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Announcements

The report of the first meeting of the new informal Basel Convention partnership on household waste, held in Montevideo, Uruguay, from 2 to 4 August 2016, is now available online.

Report now online from Montevideo meeting on household waste

Report now online from Montevideo meeting on household waste
 

A list of concept notes for voluntary financial contributions for the biennium 2016/17 is now available on the BRS websites

Concept notes for voluntary financial contributions 2016-17 now available

Concept notes for voluntary financial contributions 2016-17 now available

 

 

The Secretariat hands over the signed BRS Geneva Gender Parity Pledge to Mr. Michael Moller, UNOG Director General.

Geneva Gender Parity Pledge

Geneva Gender Parity Pledge

On 2 December 2015, during the United Nations Oath of Office ceremony at the Palais des Nation, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat (BRS) handed over to Mr. Michael Moller, UNOG Director General, the signed BRS Geneva Gender Parity Pledge. 

The Geneva Gender Parity Pledge aims to strive for gender parity in all discussions in International Geneva and in panels where BRS staff is involved. Further, the Secretariat commits to provide gender training sessions for its staff members to enable them to liaise with other United Nations colleagues and to beacon gender aspects; to include gender related sessions in the agenda of workshops organized by the BRS Secretariat to further strengthen the mainstreaming of gender equality in projects and programmes under the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions; and to update the BRS Gender Action Plan on a yearly basis.

Contact: Matthias Kern at matthias.kern@brsmeas.org and Tatiana Terekhovap at tatiana.terekhovap@brsmeas.org

The Secretariat has been made aware that emails were recently sent using abusively for instance the name of the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions or other staff as its author, a misleading sender’s name, or a misleading email address. Please read the Secretariat’s communication about this issue.

Abusive emails

The Secretariat has been made aware that emails were recently sent using abusively for instance the name of the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions or other staff as its author, a misleading sender’s name, or a misleading email address. Please read the Secretariat’s communication about this issue.

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs

The high-level segment of the next Triple COPs is scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday, 4 May and the morning of Friday, 5 May 2017.

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs
 
The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs

The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs

The bureaux met on 3 and 4 November 2016 and agreed on the organization of the 2017 COPs and discussed other organizational matters, such as the high-level segment.

The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs

The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs
 
Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping

Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping

The Secretariat is proud to be climate neutral for 2015, thanks to the signature of an agreement with UNFCCC to offset its CO2 emissions.

Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping

Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping
 
BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

E-waste and the forthcoming Triple COPs were the subject of discussions at the WTO Committee on Trade & Environment, on 14-15 November 2016, in Geneva.

BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

On 14-15 November 2016, on the occasion of the regular session of the Committee on Trade & Environment (CTE) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) - i.e. the ‘CTE regular’ - now chaired by the Ambassador of Chile to the World Trade Organization, his excellency Mr. Héctor Casanueva, WTO members and observers discussed and focused more particularly on importance issues related to the relationship between Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and the WTO Agreements.

Several Secretariats of MEAs were represented and offered briefings on recent and forthcoming meetings of their respective Conferences of the Parties (COPs), as well as presentations on technical matters. Among these MEAs, one may highlight: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions on hazardous chemicals and wastes.

The Executive Secretary of the BRS Conventions, Dr. Rolph Payet, opened the morning session of 15 November, with some introductory remarks on the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment, as formally recognized in the provisions of the BRS Conventions – e.g. the preambles of the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. He then briefed on the outcomes of the 2015 meetings of the BRS Conventions COPs, followed by a briefing on the joint and specific issues at stake at the forthcoming meetings of the COPs, including the High Level Segment, to be held back-to-back from 24 April until 5 May 2017 in Geneva. Then Mr. Matthias Kern, Senior Programme Officer, offered a presentation on e-Wastes, as there was a strong request by WTO membership on this particular topic. The presentations were followed by some questions and comments by delegations, among other things, on the listing of chemicals, intersessional work and compliance.

The BRS presentation on the conventions and on e-waste under the Basel Convention can be downloaded.

With respect to the matters covered by the BRS Conventions, some countries then shared their national experiences, including on their implementing institutional, legal and policy frameworks and other measures: Chile provided an overview on the recently adopted framework law for waste management, extended producer responsibility and promotion of recycling; Canada made a presentation on their approach to chemical management. Also, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented its work on e-waste management.  

For more information on the above, please consult the BRS Conventions’ websites, and on the WTO Trade & Environment cluster as well as the CTE, consult:

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Focus on Latin America: the work of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions Regional Centre in Montevideo, Uruguay

Read our interview with Gabriela Medina to understand how regional efforts help implement the Basel and Stockholm conventions.

Focus on Latin America: the work of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions Regional Centre in Montevideo, Uruguay

Focus on Latin America: the work of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions Regional Centre in Montevideo, Uruguay

Interview between Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer for the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, and Chem. Gabriela Medina, Director of the Basel Convention Coordinating Centre, and Stockholm Convention Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean. The Centre (BCCC/SCRC) is hosted by the Uruguayan Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment (MVOTMA, Spanish acronym), and housed in the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU, Spanish acronym), in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning Gabriela and thank you for your time to answer our questions: your Regional Centre is the next in our series whereby we put one Centre per month “in the spotlight” in order to highlight all the many ways the Regional Centres contribute to the implementation of the conventions.

Gabriela Medina (GM): Thank you Charlie for this opportunity to share our work with a wider audience!

CA: Firstly, please tell us a little bit about the Centre (BCCC/SCRC) itself. Where are you housed, institutionally and geographically, how many staff do you have, and when was the BCCC/SCRC established: basically how did the Centre come about?

GM: Charlie, the Basel part of the joint Centre has been operational since 1998 and is hosted by the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU), established through an agreement between the Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment (MVOTMA) and the Basel Convention Secretariat at that time. It was then endorsed by the 4th COP of the Stockholm Convention in 2009 to act as Regional Centre for Capacity Building and Technology Transfer for the GRULAC Region.

Direction of the Centre, performed by me, belongs to the Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment (MVOTMA), so, I am a public officer working for MVOTMA, and the Co-Direction of the Centre belongs to the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU), and is performed by my colleague Ing. Alejandra Torre.

Our permanent staff is formed by five persons, Director, Co-Director, two technical assistants, and an accountant, but through our different projects we hire translation and design services and experts in different topics depending on the field of work.

CA: Do you serve all of the countries of the region, how many Parties are there, and how do you manage with language: do you communicate solely in Spanish, or also in Portuguese, or in English or how?

GM: The BCCC/SCRC  serves all the parties to the Latin America and the Caribbean region presently 33 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Granada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

We therefore need, and have, the capability to communicate in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

CA: It must be very challenging, yet very rewarding. What are the main technical issues or focus areas covered by the BCCC/SCRC and what activities does the BCCC/SCRC have in order to overcome these challenges?

GM: The focal areas of our work have been:

  • Global Monitoring Programme Phase I (2009-11). Capacity building on POPs Sampling and analysis in breast milk and air samples, in: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.
  • Minimization and environmentally sound management of mercury containing waste affecting most exposed populations in various economic, industrial and health sectors (2010-13), in: Argentina, Costa Rica and Uruguay.
  • Temporary storage and final disposal of mercury and its wastes (2011-12), in: Argentina and Uruguay.
  • The Minamata Convention and its implementation in the Latin America and Caribbean region (2013-14), in all GRULAC countries.
  • Capacity Building on Hazardous Waste and Promotion of Best Available Technologies and Best Environmental Practices (BATs and BEPs) (2013-14), in: Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Dominican Republic).
  • Regional strategy for strengthening environmental laboratories (2014-15), in: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
  • UNEP Guidance on the Development of Legal and Institutional Infrastructures and Measures for Recovering Costs of National Administration (LIRA Guidance), April to August 2013, we have participated using the Pilot Guidance in Uruguay, as well as being part of the experts group on the elaboration of the Guidance. Parties served: global level.

Nowadays we are working on:

  • Project on Mercury Inventories and Risk Management Plans (2014-17), in: Argentina, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.
  • Project on Minamata Initial Assessment (2014-17), in: Bolivia, Chile, Dominican Republic and Paraguay.
  • Project: Regional Outlook on Waste Management (ROWM), (2016-17), in: all GRULAC countries.
  • We are Co – Charing jointly with Mauritius, the new Basel global partnership initiative on establishing a Household Waste Initiative.
  • Project: Global Monitoring Proramme Phase II (2015-18). Capacity building on POPs Sampling and analysis in breast milk, water and air samples, in: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.
  • Project: Steering Committee on Chemicals and Waste Network for Latin America and the Caribbean, this is an initiative emerged by the GRULAC Forum of Ministers of Environment (2016-18), in: all GRULAC countries.
  • Project: National Implementation Plans, Stockholm Convention, Umbrella Component (2016 – 2017), in: Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

CA: So I understand one specific area of focus for the BCCC/SCRC is on POPs, and on the Stockholm Convention’s Global Monitoring Programme in particular. Are there concrete evidence of lowering levels of POPs concentrations in your region? Are we winning the battle?

GM: Charlie the situation in POPs is quite complex, we have got data on GMP Phase I (the former 12 pollutants), and now we are carrying on the GMP Phase II, with all the news POPs which have been included. Let’s wait until the next results to see what is happening at least at Regional Level.

CA: Gabriela, can we switch to a topic slightly more personal? How did you come to lead this BCCC/SCRC, how did your career lead you this in your direction, and what advice would you have for other women, hoping or striving for a career in science, or in international development more generally?

GM: Charlie, this is a real personal question, hahahahaha!!.

I started to work in the Environmental Ministry very young in 1994, while I was studying at the University; I started working in the environmental laboratory, where I worked for 13 years.Later in 2007, I was the Director of the Special Solid Waste and Contaminated Sites Department.

Once I obtained a degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, I took several postgraduate courses in Brazil, Japan, Germany and Holland, I am specialized in environmental toxicology, and as a woman, and living in a developing country, I think I had good job opportunities and training.

The environmental theme is very vast, and given that the development of chemicals and waste grows in an amazing way, since it has an exponential growth, the good news is that there is a lot to do, it has its difficulties, talking about prevention issues, because policies always go one step backward  than industrial development.

In 2011 the Government offered me to Manage the Center, something I accepted immediately, it really is a very challenging job.

For other women I would like tell them that there is a lot to do, and to see the environmental progress over the years is very rewarding, therefore, we should to continue working for the health and environment in a worthy way for our society.

CA: And lastly, please, could you comment briefly on the forthcoming 2017 Triple COPs? Will you be present? What do you see as the main challenges, working towards a Future Detoxified?

GM: Next year will be a great job since we will have the BRS triple COP, the 1st Minamata COP, where the next lines of work will be taken for the coming years, I hope to participate, in fact, I am anxious to be in the different meetings, where we can take decisions for a better world, working to reduce pollutants worldwide, as I pointed out, much remains to be done, and everything is in our hands.

CA: Thank you, for your time and for your answers. Good luck with your important work!

GM: Thank you, Charlie, and if you need any further information on our centre and its activities, please go to our website.

Environmentally sound management of waste the focus for experts’ meeting in Belgium

Funded by Germany and Japan, and hosted by the Public Waste Agency for Flanders, this meeting focuses on pilot projects and on guidance manuals on prevention, extended producer responsibility, and financing.

Environmentally sound management of waste the focus for experts’ meeting in Belgium

Environmentally sound management of waste the focus for experts’ meeting in Belgium

Funded by Germany and Japan, and hosted by the Public Waste Agency for Flanders, this meeting focuses on pilot projects and on guidance manuals on prevention, extended producer responsibility, and financing.

Do you get the monthly BRS #Detox Newsletter?

Ahead of the Triple COPs in April 2017, get the latest in everything connected to the sound management of chemicals and waste straight to your inbox each month.

Do you get the monthly BRS #Detox Newsletter?

Do you get the monthly BRS #Detox Newsletter?
 
Listen to the POPs rap, a musical postcard from Toronto

Canadian Karen Quinto felt the sustainable management of chemicals so important, she wrote a rap to communicate it. Listen to her song and tell us if you agree.

Listen to the POPs rap, a musical postcard from Toronto

Listen to the POPs rap, a musical postcard from Toronto

Interview between Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer for the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, and Ms. Karen Yves Quinto, a scientist/musician/artist from Toronto, Canada.

Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning Karen, thank you for time in sharing with us your work and first of all can I say how much I and many of my colleagues enjoyed your rap about persistent organic pollutants, or POPs. Congratulations!

Karen Yves Quinto (KYQ): Thank you, Charlie, for the opportunity to get my work out there and it’s great to know you enjoyed the song, it was certainly fun writing it!

CA: Firstly, please tell us a little bit about yourself. From what age did you feel interested in science and in chemistry and the environment?

KYQ: Well, I went to a progressive elementary school where we had Botany and Zoology as early as grade 1 and I fell in love with microscopes in grade 4 because it was like another world for me. I kind of forgot about science during high school, because I was too busy fitting in and science was not a popular subject, so I got into art and music instead up until I decided to pursue a career in science in the end. As for chemistry and the environment, those interests developed at Ryerson University where I did my undergrad. I was really into Microbial Fuel Cells, so I studied the topic for my Directed Studies in Chemistry course in my final year. We also had a very prominent, environmentally focused science programs and I held leadership positions in many environmentally focused projects, from making vertical gardens to petitioning to save the Experimental Lakes Area here in Canada.

CA: Why rap music, why not singer/song-writer guitar, for example?

KYQ: I do sing and write songs in other music projects. In my {Mandelbrot} & {Julia}: Boundaries Dissolve album, I focused more on my jazz lounge repertoire. I chose to delve into science rap recently because first of all, it's amusing in the context of science and I like to perform during my presentations. But I think rap also has a way of communicating quite plainly and honestly about any topic. Rapping is a good medium for communicating science because scientific terms are easier to rhyme. It also has a huge "wow" factor and has been my strategic go-to for seminars and presentations at school. It makes people laugh and it's never boring, so I keep doing it. I initially wrote "Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)" for Environment Canada's "Take Our Kids to Work Day", Canada's annual initiative to bring high school students to their parent/guardian's workplace. I went to my dad's workplace when I was a teen but he was in a manufacturing setting so there were lots for students to see because it was very visual. However, at Environment Canada, it was harder to show what scientists and policy makers actually do in a concrete and tangible way. So, I volunteered to co-host the event in 2015 and I used my POPs rap as an introduction to our work at the Hazardous Air Pollution Laboratory.

CA: How did the students react to your rap?

KYQ: When I first performed the rap, they looked very embarrassed for me. And I get it, it's unusual to be rapping about science but I know they acknowledged the skill that went into that. Some of them secretly told me later that initially they thought it was going to be lame, but they found it was "actually good". After the day was over, some parents emailed me afterwards saying that their children couldn't stop talking about the science rap that they had seen. And believe me, these teens are hard to impress! So in the end, I think it was successful in reaching the younger demographic.

CA: I’m curious, do you have other science raps you’ve written before POPs? And do you have any recordings of them?

KYQ: I've rapped about Lysteria in second year undergrad for Cellular Biology, then I wrote "Microbial Fuel Cells" and "Climate Change" for my Masters of Environmental Science presentations. If anyone wants to hear my music, they can go to https://soundcloud.com/karen-quinto or https://karenquinto.com/music-projects/ where they can stream my recorded music. The other rap songs are still in the process of being recorded. I barely record, to be honest, I much prefer performing in front of an audience!

CA: I’m sure you’ll get some additional visitors, after this interview. The only “criticism” I’ve heard about your POPs rap is that it is too short, and it’d be great to be able to enjoy it for longer! Is it difficult to write and perform for longer than a minute or so?

KYQ: I wrote POPs as an intro to a presentation of our work at Environment Canada, so initially the one-minute mark was because of its original use. Rap is fast-paced, so there’s a lot of work and longevity that goes into writing and performing one. You have to be concise and find ways for all the words to fit and rhyme in your own style. Then you have to memorize the whole thing, which requires a seriously intense amount of repetition until it is recorded in the muscle memory of your mouth. I suppose I could write a few more verses!

CA: Let’s talk about environment awareness. How would you describe the awareness of young adults and teenagers, for example in your city, concerning the environment, concerning chemicals, everyday pollution, waste, recycling, themes like that?

KYQ: I can’t really speak about statistics or anything concrete like that, but from what I have observed, it really depends on many factors: their geography, their upbringing at home, their school, and other sources like the shows that they watch. Some cities like Toronto have a fairly good recycling culture, but other cities don’t. If you’re eating home cooked meals, you’re less likely to produce trash than if you were always on the go. If your school has a clean-up day, it becomes part of your habit. If you live in a condo without a recycling program, you’re not going to think about recycling as much as if you lived in a house. I think that young adults in general are becoming more aware of the “big picture” environmental issues, but practicing environmentalism is dependent upon the local community of that teen.

CA: Tell me what are your current projects, anything else POPs-related?

KYQ: Right now, I am more into the painting side of things. I perform sometimes and have collaborations on the side, really slow-burning stuff. I’m not a full-time musician, so everything is happening on a different timescale. Nothing POPs-related, although I’m sure something interesting is bound to come along and help me continue that path. I have been bouncing around ideas and thinking about ways to communicate that area of science. I’m very much project-driven when it comes to my art. I like finding opportunities to create something for both science and art’s sake.

CA: Last question from me: the international community has its two-yearly “COPs” - or meetings of the conference of parties – coming up in Geneva next April, when new chemicals will be added to the Stockholm Convention and other decisions will be taken through the Basel and Rotterdam Conventions to protect human health and the environment. Do you think you could write a song about that?

KYQ: Is that an offer? Yeah for sure, I’d welcome any invitation to write and even perform; the sky’s the limit. Why not? That’s a very exciting proposition. When I wrote POPs, I was having lunch in the cafeteria of Environment Canada and planning what to do for an education event. That’s how my ideas thrive and come to fruition.

CA: Not an offer, no, but maybe the germ of an idea! Let’s see. Karen, thank you so much for your time, for your answers, and especially for your music. Good luck with your inspiring work, please let’s keep in touch!

ANAG: Thanks Charlie, we definitely will! And let me just add that if anyone wants to connect with me about science, art, and/or music, they can add me on www.linkedin.com/in/karenquinto or email me at k.quinto@mail.utoronto.ca

 

Regional focus switches to Kuwait

This month we highlight the work of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre for Kuwait.

Regional focus switches to Kuwait

Regional focus switches to Kuwait
 
Linkages between children, human rights, and chemicals and wastes

BRS contributed to the UN Human Rights Day of General Discussion on chemicals and the rights of the child, held in Geneva on 23 September 2016. Read Rolph Payet’s speech here.

Linkages between children, human rights, and chemicals and wastes

Linkages between children, human rights, and chemicals and wastes

2016 Day of General Discussion 23rd September 2016 on Children’s Rights and the Environment

Speech given by Amelie Taoufiq, Legal Officer, on behalf of Dr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions (UNEP)

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, dear colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen:

First, on behalf of Dr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the BRS Conventions on hazardous chemicals and wastes, three Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) administered by UNEP, please allow me to thank the Committee on the Rights of the Child, OHCHR and other partners, for organising this Day of General Discussion on the environment and children’s rights, including the side-event on the “Unsound Management of Chemicals and the Rights of the Child”, as well as panellists for their very interesting presentations. Today discussion, we believe, is of major importance so that we may all brainstorm, identify and analyse gaps, think forward and look ahead in terms of concrete course of actions on these key issues.

Indeed, children are the future... They are and should be at the core of our preoccupations and work. They are among the most affected by harmful effects on health and the environment caused by hazardous chemicals wastes; but as children can be great agents of change, they are also part of the solution for a ‘detoxified future’....

Also, on this occasion, I would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Mr. Tuncak, for his excellent work, which we support, and for the report presented last week at the Human Rights Council, pointing out the “silent pandemic” of disease and disability affecting millions of children, to the point that paediatricians now begun to sadly refer to children born “pre-polluted”....

In this regard, within the BRS/UNEP perspective, I would like to quickly highlight 3 (three) angles, as follows:

1. Some positive achievements and examples under BRS Conventions/UNEP with respect to the protection of children from exposure to hazardous chemicals and wastes:

  • It is important to recall that, through their common objectives, i.e. the protection of human health and the environment, the BRS Conventions are committed, in their provisions implementation, to protect children from hazardous chemicals and wastes, thereby contributing to protect fundamental children’s rights such as the rights: to life, to health, to a healthy environment, to development, to food security , to clean water and sanitation and to an adequate standard of leaving;
  • The specific conditions of vulnerable groups, including children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, and indigenous communities, including children therefrom, are explicitly and implicitly recognized in some convention provisions or taken into account in specific programmes implementing the BRS Conventions; also in this respect, the BRS Secretariat has been active, even before adoption of SDG No5 on gender, on promoting gender equality, between men and women, as well as boys and girls, which is closely linked to protecting children (e.g. development of the BRS-Gender Action Plan/GAP).
  • To prevent and remedy harmful exposure of human beings, mostly children, to hazardous chemicals and wastes, it is essential to monitor this exposure e.g.:  the Global Monitoring Programme (GMP) on POPS and breast milk in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO);
  • BRS S-Y-N-E-R-G-I-E-S……at all levels;
  • Among the most recent positive UNEP achievements: adoption of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, to enter into force the soonest hopefully, and perhaps to be synergized with the BRS Conventions, following the life-cycle approach of sound management of chemicals and wastes;
  • Etc..
2. The gaps, i.e. where additional guidance and developments are needed, most essentially would be:
  • Compliance mechanisms and procedures to still be adopted under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions;
  • Financing, mobilizing funds;
  • Prevention from exposure…;
  • Involvement of not all relevant stakeholders;
  • Limited number of chemicals listed;
  • Awareness, communication, education, information;
  • Capacity;
  • Etc..

3. Some ideas of good practices and recommendations, could be for instance:

  • More synergies, i.e. to enhance cooperation and coordination, between all relevant stakeholders, and at all levels, national, regional and international levels. So,
  • “Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships”….recalling the recent words of the newly appointed UNEP Executive Director, Mr. Erik Solheim;
  • More chemicals listed under the Conventions - through the CRC and POPRC,  the technical and scientific bodies under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions - and ultimately by the Conference of the Parties;
  • More awareness raising, education, communication;
  • More funding…;
  • More technical assistance in order to build better capacity on these issues;
  • Environmental treaties to refer more explicitly to vulnerable groups, including children;
  • Etc..

Finally, I would like to recall and encourage you to participate in the forthcoming 2017 meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COP) of the BRS Conventions, to be held in May; the meetings will include a high-level segment. The theme of the meetings and the high-level segment will be “A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and wastes”. Thus, these may be a good momentum and an opportunity to seize so as to continue addressing the important issues mentioned above and these discussed at today DGD, in order to eventually help ‘detoxify the future’...

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

The outcomes of the recent Rotterdam Convention CRC-12 and Stockholm Convention POPRC-12 meetings are now available online, featuring proposed new chemicals listings at the COPs in Geneva in 2017.

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

PRESS RELEASE : For a FUTURE DETOXIFIED

UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

Geneva & Rome: 26 September 2016 - Experts and observers joined members of the Rotterdam (RC) and Stockholm (SC) Conventions’ Review Committees in Rome in recent days to consider available scientific evidence concerning a number of hazardous chemicals for inclusion in annexes of the two Conventions, both of which aim to protect human health and the environment.

The Rotterdam Convention – which currently has 155 Parties – provides an early warning on the trade of certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides, through the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure, a mechanism for disseminating the decisions of importing Parties. The Stockholm Convention – with currently 180 parties – aims to eliminate the use of certain toxic chemicals, specifically those referred to as “Persistent Organic Pollutants” (POPS). The latter obliges governments to regulate the production, use and trade of specific chemicals throughout their life cycles.

The 12th meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC) of the Rotterdam Convention, which concluded on 16 September, agreed to recommend the listing of carbofuran suspension concentrate 330 g/L as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation in Annex III of the Convention, following a proposal from Colombia.  The meeting also finalized draft decision guidance documents on two highly toxic pesticides – carbofuran and carbosulfan – used to control insects in a wide variety of crops.

The next step will be for the Conference of the Parties at its meeting in 2017 to decide whether to list these two pesticides in Annex III of the Convention and subject them to the PIC procedure. 47 chemicals are currently listed in the Annex, including pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or restricted by two or more Parties.

“It is important to note that the basis for the consideration of these pesticides by the CRC were decisions taken by developing countries. Decisions that are leading to action at the global level,” said William Murray, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (RC) for the FAO.

According to the latest FAO data, international pesticide sales are valued at up to USD 480 billion a year. UNEP estimates that as many as three percent of those working in agriculture worldwide suffer from acute pesticide poisoning, with adolescents facing a higher risk.

When used appropriately, pesticides can help to protect food and other crops from excessive damage by pests and diseases. They can also protect humans and livestock from diseases. Misuse of pesticides however, is not only a threat to those earning a living through farming but also to the environment and the economy.

The Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) then staged its 12th meeting, back-to-back with the CRC, and concluded its work on 23 September by agreeing to propose two new industrial chemicals for inclusion in the Convention’s annexes.

Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) are mostly used in manufacturing of products such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, and used in metalworking fluids. These highly persistent and toxic compounds have been found in breastmilk of Inuit women in the Arctic, demonstrating their persistence and long-range environmental transport. Listing in Annex A for elimination by the COP is proposed.

The Committee considered and adopted additional information for decabromodiphenyl ether (commercial mixture, c-decaBDE), widely used as flame retardants, defining necessary specific exemptions related to automotive industry, for this chemical’s listing in Annex A of the Convention by the COP.

The Committee evaluated the new information on hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) and concluded that there are unintentional releases of HCBD from the certain chemical production processes and incineration processes. In 2013, the Committee recommended listing of HCBD in Annexes A and C and in 2015, the COP listed it in Annex A. Annex C lists chemicals subjects to the measures to reduce or eliminate releases from unintentional production.

Progress was also made on pentadecafluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, and dicofol, for which the Committee adopted the respective Draft Risk Profiles, moving them to the next review stage, requiring a risk management evaluation that includes an analysis of possible control measures. Finally, the Committee endorsed the guidance on alternatives to perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and its related chemicals to assist countries in phasing-out of those chemicals listed under the Convention.

“Both the CRC and POPRC meetings were effective and productive and have paved the way for important decisions to be taken at our triple COPs in April next year,” said Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions for UNEP. “These decisions will further protect human health and environment from hazardous chemicals and will guide the international community towards not just a future detoxified, but also towards implementing the SDGs through the sound management of chemicals and waste” he added.

The next meetings of the Conferences of Parties (COPs) for both conventions, together with that of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, will be held in Geneva from 24 April to 5 May 2017 under the title “A Future Detoxified: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”.

Note for editors:

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade creates legally binding obligations for its currently 155 parties. It currently covers 47 chemicals,  pesticides and pesticide formulations.

The Chemical Review Committee consists of thirty-one scientific experts appointed by the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention charged with undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing. 

Carbofuran is a WHO class Ib pesticide and used to control insects in a wide variety of field crops, including potatoes, corn and soybeans. It is extremely toxic via the oral route and by inhalation (LD50 2 mg/kg in mice[1]) . It is also highly toxic to freshwater invertebrates and extremely toxic to birds.

Carbosulfan is a broad-spectrum carbamate insecticide used to control various insects, including locusts and different types of grasshoppers, mites and nematodes mainly on potatoes, sugar beet, rice, maize and citrus. It is highly toxic to birds, aquatic invertebrates and bees[3]

For more information, please contact:

For CRC/Rotterdam Convention: www.pic.int 

Christine FUELL, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome: + 39-06-5705-3765, christine.fuell@fao.org

Erwin NORTHOFF, Chief of Corporate Communications (FAO), Rome: + 39-06-5705-3105, erwin.northoff@fao.org

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs, creates legally binding obligations for its 180 parties and currently includes 26 chemicals listed within its annexes.

The POPs Review Committee consists of thirty-one scientific experts appointed by the Conference of the Parties charged with undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing. 

More information on all the chemicals currently listed, or proposed and/or under review for listing, can be found on the Stockholm Convention homepages at: www. chm.pops.int

Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-2333218, +41-22-917-78201, kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org 

Charlie AVIS, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-730-4495, charles.avis@brsmeas.org

Preparations intensify for 2017 triple conferences of the parties (COPs): Geneva, Switzerland

Parties have been officially informed of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions COPs, featuring a high-level segment, to be held in Geneva from 24 April to 5 May 2017.

Preparations intensify for 2017 triple conferences of the parties (COPs): Geneva, Switzerland

Preparations intensify for 2017 triple conferences of the parties (COPs): Geneva, Switzerland
 
 “The Silent Pandemic” - UN Human Rights Council discusses hazardous substances and wastes

The Human Rights Council has considered the latest Report by the Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances & wastes.

“The Silent Pandemic” - UN Human Rights Council discusses hazardous substances and wastes

 “The Silent Pandemic” - UN Human Rights Council discusses hazardous substances and wastes

The 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, recently considered the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, which this year focuses especially on children’s rights.

On 15 September 2016, on the occasion of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, the latest Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Mr. Baskut Tuncak, was presented and discussed in Geneva, Switzerland. (See A/HRC/33/41).

The Report is the result of a broad consultative process with States, international organizations, civil society, national human rights institutions, and other stakeholders.

This year, the Report focuses particularly on children’s rights with respect to hazardous chemicals and wastes since, it comments, there is now what doctors refer to as a “silent pandemic” of disease and disability affecting millions during childhood and later in life. According to the Report, childhood exposure is a systemic problem everywhere, and not just limited to poisoning, as all around the world, children are born with sometimes huge quantities of hazardous substances in their bodies; pediatricians have now begun referring to some children as being born “pre-polluted.”  The World Health Organization estimated that over 1.5 million children under five died prematurely from toxics, pollution and other exposures; also, numerous health impacts are linked to childhood exposure to toxics, such as cancer, developmental disorders, learning disabilities and respiratory illnesses. 

The Report further states that, to remedy the situation:

  • Prevention of exposure is the best remedy.
  • The best interests of the child must be a primary consideration of States in protecting children’s rights. Which rights?
    • the right to life, to survival and development,
    • the right to physical and mental integrity,
    • the right to health,
    • the right to a healthy environment,
    • the right to be free from the worst forms of child labour,
    • the right to an adequate standard of leaving, including safe food, water and housing,
    • the right to non-discrimination, and
    • other rights implicated by toxics and pollution embodied in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • States have an obligation and businesses have a corresponding responsibility to prevent childhood exposure to toxic chemicals and pollution.

Finally, the Report ended on the Special Rapporteur offering recommendations to the various stakeholders to protect the rights of the child from toxic chemicals.

The presentation was followed by quite a few interventions by States, IGOs such as UNICEF, and NGOs: accountability and responsibility by businesses were often put forward. In his response further to the interventions, the Special Rapporteur stated that UNEP's chemicals work was largely driven by the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions as well as the – yet to enter into force - Minamata Convention, which together cover only 26 hazardous substances throughout their lifecycle, out of the thousands out there that would need regulation, and that this was a big gap. He further noted that SAICM, which he called an ambitious and broad mandate, has regrettably received insufficient financial resources. He also referred to the notable absence of compliance mechanisms under some of the previously mentioned Conventions. He also expressed his hope that Ministries of Health would be more involved in the topic of hazardous substances, and noted relative underfunding of the WHO Environment and Health Programme.

For more information on the above, consult:

Click here to read the entire report, in the 6 official UN languages.

Updated BRS Gender Action Plan now online

Reflecting the Secretariat’s commitment to taking action to reduce gender inequalities, the updated BRS Gender Action Plan is now available.

Updated BRS Gender Action Plan now online

Updated BRS Gender Action Plan now online
 
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