Delegates in Bonn Officialize Global Framework on Chemicals and Waste with the Bonn Declaration
Delegates concluded the Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) in Bonn, Germany, by endorsing a comprehensive global framework that establishes specific targets and guidelines for critical sectors throughout the entire life cycle of chemicals.
Representatives from governments, the private sector, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations, youth, and academia participated in the five-day discussions. The historic outcome of these talks is the establishment of the "Global Framework on Chemicals – For a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste."
The framework comprises 28 targets focused on enhancing the sound management of chemicals and waste. Governments committed to creating a regulatory environment by 2030 to reduce chemical pollution and implementing policies to encourage safer alternatives. The industry also pledged to manage chemicals by 2030 in a manner that minimizes pollution and adverse impacts.
Delegates additionally advocated for a phased-out elimination of highly hazardous pesticides in agriculture, where risks are not adequately managed and safer alternatives exist, by 2035. The framework aims to strengthen connections between the new instrument and climate, biodiversity, human rights, and health agendas.
The framework emphasizes transitioning to safer and more sustainable chemical alternatives, responsible chemical management in various sectors (including industry, agriculture, and healthcare), and increased transparency and access to information regarding chemicals and associated risks.
Decisions were made to mobilize financing for implementing the framework from diverse sources. Germany, acting as the president of ICCM5, committed EUR 20 million to this fund, which will be overseen by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The adoption of the Global Framework on Chemicals elevates pollution and waste to the same level of importance as the crises of climate change and nature and biodiversity loss, which already have established frameworks.
In addition to the Global Framework on Chemicals, ICCM5 participants endorsed the Bonn Declaration, wherein they pledged to "prevent exposure to harmful chemicals, phase out the most harmful ones where appropriate, and enhance the safe management of such chemicals where they are needed."
They also declared their commitment to "actively promote and support transitions to circular economies, including through the development of safe chemical and non-chemical alternatives and substitutes, ensuring the protection of health and the environment, and leading to reduced waste, recycling free from harmful chemicals, and efficient resource utilization."
The genesis of the new global framework on chemicals can be traced back to an intersessional process initiated in Bucharest in September 2022, with the goal of adopting the framework at the subsequent session of ICCM5. Originally scheduled for October 2020, ICCM5 was postponed due to the pandemic.
This innovative Global Framework aims to address enduring challenges and unlock the full potential of the previous International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM), a series of global assemblies dedicated to addressing issues related to the sound management of chemicals and waste.
ICCM meetings have yielded crucial documents and initiatives, including the Dubai Declaration, the Overarching Policy Strategy, and Global Chemicals Outlook reports, contributing significantly to global advancements in chemical safety and management.
The discussions encompassed a broad spectrum of global challenges, ranging from the management of hazardous chemicals and the reduction of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to the promotion of safer alternatives and the integration of chemicals management into sustainable development goals.
ICCM is intricately linked with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), providing a policy framework for promoting sound chemical management throughout the life cycle. ICCM meetings serve as a platform for reviewing progress and setting priorities within the SAICM framework.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), emphasized the vision embedded in this framework for a planet free from harm caused by chemicals and waste, fostering a safe, healthy, and sustainable future. She called for surpassing agreed targets, emphasizing the need for governments, the chemicals industry, and all stakeholders to go above and beyond to protect people and the planet. Andersen warned that slow or weak implementation could lead to more deaths, assaults on nature, and economic losses in the future.