17 August 2022
Africa Identifies Chemicals and Waste Management Priorities Beyond 2020
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash
story highlights

While Africa imports chemicals and is often used as a “dumping ground” for older electronic and electrical products and hazardous chemicals, the continent lacks the capacity to manage related challenges.

The meeting sought to ensure Africa is well prepared for IP4.

The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) convened a series of regional meetings in advance of the fourth meeting of the intersessional process considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (IP4) and the fifth meeting of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5). The Africa regional meeting provided the opportunity for countries to exchange information and knowledge and to provide updates on progress towards SAICM objectives in the region.

The meeting convened in Accra, Ghana, from 27-29 June 2022. It addressed the outcomes of the four Virtual Working Groups (VWGs) established to maintain momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. Delegates also reviewed IP3 outcome text not considered during the VWGs on vision, scope, principles and approaches, and strategic objectives of the new framework.

Addressing the meeting, Cynthia Asare-Bediako, on behalf of Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ghana, noted while Africa imports chemicals and is often used as a “dumping ground” for older electronic and electrical products and hazardous chemicals, the continent lacks the capacity to manage related challenges.

Anita Breyer, ICCM5 President, via video, stressed the meeting’s objective of ensuring Africa is well prepared for IP4. She said VWG outcomes were not intended to replace formal face-to-face deliberations at IP4 and/or negotiations at ICCM5 but sought to further build understanding and prepare delegates for these negotiations. She expressed appreciation for the UN Environment Assembly’s (UNEA) decision on a science-policy panel to further contribute to sound chemicals and waste management and pollution prevention.

Participants heard updates from the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions and Minamata Convention Secretariats, Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) members, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The IOMC Chair presented the proposed integrated approach for chemicals and waste management that includes various ministries and sectors, as well as integration within broader economic, social, and sustainable development objectives.

Regarding outcomes of VWG1 on Targets, indicators, and milestones (SAICM/RM/AFR.7/4), Co-facilitator Silvija Kalnins highlighted the formulation of five strategic objectives, 25 targets, and over 80 indicators. As options for moving forward, she proposed: continuing work on targets, indicators, and milestones by a policy expert group; or combining the work of a policy expert group with a technical sub-group that would prepare specific work on indicators. She noted the region’s concern that inputs were not well reflected, and encouraged a stronger sense of ownership in the process. Participants stressed the need for indicators on access to financial resources by recipient countries to better assess the efficient use of the resources, and supported designing objectives and targets in coherence with the SDGs.

Discussing outcomes of VWG2 on Governance and mechanisms to support implementation (SAICM/RM/AFR.7/5), Co-facilitator Karissa Kovner mentioned recommendations for establishing a science-policy interface, and for further considering issues in the “Parking Lot” document, which reflects issues that require additional consideration. Many agreed SAICM should not duplicate the work of the science-policy panel under UNEP, but instead build on and strengthen its relationship with the panel. Delegates also discussed: national reporting functions, including a Japanese proposal on improving reporting and information sharing; capacity building of national focal points; and industry involvement.

With respect to outcomes of VWG3 on issues of concern (SAICM/RM/AFR.7/6), the co-facilitators presented recommendations on an omnibus resolution on existing SAICM emerging policy issues and other issues of concern. Tanzania asked to include waste under issues of concern nomination criteria and said Africa lacks capacity to assess health and environmental risks. Côte d’Ivoire said waste should include hospital and nuclear waste. Nano waste and battery waste were also identified as issues of concern. The interface with UNEP’s science-policy panel, which will help the region assess issues of concern, was also addressed.

On outcomes from VWG4 on financial considerations (SAICM/RM/AFR.7/7), the co-facilitators stressed:

  • agreement to strengthen financing of the Secretariat;
  • the draft resource mobilization strategy and review document on cost recovery mechanisms and other economic instruments;
  • SAICM lacking adequate funding due to the absence of a good financing mechanism, suggesting it be more creative and expand its funding sources beyond the Global Environment Facility (GEF);
  • broad support for the proposed 0.5% tax on chemicals products to fund chemicals and waste management; and
  • the crucial role the GEF will play in the new SAICM framework. 

An exchange of regional information and knowledge, and review of progress towards current SAICM objectives ensued. Some supported developing an industry code of conduct for chemicals management and wastes. Delegates heard presentations on a pilot project to help implement the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) in the region, and the Africa ChemObs project, among other topics. Participants highlighted cooperation between the ministries of health and environment on ChemObs, and underscored the need to, inter alia, ensure financial and technical assistance to address national legislation and infrastructure.

IP4 will convene from 29 August to 2 September 2022 in Bucharest, Romania, with regional and stakeholder consultations preceding it from 27-28 August. ICCM5 is tentatively scheduled for the third quarter of 2023. [Report of the Africa Regional Meeting] [SAICM Regional Meetings Website] [SAICM Roadmap Towards IP4 and ICCM5] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on CEE Regional Meeting] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on LAC Regional Meeting] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on EU-JUSSCANNZUK Regional Meeting] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting]

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