrescu is Communications Officer for Build Trust & Communications, European Chemical Industry Council.
last modified 15 June 2007.
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