Financing Work Programme

Participation of Developing Countries via Twinning Funds Assistance

Since its formation in 1994, there has been recognition that to achieve the IFCS global goals and objectives, the participation of developing countries is necessary.

These countries have for the most part not developed the chemical safety legislation or voluntary programs of market-economy countries. The reasons for this are complex and vary from country to country. In general, the reasons are a lack of societal knowledge and awareness of chemical safety, scarce human and financial resources, and a lack of government leadership.

Chemical Safety Conditions in Developing Countries

All countries have diverse needs in working to achieve chemical safety. The IFCS provides developing countries the opportunity to place issues on the international agenda and emphasize their special needs and concerns with respect to improving chemicals management.

For example,

  • Evidence is mounting that in developed countries the human exposures and health risks arising from existing hazardous chemicals (such as lead, cadmium, mercury, DDT, and polychlorinated biphenyls) have been brought under control, but that is not the case in developing countries. Of particular concern are exposures to lead and persistent organic pollutants.
  • In today's world, it is children's health that is most damaged by poor environmental quality. In parallel with industrial development, particular problems for children's health have come to the fore, such as exposure to lead and other hazardous chemicals, which affect children's mental and physical development.
  • An estimated 3 million premature deaths, mainly from acute and chronic respiratory infections, are attributed to exposure to air pollution on a global basis. Of these deaths, 2.8 million are due to indoor air quality pollution exposures, primarily in developing countries.

While much is known about the health and environment difficulties in developing countries as well as the challenges to improve upon them, our knowledge of the effects of exposure to chemicals remains very incomplete. Continued vigilance and research are needed. New challenges will demand new responses and that cooperation and partnership are essential to the development of appropriate policies and infrastructure for chemicals management in all countries.

Many countries are still struggling to establish the essential infrastructure for chemical safety including the creation of national coordinating mechanisms, the development of national profiles and the implementation of national action plans. Standards of chemical safety across much of the world fall short of that needed to provide adequate protection of human health and the environment. We need to work together as partners in this mutual enterprise, recognizing the valuable contributions that each has to make to attainment of our goals.

The reasons for developing countries to participate in IFCS events and meetings are:

  • to be part of the chemical safety solution by contributing to and actively supporting the IFCS global goals and objectives.
  • to more effectively communicate their country's unique chemical safety issues, problems and obstacles to solutions.
  • to be the primary mechanism for communication and follow-up of the IFCS global goals and objectives to the national / local level and to the decision-makers in their country.
  • to learn what other countries are doing in chemical safety.
  • to become aware of new technologies and information on chemical safety.

Advantages and Benefits: Participation of Developing Countries in IFCS

  • The face-to-face opportunity to communicate and dialogue with all organizations (countries, intergovernmental, nongovernmental) in a way that cannot be achieved through other means such as letters, electronic mail, teleconferences and even video conferences.
  • Market-economy countries and organizations will attain a better background to understanding developing countries, with respect to their unique issues, problems and obstacles to solutions. They will thus be in a better position to assist with practical, effective and low cost chemical safety programs that have a greater probability of succeeding within the infrastructure of the developing country.
  • The strengthening of their own chemical programs by starting to implement, in part or in whole:
    • what they have learned from the programs and experiences of other countries.
    • what they have learned through technology and information exchange.
  • The networking occasion for the National Focal Points is a key benefit. The sharing of information, assistance and encouragement helps influence the implementation of chemical safety programs in developing countries. This is an important point because in the day-to-day work and priorities of developing country health and safety officials, chemical safety would be deemed very low versus immediate pressing needs such as clean water, sanitation and food requirements.
  • Chemical safety programs at the lowest cost / most efficient approach.
  • Easier to politically sell chemical safety programs back home if National Focal Points are viewed as playing a contributing partnership role in the global sound management of chemicals.

Participation of Developing Countries via Twinning Funds

At Forum II, the Forum Standing Committee (FSC) was established and charged with the responsibility of setting up ongoing twinning funds to be used to assist developing countries participate in the IFCS events and meetings. Without financial support, the participation of developing countries would be extremely limited.

Under the direction of the IFCS President, the FSC developed a Funding and Marketing Strategy in early 1998. The strategy is to seek the commitment from national governments, intergovernmental organizations and nongovernmental organizations to provide ongoing, annually-budgeted funding. By spreading the financial support over a wide base, the cost to each individual contributor will be lessened.