United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

South Africa

STATEMENT BY SOUTH AFRICA AT THE INTERACTIVE THEMATIC DISCUSSIONS ON
CHEMICALS AT THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PREPARATORY MEETING FOR THE
NINETEENTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
New York, 28 February ? 4 March 2011
Thank you Mr Chair,
South Africa would like to thank the panelists for their informative presentations and we wish to
associate ourselves with the views of G77 and China. South Africa has signed and ratified the
Stockholm Convention, and acceded to the Rotterdam and Basel Conventions as well as the
Montreal Protocol. We have a range of legislative instruments that are aimed at giving effect to
these Multilateral Environmental Agreements but some of these are yet to be translated into
domestic policy. Such domestic policy will strengthen the work undertaken by the National
Multi-stakeholder Committee for Chemicals Management meant to facilitate co-ordination in
respect of implementation of the MEAs.
There are still major challenges to chemicals management that remain unresolved, and we
propose the following:
a) To address the shortage of expertise, equipment and its associated costs to conduct
comprehensive risk assessment, appropriate technology transfer, capacity building and
adequate funding are needed in developing countries.
b) South Africa is of the view that the implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of
classification and labelling of chemicals, at the national, regional and international levels, in
a manner that is aligned with the precautionary approach will help greatly to facilitate
environmental sound management of chemicals. We believe it is crucial that relevant
information is made available to all users of chemicals, communities and policy makers.
This will prevent and reduce the frequency of incidents, particularly in rural areas where
communities are most vulnerable.
c) In addition to the urgent need for efficient global action; regional agreements could further
advance the environmental sound management of chemicals to prevent efforts of one
country being negated by neighbours due to long and porous borders.
(d) A centralized chemical information system accessible to all stakeholders including small
and medium sized enterprises, and the region as a whole, is needed to address information
gaps, as well as for the purposes of monitoring and evaluation. This will contribute to
improved knowledge and awareness of the risks posed by chemicals.
To address these challenges, there is a greater need for technology transfer, dedicated
financial support, and capacity building, to enable developing countries to make informed
decisions as early as possible in their efforts towards life cycle management of chemicals. We
believe the existing funding streams for chemicals need to be increased in order to make a
significant difference, and should primarily aim to assist countries in meeting their obligations
regarding the implementation of MEAs on environmental sound management of chemicals.
In conclusion and closer to home, we suggest that as CSD, we should emulate the chemicals
and waste MEAs and consider moving towards having electronic meetings to avoid as much
as is possible using chemicals and generating volumes of waste in printing meeting
documents; in turn this will reduce the associated costs.
I thank you Mr Chair
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