Applying Precaution in the context of chemical safety
Information/Discussion Session on Tools and Approaches -
(Forum V, IFCS/FORUM V/6 INF)
Prepared by Joel Tickner, Consultant, and IFCS Secretariat in consultation with the Forum Standing Committee
An IFCS Forum V Plenary Open Information/Discussion Session has been organized to advance open dialogue and understanding about how precaution is applied in practice with regards to chemical safety to protect health and environment and implementation of goals identified in IFCS declarations and recommendations and the SAICM Overarching Policy Strategy (OPS). A Forum V Thought Starter paper presents the rationale, objectives and organization of the session.
Through a series of practical case examples, the session will explore tools and approaches for applying
precaution in chemical safety decision-making as well as commonalities and differences in these
approaches. Following these presentations, guided discussion with delegates will occur, with the goal of
identifying some key commonalities and differences in approaches and providing practical next steps for
To ensure adequate thinking occurs in individual countries before the start of Forum V and thoughtful discussion at the Forum, this Information Background Document is provided to delegates in advance of Forum V. This Backgrounder Document summarizes information collected on how countries domestically apply precaution in chemicals management including:
• A collection of structured information requests to governments to provide examples of tools and frameworks for how they have applied precaution in the context of domestic chemicals safety efforts.
• Interviews with selected active members in IFCS about to understand differences in how precaution is applied and some of the controversies in its application; how they are applying precaution in chemicals management including tools and approaches and the types of tools and processes that would support precautionary decision-making in the context of chemicals management.
The purpose of this structured information collection process was to collect examples of tools, approaches and frameworks for applying precaution (or making decisions in the face of uncertainty) with regards to national chemical safety efforts. The goal is to understand similarities and differences in how precautionary decisions (or decisions in circumstances of uncertainty) are made across countries; what tools and approaches countries use to apply precaution in chemicals management; how policy, regulatory and scientific processes support precautionary decision-making in the context of chemicals management; the challenges and needs for applying precaution in the context of chemicals management; and varying perceptions with its application..
This Information Backgrounder is presented in three sections. The first section summarizes key findings from the information collected through this scoping study. The second section provides a detailed summary of responses to the information requests and interviews. The third section contains a spreadsheet summarizing inputs from the information requests.