IMG-20180206-WA0001[1]The regional meeting on Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) took place in Abidjan with the following objectives; to review the progress of implementation of the Strategic Approach within the region, to enable technical and strategic discussions and exchange of information to take place, to discuss the emerging policy issues and to strengthen and prioritize national chemicals management capacities
GAYO as a stakeholder of the environment was invited to participate and contribute in helping Africa reach a resolution for the second intercessional meeting which comes off in March in Stockholm this year. GAYO has worked with diverse forms of waste including electronic and plastic waste, putting the organization in a position to contribute to issues of national and international interest concerning chemicals and waste.
Key issues discussed were the reports from countries that piloted the Special Programme, reports from civil society groups and other bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNITAR and the Africa Institute.
The Special Programme aims to strengthen national institutions and to promote the mainstreaming of the sound management of chemicals and waste. With respect to this Special Programme report, Kenya chopped success on a second attempt and shared their experiences through the programme. One thing worth noting is that after a failed attempt, the country resorted to self-fund 75% of the budget for the programme while reducing administrative cost to below 5% during their second attempt. This helped to ensure almost all monies meant for the programme went into the implementation and execution.
The case in Ghana is different. According to Dr. Sam Adu-Kumi, the country could not succeed after two major attempts which are largely attributable to a limited capacity of the staff. Ghana took a decision to carry out the programme without foreign involvement because it is supposed to be a country-driven programme however, the programme failed in all two attempts due to lack of technical expertise and weak institutional capacity to coordinate the implementation of policies, strategies, and national programmes for Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste (SMCW). He, therefore, encouraged the secretariat to increase financial support to member states aiming at a capacity building as well as making the funding processes flexible well enough to help them actively participate in carrying out programmes and projects towards SMCW. fbk
Some emerging issues included Lead in paint, nanotechnologies and naomaterials, Chemicals in products, Hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products (E-waste) and managing perfluorinated chemicals and the transition to safer alternatives.
Another important thing is that, SAICM has a deadline of the year 2020 but so many of the objectives have not being met so, stakeholders sort to know what have been the major challenges and the way forward?
So many issues were discussed which border on the fact that there is a funding gap that restricts access and creates unevenness due to disparities in capacity by stakeholders to effectively carry out SAICM programmes, there is also a weak structure of SAICM especially at the national level which needs to be restructured and strengthened, SAICM has been a voluntary body and this voluntary nature of SAICM makes it difficult to hold member countries responsible for not undertaking its objectives and again, it is too soon to make SAICM a legal binding body without enough resources to enable members to comply.
Therefore, it was recommended among other things that it is time to focus on institutional strengthening of governments’ ability to manage chemicals and waste, to effectively implement enforceable legislation, to ensure integration across sectors and industries and to promote equality across countries where there can be common standards and easy transfer of technologies.