Government, Industry and UN Environment have joined forces in Argentina to enhance the sound management of chemicals and waste.

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Over the past three decades, production and trade of chemicals have grown significantly in the South American country, Argentina. Argentina has many existing instruments related to the management of chemicals and has been a long-standing member of Responsible Care® for more than 20 years through its local host association Cámara de la Industria Química y Petroquímica (CIQyP).

Recently, Argentina was granted funding from the UN Special Programme for a project to “Strengthen the national capacity for the sound management of chemicals and waste.” The Special Programme aims to support institutional strengthening at the national level to enhance the implementation of the chemicals and waste conventions and achieve the  2020 goal of sound chemicals management under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).  CIQyP is a leader in implementing Responsible Care in the South American region and sees the Special Programme project as an opportunity to strengthen the recognition of Responsible Care product stewardship practices within developing Argentina policies and to accelerate implementation of the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling within Argentina,  which aligns with the ambitions of the national government.

In order to achieve these goals, a diverse group of industry, government and international experts joined forces to enhance the responsibility, coordination, and capabilities of government and industry stakeholders in order to implement a system for the sound management of chemicals and waste in Argentina. For three days in the city of Buenos Aires, experts met to reinforce the country’s commitment to the SAICM. The meeting, hosted by the Argentine Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), aimed to strengthen cooperation between government authorities, industry, the United Nations and other stakeholders in order to improve chemicals and waste management at the national level in Argentina.

With this in mind, the group focused on four main objectives:

  • Enhance implementation of the UN Special Programme through a transparent, cooperative relationship between government and industry;
  • Enhance Responsible Care® and product stewardship implementation;
  • Enhance implementation of the Globally Harmonized System for Classification & Labeling (GHS); and,
  • Facilitate the establishment of a chemical control framework

Recognizing the need to correctly manage chemical products and minimize adverse impacts on human health and the environment, participants discussed how to enhance regulatory frameworks on chemicals and waste and how to enhance Argentina’s Responsible Care® Program, which is the global chemical industry’s voluntary commitment to drive continuous improvement and achieve excellence in environmental, health and safety, and security performance.  In addition to enhancing Responsible Care® implementation and awareness, the event also highlighted a project financed by the UN Environment Programme in Argentina, which aims to support institutional strengthening at the national level to promote the mainstreaming of the sound management of chemicals and waste.  Topics such as improving implementation of the GHS and establishing a risk-based chemical control framework also were addressed.

The program held a variety of pertinent presentations including a case study on the Canadian Chemical Management Plan (CMP), how to implement Good Regulatory Practices in chemical regulation, a Responsible Care® overview and how it contributes to sustainability in Argentina, as well as robust discussion around future challenges and solutions. Speakers included:

  • Sergio Bergman, Minister of Environment, Argentina
  • Thierry Decoud, Secretary of Environmental Control and Audit, Argetina
  • Mike Witt, Corporate Director, Environment, Health & Safety, and Sustainability, ICCA/Dow
  • Maria Eugenia Di Paola, Coordinator of the Environment and SUstanability Programme, UNDP
  • Fernando Tome, Environment, Safety, Secuity & Quality Assurance Manager, BASF
  • Jorge de Zavaleta, Executive Director, CIQyP
  • Florencia Grimalt, Secretary of Embassy and SAICM Regional Focal Point, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Argentina
  • Nalini Sharma, Special Programme Secretariat, UN Environment
  • Alejandra Acosta, Director of Substances and Chemical Products, Argentina
  • Leticia Reis de Carvalho, General Coordinator Environmental Quality and Waste Department, Brazil
  • Camila Hubner Barcellos, Regulatory Affairs Advisor, ABIQUIM, Brazil
  • Jacob Duer, Chief, Chemicals and Health Branch, UN Environment
  • Maria Ruiz-Cuievas Alvarez, International Chemicals Manager, Cefic
  • Ariana Rozenek, Waste Director, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Argentina
  • Alexa Burr, Senior Director, Policy & Standards, Sustainability & Market Outreach, ACC
  • Rafal Brykowski, Environmental Policy Analyst, OECD
  • Peter Newman, Officer, Economic Department, U.S. Embassy in Argentina, U.S. State Department
  • Rolando Garcia Valverde, Responsible Care and Sustainable Development Manager, CIQyP
  • Hector Benavidex, Responsible Care Specialist Consultant, CIQyP
  • Alejandro Machado, Superintendence of Laboral Risks, Ministry of Labour, Argentina
  • Guillermo O. Cochi, Chief of Environmental Security Department, Maritime Authority, Argentina
  • Karina Mariuccio, GHS Leader Argentina Hub, Dow
  • Martin Ballesteros, EHS Responsible Care Leader Argentina Hub, Dow
  • Juan Jose Galeano, National Director of Sustainable Development of Industry, Ministry of Production

Industry’s voluntary programs, like Responsible Care®, demonstrate companies’ commitments to SAICM and high standards for protecting human health and the environment, often going above and beyond government regulatory requirements.  Enhancing product stewardship practices around the world, such as through the Responsible Care® Global Product Strategy, fosters innovation and economic growth, while maintaining high levels of protection.

The chemical industry is pioneering the development of leading-edge technologies that provide solutions, improved functionality, reduced costs, and greater productivity to address today’s sustainable development challenges.  Sound chemicals and waste management is at the core of the solution to the pollution challenges of today and the future.

The April Kick-Off Meeting was a success in bringing together various stakeholders, with over 250 registrants, 11 different government agencies were present along with over 75 industry representatives from along the supply chain.

Jacob Duer, Chief, Chemicals and Health Branch, UN Environment Progamme, commended the accomplishments of all who attended: The UN Environment Programme promotes and supports governments and stakeholders in the sound management of chemicals and waste. This ambitious cooperation between all partners will ensure we reach our goal of safeguarding the health of the environment and the people. To this end, we are proud to contribute together with ICCA and the Argentinian government to enhance sound management of chemicals and waste in Argentina.

Macro Mensink, Council Secretary of ICCA also applauded the event as well: UN Environment and ICCA have established a long-standing partnership and are currently engaged in a range of joint activities. This first kick-off meeting shows our combined capacity building efforts to support national efforts to enhance Responsible Care® institutional strengthening and chemical control regulations. ICCA also welcomes the close cooperation with the national chemicals association CIQyP and government representatives to advance sound chemicals and waste management.

Dr. Mike Witt, Corporate Director of EH&S and Sustainability of The Dow Chemical Company praised the collaboration among stakeholders: This collaborative event demonstrates how increasing regulatory cooperation, fostering innovation and supporting a voluntary multi-stakeholder approach through the SAICM process will continue to pay dividends as new issues emerge and work continues in Argentina. There has been significant progress made towards the SAICM goal of achieving sound chemicals management on a global scale. Our goal is to ensure chemicals continue to be produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment not just in Argentina, but around the world.