Statement of the 8th Global Civil Society Committee to the 24th UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, Nairobi, Kenya

Introduction

  1. This statement has been prepared by the Global Civil Society Committee (GCSC) for the 24th UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) to be held in February 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya. The statement is the product of harmonizing discussions that took place across six regional civil society consultation processes convened by UNEP between October 9 and November 10, 2006. Each regional statement should be considered independently and in support of the Global Civil Society Statement below. This statement contains observations and recommendations related to four issue areas on the agenda of the GC/GMEF: (A) globalization, ecosystem services, and human wellbeing; (B) gender and the Environment; (C) water and the environment; and (D) chemicals management. The GCSC also wishes to bring UNEP and the GC/GMEF’s attention to overarching issues outside of this framework and they are provided below.
  2. Global Civil Society Members would like to thank the staff of the Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch and the regional offices of UNEP for their ongoing efforts in support of the work of the GCSC and in the preparation of this Statement.

Chemicals Management and SAICM

Issues

  1. The need to ensure environmental sustainability and eco-security is a prerequisite for poverty alleviation. The importance of mainstreaming chemical management and addressing poverty in all sector policies should be a priority.
  2. Chemicals including pesticides, industrial chemicals and consumer chemicals have become indispensable in many economic activities and are increasingly used in the industrial, agricultural, and consumer sectors of society. Evidence suggests that chemicals can contribute to environment and health problems at various stages during their life cycles, from production through to disposal. Of the approximately 100,000 chemicals on the global market, less than 10 percent have been tested for health effects. Children and women, including women of childbearing age, are particularly vulnerable to chemical exposure, some of which have no safe exposure limits.
  3. It is now widely recognized that chemicals need to be managed properly in order to achieve a sustainable level of agricultural and industrial development and a high level of environmental and human protection.
  4. The Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management (SAICM) is a plan for ensuring, by 2020, that all chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.
  5. Civil Society organizations welcome and support SAICM and the concept that it would lead to the adoption of a legally binding international instrument.
  6. For the implementation of SAICM in developing countries and economies in transition, the key challenges are lack of capacity, the need for financial support and technical assistance, inadequate legislation, lack of awareness, political barriers, poor compliance, and the often low priority given to environmental issues national governments.
  7. The gap between developed and developing countries need to be recognized and reduced in terms of human, financial and technical resources for the implementation of MEAs.
  8. Some regions have a special responsibility as a major chemicals producers and consumers to set a leadership example of chemical management, and avoid outsourcing or exporting harm through global trade. Establish an early warning system, including technical know-how and capacity building, to improve international chemicals management.
  9. Some regions have a special responsibility to ensure trans-boundary movement of nuclear/radioactive and other hazardous wastes ceases.On Mercury, Lead and Cadmium (Heavy Metals)
  10. Heavy metals mercury, cadmium lead and others pose special concerns because of their permanence and potential for serious harm to environment and future generations.
  11. The risks from these metals need to be addressed further by appropriate actions at local, national, regional and global levels. Therefore, we urge the UNEP Governing Council and Governments to: authorize and initiate work on legally binding global instrument(s) and explore the value of regulating heavy metals under existing multilateral instruments; reduce mercury supply by ceasing primary mining of mercury, restricting mercury exports from developed nations, and managing mercury from the closure of chlor-alkali facilities; establish a mercury use reduction goal (70% by 2017) and achieve this goal by reducing mercury use in products, chlor-alkali plants and small scale gold mining; reduce the demand/supply of lead and cadmium by phasing out of lead in transportation fuels and substituting lead and cadmium in products with less hazardous materials; improve management and disposal of wastes containing heavy metals; and require manufacturers to assume responsibility for products throughout their life-cycle that contain hazardous metals by, for example, implementing practices identified and recommended by the UNEP/SETAC Lifecycle Initiative.Recommendations to Governments:
  12. We urge all Governments to adopt, implement and strengthen SAICM as an essential element of global governance. We also urge Governments to address related issues such as pharmaceuticals, food additives and radioactive chemicals.
  13. Implementation of SAICM must embrace core principles and approaches, including the precautionary principle, best environmental practices, the polluter pay principle, liability and compensation, public participation, comprehensive right-to-know, and measures to phase out and acquire safer substitutes and solutions for chemicals causing significant impacts to human health or the environment under current conditions.
  14. The ratification and consolidated implementation by all countries of the Stockholm Convention and of other chemicals and wastes agreements including the Rotterdam Convention on prior informed consent procedures for certain chemicals and pesticides in international trade; the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, and relevant regional and chemical and waste agreements.
  15. Extend producer responsibilities (EPR), zero-waste and 3Rs policies, emphasizing source recovery. Community ownership should be adopted wherever possible.
  16. Ensure that the SAICM process addresses the need for gender-differentiated data and gender differentiated implementation measures, including multi-sectoral and multi-stake-holder processes. The institutional arrangements for implementation of SIACM must be dynamic and fully participatory.
  17. Increase public awareness of effective chemicals management through provision of information and knowledge and education at all levels.Recommendations to UNEP/GC/GMEF
  18. Urge the WHO to review its DDT and Malaria policy regarding DDT as a central tool for Malaria in light of the Stockholm Convention.
  19. Support the strengthening of chemicals management capacity in developing countries, as recommended in the Bali Strategic Plan for technology support & capacity building.
  20. Improve country reporting with regard to chemical management, including listing of new regulations, management strategies, including related chemical disasters and incidents.
  21. Form an international coordinating mechanism of the three main conventions dealing with chemicals & hazardous wastes.
  22. Mandate UNEP to develop (with appropriate financial support) mechanisms for local authorities/governments to adequately address obsolete stockpiles of POPs.
  23. Initiate a coordination process among all MEAs/UN agencies identifing priority areas for synergies, including addressing major policy and implementation gaps among MEAs.
  24. Pursue all available funding mechanisms (GEF, multilateral trust funds, official development assistance, focused partnerships, private financial flows) to support sound chemical management in developing countries & economies in transition. New and additional funds should be made available for SAICM implementation.
  25. Strengthen the capacity of the UNEP Chemicals Branch to facilitate the implementation of chemicals-related multilateral agreements/initiatives and to assist Governments and civil society in global action for sound chemical management.
  26. The GCSC appreciates follow up to the Dubai Declaration, regional SAICM meetings, the Quick Start Program (QSP), and the establishment of SAICM focal points/persons for government, IGOs & NGOs. These SAICM implementing activities should be fully supported and encouraged with enhanced provision of financial support. Additional efforts should be made to accredit NGOs focal points alongside SAICM national and regional focal points.

Conclusions

  1. The Global Civil Society Committee calls upon the 24th UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum to consider the above statements as contributions towards the betterment of our environment and achievement of sustainable development goals, and urges all Governments and stakeholders to support UNEP in the implementation of the recommendations made herein.
  2. The Global Civil Society Committee and Global Civil Society Forum will work to support UNEP in its endeavours to implement these recommendations and ensure a healthy and sustainable global environment.

Civil society participants strove for consensus in reaching our conclusions. Nonetheless, this statement should not be interpreted as meaning that every member of the Global Civil Society Committee , or civil society organization, necessarily endorses every point contained in the statement.