WHAT IS THE IFCS?
IFCS is a flexible, open and transparent brainstorming and bridge-building forum.
It is a broad consensus-building mechanism that serves as a facilitator and advocate aiming to bring order to global actions taken in the interest of global chemical safety. It functions as an accountability mechanism for its participants. The IFCS provides countries the opportunity to place issues on the international agenda and emphasize special needs and concerns with respect to improving chemicals management. All participants, including developing countries and NGOs, find it a useful mechanism to bring emerging and contentious issues to the international agenda.
WHO IS THE IFCS?
IFCS is an alliance of all stakeholders concerned with the sound management of chemicals operating on the basis of full and open participation of all partners. It is a global platform where governments, international, regional and national organizations, industry groups, public interest associations, labour organizations, scientific associations and representatives of civil society meet to build partnerships, provide advice and guidance, make recommendations and monitor progress.
WHAT DOES IFCS DO?
The functions of the IFCS are consultative and advisory, and include :
- identification of priorities for cooperative action and facilitating this cooperation,
- recommend concerted international strategies,
- promoting strengthening of national chemicals management coordination mechanisms,
- identifying gaps in scientific understanding,
- promoting information exchange and technical cooperation,
- reviewing effectiveness of relevant ongoing activities,
- advising governments in their work on chemical safety,
- promoting cooperation among governmental and nongovernmental organizations,
- evaluate progress on agreed actions and recommendations.
IFCS in the Future
In light of the adoption of SAICM by the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) in February 2006, the Forum considered the future role of IFCS as a contribution to the implementation of SAICM and in particular "the invitation by the International Conference on Chemical Management to the Forum to continue its important role in providing an open, transparent and inclusive forum for discussing issues of common interest and also new and emerging issues, and to continue to contribute through this to the implementation of the Strategic Approach and the work of other chemicals-related international organizations and institutions".
The Forum, recognizing the desirability to continue to have such a forum, adopted a resolution on the future of IFCS. The Resolution expresses appreciation for "the unique multi-faceted role that IFCS has played as a flexible, open and transparent brainstorming and bridge-building forum for Governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations including from the private sector which has facilitated consensus building".
The Resolution defines the future functions of the Forum, which are to:
• provide all stakeholders, particularly developing countries and countries with economies in transition, with an opportunity to share and acquire information through open discussion and debate;
• provide an independent and objective source of synthesized information about chemicals management issues, including potential health, environmental and socioeconomic impacts and possible response actions; and
• prepare and disseminate reports that reflect a state-of-the-art understanding of key subjects, are based on solid scientific evidence, ensure a balance of views, and package information in a manner that educates and may stimulate action, particularly for the ICCM.
• invites the International Conference on Chemicals management at its second session integrate the Forum into ICCM by establishing IFCS as an ICCM advisory body;
• invites the ICCM to specify tasks for the Forum, such as preparing reports on new and emerging issues on chemical safety management, as substantial input for consideration of specific situations and interests, in particular of developing countries and countries with economies in transition, while being mindful of the need for adequate resources for these tasks;
• recognizes that successfully integrating the Forum into the ICCM will require sufficient human, financial and in-kind resources, and urges all stakeholders to provide such resources on a voluntary basis;
• decides that until the ICCM integrates the Forum, it will continue to operate under its current terms of reference.
The resolution also contains an annex with key elements for the Forum’s operation, including:
• full participation of government, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and other civil society groups;
• the ability to raise new and emerging issues for discussion to, inter alia, stimulate action by the ICCM;
• preparation of agenda items following the lead sponsor approach;
• meeting during the ICCM intersessional period in time to contribute to the ICCM processes; and
• a bureau/standing committee comprised of representatives from all stakeholder groups.
The Dakar Resolution on the future of IFCS has been submitted to the ICCM for its second session (11-15 May 2009).
IFCS has played a substantive role in advancing actions in the area of chemical safety not only at the international level but also in countries.
The IFCS has succeeded, and is prepared to continue doing so, in serving as an important and effective mechanism for strengthening SAICM and supporting its implementation.
The new core IFCS functions together with its characteristic ways of working will strengthen SAICM implementation and substantively support the ICCM in its work.