Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD)

Accordance of NICNAS activities with ESD principles

(a) decision-making processes should effectively integrate both
      long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social
      and equitable considerations.

NICNAS undertakes risk assessment within an agreed policy framework
and includes within the overall process of decision-making, the hazard
assessment, dose-response relationships, exposure assessment and risk
management options. Hazard assessment identifies the set of inherent
properties that make a chemical capable of causing both short-term
and long-term adverse effects to human health or the environment. Based
on risk estimates, risk management strategies are recommended. When
determining acceptable risk and recommending risk management strategies
NICNAS operates within an agreed framework for the environmentally
sound management of chemicals, based on the principles and policy
of ESD and aligned with the United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development (UNCED) Agenda 21 (Rio Declaration), which includes
Chapter 19 on the Environmentally Sound Management of Toxic Chemicals.
The economic and social benefits of risk reduction action is balanced with
the economic, political and social costs of implementing the strategies.
Risk management also involves monitoring, evaluating and reviewing
the strategies recommended.

(b) if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage,
     lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason
     for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.

Caution is applied implicitly or explicitly when conducting risk assessments.
In particular, where international chemicals policy negotiations may need
to rely on precaution this is applied in line with the principles of ESD
and the UNCED Agenda 21, Principle 15 (precautionary approach).

(c) the principle of inter-generational equity – that the present generation
     should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the 
     environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future
     generations and (d) the conservation of biological diversity and ecological
     integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision making.

The risk management controls recommended by NICNAS are aimed
at allowing ongoing environmental integrity and biological diversity. Our risk
assessments integrate hazard assessment with any unique exposure or use
patterns and also take into consideration the unique nature of Australia’s
demography and the national ecosystems and fauna and flora. In this way
NICNAS provides the information necessary for informed democratic and
transparent decisions to be made including trade-offs between competing
objectives of current utility and future adverse environmental effects.

(e) improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should
be promoted.

The underlying principle of NICNAS’s LRCC reform is aligning regulatory
effort with the degree of risk posed by a chemical. New assessment
categories and revisions to existing assessment categories introduced
through the LRCC reforms create more efficient and effective ways
of introducing chemicals to the marketplace, thereby saving the industry
and community time and money without undermining our current level
of safety and provision of chemical safety information to the public.

How Outcomes Relate to ESD

Chapter 19 of UNCED Agenda 21, whilst acknowledging that substantial
use of chemicals is essential to meet the social and economic goals of the
world community, identified two major problems, particularly in developing
countries: namely, (a) lack of sufficient scientific information for the
assessment of risks entailed by the use of a great number of chemicals,
and (b) lack of resources for assessment of chemicals for which data
are at hand.

Chapter 19 is focused on the generation, harmonization and dissemination
of chemical data, and strengthening capacity for chemical management.
The Agenda 21 programs and objectives for chemicals, to a large extent,
reflect some important elements of the Rio Declaration including: Principle 9
(building capacity through developing and transferring scientific information),
Principle 10 (the right of access to information or the "right to know"
and the right to participate in decisions) and Principle 15 (the "precautionary

The activities of NICNAS are fundamentally focussed on these principles.
NICNAS assesses the health and environmental risks of new industrial
chemicals entering Australia for the first time (by manufacture or import)
before their release to the environment. NICNAS also assesses chemicals
already in use based on environmental and health concerns. NICNAS
assessment reports provide information and recommendations to regulators
(including Commonwealth, States and Territories), industry and the general
public. The development and operation of NICNAS represents significant
capacity building in Australia for the management of chemicals.

Effects of NICNAS Activities on the Environment and measures to
minimise them

The positive environmental effects of NICNAS are detailed above.




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