The Materials on this webpage do not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations or its Member States. Please read more on our Terms of use.
International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Submission Document: Download
  • Additional Document:


Executive Summary

 SAICM is the preferred international framework for achieving the 2020 goal for sound chemicals management set at WSSD, and ICCA calls for SAICM to be strengthened as an outcome of UNCSD 2012.

 ICCA?s Responsible Care« and Global Product Strategy initiatives highlight the chemical industry?s contributions to sustainability and the safe management of chemicals throughout the lifecycle.

 ICCA supports the development of a flexible, customizable roadmap to a green economy as an outcome of UNCSD, integrating all three pillars of sustainable development.

 The global chemical industry supplies many of the innovative products and technologies required for the transition to a green economy, and policy frameworks must support the production, diffusion and deployment of these products and technologies.

 Sound economic, social and environmental governance is a necessary prerequisite for creating the conditions to develop a green economy and promote greener growth.

 Reform of the institutional framework for sustainable development should be pragmatic, and form must follow function. Institutions must evolve to better accommodate all three pillars of sustainable development and pursue a more integrated approach to sustainability.


1. Chapter 30 of Agenda 21 recognized the vital role of the private sector in efforts to promote sustainable development. In particular, it noted that ?increasing prosperity, a major goal of the development process, is contributed primarily by the activities of business and industry.?
The International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA)3 was an active participant at both the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, and has played a significant role in subsequent intergovernmental initiatives to promote safer chemicals management internationally. ICCA has also committed to voluntary initiatives and self-regulation under its flagship Responsible Care« and Global Product Strategy programs that highlight the industry?s commitment to sustainability and the safe management of chemicals throughout the lifecycle.

Objectives for UNCSD 2012

2. ICCA sees UNCSD 2012 as a valuable opportunity to take stock of progress made since the 1992 Earth Summit, and to develop policies, responses and new forms of collaboration that address new and existing challenges. UNCSD should focus on outcomes that recognize all three pillars of sustainable development as essential components of recommended policies and solutions. Innovation and the deployment of new products and technologies will be critical for future sustainable development, particularly in ensuring that society makes the best use of scarce resources as the world?s population rises. The global chemical industry will be instrumental to the development, production and delivery of these products and technologies.

3. In the chemical sector, while serious challenges remain, significant advances have been made since 1992 in promoting the sustainable management of chemicals worldwide. This includes international 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 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.4 Taken together, these initiatives show that the chemical sector has made real progress towards sustainable development since the Rio Earth Summit across a range of forums and initiatives.

4. In 2002, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) called on stakeholders to renew the commitment advanced in Agenda 21 to sound management of chemicals throughout their lifecycle for the protection of human health and the environment.5 In addition to the ratification and implementation of relevant international instruments relating to global chemicals management, the launch of SAICM in 2006, with a mandate to achieve the WSSD?s ?2020 goal? for sound chemicals management, has been the international community?s primary contribution to advancing the 2020 goal to the regional and national levels as well. ICCA is a strong supporter of SAICM and its innovative, multi-stakeholder framework, which has brought governments and non-governmental stakeholders together to build trust and promote collaboration in addressing common challenges.

5. SAICM has made important progress towards achieving the 2020 goal for sound chemicals management, although all stakeholders recognize that there is much more to be done. ICCA supports the strengthening of SAICM as an outcome from UNCSD to enable it to achieve its mandate, including through the provision of adequate resourcing for SAICM activities and the functioning of its Secretariat. ICCA further supports continued efforts to improve the efficiency and coherence of the Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel Conventions, while respecting the specific mandates of each Convention.

6. ICCA supports the principle that sound chemicals management is best achieved through a combination of transparent, science-based and cost-effective regulation and industry-led initiatives. Given the positive steps that have been taken on international chemicals management since 1992, and the ongoing contributions of SAICM, as outlined above, ICCA does not see the need to develop a new international regime on chemicals and hazardous substances. 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. Any effort to change or supersede the 2020 goal set at WSSD would be counter-productive, detracting from the considerable work that has gone into SAICM and the synergies process amongst the existing chemicals conventions. ICCA would in particular not support any effort to exclude non-governmental stakeholders from direct participation in decision making, which would undermine the innovative and constructive example set by SAICM.

Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication

7. As the engine of economic growth, the private sector has a critical role in delivering the products, technologies, services and solutions required for the transition to a green economy. The private sector is the primary source of green jobs and the principal supplier of green products and services, through the innovation, commercialization and implementation of new technologies. Recognizing that planning for the transition to a green economy needs to account for regional, national and local priorities and development challenges, ICCA supports the development of a flexible, customizable roadmap to a green economy as an outcome of UNCSD. A green economy roadmap should be based on the following core principles:

(a) A central focus on innovation and the development of policy frameworks to facilitate the production, diffusion and deployment of products and technologies that enhance sustainable outcomes (for example, tax incentives for research and development). Innovation has an especially critical role in poverty reduction. The chemical industry today manufactures the basic building blocks that enable virtually every other sector of society, and chemistry innovations are helping other sectors to develop solutions to todays societal ch allenges.

(b) Policies aimed at creating green jobs should not come at the cost of a net reduction of jobs across the economy. The emphasis should be on greening all sectors of the economy, rather than attempting to identify certain sectors In as │greener than others. addition to its own products, the chemical industry provides essential inputs for other industry sectors (over 95% of all manufactured goods rely on chemistry). Chemical products and technologies provide sustainable development solutions for industries as diverse as energy, information technology, environmental industries, and the waste sector.

(c) Resource efficiency is crucial in enhancing the sustainable use of scarce resources. The chemical industry has a key role in promoting energy efficiency. It is the principle supplier of energy efficient materials worldwide, from insulation to materials for wind and solar power. A 2009 life cycle analysis study by McKinsey and Company, validated by the Ok÷ Institut, revealed that the GHG emission savings enabled by the chemical industry are more than double the industrys emi. Thessi conshemical industry is unique in manufacturing, in that its use of energy enables net energy savings.

(d) Economic growth is critical to solving social and environmental problems. A focus solely on the environmental dimension risks a distorted perspective on the green economy, overestimating the viability of some │green investments and understating the larger societal interest in investments addressing all three pillars of sustainable development. Policy frameworks need to be clear, stable and predictable to give investors and financiers the confidence to foster innovation-led green growth and development.

(e) The transition to a green economy requires a focus on sustainable consumption as well as production. Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) should focus on making the market work for sustainable development, with a focus on producing goods and services efficiently and consuming them differently rather than simply focusing on producing and consuming less. ICCA supports the text on SCP and a Ten Year Framework of Programs (10YFP) negotiated at CSD-19 forming the basis for consideration of SCP issues at UNCSD.

(f) Sound economic, social and environmental governance is a necessary prerequisite for creating the conditions to develop a green economy and promote greener growth. 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. Corruption should be fought in order to make the best possible use of scarce resources.

(g) Open trade and non-discriminatory trade is indispensible for growing a green economy. The chemical industry, as a provider of innovative products and technologies addressing key societal challenges, should not be subject to tariff or non-tariff trade barriers that could hinder the application of these products and technologies to greening economies worldwide. In particular, secure and cost-effective access to key renewable raw materials for specific chemical end-use (i.e. excluding fuel uses) is of utmost importance. The global diffusion of state of the art technologies that will be crucial to progress towards a green economy (e.g. on issues such as climate change) depends heavily on free and open trade.

(h) 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 that 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. Education and skills, especially in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are important prerequisites for priorities and action by the chemical industry.

(i) Life-cycle thinking, sound economics and scientific understanding have a fundamental role to play in framing the vision for green economies. A life-cycle approach involves further minimizing the environmental footprint of all economic activity through science and new knowledge. As an example, some chemical products, such as insulation materials, lead to a net-reduction of CO2 emissions during their use, despite the fact that CO2 is emitted during their production and disposal. Trade-offs are almost always inherent in sustainable development, and at times when public and private sector financing is constrained, it is critical to set priorities, and determine how resources can best be leveraged and most cost-effectively deployed.

(j) For a green economy to become operational, indicators, metrics, accounting measures and better disclosure and reporting must be developed. These must make sense in economic terms while ultimately including the cost of externalities. This entails the simultaneous pursuit of developing operational green growth measures at company level (bottom up) and strategic macro-political accounting standards and economic indicators at the system level (top down). A flexible approach which balances the costs and benefits remains critical for success.

Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development

8. The current institutional framework for sustainable development 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 strongly believes 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.

9. 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.

10. ICCA 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. ICCA proposes two concrete steps to assist in setting priorities and ensuring that resources are appropriately deployed:

(a) ICCA supports 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.

11. 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.

12. Finally, sustainability challenges cannot be adequately addressed by governments alone. The challenges of globalization require active collaboration between governments, business and other stakeholders. In this regard, new approaches are needed that facilitate innovative collaborations and partnerships between business, government and civil society. Such collaborations can take many forms, including private-public partnerships, business value chain engagement, and alliances with academia and consumers. No one can do this alone. Public- private 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.
Copyright (c) United Nations 2011 | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Contact | Site Map | New