Background and mandate

The entry into force of the Convention in 2004 and the progressive inclusion of industrial chemicals in its Annex III notwithstanding, the absence or insufficiency of regulatory programmes for industrial chemicals in many developing countries translates into a lack of tools for effectively protecting human health and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of industrial chemicals.

During national and sub-regional workshops (2004 - 2011) Parties have identified the need to improve their national chemicals frameworks in order to address the objectives of the Rotterdam Convention for industrial chemicals. Below are some of the specific identified needs:

  • legislation required to support the regulation and enforcement of sound management of industrial chemicals;
  • a national chemicals policy framework and national coordination;
  • capacity to undertake hazard and risk assessments;
  • a process for decision making on risk management for selected chemicals;
  • increased public awareness and information on potential risks from hazardous industrial chemicals.

Maximizing safety and minimizing risk of industrial chemicals are important aims for sustainable development for countries and for the success of the chemical industry world-wide. While pesticides are controlled by many national, regional and international schemes, industrial chemicals have been lagging behind and developing countries often face limited capacity and knowledge to handle the process of risk assessment and management of these chemicals.

In its decision RC-4/9, on national and regional delivery of technical assistance, the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade requested the Secretariat to support, subject to available resources, the activities proposed by the secretariat in its programme for the regional and national delivery of technical assistance for 2009–2011, which included a proposal for the “development of a targeted programme to address the sound management of industrial chemicals focusing on the legal, regulatory and administrative infrastructure and framework required to support national multi-sectoral industrial chemicals management programmes”. It also requested the Secretariat to focus its technical assistance activities on issues and needs identified by developing countries and countries with economies in transition and to pay particular attention to the needs of parties in meeting the requirements of paragraph 2 of Article 10 of the Convention.

To this effect, the secretariat drafted a Strategy for chemicals management entitled "Components of National Programs for Assessing and Managing the Risks Posed by Industrial Chemicals to Human Health and the Environment".