While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the necessary delay of important in person meetings, we are all finding new ways to connect and collaborate, including this week’s Act #ForNature Global Online Forum convened by the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) and the UN Environment Programme. This forum provides an opportunity for stakeholders to collaborate on how we can promote a “green” recovery from the pandemic and take further action at the Fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) scheduled for February 2021.

As Member States and stakeholders navigate the ongoing global health emergency and move to re-energize the global economy, sustainable solutions should foster the development and availability of and access to critical medical supplies and products that promote health, hygiene, and a safe food and water supply. We must focus on responsible consumption and production as we balance the need for these products with considerations for the environment. To do so, it is essential to build a viable system where stakeholders will act voluntarily and continuously.

Much of our work leading up to UNEA-5 is focused on how we can continue to advance progress toward achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. That includes collaborative global action to address plastic waste, support for chemical management systems in every country, and creation of a renewed and improved Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

ICCA encourages stakeholders and Member States to consider the following priorities for UNEA-5:

Support for science- and risk-based chemical management systems in every country

ICCA will continue to strengthen our Responsible Care® program to promote safe chemicals management, but this voluntary initiative is not a substitute for the establishment of legal chemical management systems in countries where they do not exist today. Effective and well-administered chemical management systems are critical to ensuring that countries are able to understand what chemicals on the market in their countries, how to obtain necessary information on chemical hazards and risks, take appropriate steps to assess and manage those risks, and address pollution. 

Support for the SAICM Beyond 2020 Instrument for global chemical management

ICCA is an active SAICM stakeholder and strongly supports the continuation of a more ambitious global chemical framework beyond 2020, with clear and achievable objectives and enhanced implementation of agreed key performance indicators by all parties (e.g. through national plans), and a strong focus on encouraging the institution of chemical management systems in all countries.

Support for the establishment of integrated waste management systems by all member states

Environmentally sound waste management should be given the highest priority in reducing the leakage of plastic into the ocean. That will require UNEA member states to establish integrated waste management systems to capture all used materials, including but not limited to plastic packaging, and to achieve universal access to such systems.

Support for collaborative action to develop new innovative technologies to increase circularity of plastics, improve waste management, and create new value systems that end plastics waste

The chemical and plastics industries, along with the broader business community, are actively developing forward-looking, ambitious, achievable goals to tackle marine litter. Collaborative action among member states, the private sector, IGOs, NGOs, and others is critical to achieving those goals.

The Environment Assembly can make a significant contribution to Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals at a global scale by encouraging support for the messages above, among actions on other key environmental priorities. ICCA encourages the work of UNEA-5 to complement, reinforce, and build upon, rather than duplicate the significant work on chemicals and waste management conducted by other forums, including SAICM, the Basel Convention and its Plastics Waste Partnership, the G-20, and APEC.