The expert group “High Level Roundtable (HLR) on the implementation of the Chemicals Strategy” was set up by the Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission. The Commission aims realise the objectives of the Sustinable Chemicals Strategy by harnessing innovative scientific, technological, industrial, sustainability-related and social perspectives from a wide variety of stakeholders, relevant to effective chemicals management. EuChemS was invited to the roundtable to represent the unbiased opinions of its pan-European network of chemists. On the 4th meeting, EuChemS Secretary General Nineta Hrastelj and EuChemS Science Communications and Policy Officer Marton Kottmayer were present as representatives.
The key topic was the co-development of a “Safe and Sustainable by Design” (SSbD) framework, that can be applied to the entire life-cycle of products containing chemicals, from their early development. As this is closely related to consumer product development and innovation, the meeting was attended by Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton, alongside Patrick Child from Directorate-General for Environment, Peter Dröll from Directorate-General for Research and Innovation as well as Hubert Gambs and Kerstin Jorna from Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius also addressed the stakeholders via video message
Nineta Hrastelj contributed to the discussion on SSbD, by posing an open question. She highlighted the importance of SSbD being a result of co-creation and knowledge generation. Following up on this, she explained that knowledge-circulation and education is crucial for such co-creation process to be viable, and asked how such quality education can be ensured.
For such co-creation however, the availability and sustainability of knowledge is essential. Knowledge needs to be circulated amongst all concerned – not only contemporary stakeholders, but also the pioneers of future innovation, the representatives of the next generations. Our open question therefore calls for a discussion on how to establish the availability and free circulation of up-to-date knowledge, in a way that is inclusive for all stakeholders, and how educational institutions and programmes could adapt to this flexible and impactful model of knowledge generation to effectively provide this approach to those who will continue taking up such challenges in the future.
A number of other stakeholders also highlighted the importance of skills and knowledge in the SSbD process, as well as the societal acceptance of the product designed by it, which warrants the involvement of a wide range of knowledgeable stakeholders and calls for effective circulation of knowledge. Calls for the speeding up of the REACH revision were also made.
The other highlight was the release of, and the discussion on the previous HLR meetings key deliverable, the Transition Pathway for the Chemical Industry. The Transition Pathway outlines the strategic role of the Chemical Industry in Europe, and the potential means of making it compatible with 2030 and 2050 legally-binding EU climate targets.
The 2023 February meeting follows the last meeting held on 18 May 2022, which was attended by EuChemS President Floris Rutjes.