ICCA-UNEP Workshop on the role of chemistry in achieving sustainable development

Identifying Opportunities, Addressing Challenges

Shanghai, 11-13 September 2016


More than hundred stakeholders from governments, industry, civil society and international organizations, with representation from all geographic regions, gathered in Shanghai, China from 11-13 September 2016 to discuss the role of chemistry in achieving sustainable development. The workshop was organized through cooperation of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and hosted by the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation (CPCIF), with advice provided through an informal advisory group representing diverse stakeholder perspectives. The workshop comprised a technical workshop on 11-12 September 2016, complemented by a high-level review session on 13 September 2016 reflecting on key outcomes generated by the workshop.

The main focus of the discussions was to identify basic enabling conditions for ensuring sound management of chemicals and sustainable chemistry and to explore areas of action that have a potential to advance sustainable management of chemicals.

Key outcome and take-away messages from the workshop included the following:


  • The need for the development of basic regulatory  infrastructure in all countries, based on good practices  and benchmarks  to implement the 2020 goal for the sound management of chemicals management.
  • The need to have a proper implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements by all countries.
  • The value of working towards and implementing harmonized approaches for the sound management of chemicals through regional and global-level collaboration, such as implementing of the GHS and harmonized approaches to risk management, as appropriate.
  • The value of collaborative approaches in identifying and implementing solutions to address priority problems and challenges, through collaboration of government, industry and key stakeholders.
  • The recognition that sound management of chemicals in SMEs requires specific attention and action by all stakeholders.
  • The value of sharing and making accessible information related to chemicals in products during all stages of the value


  • The need to consider all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – in assessing the contribution of chemistry to sustainability.
  • The essential role of all stakeholders in creating the enabling conditions for sound chemicals management and sustainable development, including effective participation of stakeholders in all relevant decision-making processes.
  • The importance of chemical safety and security, including occupational safety, access to information, and right-to-know as key building blocks of chemicals management and a precondition for sustainable chemistry.
  • The vital need for enhanced capacity building, financing, technology development & transfer and knowledge-sharing to facilitate efforts by countries at different levels of development to manage chemicals safely and advance sustainable chemistry.
  • The critical role of research and development, and innovation in delivering the products and technologies that will be required to address societal challenges and meet the ambitious goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda.
  • The value of political commitment, access to sustainable financing and the involvement of local institutions, academia and industry for advancing sustainable chemistry in developing countries
  • The importance of identifying, managing, communicating and reducing risk as a core component of sound chemicals management and sustainable chemistry.
  • The need to account fully for impacts throughout the entire lifecycle, including the waste phase, in considering the contribution of a particular product or technology to sustainable development.
  • The importance of all stakeholders, including industry, UNEP and other key IGOs and stakeholders, developing specific Action Plans on how to achieve the implementation of the 2020 goal and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Next Steps

  1. Valuable insights and suggestions provided by participants during substantive workshop discussions, such as on Small and Medium Size Enterprises and Chemicals in Products, will be taken up by initiatives supported by UNEP and ICCA, including in the SME capacity development initiative in Africa and the SAICM Chemicals in Products (CiP) Programme.
  2. UNEP and ICCA will review how best to take the suggestions forward to current and future dialogues on sound chemicals management and sustainable chemistry in key venues, including SAICM (e.g. the intersessional process on sound management of chemicals beyond 2020; the second iteration of the Global Chemicals Outlook; and other relevant industry and UNEP fora). One specific follow-up action will be the development of an inf document for the third SAICM Open-ended Working Group Meeting in 2018, OEWG-3, capturing key workshop discussions and outcomes.
  3. The outcomes of the workshop discussion will contribute to the design of a strengthened private sector engagement with UNEP across the entire UNEP Programme of Work, and will feed in the upcoming consultation meetings.
  4. Given positive participant feedback, ICCA and UNEP are considering taking the workshop outcome as basis to further elaborate their cooperation.
  5. Finally, all stakeholders participating and engaged in the workshop are encouraged to further elaborate their action plans concerning the implementation of the 2020 goal, which is also part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.