Press Releases

Read the Basel Convention press release on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment

Entry into force of amendment to UN treaty boosts efforts to prevent waste dumping.

Read the Basel Convention press release on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment

Read the Basel Convention press release on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment

Date: 13 September 2019 

Momentum and political will continues to grow for tackling the world’s ever-intensifying waste problem, with this week celebrating the threshold for the Basel Convention1’s Ban Amendment to enter into force being reached. The Ban Amendment prohibits the export of hazardous waste from developed countries (OECD, EU member states, Liechtenstein) to developing countries.

The Ban Amendment will enter into force on 5 December 2019 following the recent ratification by Croatia. At the time of its adoption in 1995, some felt the amendment was a way to address challenges faced by developing countries and countries with economies in transition to control imports of hazardous and other wastes that they were unable to manage in an environmentally sound manner.

The spirit of the Ban Amendment has been very much alive for many years, in spite of the time elapsed between its adoption and entry into force. Many developed country Parties to the Convention have already made use of their prerogative to ban the export of hazardous wastes, while many developing countries also made use of their prerogative to ban the import of hazardous wastes.

The entry into force of the Ban Amendment has significant political weight, acting as a flagship of international efforts to ensure that those countries with the capacity to manage their hazardous wastes in an environmentally sound manner take responsibility for them, while still allowing Parties wishing to receive wastes required as raw materials for recycling or recovery industries.

International efforts to reach the threshold for entry into force – 66 of the 87 Parties as at 22 September 1995 – included a multi-year country-led initiative by Indonesia and Switzerland launched in 2011, assistance by the Basel Convention Secretariat to individual Parties facing difficulties in ratifying the Ban Amendment, as well as awareness-raising activities by many other stakeholders.

Reflecting on these latest developments, the Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention, Rolph Payet, said today that “public awareness of the scale and impact of our waste problem has risen enormously in recent years and Parties are stepping up their efforts to collectively tackle this, both at home through innovative measures and also globally through international, multilateral action. The Basel Convention has continually evolved to reflect these new challenges and the entry into force of the Ban Amendment is another milestone towards minimising risks from the adverse effects of transboundary movements of hazardous waste. Quite simply, the world will be a safer, healthier place from now on.”

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and incinerator ash. For more info see www.basel.int

The Ban Amendment was adopted by decision III/1 at the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 1995. It added a new preambular paragraph, an additional paragraph to Article 4 and a new Annex VII to the Convention. The Ban Amendment provides for the prohibition by Parties listed in Annex VII (members of the EU, OECD and Liechtenstein) of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes to States not in Annex VII. For more information: http://www.basel.int/Implementation/LegalMatters/BanAmendment/Overview/tabid/1484/Default.aspx

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports Parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

Media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:

Charlie Avis
Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat
Charles.avis@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-79-7304495

Substantive questions related to the Ban Amendment, contact:

Yvonne Ewang-Sanvincenti
Legal Officer, BRS Secretariat
yvonne.ewang@brsmeas.org
Tel.: +41-22-9178112


1 The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989, entered into force in 1992, and as of today has 187 Parties. Its overarching goal is the protection of human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes.

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

The 2019 Triple COPs concluded successfully with a raft of decisions to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of chemicals and wastes, including plastic waste.

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

Geneva, 10 May 2019 - Decisions on plastic waste have been reached today in Geneva, as approximately 180 governments adopted a raft of decisions aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste.

Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources1. Governments this week amended the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment. At the same time, a new Partnership on Plastic Waste was established to mobilise business, government, academic and civil society resources, interests and expertise to assist in implementing the new measures, to provide a set of practical supports – including tools, best practices, technical and financial assistance - for this ground-breaking agreement.

Other far-reaching decisions from the two weeks included the elimination of two toxic chemical groups, which together total about 4,000 chemicals, listed into Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, namely Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and its salts and PFOA-related compounds. The latter has till now been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams.

Important progress was also made under the Rotterdam Convention, which provides a legally-binding framework for information exchange and informed decision-making in the trade of certain hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals. Two chemicals, the pesticide phorate and the industrial chemical hexabromocyclododecane were added to Annex III of the convention, making them subject to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure, through which countries can decide on future imports of these chemicals. A further decision, to approve procedures and mechanisms on compliance with the Rotterdam Convention – seen as a crucial step for further improving implementation of this key convention - was adopted with great appreciation by Parties.

Working for two weeks in Geneva under the theme of “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”, approximately 1,400 delegates from around 180 countries converged for the meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (Triple COPs). Participants benefited from the numerous opportunities and events to exchange information on alternatives to these chemicals, as well as best practices.

Speaking at the closing session of the Triple COPs, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary (UNEP) of the three conventions, said that “I’m proud that this week in Geneva, Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste. Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, and the fact that this week close to 1 million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action here in Geneva at the COPs is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high.”

“We were able to list two out of 7 candidate chemicals and will continue working closely with parties to identify feasible alternative solutions to hazardous pesticides, taking due account of food security and market access aspects” added Hans Dreyer, Executive Secretary (FAO) of the Rotterdam Convention.

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes and other wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as “hazardous” based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of wastes defined as “other wastes” – household waste and incinerator ash. See www.basel.int

Plastic Waste

With an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic in our seas, 80-90% of which has come from land-based sources, the high public profile of this issue is understandable. Reducing waste generation at source, and improving waste management thereafter, would go a long way towards solving this problem. For more on this see:  http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=4332&blogId=5169 and http://www.brsmeas.org/tabid/7656/Default.aspx

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment (UNEP). The 161 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. As of the end of this COP, 52 chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III. The Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks, to inform and improve national decision making. In addition, through the PIC Procedure, it provides a legally-binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of selected chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment. See www.pic.int

Listing of Chemicals: Pesticides and Industrial Chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention

The newly-listed chemicals are phorate (a pesticide) and hexabromocyclododecane (an industrial chemical) these chemicals would be included in the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure enabling better-informed decision-making on the trade in chemicals, thereby protecting human health and the environment. More information on these chemicals is available at: http://www.pic.int/tabid/1185/Default.aspx

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. As of the end of this COP, 30 chemicals of global concern are listed under the Stockholm Convention. See www.pops.int

Listing of Chemicals: Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) under the Stockholm Convention

The two new chemicals listed in Annex A to the Stockholm Convention are the pesticide Dicofol, and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) its salts and PFOA-related compounds (some applications with time-limited exemptions). Listing in Annex A to the Convention obliges Parties to eliminate these chemicals from use. The two chemicals are listed on the basis of a robust review process addressing risks, management options and alternatives by the UN’s POPs Review Committee. Dicofol is used as a miticide on a variety of field crops, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals and tea and coffee and is known to cause skin irritation and hyperstimulation of nerve transmissions in humans as well as being highly toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates, algae and birds. PFOA is a widely-used industrial chemical used in the production of non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams. As a substance of very high concern, it is known to be linked to major health problems including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease and hypertension in pregnancy. More information on these chemicals is available in factsheets at: http://chm.pops.int/tabid/243/Default.aspx

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:

Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva +41-79-730-4495

 

 

 


1 Data from “Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures” by Frederic Gallo et. al. in Environmental Sciences Europe 2018; 30(1): 13, at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918521/

1.6 million deaths could be prevented annually through the sound management of chemicals and waste

To mark World Health Day on 7th April, read the BRS Secretariat’s Press Release calling for greater action to prevent illness and death from unsound management of chemicals and waste.

1.6 million deaths could be prevented annually through the sound management of chemicals and waste

1.6 million deaths could be prevented annually through the sound management of chemicals and waste

Geneva, 5 April 2019 – Recently, the World Health Organization estimated the ‘disease burden’ preventable through sound management and reduction of chemicals in the environment at around 1.6 million lives per year.1 As the international community marks World Health Day, three UN conventions whose aim is the sound management of chemicals and waste are stressing the need for urgent and greater actions from governments to reduce the number of illnesses and death from hazardous chemicals and wastes.

Causes of death attributable to unsound management of chemicals and wastes include cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congenital anomalies, chronic kidney disease, poisonings, and self-harm.2

One of the pathways taken by hazardous chemicals into the human body is through our food and liquid intake. Persistent Organic Pollutants (or POPs) are highly toxic chemicals known to be carcinogenic, which accumulate in the fatty tissue of mammals, birds and fish. POPs become more concentrated in higher reaches of the food chain, culminating in humans, potentially leading to serious health effects including certain cancers birth defects dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to diseases, and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. Toxic chemicals present in the air also impact our health if we inhale them.

The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions work to protect people from these harmful impacts in a multitude of ways. With 187, 161, and 182 parties respectively, the three conventions are nearly universal and are legally-binding, covering the life-cycle of hazardous chemicals and wastes, protecting human health and the environment at every stage. This starts with the reduction and elimination of toxic chemicals, includes the minimisation and environmentally sound management of wastes such as electronic waste, mercury waste, plastic waste and more, as well as the creation of innovative public-private partnerships to tackle household waste, mobile phones, and computing equipment.

For example, the Basel Convention – which in March 2019 marked 30 years since adoption and which is primarily concerned with providing the legal framework for controlling transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes – has developed globally-agreed technical guidelines on how to manage different waste streams in an environmentally sound manner, including the prevention of impacts on human health from lead acid batteries, healthcare and medical waste, and electronic waste, to name just three.

The Rotterdam Convention features transparent trade regulation measures and an obligatory information-sharing system to enable and ensure informed decision-making from governments regarding the refusal, or import and proper use, of more than 50 hazardous industrial chemicals and agricultural pesticides already listed under the Convention. This has led to lowered health risks to people handling such substances, especially including vulnerable groups such as the rural poor, and women and children.

Meanwhile Parties to the Stockholm Convention have listed 28 of the world’s most toxic substances, leading to measurable lowered human exposure as a result of these chemicals’ reduction or elimination, as demonstrated through the Convention’s Global Monitoring Plan which found lowered levels globally in polychlorinated diphenyls (PCBs), DDT and dioxins and furans.3

At the same time, the need for urgent action to achieve the sound management of chemicals and wastes was a key concern at the recent Fourth UN Environment Assembly, where a Resolution4 was adopted on this subject calling on governments and all other relevant stakeholders to take note of progress achieved by the chemicals and waste conventions and to encourage all stakeholders to seek the establishment of permanent programs of information directed to consumers and the public in general, on the risks generated by chemicals and raise awareness of the responsibilities related to their management.

Further decisions which will help prevent illness and reduce preventable deaths will be taken at the next Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, in Geneva from 29 April to 10 May 2019, the theme for which is “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”. Draft decisions to be discussed include the listing under the Stockholm Convention of the fluorinated chemical Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), widely used as a water and oil repellent and found to contaminate drinking water supplies in many communities and Dicofol, a highly toxic organochlorine pesticide used to control mites on many crops and known to be harmful to humans and the environment; the listing of seven additional chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention; and a new Basel Convention partnership on plastic waste and amendments to better incorporate plastic waste into the existing control mechanisms of the Convention.

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as “hazardous” based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of wastes defined as “other wastes” – household waste and incinerator ash. See www.basel.int

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment (UNEP). The 161 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. To date 50 chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III. The Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks, to inform and improve national decision making. In addition, through the PIC Procedure, it provides a legally-binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of selected chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment.See www.pic.int

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. To date, 28 chemicals of global concern have been listed under the Stockholm Convention.

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:

Charlie AVIS,
Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva
+41-79-730-4495

 

 


1 World Health Organization, 201, The public health impact of chemicals: knowns and unknowns: data addendum for 2016. www.who.int/iris/handle/10665/279001

2 Ibid.

3 See Stockholm Convention factsheets available at: chm.pops.int/?tabid=5559

4 UNEP, 2019, Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste, Resolution UNEP/EA.4/L.9 - Available at: https://papersmart.unon.org/resolution/uploads/k1900787.pdf

 

1989-2019: 30 years of the legally-binding Basel Convention

With 187 Parties, the Basel Convention has come a long way since adoption on 22 March 1989. Read the BRS Press Release marking this milestone.

1989-2019: 30 years of the legally-binding Basel Convention

1989-2019: 30 years of the legally-binding Basel Convention

22nd March 2019 - With an estimated 12,000 million tonnes of plastic entering landfills or the natural environment by 2050 under current trends1, and with an estimated 50 million tonnes of electronic waste being generated every year - projected to triple by 20502 - the international community mobilised in Geneva today to renew calls for more comprehensive and effective approaches to waste management. The need for urgent action to achieve the sound management of wastes was a key concern at the recent Fourth UN Environment Assembly where States pledged to work towards defining national targets at the earliest opportunity for reducing waste generation and increasing the reuse of products and recycling of waste.

With public awareness focussing largely on marine plastic litter, “a upstream focus on tackling at source the problem of waste is required more than ever before”, said Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention,3 a nearly universal environmental treaty aimed at ensuring the prevention and minimization of the generation of hazardous wastes and other wastes as well as their environmentally sound management, in addition to provisions aimed at controlling their exports and imports.

The international community marked the Convention’s 30th anniversary at an event today in Geneva, Switzerland, during which the many implementation successes were presented and discussed. Commenting on these, Mr Payet noted that “the Basel Convention has an impressive record of continuous innovation and evolution: the waste management problems of 1989, when it was adopted, were very different to the challenges we face today, and I am proud that Parties continue to see it as the principal legally-binding instrument with which to tackle such urgent issues as electronic waste, and plastic waste, issues which were not on our radar thirty years ago. The proposal to amend the Convention to more comprehensively deal with plastic waste, for example, which will be considered next month here in Geneva, demonstrates the continued relevance of this process and the trust that Parties have in our collective ability to step up and find solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, together.”

This evolution is marked by new priorities that have enriched this treaty and gradually complemented the core business of the Convention, which is the control of transboundary movement of wastes. In 1999, the importance of the environmentally sound management of wastes became a strengthened area of focus; in 2006, heightened attention was given to the sound management of the particular challenging waste stream of electrical and electronic wastes; in 2008, the protection of human health from the hazards of wastes gained increased momentum; and in 2010, setting yet a new chapter in the life of the Convention, prevention and minimization of wastes gained increased support as the importance of working “upstream” was acknowledged. The Convention thus perpetually remains modern and very close to the everyday lives of all citizens: we each have the responsibility and opportunity to contribute towards achieving its objectives.

Household Waste

Central to minimising waste, including plastics, is tackling waste generation at the household level. The environmentally sound management of household waste – a major challenge especially for developing countries – is particularly difficult since not only is the quantity of waste generated increasing rapidly, but the composition of that waste is changing rapidly as well. For that reason, a Basel Convention Partnership on Household Waste was initiated in 2017 to explore and disseminate innovative solutions, an integrated approach, avoidance and minimisation of waste at source as well as systems for the collection, separation, transport, storage, treatment, processing, recycling and where necessary, final disposal, of household waste. More information is available here: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=5082

Plastic Waste

Fortunately, world attention continues to be focussed on the problems associated with plastic waste. The Basel Convention offers avenues for all States to take collective action towards minimising plastic waste generation at source and promoting their environmentally sound management. The next Conference of the Parties (COP), 29 April to 10 May 2019, will consider a range of additional steps to better address the challenges of plastics wastes4 including proposed amendments to the Convention on plastic wastes5; and the establishment of a new Partnership on Plastic Waste. This Partnership is designed as an international vehicle for public-private cooperation, sharing of best practices, and technical assistance in the area of at-source measures to minimise and more effectively manage plastic waste, thus helping tackle the global environmental problem of marine plastic litter. More information on minimising plastic waste is available here:http://www.basel.int/?tabid=6068

Electronic Waste

Electronic waste – or E-waste – is one of the fastest growing streams of hazardous waste in the world and is fuelled by the rapid growth in computing and mobile phone equipment sales. E-waste is considered hazardous due to the presence of toxic substances such as mercury, lead, and brominated flame retardants which are harmful to both human health and the wider environment. E-waste may also include precious and economically valuable metals such as gold, copper and nickel as well as rare materials of strategic value such as indium and palladium. The Basel Convention established innovative public-private partnerships to develop and implement policy responses to these issues and to build capacity in developing countries to manage e-waste, including globally-agreed Technical Guidelines on the transboundary movements of E-waste, pilot projects, and a Massive, Open, Online Course (MOOC) on E-waste which was undertaken by approximately 1,000 participants. The next Basel Convention COP may consider a new Partnership to build on these successes. The technical guidelines are available here: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=6068  

Notes for editors:

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports Parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

For Media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:

Charlie Avis
Public Information Officer
BRS Secretariat
Charles.avis@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-79-7304495

 

 


1 UN Environment UNEP/AHEG/2018/1/INF/3: Combating marine plastic litter and microplastics: an assessment of the effectiveness of relevant international, regional and subregional governance strategies and approaches; p.9;  full report: https://papersmart.unon.org/resolution/uploads/unep_aheg_2018_inf3_full_assessment_en.pdf

2 Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy PACE, 2019, A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for a Global Reboot full report: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_A_New_Circular_Vision_for_Electronics.pdf

3 The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. For more information, see www.basel.int

 

Women disproportionately vulnerable to health risks from chemical and waste pollution

To mark International Women’s Day, read our new Press Release on why women and girls are more likely than men to suffer adverse effects from chemicals and waste.

Women disproportionately vulnerable to health risks from chemical and waste pollution

Women disproportionately vulnerable to health risks from chemical and waste pollution

8 March 2019 - Due to a combination of socio-economic, cultural, and physiological factors, women and girls are disproportionately vulnerable to the harmful impact of pollution from chemicals and waste. At the same time, in many countries, women are increasingly assuming leadership roles in raising awareness, and protecting their communities, from these impacts.

The adverse effects of hazardous chemicals and wastes on different groups of the population vary depending on the level of exposure, behavioural patterns, age, biological effect (for example, endocrine disruption), geographical location, nutritional status and co-exposure to other chemicals. Certain types of chemicals, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), can build up to dangerous levels in humans causing adverse reproductive, developmental, immunological, hormonal, and carcinogenic effects with varied impacts on vulnerable groups of the population.

Women are often more exposed to chemicals and waste as a result of different socio-economic roles, defined along gender lines. According to a study in Indonesia, and indeed in many countries, women are still expected to perform the bulk of domestic work in and around the house, including the sorting, removal, and disposal of household waste, which in many cases include open burning of plastics and other household waste. This practice exposes women to highly toxic persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals with significant impacts on their health and as potential child bearers. Recent body burden analysis has shown that such chemicals do get passed out to children during pregnancy.1

In farming, more than 40% of agricultural work in developing countries is done by women and girls. Because women are twice as likely to be illiterate2 as men, vital chemical and safety information is often overlooked, increasing the likelihood of mis-handling and consequent unintended exposure to pesticides.

Cultural norms also impact on women and girls’ vulnerabilities. Of the estimated 13,000 chemicals3 used in beauty and hygiene products only about 10% have been evaluated for safety. A recent study concluded that women of colour, independent of socio-economic status, are most exposed to higher levels of such chemicals4 as a result of using products such as skin-whiteners and hair products, which often contain toxic substances, including heavy metals such as mercury and lead.

Such socio-economic and cultural factors are compounded by physiological differences between women and men, since their smaller size and role in the reproductive cycle, women are proportionately more heavily impacted than men even when exposure is the same. Up to 33% of a woman’s chemical burden can be passed on to her baby during gestation, through the placenta, as well as via breastfeeding.5 Women are often not even aware of the health risks they are facing, especially given that some of these chemicals can remain in the body for long periods and manifest themselves later in time.

On the other hand, there has been progress. Women are increasingly stepping forward to take on leadership roles to protect the most vulnerable segments of our population from the potentially harmful effects of certain chemicals and wastes. Both the Gender Heroes publication and the Gender Pioneers initiative under the BRS Conventions point to examples of the empowerment of women in marginalised communities and the impacts that their actions have had, for example, in the promotion of ecological agriculture, in the reduction of use of highly hazardous pesticides, in the protection of children from the toxics found in toys, and in the safer recovery and management of recyclable elements of e-waste from landfill sites. For more information on the BRS Gender Heroes and Gender Pioneers see: http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=4759

These examples emphasise the need for enhanced gender considerations and sound management of chemicals and wastes in the broader push for implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Indeed the relationship between chemicals and wastes and gender, under SDG 5, requires constant emphasis, attention, and mainstreaming. This will be further explored during the next Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, in Geneva from 29 April to 10 May 2019, the theme for which is “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”.

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as “hazardous” based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of wastes defined as “other wastes” – household waste and incinerator ash. See www.basel.int

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment (UNEP). The 161 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. To date 50 chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III. The Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks, to inform and improve national decision making. In addition, through the PIC Procedure, it provides a legally-binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of selected chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment. See www.pic.int

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. To date, 28 chemicals of global concern have been listed under the Stockholm Convention.

For more on gender aspects of chemicals and waste, see http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=3651 or contact Susan WINGFIELD, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-233-3218, +41-22-917-78406, susan.wingfield@brsmeas.org

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see www.brsmeas.org or contact Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva +41-79-730-4495

 


1 From the BRS Scoping Study on Gender in Indonesia, full report here: http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=5816

2 Both statistics from FAO data summarised in the infographic at: http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/infographics-details/en/c/180754/

3 Zota & Shamasunder, 2017, The environmental injustice of beauty: framing chemical exposures from beauty products as a health disparities concern, American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Vol 127(4):418 online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28822238

4 Ibid

5 UNDP, 2017, Gender Mainstreaming - a Key Driver of Development in Environment & Energy. Available online: http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/Environment%20and%20Energy/Sustainable%20Energy/Gender_Mainstreaming_Training_Manual_2007.pdf

Improved governance called for to prevent 12,000 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2050

Read the BRS Press Release on marine litter, as BRS and Barcelona conventions join forces to help beat plastic pollution.

Improved governance called for to prevent 12,000 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2050

Improved governance called for to prevent 12,000 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2050

7th December 2018: Geneva, Switzerland - With UN Environment reporting that 12,000 million tonnes of plastic will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050 under current trends1, the international community mobilised in Geneva, Switzerland this week to explore ways to tackle marine plastics litter, one of the most visible and pressing environmental issues of our time.

Improved governance, a holistic approach, a possible new global treaty, strengthening existing initiatives and instruments, and better coordination among them, were considered as options, which will go to the next UN Environment Assembly, UNEA-4 in Nairobi next March, for consideration and actioning.

One existing legally-binding instrument, the Basel Convention, was recognised as a valuable avenue for governments and stakeholders to tackle plastic pollution, given it is almost universal and has a number of relevant features, with amendments being discussed at its next conference of the parties next year. Focussing on tackling waste generation at source and at the household level, a Basel Convention Partnership on Household Waste was initiated in 2017 to explore and disseminate innovative solutions, an integrated approach, avoidance and minimisation of waste at source as well systems for the collection, separation, transport, storage, treatment, processing, recycling and where necessary, final disposal, of household waste. More information is available here: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=5082.

Responding to the call for urgency and to improve actions in the Mediterranean region, strengthened cooperation between international agreements was announced on Friday 6th December, with the secretariats of the Barcelona Convention2 and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions3 signing a new memorandum of understanding aimed at boosting regional efforts including to beat plastic pollution.

Next, the Basel Convention’s Conference of the Parties (COP), in April/May 2019, will consider a range of additional steps to better address the challenges of plastics wastes4 including proposed amendments to the Convention to better address plastic wastes5; a set of further actions and establishing a new Partnership on Plastic Waste designed as an international vehicle for public-private cooperation, sharing of best practices, and technical assistance in the area of at-source measures to minimise and more effectively manage plastic waste, thus helping tackle the global environmental problem of marine plastic litter. More information on minimising plastic waste is available here: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=6068.

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

The Barcelona Convention was adopted in 1976 and aims to protect and improve the marine and coastal environment in the Mediterranean, whilst promoting regional and national plans contributing to sustainable development. Today, 21 countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the European Union, are Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention. The UN Environment / Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) is a cooperative effort to support the implementation of the Barcelona Convention. See web.unep.org/unepmap for more info.

Media enquiries, interviews:

Charlie Avis
Public Information Officer
BRS Secretariat
Charles.avis@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-79-7304495

 


1. UN Environment UNEP/AHEG/2018/1/INF/3: Combating marine plastic litter and microplastics: an assessment of the effectiveness of relevant international, regional and subregional governance strategies and approaches; p.9;  available at : https://papersmart.unon.org/resolution/uploads/unep_aheg_2018_inf3_full_assessment_en.pdf

2. Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean.

3. Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

 

Basel Convention partnerships take action to minimise solid waste generation

The BRS press release on Basel Convention partnerships is online, marking World Habitat Day 2018 and its focus on solid waste.

Basel Convention partnerships take action to minimise solid waste generation

Basel Convention partnerships take action to minimise solid waste generation
 
New era for waste management heralded as waste experts agree a raft of decisions including on marine plastic litter and microplastics

The Press Release of the 11th Meeting of the Basel Convention’s Open-ended Working Group is now online.

New era for waste management heralded as waste experts agree a raft of decisions including on marine plastic litter and microplastics

New era for waste management heralded as waste experts agree a raft of decisions including on marine plastic litter and microplastics

UN convention on wastes makes breakthrough recommendations to address global marine litter and other types of wastes

6th September 2018: Geneva, Switzerland - Momentum was built in Geneva this week to better address wastes including marine plastic litter and microplastics, through decisions adopted today by the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal[1].

More than 400 experts from 135 countries and international organisations, including industry associations, met and today adopted a suit of decisions related to wastes, including marine plastic litter and microplastics, electronic waste, and household waste.

Additionally, a High Level Event was organised bringing together more than 70 ambassadors and heads of international organisations to further enhance the commitment for global action for marine plastic litter.

Decision, which will now be submitted to the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (or COP), to be held at the end of April 2019 in Geneva, include the following:

A proposed new Partnership on Plastic Waste under the Basel Convention, designed as an international vehicle for public-private cooperation, sharing of best practices, and technical assistance in the area of at-source measures to minimise and more effectively manage plastic waste, thus helping tackle the global environmental problem of marine plastic litter;

Consideration of possible amendments to Annexes of the Convention, in relation to solid plastic waste, in order to assist Parties to better minimise and control their transboundary movement;

Further development of the Technical Guidelines on Electronic Waste (or E-waste), which are available for use by Parties to assist in implementing environmentally sound management of E-waste, which is amongst the fastest-growing waste-streams in the world, as well as consideration of options a new partnership on e-waste to follow the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE);

Further development of the Household Waste Partnership under the Basel Convention, aiming for an integrated approach for household waste management, acknowledged as one of the key challenges related to waste management faced by national governments, particularly in developing countries;

Enhanced cooperation with World Customs Organisation to strengthen the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, used by customs authorities to improve the control of wastes crossing borders.

Finalisation of the draft Manuals on Extended Producer Responsibility, which when completed can assist Parties with concrete actions for promoting the life-cycle approach in the manufacturing of products through to recycling.

Speaking today shortly before closing, the meeting’s Co-Chairs Mr. Mohamed Kashashneh (Jordan) and Ms. Justina Grigaraviciene (Lithuania) congratulated the Parties on reaching what they deemed to be “an historical outcome regarding marine plastic litter and microplastics. This and other decisions taken this week will bring the Basel Convention to a new era of effectiveness in helping Parties minimize and sustainably manage their wastes.”

Reflecting upon both the OEWG11 and the High Level Event, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, said that the decisions of the OEWG11, combined with heightened international commitment “constitute an important step in addressing the technical, legal, and political dimensions of the problem of marine plastic litter and pollution from other hazardous wastes. These three dimensions reinforce one another and are all vital for tackling such a ubiquitous and significant set of issues and challenges.”.

Meetings continue with the organisation of the 13th Meeting of the Basel Convention’s Implementation and Compliance Committee (ICC13) back-to-back with OEWG11, at which progress is expected on a range of relevant legal questions. Details of decisions taken at ICC13 will be posted on the BRS website in due course.

For further information:

Susan Wingfield
Programme Officer, for OEWG-11
Susan.Wingfield@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-22-9178406

Juliette Voinov Kohler
Legal officer, for ICC-13
Juliette.Kohler@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-22-9178219

BRS Press Enquiries

Charlie Avis
Public Information Officer
Charles.Avis@brsmeas.org 
Tel: +41-79-7304495

 



[1] The Basel  Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 186 Parties. For more information, see www.basel.int

Synergies review: e-surveys launched

E-surveys are now available online to gather data and feedback on the synergies process.

Synergies review: e-surveys launched

Synergies review: e-surveys launched
 
Basel Convention meetings point way forwards for sustainable management of waste

A Press Release is now available summarising major outcomes of the OEWG-10 and ICC-12 meetings, held in Nairobi from 30 May to 2 June and 4 to 6 June 2016, respectively.

Basel Convention meetings point way forwards for sustainable management of waste

Basel Convention meetings point way forwards for sustainable management of waste
 
BRS and Climate-KIC launch first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on e-waste

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), together with its partner the European Institute for Innovation and Technology’s Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate-KIC), is proud to launch the first-ever Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, on the electronic and electrical waste, e-waste challenge.

BRS and Climate-KIC launch first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on e-waste

BRS and Climate-KIC launch first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on e-waste
 
Read the ICCM4 Press Release

Outcomes of the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management, featuring governments, civil society, and private sector, 28 September to 2 October in Geneva.

Read the ICCM4 Press Release

Read the ICCM4 Press Release

 

Parties adopt key decisions at 2015 Triple COPs
Finishing at 03:45 in the morning of Saturday, 16 May 2015, the Meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are over, with several key decisions taken.

Parties adopt key decisions at 2015 Triple COPs

Parties adopt key decisions at 2015 Triple COPs

Geneva, Switzerland - 16 May, 2015

Significant steps were agreed upon early this morning by parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, as the 2015 Triple COPs drew to a close.

Staged under the theme “From Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow” from 4 to 15 May 2015, almost 1,200 participants from 171 countries converged on Geneva to push forward the chemicals and waste agenda at this biennial event.

A number of technical guidelines for the management of waste under the Basel Convention, four new listings (three under the Stockholm and one under the Rotterdam Conventions - polychlorinated napthalenes, hexachlorobutadiene, and pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters; and methamidophos respectively), and continued and strengthened synergies and implementation arrangements were the highlights of the decisions adopted on the final day. Meanwhile several chemicals considered were not listed, but instead deferred or made subject to special inter-sessional working group focus.

Basel Convention technical guidelines, aimed at assisting Parties to better manage crucial waste streams and move towards environmentally sound management (ESM), were adopted covering mercury waste and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) waste (one general and 6 specific waste-streams). Of high significance is the adoption on an interim basis of the technical guidelines concerning the transboundary movement of e-waste and used electronic and electrical products.

The BC technical guidelines on electronic, or e-waste provide much-needed guidance on how to identify e-waste and used equipment moving between countries, with the aim of controlling illegal traffic. Adoption came just days after UNEP released new data suggesting that as much as 90% of e-waste is dumped illegally, costing countries as much as US 18.8 $ billion annually and posing severe hazards to human health and the environment, particularly in Africa. Designed to provide a level playing field for all parties to the Convention, the guidelines will support and also encourage genuine recovery, repair, recycling and re-use of non-hazardous electronic components and equipment.

Regarding those pesticides where consensus could not be reached for listing, including paraquat and fenthion formulations, and trichlorfon, Clayton Campanhola, FAO Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, commented that “hazardous pesticides are not helping countries to produce more food with less, on the contrary: if badly managed, they cause negative impacts on natural resources and the health of rural communities and consumers.” In this respect, Parties requested additional technical assistance and support to identify alternatives to the use of hazardous pesticides which – if combined with integrated pest management (IPM) and agro-ecological approaches – form the basis for sustainable agricultural and rural development.

Whilst many Parties expressed their disappointment at the inability to reach consensus required for listing more of the chemicals proposed to be listed under the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet stressed the significance of the steps taken in noting that “our Conventions’ joint and mutually reinforcing objective is the protection of human health and the environment, and the Guidelines and additional listings decided upon by Parties during these two weeks continue to move us in this crucial direction. We have to place the sustainable management of chemicals and waste in the context of peoples’ lives, especially the more than 1 billion people on our planet who continue to live in absolute poverty and who strive to better themselves in whatever ways they can. We will never waver in our moral and political responsibilities towards the most vulnerable people in this world, and I believe strongly that the three conventions continue to offer the best framework for moving jointly towards a greener, more inclusive economy, and a safer tomorrow for all”.

Notes for editors:

  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and has 183 parties.

  • The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade promotes shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among its 154 Parties.

  • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. It has 179 Parties.

  • Polychlorinated napthalenes, Hexachlorobutadiene, and Pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters, are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) posing serious threats to human health and the environment.

  • Methamidophos is an extremely toxic organophosphate insecticide, causing serious adverse effects to human health, particularly to neural, immunity and reproductive systems.

  • E-waste data from the UNEP report “Waste Crime – Waste Risks: Gaps in Meeting the Global Waste Challenge” UNEP and GRID-Arendhal/Nairobi (2015), 67pp, ISBN: 978-82-7701-148-6

For more information, please refer to:

Website: www.brsmeas.org

BRS Secretariat

Kei Ohno Woodall, Programme Officer,

kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org tel: +41-79-2333218

BRS Press

Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer

Charles.avis@brsmeas.org tel: +41-79-7304495

FAO

Christine Fuell, Senior Technical Officer, Rotterdam Secretariat, Rome:

Christine.fuell@fao.org tel: +39-06-57053765

FAO Press

George Kourous, Information Officer, FAO Rome:

George.kourous@fao.org tel: +39-06-57053168

 

Zayed International Prize Honours Top Environmentalists
Colombia’s Paula Caballero Gómez is recognized as having been instrumental in the early conceptualization and promotion of Sustainable Development Goals.

Zayed International Prize Honours Top Environmentalists

Zayed International Prize Honours Top Environmentalists
Colombia’s Paula Caballero Gómez is recognized as having been instrumental in the early conceptualization and promotion of Sustainable Development Goals.
Extraordinary UN Conference Takes Historic Strides to Strengthen Chemical Safety Globally

UNEP and FAO team up to promote synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in two-week chemicals and waste meeting.

 

Extraordinary UN Conference Takes Historic Strides to Strengthen Chemical Safety Globally

Extraordinary UN Conference Takes Historic Strides to Strengthen Chemical Safety Globally

UNEP and FAO team up to promote synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in two-week chemicals and waste meeting.

Geneva, Switzerland, 11 May 2013 – The three conventions that govern chemicals and hazardous waste safety at the global level concluded their first ever jointly held meetings of the parties late Friday night in Geneva. The historic meeting, attended by nearly two thousand participants from 170 countries, as well as 80 Ministers, adopted 50 separate decisions aimed at strengthening protection against hazardous chemicals and waste.

The three legally autonomous conventions had convened the joint meeting of the conferences of the parties to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between the conventions, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of their activities on the ground. Each convention then continued individually over the two-week period to deal with its own specific topics of the global chemicals and waste agenda before returning in a joint session at the end of the week to finalize their outcomes.

The meeting culminated in a ministerial segment on 9 and 10 May 2013 dedicated to the theme of strengthening synergies between the conventions at national, regional and global level. The ministerial segment was joined by Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva, and Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii.  The global agency leaders pledged to deepen cooperation and collaboration as part of a broader effort to raise the profile of chemicals and waste issues, promote green growth and alleviate poverty.

At its conclusion, the joint meeting acclaimed the “Geneva Statement on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”. The Geneva Statement welcomed the UNEP-led consultative process on financing options for chemicals and waste that has considered the need for heightened efforts to increase the political priority accorded to sound management of chemicals and waste.

In a press conference following the ministerial segment, Mr. Steiner called the conferences of the parties “a unique historic event coming at a time of unprecedented change and progress in the arena of global environmental governance. The strengthening of UNEP and the synergies process of chemicals and waste multilateral environmental agreements are complementary parts of the ongoing reform to fortify the environmental dimension of sustainable development.”

Ms. Ishii spoke of the challenges countries face protecting the planet's critical ecosystems from contamination by hazardous chemicals and waste and of GEF support for strategies to overcome them. “At this critical juncture, the Global Environment Facility is committed to its financial support to help countries address these important challenges in three ways,” said Ms. Ishii. “Assisting them in their efforts to mainstream sound chemicals management in national agendas, creating an integrated GEF chemicals and wastes focal area, and expanding engagement with the private sector.”

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said that in many countries intensive crop production has depleted agriculture’s natural resource base, jeopardizing future productivity. “To fight hunger and eradicate poverty, we will need to find more sustainable ways to produce 60 percent more food by 2050,” he said. However, he recognized that chemical pesticides would continue to be part of farming in many parts of the world in future.

“The challenge is to enable countries to manage pesticides safely, to use the right quantity, at the right time and in the right way and also to apply alternatives to hazardous pesticides. Because when we don’t, pesticides continue to pose a serious risk to human health and the environment and will eventually end up as waste. Today, half a million tons of obsolete pesticides are scattered around the developing world,” he said.

“Around 70 percent of the chemicals addressed by the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions are pesticides, and many are used in agriculture. It is in the best interest of all countries to ensure that the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions can work together, effectively and efficiently, to address various aspects of the chemical life cycle.”

The joint meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions also reviewed the impact of the arrangements put in place by governments in 2011 to strengthen synergies among the treaties.

The parties endorsed the organization of the Secretariat, and adopted a programme of work and budget individual and for joint activities of three conventions in 2014-2015. ”The parties have agreed to strengthen capacity building and technical assistance for countries by investing the savings realized over the past two years into an enhanced technical assistance programme that better meets the needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. “In an era of financial austerity, we have learned through synergies how to deliver more to parties while living within the economic limits faced by Governments today.”

“Much of the success of this synergies meeting is owed to the outstanding cooperation and inspired leadership of the three presidents of the conferences, Franz Perrez of Switzerland, Magdalena Balicka of Poland and Osvaldo Álvarez-Pérez of Chile,” added Mr. Willis.

The 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to list hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) to Annex A to the Convention with specific exemptions for expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings. Efforts to adopt a non-compliance mechanism, however, did not succeed in the face of continuing disagreement on how such a mechanism might function.

Basel Convention's parties, at their 11th Conference of the Parties, took decisions to strengthen compliance with the Convention. The Parties adopted a framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, and agreed, over the next two years, to develop technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electronic and electrical wastes (e-waste).

The meeting also decided terms of reference for the newly established Environmental Network for Optimizing Regulatory Compliance on Illegal Traffic (ENFORCE), which aims to prevent and combat illegal traffic in hazardous and other wastes through the better implementation and enforcement of national law.

The 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention had considered the possible addition of five chemicals and one severely hazardous pesticide formulation to Annex III of the Convention. It agreed by consensus to add the pesticide azinphos-methyl and the industrial chemicals PentaBDE, OctaBDE and PFOS to Annex III of the Convention.[1] Listing in Annex III triggers an exchange of information between Parties and helps countries make informed decisions about future import and use of the chemicals. The addition of four substances is the highest number to be added to the Convention's prior informed consent procedure by any conference of the parties since the adoption of the Convention in 1998.

In contrast, the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention did not succeed in reaching agreement on the addition of chrysotile asbestos and a severely hazardous pesticide formulation containing paraquat to the Convention. The proposal to list chrysotile asbestos and the paraquat formulation will be considered at the next Conference of the Parties in 2015.

The joint meeting hosted a three-day Regional Fair from 1 to 3 May 2013 dedicated to the theme 'Synergies through regional delivery' and attended by 20 Stockholm Convention or Basel Convention Regional Centres and two Regional Offices of UNEP. The Fair provided the venue for the signing of bi-regional and intra-regional cooperation agreements between centres in Latin America and Caribbean, and Central and Eastern European regions in the areas of technical assistance and awareness-raising and outreach.

Note to editors:

Chemicals contribute many advantages to today's world; however their use can also pose risks to human health and the environment. To reduce this harmful global impact, three conventions have been established that regulate chemicals and hazardous waste at global level:

Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal regulates the export/import of hazardous waste and waste containing hazardous chemicals. The Convention was adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1992. It currently has 180 Parties.

Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade currently regulates information about the export/import of 47 hazardous chemicals listed in the Convention’s Annex III, 33 of which are pesticides (including 4 severely hazardous pesticide formulations) and 14 of which are industrial chemicals. The Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004. It currently has 152 Parties.

Unlike the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention does not ban or restrict trade in chemicals or pesticide formulations, but serves to strengthen protection of human health and the environment by expanding the exchange of critical safety information between exporting and importing States.

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants currently regulates 23 toxic substances that are persistent, travel long distances, bioaccumulate in organisms and are toxic. The Convention was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004. It currently has 179 Parties.

Contact:

Christine Fuell, Technical Senior Officer and Coordinator, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Tel. +39 06 5705 3765, christine.fuell@fao.org

Michael S. Jones, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Cell +41 (0) 79 730 44 95, msjones@brsmeas.org

Nick Nuttall, Director, Division of Communication and Public Information, and UNEP Spokesperson, +254 20 7623084, nick.nuttall@unep.org

For more information, visit the 2013 COPs website: synergies.pops.int or follow the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions on Twitter @brsmeas #brscops.

 


 

[1]PentaBDE: Pentabromodiphenyl ether (CAS No. 32534-81-9) and pentabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; OctaBDE: Octabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; PFOS: Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanesulfonates, perfluorooctanesulfonamides and perfluorooctanesulfonyls.

 

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