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EcoWaste Coalition Lobbies for Strengthened Global Action on Chemical Hazards

Action on Chemical Hazards

19 July 2023, Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental organization advocating for a zero waste and toxics-free society, is urging the Government of the Philippines to support the adoption of a strong and funded global policy instrument to protect human health and the environment from chemicals and waste throughout their lifecycle.

Through a letter delivered today to the offices of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Gilbert Gonzales, the EcoWaste Coalition prodded the authorities to work for a more ambitious Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

SAICM is a global policy framework adopted at the first International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) in 2006 to guide the multi-stakeholders’ efforts to achieve the goal that by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment. This goal was previously agreed at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“As the 2020 goal to minimize the adverse effects of chemicals and waste throughout their lifecycle on human health and the environment has yet to be attained, the new instrument is anticipated to be more ambitious and to catalyze a more proactive and timely action to achieve the said goal,” wrote the EcoWaste Coalition.

Stakeholders from the government, industry, civil society, health, labor, academia and other sectors will have the opportunity to forge a strengthened SAICM as they gather on September 25-29 in Bonn, Germany for ICCM5, which is expected to agree on a new text that can advance global action to protect present and future generations and the environment from chemical hazards.

As the Government of the Philippines led by the DENR and EMB prepare for ICCM5, the EcoWaste Coalition, a participating organization of the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), took the opportunity to convey the following points to the authorities:

  1. The new SAICM text should retain its comprehensive scope and should cover chemicals and waste. This will be consistent with the language of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 12.4, the group pointed out. The said SDG target states: “Achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle… and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.”
  2. The new SAICM text cannot be less ambitious than the existing one and should continue to recognize the precautionary principle, the right to know principle, the polluter pays principle and other agreed principles as embodied in multilateral chemical and environmental agreements and other agreements like the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata Conventions, Montreal Protocol, and the ILO Convention No. 170 concerning safety in the use of chemicals at work.
  3. The new SAICM text should retain emerging policy issues and other issues of concern, including lead in paint, chemicals in products, hazardous substances within the lifecycle of electrical and electronic products, nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and environmentally-persistent pharmaceutical pollutants, perfluorinated chemicals, and highly hazardous chemicals.
  4. The new SAICM text should stress that new adequate, predictable and sustainable financing is essential to achieve the full spectrum of issues, objectives, and targets of the Strategic Approach and the sound management of chemicals and waste throughout their lifecycle.
  5. Finally, the new SAICM text should strengthen the involvement of various stakeholders, and particularly “promote and support meaningful and active participation by all sectors of civil society, particularly women, workers and indigenous communities in regulatory and other decision-making processes that relate to chemical safety.”

A strong and funded SAICM, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized, should contribute to the implementation of measures to realize the people’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and the workers’ right to safe and healthy working conditions, as well as measures to meet the Convention of Biodiversity’s target to “reduce by half both excess nutrients and the overall risk posed by pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals.”

We need a strong SAICM

It should also contribute to the implementation of the resolution adopted by the 76th World Health Assembly last May 2023 regarding the impact of chemicals, waste and pollution on human health, which affirmed “the need to tackle pollution as a cornerstone of achieving global commitments, including the Sustainable Development Goals,” the group added.

“It is our hope that the Government of the Philippines can amplify the above points during the negotiations for a new SAICM text at ICCM5 and related events, including the regional meetings and contact group meetings, particularly in the oral interventions and written submissions to be made by our distinguished delegates,” the EcoWaste Coalition concluded.

The group’s letter was co-signed by Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition and Chinkie Peliño-Golle, Regional Coordinator, IPEN Southeast and East Asia and noted by Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.


References:

http://www.saicm.org/About/Overview/tabid/5522/language/en-US/Default.aspx

https://www.saicm.org/About/ICCM/ICCM5/tabid/8207/language/en-US/Default.aspx

EcoWaste Coalition
Let's make an eco-friendly, zero waste, and toxic-free Philippines a reality.
https://www.ecowastecoalition.org/