Brazilian Chemical Industry Association - Abiquim
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Brazilian Chemical Industry Association - Abiquim
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Innovation (2 hits),

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1. Sustainable Development is the foundation upon which all human activities should be based. The Brazilian Chemical Industry Association (Abiquim) participated at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, and has played an active and significant role in subsequent intergovernmental initiatives to promote safer chemicals management at national, regional and international levels, on its own right or as part of the chemical industry community lead by the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA). Abiquim develops its Responsible Care® initiative, called Atuação Responsável®, since 1992, and is fully committed to promoting sustainability and the safe management of chemicals throughout their lifecycle, both inside and outside the Country.

2. As an ICCA member, Abiquim participated in the development of ICCA?s input for UNCSD 2012 Compilation Document and fully supports its contents. Abiquim?s document reinforces ICCA?s positions and provides some specific views from a chemical industry located in a developing country.

Objectives for UNCSD 2012

3. Likewise the ICCA, Abiquim sees UNCSD 2012 as a valuable opportunity to take stock of progress made since the 1992 Earth Summit, and to develop policies and responses which address new and existing challenges, particularly in developing countries, the ones where sustainable development can make the greatest change and positive impact. UNCSD should focus on outcomes that recognize all three pillars of sustainable development as essential components of recommended policies and solutions, whose implementation should be carried out in a balanced manner, taking into account the capacities and priorities of all parties involved.

4. To the chemical sector, the UN Conferences on Sustainable Development have been particularly important to advancing sustainable management of chemicals. Abiquim believes that, while many challenges remain, significant advances have been made since 1992. Internationally, this includes legally binding instruments focused on the key global elements of chemicals management (e.g. the Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel Conventions, and the new instrument under negotiation on mercury); innovative multi-stakeholder voluntary based partnerships such as the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM); and industry-led initiatives such as the Global Product Strategy and the Responsible Care Global Charter. Additionally, at regional and national levels, regulations and voluntary industry initiatives (e.g. the Brazilian Responsible Care Program ? Atuação Responsável) have been introduced (or improved) aiming at securing adequate levels of chemical safety management.

5. In 2002, at the WSSD, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), in its paragraph 23, called on stakeholders to renew the commitment advanced in Agenda 21 to sound management of chemicals and to achieve, ?by 2020, that chemicals are produced and used in ways that lead to the minimization of all significant adverse effects on human health and the environment? . The JPOI launched the SAICM, whose development was concluded in 2006 and approved at the first International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM 1). Since then, the global community has used the ICCM process, with very good results, to find the best alternatives to meet the WSSD?s ?2020 target? for sound chemicals management.

6. Abiquim has been actively engaged with the SAICM at national, regional and international levels (here as part of ICCA). As an ICCA member, Abiquim fully supports the strengthening of SAICM as an outcome from UNCSD and does not support calls for the development of a new international regime on chemicals and hazardous substances. In particular, Abiquim does not view a ?framework convention? on chemicals as being appropriate at this time: it would increase the administrative and bureaucratic overhead of international efforts to promote sound chemicals management, and, by excluding non-governmental stakeholders from direct participation in decision making, undermine the innovative and constructive example set by SAICM. The mandate to promote sound chemicals management set at WSSD runs through to 2020, and UNCSD should focus on assessing progress towards the 2020 goal and providing recommendations to help facilitate further progress, in particular with regards to the provision of adequate resourcing for SAICM activities and the functioning of its Secretariat, thus enabling the ICCM to achieve its mandate.

Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication

7. A green economy, regardless of the absence of a precise and internationally agreed definition of the term, presupposes the existence of greener products and services, produced and consumed sustainably. Abiquim understands that the chemical sector is enabled to provide key contributions to a green economy, and reinforces that the Brazilian chemical industry is publicly committed to developing, producing and delivering greener products and services, in partnership with other sectors and parties.

8. Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), built around life-cycle thinking, sound economics and scientific understanding, should guide the market to achieve sustainable development. Discussion should consider that production will follow consumption and, though the private sector must take sustainable production seriously, exploring paths to a different, not less, consumption regime is expected to generate better results.

9. The chemical sector considers that green, sustainable chemistry is an indispensable contributor to acomplish sustainable production. Sustainable chemistry is key to ensuring the best use of scarce natural resources as the world?s societal demands increase. This improved chemistry is based on sound and inclusive science, applied in new or improved technologies which lead to Innovation and the deployment and diffusion of greener products. To strive, it depends on the application of policy frameworks which enhance sustainable outcomes (for example, incentives for research and development).

10. Since its early days, the chemical industry has been closely related to the energy sector, in particular to the coal and oil industries. This relationship results from the need to use fuels for heating purposes in many chemical processes and from the fact that some of the same fuels and other materials generated by the energy sector have been used as feedstocks for chemicals production. As demands for biofuels increase, new renewable feedstocks have become available as alternative feedstocks for the chemical industry. In Brazil, for example, the opportunity to use biomass as feedstock, in a sustainable chemistry approach, has boosted scientific and technological development both in agriculture and industry, and has already resulted in commercial production of chemicals from biomass. More is in the pipeline, since there is a clear demand for such chemicals for their environmental and social positive impacts. Abiquim understands that UNCSD should promote discussions on incentives to renewable chemicals in order to promote sustainable production within a green economy.

11. Because of its unique position, the chemical industry operating in developing countries has a critical role to play in advancing sustainable chemistry while it supports local sustainable development strategies. Abiquim defends that poverty eradication in developing countries can be accomplished faster and more efficiently by promoting responsible industrialization strategies for their national economies, aiming at achieving sustainable patterns of production and consumption, in line with green economy principles. Properly conducted, industrial sustainable development strategies provide many direct benefits such as good and well paid jobs, improved infrastructure and better education for workers; as well as indirect benefits such as higher social incomes and improved urban conditions. The chemical industry is globally recognized as a good employer and through its investments and high value products, a great contributor to poverty eradication in the countries where it operates. Every job in the chemical industry generates five others in the value chains it participates, not including the ones in universities and research centers, making this industry a catalyst for social and economic development, in a green economy context.

12. Investments in responsible industrialization in developing countries should be a priority in a green economy. The capital applied in industry raises the living standards of all segments in any society, heavily contributing to free millions from illness, hunger, lack of decent housing and violence ? well known consequences of poverty. Investors should be stimulated to use their financial resources in supporting sustainable production, particularly in developing countries, as a way to earn fair returns and to contribute to reduce the risks of global financial crises. Policy frameworks to stimulate investments need to be clear, stable and predictable to give investors and financiers the confidence to foster Innovation-led green development which address all three pillars (economic, social and environmental) of sustainable development.

13. Open trade, functioning under international accepted rules, is indispensible for growing a green economy. Efforts to advance the green economy, including public-private partnerships, should work within market systems and not distort markets or limit market access, with an appropriate balance between public and private sector roles. Government policies should promote greener products and technologies without establishing tariffs or other trade barriers that could hinder their application to greening economies worldwide. Of particular importance is secure and cost-effective access to key renewable raw materials for chemical production. The global development and diffusion of simple and viable technologies on one hand, and state of the art technologies on the other, which will be crucial to progress towards a green economy (e.g. on issues such as climate change), depends heavily on free and open trade.

14. A global culture which fosters sustainable values and life-styles is the foundation of a green economy. Public at large should know more about the science which supports sustainable development, and governmental authorities and officers, industry professionals and other decision makers should be educated through capacity building initiatives related to sustainability, particularly in developing countries. A global culture based on sustainable values cannot tolerate social disruptors such as the traffic of drugs, corruption, terrorism and wars. A rigorous fight against them is vital to allow green economy and sustainable development to flourish.

Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development

15. Abiquim subscribes ICCA?s positions regarding the need to enhance the current institutional framework for sustainable development, which has a number of shortcomings. The failure of CSD-19 to agree on an outcome is an important illustration, highlighting the way that negotiated text has taken priority over the identification of practical mechanisms for advancing sustainable development. ICCA and Abiquim strongly believe that the focus of discussions on the institutional framework at UNCSD must be on pragmatic reform to ensure a more integrated approach to sustainable development at the inter-governmental level.

16. Institutional frameworks should foster sustainable development rather than constrain it, and form must follow function. Relevant activities should be grouped together in clusters, without establishing additional layers of bureaucracy. Efficiencies should be pursued in all instances where they can help to promote sustainable outcomes. The private sector has technical and implementation-related expertise that can help inform policy decisions and improve the effectiveness of implementation.

17. As part of the ICCA, Abiquim supports the strengthening of UNEP to enable it to more effectively coordinate and address environmental issues within the overall context of sustainable development. Reform must, however, extend beyond that to include key global institutions covering all three pillars of sustainable development. These institutions should be integrated into the priority-setting process, and concentrate on their specific added value. Two concrete steps should be implemented to assist in setting priorities and ensuring that resources are appropriately deployed:

(a) Strengthening the science-policy interface within international institutions, with the full and meaningful participation of developing countries. This must also include channels for incorporating credible and robust science from stakeholders, including business and industry;

(b) Links between policy frameworks and the financing for relevant institutions also need to be strengthened. Government resourcing for international institutions should be more strategic, and the institutional framework should provide for vigilant oversight of resources contributed.

18. The institutional framework for sustainable development should also help build capacity and develop institutions that support implementation at the national level. National and regional differences mean that imposing a top-down global model for sustainable development is unlikely to effectively address underlying problems and challenges. Taking ownership of sustainable development through national institutions (with appropriate international support) is the most likely means of securing real impact at the national level.

19. Finally, sustainability challenges cannot be adequately addressed by governments alone. The challenges of globalization require active collaboration between governments and other stakeholders. In this regard, private-public partnerships can supplement inter-governmental activities and act as a catalyst for improved implementation. SAICM provides an innovative model of how multi-stakeholder frameworks can help advance sustainable development objectives. Any reforms to the institutional framework for sustainable development emerging from UNCSD must recognize the contribution of non-governmental stakeholders, including business and industry, and ensure an appropriate role for these groups in the pursuit of sustainable outcomes.
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