The pro-active outreach strategy endorsed by the Joint Meeting of the Chemicals Committee and Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology at its 38th session was developed in accordance with the Council Resolution concerning the participation of non-members in the work of subsidiary bodies of the organisation [C(2012)100/FINAL] and provides the framework for recommendations to Council concerning participation of Partners in its work and that of its subsidiary bodies. It sets out elements to be considered in relationship to engagement with prospective Partners in accordance with the Guidelines adopted by the Council and in light of the Chemical Committee’s work over the past decade with non-members. The strategy – which is not static and is meant to evolve over time - defines the role and participation of non-members in the work of the Chemicals Committee or one or more of its subsidiary bodies, identifies those non-members whose participation would currently facilitate the achievements of its mandate and implementation of its work programme, and suggests the most appropriate form of co-operation with each.
The outreach strategy of the Chemicals Committee is based on the principle that adherence of Partners to the Council Decisions related to the Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) in the Assessment of Chemicals is the principal reason for the Committee to engage with Partners. Partners which are willing and able to harmonise their chemicals management frameworks with those of OECD members to such an extent that they can satisfactorily implement the MAD Council Decisions will in general satisfy the criteria of mutual benefit and are the primary partners for co-operation in OECD. Nevertheless, there may be instances when Partners can usefully and separately participate in the specific activities of one of the four subsidiary bodies of the Chemicals Committee which are not directly related to MAD: the Working Groups on Chemical Accidents, the Working Group on Pesticides, the Working Group on Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology and the Task Force on Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds. In fact there has been regular participation of Partners as Participants in the Working Group on Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology since it was established. Finally, the strategy provides for specific, limited and ad hoc engagement of partners in certain activities of the Chemicals Committee.
Elements to be considered in relation to participation of non-members
In accordance with the Council Guidelines, the following elements will be considered by the Chemicals Committee in recommending to Council prospective non-members for participation in its work and/or that of its subsidiary bodies. Fulfilment of one of the elements should not be sufficient justification to recommend a prospective non member for participation. Neither should non-fulfilment of one of the elements be a reason to exclude a prospective non-member from participation. Any recommendation by the Chemicals Committee to Council for working with a non-member will be based on the over-arching consideration of mutual benefit, especially from the learning that can occur from members and non-members working together, as judged according to the elements listed below.
In responding to requests from or initiating contacts with non-members, the Chemicals Committee will consider:
whether and in what ways association of non-members with its work would be of benefit to the OECD, including in fulfilling its mandate of contributing to the development of non-members;
whether economic growth and/or the welfare of members, considered on a national, regional or global basis, within the substantive area covered by the Chemicals Committee or one or more of its subsidiary bodies, are influenced to a significant degree by the policy orientations of non-members;
whether non member participation will facilitate the achievement of the mandate and the programme of work of the Chemicals Committee or one or more of its subsidiary bodies;
the degree to which non-members’ institutional and policy know how contributes significantly to OECD peer learning/influencing and rule making processes, in relation to the substantive area covered by the mandate of the Chemicals Committee or one or more of its subsidiary bodies;
the place of non member participation in the context of the Committee’s policy on the appropriate number and balance, which includes the time period of the invitations in light of the requirements of the mandate of the Chemicals Committee or one or more of its subsidiary bodies, its programme of work and methods of work;
the consequences that non-members’ participation might have on the working methods, programme of work and Secretariat resources allocated to the work under the Chemicals Committee;
whether, in the case of full participants, the non member has been found to be willing and able to commit to the relevant OECD acquis, as appropriate; and.
the full range of vehicles to engage non-members in the work of the Chemicals Committee or one or more of its subsidiary bodies as well as the limits and forms of the participation of non-members ,in order to select that which appears desirable and most useful, to maximise the benefits and reduce any disadvantages.
Appropriate number of non-members for participation
The number of non member participants which could usefully take part as regular observers in the activities of the Chemicals Committee or any of its subsidiary bodies is in general two to five per body. The specific modality of participation will depend upon the body or activity, the non-member and the proposed duration of participation. Flexibility should be a guiding principle in order to ensure the greatest mutual benefit for members and non-members in light of specific elements of the work programme. As far as possible, there should be balance among the non-members represented, e.g., in terms of role as producer/exporter/importer, level of development, regional context.
Mutual Acceptance of Data as a framework for selection of non-members
The Chemicals Committee has at its disposal a specific instrument for engaging those non-members which are major players in the area of international trade in chemicals and chemical products and which see mutual benefit in co-operation with members: the 1997 Council Decision on Adherence of Non-Members to the Council Decisions related to the Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) in the Assessment of Chemicals [C(97)114/Final]. The step-wise procedure leading to full membership in that part of the work of the Committee related to MAD allows non-members to participate at first as observers in the Working Groups on Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and on Test Guidelines and, once they have been shown to have implemented the Council Acts related to MAD, as full members in these two subsidiary bodies and in that part of the work of the Chemicals Committee dealing with MAD (currently session B).
For the Chemicals Committee, those non-members which adhere or may be interested in adhering to the MAD Council Acts are those with which it will engage in the first instance. These non-members are establishing chemicals management frameworks which will be harmonised with those of member countries in view of mutual benefits for human health and the environment and avoidance of potential non-tariff trade barriers.
Subsidiary bodies not directly related to MAD
Although MAD adherence is the principal reason for the Chemicals Committee to select non-members for participation in its work in the first instance, the specific activities of the four subsidiary bodies dealing with Chemical Accidents, Pesticides, Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology and Safety of Novel Foods & Feeds may provide another framework for co-operation with major players in their fields. These are not necessarily those non-members for which harmonisation of overall chemicals management policies with those of OECD (and MAD adherence) is the first priority.
In summary, the outreach strategy of the Chemicals Committee is an evolving one, in which non-members normally engage first in the context of provisional, followed by full, adherence to the MAD Council Decisions. The next step is long-term regular observership is all of the work of the Chemicals Committee and its subsidiary bodies. Finally, in certain cases, it will be possible for non-members which have taken part in these capacities for an appreciable length of time to become full members of the Committee. In parallel, non-members can participate as observers in the four subsidiary bodies of the Committee which are not directly related to MAD (Chemical Accidents, Pesticides, Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology and Safety of Novel Food and Feeds). Finally, non-members can be invited to take part on an ad hoc basis in specific activities under the auspices of the Committee.
The Chemicals Committee will review its outreach strategy regularly in light of changes to its mandate or orientations of its programme of work.