Highlights from ICCA spring meetings

In March and April, the ICCA CP&H LG, ICCA RC LG, ICCA E&CC LG and ICCA Steering Committee held their first annual face-to-face meetings to define the agendas for the year.

The ICCA Steering Committee held its annual spring meeting in Brussels April 4 and 5.  The meeting was filled with productive discussion and punctuated by two exciting team building opportunities for attendees to refine their Italian cooking skills and to enjoy an exclusive dinner at the top of the Atomium, one of Brussel’s most popular attractions.

The Steering Committee members considered many issues that had been developed and discussed at the joint meeting of the CP&H and RC leadership groups in Berlin earlier in Mach.

Highlights included:

  • An acknowledgement that marine debris is an area of growing interest for UN Environment.  Steering Committee members speculated that the growing focus on marine debris is a way for the UN, NGOs and other to advance chemical restrictions in light of the feeling among those groups that REACH is not moving fast enough.
  • A discussion about industry’s growing concern that various governments are seeking to use the Stockholm Convention’s mechanism of nominating Persistent Organic Pollutants to globalize REACH.
  • Agreement to present to the ICCA Board of Directors with a recommendation for ICCA to participate in two capacity building projects in cooperation with UN Environment, to take place in Argentina and Kenya this year.
  • A significant focus on the need for ICCA communications.  There was a strong feeling that the CLG needed additional participation from member associations and companies to meet the many communication needs including the updating of ICCA’s mission statement; enhancing internal communication to ensure members are aware of new resources and timely developments; and promoting industry successful contribution to the SAICM.

The final day of the Steering Committee coincided with the tragic attack on Syrian civilians with chemical weapons.  Given ICCA’s growing cooperation with the OPCW, attendees felt it was important for ICCA, as the voice of the global industry, to condemn the use of chemistry as a weapon.  This statement was a unique expression of a unified global industry response to a breaking news development.

Responsible Care Leadership Group discussed the challenges and opportunities of engaging Small and Medium-Sized Companies (SMEs) at its meeting in Berlin, including mechanisms for enhanced outreach to SMEs such as e-learning. Working more closely with the global distributor community through its international organization – the International Chemical Trade Association (ICTA) was also discussed.

The ICCA Chemical Policy & Health LG evaluated the future of global chemicals management under the current SAICM process.  ICCA’s objective is to ensure the continuation of a voluntary, multi-stakeholder approach to chemicals management after 2020.  The Brasilia meeting last February indicated strong support from other stakeholders for the multi-stakeholder approach.  Several stakeholders also drew clear linkages with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with many recognizing that sound chemicals management is an essential prerequisite for sustainable development.  The outcome of the meeting was a “co-chairs’ summary”, which will form the basis for future consultations in 2017 ahead of the next meeting of the intersessional process in March 2018. From an ICCA perspective, the co-chairs’ summary provides a good basis for further discussion.  Most of ICCA’s core priorities and positions are incorporated, and there will be opportunities for further dialogue in the coming months.

At the ICCA CEO Summit in Davos, Erik Solheim, the new Executive Director of UN Environment (former UNEP) had an open and constructive exchange views on SAICM, to get a better understanding of each organization’s priorities and identify options for future cooperation. While he referred to pollution, marine litter, circular economy and institutional strengthening as priority areas for UN Environment activities up to 2020, he also stressed that industry’s technology and knowledge is essential in achieving the SAICM 2020 goal. He acknowledged industry as a key stakeholder within SAICM.

The Energy & Climate Change LG took stock of the COP 22 in Marrakesh and subsequent meetings. As a reminder, the Paris Climate Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and includes 197 countries, with both developed and developing countries having committed to mitigation and adaption. Many technical implementation rules remain to be developed and momentum for this seems still high, despite some uncertainties arising from recent political developments at global level.

The transition to a lower carbon economy carries risks, but also offers huge opportunities if growth enabling and cost effective policies are applied; this is especially the case for the chemical industry which has a particularly crucial role as a solutions provider. Investor interest in how companies manage climate related risks and opportunities is growing.