The consumption of chemicals by all industries and modern society’s reliance on chemicals for virtually all manufacturing processes make chemicals production one of the major and most globalized sectors of the world economy. Acknowledgement of the essential economic role of chemicals and their contribution to improved living standards needs to be balanced with recognition of potential costs. These include the chemical industry’s heavy use of water and energy and the potential adverse impacts of chemicals on the environment and human health. The diversity and potential severity of such impacts makes sound chemicals management a key cross-cutting issue for sustainable development.
The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world. SAICM has as its overall objective the achievement of the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment. This “2020 goal” was adopted by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 as part of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
SAICM is distinguished by its comprehensive scope; ambitious “2020” goal for sound chemicals management; multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral character; endorsement at the highest political levels; emphasis on chemical safety as a sustainable issue; provision for resource mobilization; and formal endorsement or recognition by the governing bodies of key intergovernmental organizations.
SAICM comprises the Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management, expressing high-level political commitment to SAICM, and an Overarching Policy Strategy which sets out its scope, needs, objectives, financial considerations underlying principles and approaches and implementation and review arrangements. Objectives are grouped under five themes: risk reduction; knowledge and information; governance; capacity-building and technical cooperation; and illegal international traffic.
The Declaration and Strategy are accompanied by a Global Plan of Action that serves as a working tool and guidance document to support implementation of SAICM and other relevant international instruments and initiatives. Activities in the plan are to be implemented, as appropriate, by stakeholders, according to their applicability.
For further general information on SAICM, including its development, implementation arrangements, stakeholder networks, the International Conference on Chemicals Management, the Quick Start Programme, secretariat and regional activities, see Information Bulletin No 1 and this website.