Contributing to a Chemical-Safe Future

Photo from the second Open-ended Working Group

The fourth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) will take place in Geneva from 28 September to 2 October 2015. The ICCM, one of the most important global conferences on chemicals and waste, is organized by the United Nations Environment Programme and aims to advance work on the subject. UNITAR will be present, with programme officers and senior experts available for discussions and planning.

The Conference’s guiding principle is that effective and sound management of chemicals is essential for the achievement of sustainable development, including the eradication of poverty and disease, the improvement of human health and environment and the elevation and maintenance of the standard of living in countries at all levels of development. Indeed, negative impacts of chemicals and waste are a global problem, with concerns such as: poisonings from handling of pesticides; lead exposure from paint and its developmental impacts on children; contamination of waterways and impacts on aquatic life; e-waste and exposure for waste pickers; and enhanced exposure for workers in production and handling roles. What is often instinctively considered as an environmental problem is unmistakably one that cuts across all sectors of society, including environmental, economic, social, health and labour concerns.


Aiming to reduce these negative impacts, UNITAR, with the support of senior experts for each focus area, offers training and assistance to countries for a variety of chemicals and waste activities, including:

  • Supporting implementation of the major chemicals and waste conventions and agreements, to satisfy international requirements related to globally-recognized concerns
  • Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) implementation: helping countries adopt this system to ensure workers, users and transporters understand the hazardous nature of all products
  • Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) design and implementation, to help identify national sources of chemicals’ emissions and where to focus efforts
  • Nanomaterials and nanotechnology projects, workshops and guidance documents, working with stakeholders to combine the developing science with national policy requirements to manage their use and production

GHS workshop in Thailand

Thanks to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, a universal system is available so that everybody, including school children, can understand which chemicals are hazardous for the environment and human health - UNITAR project, GHS awareness-raising in Thailand

During the Conference, UNITAR will host an event on nanomaterials and nanotechnology, showcasing our national and regional work, as well as proposing activities for the future. Furthermore, we will present outcomes, best practices and lessons learned from our projects around the world.

In addition, the Conference will include a High-Level Segment with the presence of Ministers, Heads of Agencies and Organizations, and Chief Executive Officers. Supporting this segment, UNITAR’s outgoing Executive Director, Ms. Sally Fegan-Wyles, will chair a panel that will identify opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaboration as a means for sound management of chemicals, reflecting the urgent need to consider the impacts of chemicals and waste across all sectors of society.

Photo from the second Open-ended Working Group, the preparatory meeting for ICCM4, courtesy of IISD,