The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) was adopted in 2006 by the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) “to foster the sound management of chemicals” around the world. SAICM provides a framework for efforts to achieve the 2020 goal set out in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. This goal renews the commitments made at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and reconfirmed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio in 2012, “to the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle and of hazardous wastes for sustainable development as well as for the protection of human health and the environment, inter alia, aiming to achieve, by 2020, that chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment. […]”. SAICM is supported by the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), established in 1995 and now consisting of nine international organizations involved in chemical safety. A major focus of the IOMC today is to support countries in their efforts to implement SAICM.
Under SAICM, the following “emerging policy issues” that require cooperative action have been identified: lead in paint, chemicals in products, hazardous substance within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products, nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and perfluorinated chemicals and the transition to safer alternatives.
The SAICM Overarching Policy Strategy sets out key needs and objectives under five headings:
- Risk reduction: to assess and manage risks, addressing product life-cycles, implementing risk reduction measures including scientific methods, safer alternatives, affordable sustainable techniques to prevent the adverse effects of chemicals on human health and the environment.
- Knowledge and Information: to facilitate informed decision-making through improved access to, and understanding of, technical information relating to hazards, risks and impacts.
- Governance: to pursue the sound management of chemicals through multi-sector and multi-stakeholder approaches, creating enabling conditions and strengthening enforcement and implementation of national, regional and international agreements and promoting codes of conduct based on environmental and social responsibility.
- Capacity-building and technical cooperation: to increase the capacity for sound management of chemicals in all countries as needed, especially in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, including through partnerships and mechanisms that promote technical cooperation and the take up of appropriate and clean techniques.
- Illegal international traffic: to promote cooperation and information sharing to strengthen capacity at national, regional and international levels for the prevention and control of illegal international traffic of banned or restricted chemicals mixtures and compounds and wastes.
SAICM as an effective policy instrument is a well-established mechanism that holds the potential to kick-start Chemical Leasing projects. SAICM presents the opportunity to promote innovative projects that encourage the development of business cases for sustainable and green chemistry. Chemical Leasing can be applied in all areas identified by SAICM, as it is applicable across industrial sectors. They are designed to; a) reduce risks; b) enhance cooperation and information exchange between stakeholders; c) support good governance of chemicals; and d) train employees in the sound management of chemicals. The only requirement is that the chemicals targeted in SAICM projects can be defined or “quantified” by means of a unit of payment rather than by their quantity. If this is the case, Chemical Leasing can support SAICM implementation.