THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 23 October 2018 — Chemistry professionals from across Africa advanced their capabilities to implement the industry-related provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) following a workshop on chemical safety and security management for the chemical industry coordinated by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, held 9-11 October.
State Minister from the Ethiopian Ministry of Industry, H.E. Mr Yohanes Dinkayehu Eba, underlined the growing importance of the chemical industry for many developing economies, and the need to reduce chemical plants’ vulnerability to accidents and incidents. “To curtail such risks, we have to build national capacities and involve all stakeholders —the chemical industry is a key partner and it is vital that they understand and adopt best practices in chemical safety and security,” stated the Minister.
OPCW’s Senior Programme Officer, Mr Rohan Perera stressed in his opening remarks that the advancement of chemical safety and security is one of OPCW’s priorities, and that the Organisation’s Member States from Africa are keen to enhance their capabilities in this area. “Through meetings such as this the OPCW provides a platform for the government, industry and other experts to work in synergy and to share their experiences, strategies and approaches for the improvement of chemical safety and security,” said Mr Perera.
The participants presented the status of implementation of chemical safety and security measures in their respective countries. They also discussed elements of a step-by-step guide on creating national frameworks to manage chemical safety and security risks in chemical plants of small and medium-sized enterprises.
The agenda further comprised briefings on a variety experiences in safety and security management from the chemical industry across Africa. Discussions covered a broad range of issues, such as: industry outreach, chemical safety and security risk assessment for accident prevention and preparedness, the human factor in chemical safety management, national frameworks on chemical safety management and mitigation strategies for chemical threat reduction.
Expert speakers included specialists from Ethiopian Chemical Industry Association and the OPCW.
The 29 attendees, from 12 OPCW Member States in Africa, encompassed government officials responsible for the chemical industry, small- to medium-sized chemical industry professionals, academics, and chemists.
The OPCW Chemical Safety and Security Programme was launched in 2009 and has since become a leading forum for the exchange and development of expertise in chemical management.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 96% of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.