Chemical program decisions: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Official title: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Decisions related to the Chemicals Programme

Subject category:
Chemicals & Wastes
Type of agreement / instrument:
Legally-binding decisions
  • On December 14, 1960 20 countries originally signed the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  • Signed by Canada December 14, 1960.
  • Ratified by Canada April, 10 1961.
  • Decisions are legally binding on all member countries that do not abstain at the time they are adopted.
  • Canada is an ongoing member of the OECD.
Lead & partner departments:
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Health Canada. Others: Global Affairs Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Pest Management Regulator Agency, Standards Council of Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
For further information:
Web links:
OECD Chemical Safety and Biosafety website
ECCC Inquiry Centre
Substances Management Information Line - Chemicals Management Plan
Compendium edition:
October 2018
Reference #:

Plain language summary

The OECD Chemicals Programme has been around since 1971. The agreements made within this organization are important to Canada because they contribute to strengthening international relations towards the sound chemicals management while also sharing the burden. The decisions taken within the OECD are legally binding; therefore, Canada is an active participant within the programme. Within this organization, Canada is trying to achieve harmonized approaches within chemicals assessment and management in order to protect human health and the environment. By achieving an international goal of safe management of chemicals, member countries can benefit by sharing the workload, therefore reducing costs and enabling access to shared science-based knowledge.


The Joint Meeting (JM) oversees the work of the OECD Environment, Health and Safety Program. The OECD’s Chemical Safety Programme focuses on the development and co-ordination of environment health and safety activities internationally.

The major objective of the OECD Chemicals Programme is to share the science-based burden of the investigation of chemicals among Member countries.

Key elements

OECD Council Decisions Related to Chemicals Management:

  • Decision Concerning the Minimum Pre-Market Set of Data (MPD) in the Assessment of Chemicals (82) 196;
  • Decision on the Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) in the Assessment of Chemicals C(81)30;
  • Decision on the Protection of the Environment by Control of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) C(73)1 and C(87)2;
  • Decision-Recommendation on Compliance with Principles of Good Laboratory Practice (C[89] 87);
  • Decision-Recommendation on Cooperative Investigation and Risk Reduction of Existing Chemicals;
  • Decision -- Recommendation on the Systematic Investigation of Existing Chemicals C(87)90.

Expected results

The work within the OECD Chemicals Programme is expected to help share the burden and reduce cost of chemicals management to both industry and member countries. It is also expected to contribute to member countries ability to meet the international goal of the sound management of chemicals by 2020. The knowledge and expertise developed through the OECD JM is shared with non-member countries thereby contributing to improved chemicals management globally.

Canada’s involvement

These agreements are important to Canada because it is important to establish strong linkages between international results/activities within the OECD and Canada’s domestic objectives and priorities with regards to chemicals management. By leveraging the work on chemicals within the OECD, it permits Canada to deliver on its domestic work through access to chemical information, risk assessments, development of technical approaches or methodologies as well as contributing to resource efficiencies while sharing the burden amongst member countries.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) provides general authority for action. Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the development and implementation of legislation, regulation, and other controls and policies to apply OECD decisions.

Results / progress


Environment and Climate Change Canada’s main activities in the OECD chemicals work aims at:

  • the scientific coordination of the assessment and management of chemicals;
  • the sharing of scientific data and information;
  • development of technical approaches and methodologies; and
  • increasing efficiencies and avoiding duplication.

In addition, it allows Canada to share its domestic work and technical approaches to other member countries.

This is achieved though participating in many task forces and working groups that are coordinated through the Joint Meeting of the Chemicals Committee and the Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology.


Reports and documents released by the OECD Chemicals program can be found on the OECD Chemical Safety and Biosafety website.

The eChemPortal was developed as a location for OECD members to share chemical information. Canada’s Domestic work as well as the work of the member countries can be found on this website.


OECD countries working together to combine their skills and knowledge, avoid duplication of testing, minimize non-tariff distortions to trade and ultimately be more efficient and effective have been found to save governments and the chemical industry at least EUR 150 million a year. More details can be found in the report: Cutting Costs in Chemicals Management.

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