The case for change

The case for change

I have been preparing a paper on SharedSDS for presentation at Hazmat 2015 in Sydney in June. The paper is more or less finished and I have covered everything I want to say. The paper's title is Taming the monster. Quite dramatic for a mostly technical paper. Having raised expectations I now need some electricity.

The monster needs to be described

The whole world is adopting the GHS - Globally Harmonised System. By 2020 every country should have it enshrined in legislative and regulatory frameworks. So what's the problem?

The GHS was designed to have a "building block" approach so existing regulatory frameworks would fit right in. The bottom line is existing regulations will persist. Indefinitely. And naturally they are different from country to country. Different enough to be be costly for international trade when SDSs have to be adjusted from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Worse, the same substance can be classified differently in different jurisdictions. That can make it a profitable product in one place but unsellable in another.

Is that the monster?

No. The monster is that regulators everywhere have absolutely no incentive to make changes. Worse, their political masters have no desire nor incentive to harmonise their domestic regulations with those of any other country on the planet.

In fact, the domestic chemical industry in each country has a big and quite legitimate objection to change. Every business in every domestic industry in every country in the world has a big (sunk cost) investment in regulatory status quo.

How's that for a monster!

The cost of change will be enormous for those who change. Hence change will be resisted everywhere.

Are we are thinking monster when really looking at a windmill?

No, again. It is a real problem for the world economy and whoever used the words problem, challenge and opportunity in the same sentence nailed the SharedSDS solution.

The SharedSDS simple solution

You shouldn't spend more money improving your house than rising property prices will recover for you. The wise heads just invest more slowly than their suburb is appreciating.

The SharedSDS simple solution is to first identify the most painful regulatory differences for chemical industry international trade; identify world's best practice for each pain point; then cherrypick individual regulations in separate countries for regulatory harmonisation in the direction of identified best practice. One at a time.

The case for change

The business case for change affecting the domestic chemical industry in target countries which - quite legitimately - objects to change is twofold: First, the chemical industry worldwide will have identified best practice and that's where change proposed by the SharedSDS Foundation will be heading; and secondly the regulatory cost of international chemical industry trade will be trending down. That is a win-win for the domestic industry. A win for the world economy - that's you and me - and a win for the big end of town. All that is needed in addition to SharedSDS is a spin merchant to get some good press for local politicians and everyone gets a win.

Improvements happen at critical points first and the cost of change will be spread equitably and slowly.

That is the solution. And to borrow an old chemistry joke, if your country/company is not part of the solution it will be in the precipitate!

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