The Science-Policy Panel to Contribute Further to the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste and to Prevent Pollution Series aim to facilitate further engagement and discussion among the stakeholders in International Geneva and beyond on the road to the second session of the Ad hoc Open-Ended Working Group to be held in December 2023. This series is co-organized by the Secretariat of the OEWG and the Geneva Environment Network.
Developing a Science-Policy Panel On Chemicals, Waste and Pollution Prevention
Chemicals and waste pollution is a global threat that warrants global action. As indicated in the Global Chemicals Outlook II (GCO-II), published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2019, the size of the global chemical industry exceeded 5 trillion USD in 2017, and is projected to double by 2030. Consumption and production are rapidly increasing in emerging economies. Global supply chains, and the trade of chemicals and products, are becoming increasingly complex. Similar trends are true for waste generation.
Moreover, scientific studies have been and are being conducted to understand the impacts of the increasing production, diversification and management of chemicals and waste. However, international policy-makers do not have yet a global mechanism to stay informed regarding the up-to-date scientific evidence, limiting their ability to identify and address these threats in a timely manner.
GCO-II concluded that the global goal to minimize adverse impacts of chemicals and waste would not be achieved by 2020, and called for urgent ambitious action at all levels. This includes strengthening the science-policy interface through enhanced collaboration of scientists and decision-makers.
UNEA Resolution 5/8
Effectively addressing the triple planetary crisis involving climate, biodiversity, and chemicals and pollution requires an international science-based assessment to tackle such a threat. Two of these these already have the scientific basis and bodies contributing fully to the development of of the science needed to address them, namely the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
As such, in March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly at its resumed fifth session (UNEA-5.2) decided that a science-policy panel should be established to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution.
The establishment of a Science-Policy Panel can help strengthen the scientific basis of policies related to chemicals and waste management, and contribute to more effective and sustainable approaches to preventing pollution and protecting human health and the environment.
The panel can provide scientific expertise and guidance to policymakers on the identification, assessment, and management of hazardous chemicals and waste, as well as on the development of strategies to prevent pollution. It can also help policymakers identify and prioritize areas for research and development, and facilitate the translation of scientific findings into policy recommendations. This can help ensure that policies related to chemicals and waste management are based on sound science and take into account the diverse perspectives and interests of stakeholders.
Such a panel can also support countries in their efforts to take action, including to implement multilateral environmental agreements and other relevant international instruments, promote the sound management of chemicals and waste, and address pollution by providing policy-relevant scientific advice on issues. It can also further support relevant multilateral agreements, other international instruments and intergovernmental bodies, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders in their work.
Through its resolution 5/8, UNEA further decided to convene, subject to the availability of resources, an ad hoc open-ended working group (OEWG) to prepare proposals for the science-policy panel, to begin work in 2022 with the ambition of completing it by the end of 2024.
Ad hoc Open-Ended Working Group
The second meeting of the OEWG was held in person at the United Nations Environment Programme Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya, from 11 to 15 December 2023.
The Secretariat provided facilities for regional groups to organize preparatory meetings on 9 and 10 December 2023 at the meeting venue. The meeting was held as an in-person meeting and conducted in the six official languages of the United Nations and live-streamed online.
The first session of the OEWG was held in two parts. The first part of the session (OEWG 1.1) took place in Nairobi in a hybrid format with online participation, on 6 October 2022, and the resumed first session (OEWG 1.2) in Bangkok from 30 January until 3 February 2023.
The ad hoc open-ended working group agreed to establish a contact group on the organization of work of the OEWG. The contact group was mandated to
- agree on the potential dates, form and location of the second and third sessions of the working group; to identify the key issues to be considered at the second, and, where relevant, third sessions;
- provide clear guidance to the secretariat on the intersessional work to be carried out ahead of the second session;
- take into account the outcome of the contact group on the scope and the principal functions of the science-policy panel, and with a view to developing a draft decision to guide the secretariat in the organization of the work of the ad hoc open-ended working group.
That guidance should pertain to the preparation of documents for the second session, taking into account the deliberations within the contact group on the scope and the principal functions of the panel; the organization of intersessional consultations, including the main topics to be addressed; the organization of webinars and events, including the main topics to be addressed; and the other main activities to be carried out, such as surveys and the other activities proposed in document UNEP/SPP-CWP/OEWG.1/6. The contact group will be co-chaired by Jinhui Li (China) and Ana Berejiani (Georgia).
Road to OEWG 2 Series
The webinars and hybrid events, co-organized by the Secretariat of the OEWG and the Geneva Environment Network, aim at building bridges and promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing between and among stakeholders, and to raise public awareness about the OEWG preparing proposals for the establishment of the panel.
Arranged in reverse chronological order.
Procedures for Addressing Conflicts of Interest: Lessons Learned from Existing Science-Policy Interfaces | Road to OEWG 2 Series
18 October 2023 | 14:00 – 15:30 CEST
- Ad hoc open-ended working group on a science-policy panel on chemicals, waste and pollution prevention | UNEP
- Developing a Global Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution Prevention
- Operating Principles: Learning from Previous Practice | Background document to support discussions on operating principles
- Roadmap towards OEWG 2 | OEWG Secretariat