Helsinki Chemicals Forum Selects Five Chemicals Safety Themes for Debate in the 2020 Conference

HCF_logo_webThe discussion topics of the 2020 Helsinki Chemicals Forum conference have been proposed by its international Programme Committee and validated by the Advisory Board. The twelfth Helsinki Chemicals Forum will be held at the Messukeskus Convention Centre in Helsinki, Finland on 4 and 5 June 2020. Its partner, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), also offers chemical safety experts and journalists access to its own Conference in the same week, on 2 and 3 June.

Helsinki Chemicals Forum is a two-day event and consists of five panel discussions and keynote speeches. The European Commission will be invited to open the keynotes explaining how the Green Deal is an integral part of this Commission’s strategy to implement the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals. The Mayor of Helsinki and the Executive Director of ECHA will then explain how his city and the EU agency are implementing these 2030 goals.

The first panel, on Thursday 4 June, focuses on green chemical policy. How can the future chemicals policy in the EU create the necessary framework to achieve carbon neutrality, promote the circular economy and contribute to the ambitions for zero pollution? What will be the role of the EU chemicals policy under “the Green Deal”, and how do other world regions achieve these objectives simultaneously? The European Commission will moderate this panel.

The second panel of the opening day focuses on safer substitution. Although there is increasing awareness of the need for safer and sustainable substitution, a panel of stakeholders including regulators, and representatives of industry and civil society will discuss what could help to increase the pace towards the implementation of safer alternatives under the lead of the OECD. The shift towards safer substitution could be incentivized more effectively by various means, such as the support of research and development, regulatory and financial incentives, and by increasing education and awareness of needs.

The third and final session of the first day will be a panel debate on new United Nations agreement for the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world. This panel will feature discussion of targets and indicators, to encourage countries to improve their chemicals legislation and implementation. This topic also gives an opportunity to reflect on custodians and timeframes, as opposed to the current state of affairs where there are no time-bounded indicators. UNEP will animate this panel.

The second day of the forum opens with the theme of transparency and risk communication. The traceability of chemicals of concern is an important element in creating market trust while complying with existing legal requirements. NGOs argue that traceability of all chemicals in materials, products and waste should become mandatory by 2030, which would be a difficult task. The panel discusses the current best practices for tracking chemicals to inform decisions relating to risk management measures, prevention of exposure and instructions for safe and sustainable recycling. Risk communication and transparency are topics that matter not only to regulators but are also an intrinsic part of supply chain communication, all the way to end consumers. ECHA will moderate this panel.

The closing theme of the forum is textiles. The panel will look at the progress on chemicals management within one specific industrial sector. In the textile and apparel industry there have been formidable challenges and exciting progress with innovative initiatives to achieve real improvements in the way textiles are manufactured, distributed, sold, used and managed at the end of their lifespan. This panel will bring together stakeholders across the supply chain to debate what has been achieved and the persistent barriers and useful incentives for further progress. A Chemical Watch journalist will moderate this panel.

Helsinki Chemicals Forum is an independent non-profit convention organiser. Its mission is to promote chemical safety and management internationally. Helsinki Chemicals Forum’s activities are directed by its advisory board, the members of which include the European Commission, ECHA, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the University of Helsinki, the City of Helsinki, and representatives of Suomen Messut. The chemical industry is represented by the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), which is the main European trade association for the chemical industry, and by Eurometaux, the umbrella association of the non-ferrous metals industry in Europe. Non-governmental organisations are represented by the European Environmental Bureau. Its Director Jeremy Wates has agreed to be the main speaker at the Dinner, which is a traditional highlight of the annual conference.

The programme and themes of the Helsinki Chemicals Forum are selected by a broad and knowledgeable international programme committee. The committee consists of representatives of the aforementioned international organisations, and by representatives of, amongst others, the Canadian Ministry of the Environment, the Australian chemical authorities, the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), the American Chemistry Council (ACC), and Chemical Watch, the media partner for the event.

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