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Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC)

The IOMC, established in 1995, is supported by 9 Participating Organizations (POs), with the aim to strengthen cooperation and increase coordination in the field of chemical safety in relation to human health and the environment. The 9 POs are the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Inter-Organization Coordinating Committee (IOCC) is the IOMC secretariat. The IOMC works on subjects related to chemical safety, especially those elaborated in Chapter 19 of Agenda 21 and which are now covered by the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) Global Plan of Action, consisting of Risk Reduction, Knowledge and Information, Governance, Capacity Building and Technical Cooperation, and Illegal Traffic.

The main strategies of IOMC include:

  • Strengthening capacities in chemicals management and implementation;
  • Strengthening capacities in knowledge and information on chemicals;
  • Improving policy and legislation, such as those addressing the illegal movements of hazardous compounds;
  • Strengthening capacities for programmes that are related to chemicals management; and
  • Increasing capacities to monitor and evaluate chemicals management.

The vision statement of IOMC is to be the pre-eminent mechanism for initiating, facilitating and coordinating international action to achieve the goal agreed at the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development of ensuring that, "by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health". The IOMC has carried out a number of successful joint-activities that support countries in implementing the Conventions, such as:

  • Supporting countries to implement the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Substances (POPs) and to develop their National Implementation Plan (NIPs);
  • Supporting countries to implement the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, through the Secretariat provided jointly by FAO and UNEP in Rome and Geneva;
  • Supporting establishment and implementation of the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), in the area of health and environmental hazards;
  • Addressing the problems of obsolete pesticides in Africa, by building capacity in countries for prevention, management and disposal of obsolete pesticides;
  • Assessing existing chemicals, through sharing the burden of information gathering, testing, assessment of High Production Volume Chemicals among OECD countries and identifying the needs for further work on chemicals;
  • Developing guidance on, and promotion of Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) as well as Release Estimation Techniques (RETs); and
  • Preparation of the document, "National Implementation of SAICM: A Guide to Resource, Guidance, and Training Materials of IOMC Participating Organizations and the IOMC Strategy for Strengthening National Chemicals Management Capacities".

IOMC is currently developing a web-based problem-solving tool, i.e. a "Toolbox for Decision-Making in Chemicals Management". The IOMC Toolbox will be a problem identification and problem-solving tool that assists countries to identify available IOMC resources that could provide assistance. This could help to address specific national chemicals management issues and will take into account, when possible, all materials developed by the IOMC Participating Organisations. A proof-of-concept version of the toolbox was presented at the 3rd ICCM in Nairobi.

Concept of IOMC Toolbox for Decision Making in Chemicals Management

For more detailed information on the IOMC, please visit http://www.who.int/iomc/en/index.html.