The Vietnam Chemicals Agency (VCA) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on October 31 kicked off a joint initiative on sound management of chemicals.

The Vietnam/UNDP/UNEP Partnership Initiative for the Integration of Sound Management of Chemicals in Development and Planning Processes (SAICM) will be implemented over two years with a budget of over 400,000 USD, funded by the UNDP and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Speaking at the event, VCA Director Phung Ha said that the project will strengthen the capacity to integrate the sound management of chemicals (SMC) into economic planning and decision making, and initiate a domestic SMC regime consistent with SAICM.

According to a UNDP representative, although the chemical industry accounts for about 10 percent of Vietnam ’s industrial production value and employs 10 percent of industrial workers, it is also causing negative impacts on the environment and human health.

He pointed out shortcomings in the management of chemicals in Vietnam, such as lack of coordination and linkages between relevant ministries and agencies, and poor awareness of chemical risks and safe processes.

Therefore, the country needs to establish a coordinating mechanism for SMC with uniform methods and work to increase awareness within the government and stakeholder organisations, in order to ensure the economy’s sustainable development, the UNDP official stressed.

By August 2012, 171 countries had joined SAICM, which was adopted at the International Conference on Chemical Management in Dubai in February 2006.-VNA