SAICM Enabling Activities

Action Plan Development

Overview

Faced with a wide range of issues pertaining to chemicals management, countries today require a flexible, strategic approach to help ensure success in related projects and programmes. Making use of proven action plan development processes, tools, and techniques can provided the structure, coherence, and control needed to develop and achieve practical goals. Understanding what planning and implementing a project entails and how to improve the likelihood of success is the basis of action plan development.

Whether nationally-identified priorities address an individual or a group of chemicals, an infrastructure issue, a specific chemicals management instrument, or a relevant international agreement, a well-prepared action plan outlines, for the chosen priority topic, the specific goal and objectives to be achieved, related activities to be undertaken, associated responsibilities of the participants, time frames, and resource and evaluation details.

In response to an increasing demand from countries for skills-building to support project planning efforts, UNITAR started to develop, in 2000, a training programme to assist countries in strengthening skills of chemicals management experts to develop sound action plans for addressing priority topics of chemicals management.

UNITAR provides guidance and training to partner countries on action plan development and project planning and management, through various projects, with an emphasis on chemicals management subject areas. In 2004-05, as part of a project on integrated national programmes, UNITAR supported action plan skills-building in Armenia, Chad, Jamaica, and Jordan. Presently, UNITAR is providing similar support through national SAICM pilot projects in Belarus, Panama, Pakistan, and Tanzania (from approximately September 2006 to August 2009). In addition, UNITAR is providing national-level training, and technical and financial support to more than 50 countries on action plan development to assist with National Implementation Plan Development under the Stockholm Convention.

Policy Recommendations

Two important SAICM documents--the Overarching Policy Strategy (OPS) and the Global Plan of Action (GPA)--endorse the development of action plans for SAICM implementation.

Paragraph 22 of the OPS (Implementation and Taking Stock of Progress) states that “Implementation of the Strategic Approach could begin with an enabling phase to build necessary capacity, as appropriate, to develop, with relevant stakeholder participation, a national Strategic Approach implementation plan, taking into consideration, as appropriate, existing elements such as legislation, national profiles, action plans, stakeholder initiatives and gaps, priorities, needs and circumstances. Strategic Approach regional implementation plans may be developed, as appropriate, in a similar fashion. Subsequent implementation phases should focus on implementing specific action plans. In parallel, intergovernmental organizations, international financial institutions and private actors are encouraged to support these activities and to consider the development of their own action plans as appropriate. Partnerships among stakeholders should be pursued in support of implementation.”

The GPA cites action plans a number of times among its list of activities and work areas linked to SAICM implementation, including:

  • Item #1 Develop national profiles and implement action plans for sound management of chemicals.
  • Item #7 Develop guidance materials to assist in the preparation of initial national assessments of children’s environmental health and the identification of priority concerns; develop and implement action plans to address those priority concerns.
  • Item #69 Establish and implement national action plans with respect to waste minimization and waste disposal, taking into consideration relevant international agreements and by using the cradle-to-cradle and cradle-to-grave approaches.
  • Item #101. Complete GHS awareness-raising and capacity-building guidance and training materials (including GHS action plan development guidance, national situation analysis guidance and other training tools) and make them available to countries.

The Second Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (Ottawa, February 1997) endorsed the implementation of National Action Programmes for strengthening chemicals management.

During its Third Session in Bahia, Brazil, October 2000, the IFCS recommended that "countries should...prepare and regularly update national profiles, identify capacity building priorities, and develop sound national action plans for them" and "By 2005, national policies with objectives, priorities, strategies and action plans with targets for improving the management of chemicals should have been developed in most countries and regions."

Guidance

Based on upon the experience gained and lessons learned in working with some 50 countries in developing a wide variety of action plans on priority topics of sound chemicals management, a revision of UNITAR’s action plan development guidance and training material, which includes the core document “Guidance on Action Plan Development for Sound Chemicals Management”, was completed in April 2005.  Download