October 12, 2023

Chemicals Management Conference Reaches Agreement on Global Framework

Participants in the fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) have adopted the Global Framework on Chemicals, an agreement that describes collaborative approaches to address the lifecycle of chemicals. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the agreement includes language related to “a safe and healthy working environment as a fundamental principle and right at work” and sets a goal of “ensur[ing] effective occupational health and safety practices” throughout supply chains by 2030.

A reference to workers is also included in the introduction of the agreement, which reads, “The aim of the framework is to prevent or, where prevention is not feasible, minimize harm from chemicals and waste to protect the environment and human health, including that of vulnerable groups and workers." Elsewhere, the agreement acknowledges that “sound management of chemicals and waste in the world of work is essential for protecting workers, communities and the environment.”

Originally scheduled for 2020 but postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ICCM5 was held last month in Bonn, Germany. The conference concluded Sept. 30, one day later than planned due to extensive negotiations around the text of the agreement.

The agreement also calls for phasing out harmful chemicals, strengthening regulations, and transitioning to safer and more sustainable chemical alternatives, according to summaries published by the United Nations Environment Program and Earth Negotiations Bulletin. More information is available from ILO.