International policies have been developed for facilitating proper chemical management. Agenda 21 includes 'Environmentally Sound Management of Toxic Chemicals' in Chapter 19 as one of the emerging global issues. In 2001, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) was adopted to eliminate or reduce POPs. The Johannesburg Summit in 2002 set up a goal which aims to minimise the significant adverse effects of chemical production and use on human health and the environment by 2020. In line with this action, the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) in Dubai in February 2006 adopted the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). Various efforts have been carried out on risk reduction, knowledge and information sharing, strengthening of governance, capacity building and technological cooperation, as well as prevention of illegal transboundary movement of chemicals. These efforts will be continuously promoted at regional and national levels based on the SAICM in the future. Furthermore, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) which aims to have the system operational by 2008 was recommended by the United Nations in 2003.
Developed countries outside the Northeast Asia region, which already introduced various policies regarding chemicals management, are strengthening and improving those policies. In Europe, based on the Integrated Product Policy (IPP), various directives and regulations such as the RoHS (Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances), WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) have been introduced consecutively. North American countries started to improve and strengthen the existing chemical management policies.
China, Japan and the Republic of Korea have strengthened legal systems for chemical management. China has introduced a regulation similar to the RoHS directives in EU. Japan plans to improve the existing legal systems for chemical management, taking into account the global trend. Republic of Korea is also taking actions to improve the existing legal systems in response to the GHS. These are efforts of each country in Northeast Asia, paying attention to the situation that chemicals are traded regionally and internationally. However, information exchange on chemicals among the three countries at the governmental level is not sufficient yet.
The environment ministers of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea at the eighth tripartite environment ministers meeting (TEMM8) in Beijing in December 2006 concurred that three countries will make full use of the existent TEMM source such as TEMM website to help promote information exchange on policies and regulations on chemicals management in order to ensure the protection of human health and the environment in an efficient way. To this end, the Ministers suggested taking chance of international meetings to start information exchange at working level.
Following the recommendation of TEMM8, a trilateral working level meeting on information exchange of chemicals management was held on 29 March, 2007 at the IGES in Japan in the presence of the working level delegation of the three countries. The participants of the meeting agreed to establish a structure to exchange information on chemicals, focusing on regulations and laws on chemicals at national level. The structure will be constructed through developing homepage on TEMM chemicals management under the website of SEPA, KMoE, and JMoE, respectively. The TEMM website (www.temm.org) and the homepages of the three countries containing their chemicals management policies and regulations will be linked among others to ensure convenient access.