Series of Thematic Workshops on Priority Topics of National Chemicals Management Capacity Building

TW4: Strengthening National Capacities for Risk Management Decision Making for Priority Chemicals

The thematic workshop on Strengthening National Capacities for Risk Management Decision-Making for Priority Chemicals took place from 4-6 October 1999 in Geneva, Switzerland. It brought together some 45 representatives from developing countries, countries with economies in transition, countries with advanced chemicals management schemes, international organisations, as well as representatives from non-governmental organisations, including industry, academia, and public interest groups.

The main objectives of the workshop were: to identify the challenges countries face in making risk management decisions and in developing sound risk reduction strategies for priority chemicals; to discuss and provide feedback on the methodology tested through four pilot case studies (see below), with a view towards its potential improvement and future use by other interested countries; to identify analytical and decision-making tools/approaches that are considered of practical use to developing countries in the context of risk management decision-making; to discuss the appropriate role of risk assessment in the national decision-making process for priority chemicals in countries without advanced chemicals management programmes; to develop practical suggestions for countries interested in developing a systematic process for chemical risk management decision-making; and to identify possible elements of, and actions needed for, enhanced capacity building in this area.

The workshop reviewed the lessons learned and experiences gained through four country-based pilot projects to develop risk reduction strategies for priority chemicals that were implemented in Cameroon, Chile, Tanzania, and The Gambia through collaboration of UNITAR and IPCS with funding provided by the European Commission. Through a series of plenary discussions and working groups, a wide range of suggestions were generated on practical ways and means to strengthen capacities in countries in the area of risk assessment/risk management decision-making.

The workshop concluded that the use of the four country-based pilot projects in testing a general approach to risk management decision-making for priority chemicals was both valuable and successful in addressing real and practical country needs. More specifically, the pilot projects were believed to have strengthened participants' capacities, fostered a better understanding of opportunities and challenges to develop risk reduction activities for chemicals through a multi-stakeholder process, and catalysed the initiation of more systematic and transparent processes in the participating countries to address risk management decision-making for priority chemicals in the future. The exercises also helped to highlight various elements of risk reduction which need to be emphasised and improved upon.

Workshop Report. Download