A list of concept notes for voluntary financial contributions for the biennium 2016/17 is now available on the BRS websites
The Secretariat hands over the signed BRS Geneva Gender Parity Pledge to Mr. Michael Moller, UNOG Director General.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and Tatiana Terekhovap at email@example.com
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.
This is the third of three webinars looking at Integrated Pest Management practices to control the important Coffee Berry Borer (CBB) pest, as an alternative to using the highly hazardous pesticide Endosulfan. This webinar aims to share practical experiences of coffee farmers, in managing CBB with traps.
E-surveys are now available online to gather data and feedback on the synergies process.
At the ordinary meeting held in 2015, the respective conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) conventions decided to review the synergies arrangements at their meetings in 2017 (BC-12/20, RC-7/10 and SC-7/28). With the objective to gather data to inform this review process, e-surveys have been dispatched to all stakeholders. The e-surveys can also be accessed via the hyperlinks below.
Please click here to access the e-survey for parties. The submission deadline is 5 August 2016.
BCRCs and SCRCs
Please click here to access the e-survey for BCRCs and SCRCs. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.
FAO country offices
Please click here to access the e-survey for FAO country offices. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.
Please click here to access the e-survey for partners. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.
Please click here to access the e-survey for Secretariat staff. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.
With support from the Government of Switzerland, Geneva hosted a global workshop to further enhance cooperation between the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, 21-23 June 2016.
Our latest interviewee highlights the rapidly developing CEE region and also reflects on women in science.
Interview between Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer for the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, and Dr. Kateřina Šebková, Director of the Stockholm Regional Centre for Central and Eastern Europe, located in Brno, Czech Republic.
Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning Katka and thank you for your time to answer our questions: your Regional Centre is the next in a new 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.
Dr. Kateřina Šebková (KS): Thank you, Charlie, for this great opportunity to share our work with a wider audience!
CA: Firstly, please tell us a little bit about the Regional Centre (RC) itself. Where are you housed, institutionally and geographically, how many staff do you have, and when was the RC established: basically how did the Centre come about?
KS: Charlie, the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Czech Republic (SCRC) is hosted by the Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX), which is an independent research centre operating within the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic since 2007. City of Brno is conveniently located 190 km southeast of Prague, the capital of the country, some 130 km north of Vienna (capital of Austria) and at about the same distance from another capital, Bratislava (Slovakia). It is in a region experiencing steady technological and economic growth over last 25 years, a hub of large life science projects and home to new growing business and technology incubators, and a city with more than 50,000 university students.
The RC was established on the basis of the Czech experience in working on implementation of the Stockholm Convention nationally in 2003, on the identified knowledge gaps and data needs through an European research project enhancing laboratory expertise in countries of the central and Southern Europe in 2004-5 (EU FP5 APOPSBAL), and on understanding that we have ability providing such technical assistance and capacity building when felt the urgent need for it among other countries.
And our team - you would be surprised - there are only two permanent staff of the SCRC, however we closely cooperate with and draw on resources available at the whole RECETOX having more than 200 staff, 4000 m2 of modern research space, 70 laboratories, two lecture rooms, and a more than 30 year-long expertise in dealing with environmental issues, interdisciplinary research as well as providing practical solutions for environmental decontamination and remediation. In addition, we maintain a large international network of experts who cooperate with us, thus our teams vary according to a project. We can have a team of five up to 50, depending on a task, challenges and money.
CA: Do you serve all of the countries of the region, how many Parties are there, and how do you manage with all the very many languages: do you communicate solely in English, in German, in Russian or how?
KS: We are able to communicate in several languages, but the Centre`s main languages are Czech and English. Moreover, we can and have run courses and provided consultations in Russian, Slovak and French as well. In addition, other Central and Eastern European languages are also spoken at RECETOX, so we are quite well set in this regard.
The RC serves all 23 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and supports over 30 other countries in other regions (Africa, Central Asia, and in Latin America) as a strategic scientific partner. In addition, we also work as a project partner with UNEP, UNIDO and UNDP and organize conferences, global or regional workshops, and summer schools.
When looking at the monitoring activities, we have so far supported almost 60 countries worldwide and while looking at our training, there are about 80 countries that benefited from our expertise and services.
CA: It must be very challenging, yet very rewarding. What are the main technical issues or focus areas covered by the RC and what activities does the RC have in order to overcome these challenges?
KS: I fully agree. When looking at the monitoring activities, we have so far supported almost 60 countries worldwide since 2005 and while looking at our training, there are about 80 countries that benefited from our expertise and services. This is about 50-200 people that visit us each year.
Our 2016-2019 work plan as SCRC concentrates on strengthening global capacities in chemical analyses of toxic chemicals, on support in implementation of the Global Monitoring Plan to the Stockholm Convention by operating monitoring networks (MONET) in Europe, Africa and in the Czech Republic and by training experts in sampling, monitoring, and data mining and management. In addition, we will strive to support decision making by communicating science based advances in the research, presentation of environmental and human data in relation to toxic chemicals through electronic tools, by enlarging capacities in the management of PCB, new POPs, and by contributing to a greater understanding of linkages between environment and health. We also need to enhance visibility of our activities among our stakeholders, so we have a quarterly newsletter and a website and we try to attend many global meetings to meet our constituency. There are too many parallel issues, and I would say that main challenge for us is time.
CA: So I understand one specific area of focus for the Centre is on POPs, and on the Stockholm Convention’s Global Monitoring Plan in particular. What would you say is the level of awareness amongst the general public in the region concerning POPs? And amongst policymakers and decision-makers?
KS: Charlie, on awareness raising among general public in our region, there is more to be done apart from a website and a quarterly newsletter that we release. On the other hand, we developed and operate publicly available instruments that enhance understanding of anyone interested in POP occurrence - our environmental data repository and portal is available since 2010 displaying POPs monitoring information generated by us and our partners (www.genasis.cz). Similar instrument was developed for global purposes to serve the effectiveness evaluation and Global Monitoring Plan. And this talk certainly is a good opportunity to spread the news further.
Decision makers in this region are quite aware of chemicals problem, namely in relation to environmental burdens and hotspots in our region, as the political and economic transition since 1990s revealed many unwanted or untreated inheritance of obsolete stocks and wastes that needs to be dealt with. Unfortunately, there are other issues related to changes in the region that can outweigh the importance of environmental protection. On the other hand, we need to raise their awareness on the strong link between chemicals and health and perhaps that could get POPs and other chemicals back to the spotlight. We emphasize this in each talk we do.
CA: The RC has clearly achieved a lot, but what is the single achievement of which you are most proud?
KS: We are really proud of the GMP data warehouse, a joint achievement of the BRS Scientific Branch and RECETOX. It is the first global electronic tool that is publicly available and brings under one roof validated global data on levels of POPs in core matrices (air, breast milk and water), allows to evaluate effectiveness of eliminating or minimizing POP releases into the environment. Its data browser generates maps, charts, evaluates trends, and is publicly available online, so I believe it has a very strong awareness raising as well as decision making potential (http://www.pops-gmp.org/visualization-2014/app.php/).
CA: How would you like the RC to evolve, in the next say 5 to 10 years?
KS: We started with environmental chemistry and a handful of chemicals under one Convention at the outset, nowadays our range of studied chemicals and expertise spans to more global instruments including SAICM and Minamata Convention on Mercury. Currently, we have a capacity to support others with expertise in relation to POPs, emerging chemicals, endocrine disrupters, non-EDCs, as well as heavy metals. We are working hard on enhancing our understanding of links between health and environment as well as improving the speed of the transfer of knowledge from science to policy by being involved in larger population studies and working on harmonization of data collection, processing, visualization and data mining in order to be prepared and being able to capture all aspects of human exposure as well as holding solid data to support decision making worldwide.
CA: Katerina, can we switch to a topic slightly more personal? How did you come to lead this RC, 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 per se, or in international development more generally?
KS: Sure, I am happy to share this with others. I have a degree and a PhD in chemistry from both the Czech Republic and France and I started working in a family business as specialist for food commodities. Since 2003, I worked as chemical specialist and negotiator for the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic on chemicals management, and represented the Czech Republic in negotiations on new global legal agreements or EU legislation in relation to mercury and persistent organic pollutants for eight years. I was also representing the CEE region in the bureau of the Stockholm Convention from 2007 to 2009 and in the bureau of Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Mercury between 2010 and 2013. I joined RECETOX in 2012 to run the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre and to establish and maintain a more solid bridge from science to policy and back and thus employ my previous work and life experience.
I would say to other ladies - science is exciting, very demanding and not everyone can be an excellent scientist, so pressure is on. On the other hand, scientific background has certainly helped me greatly in finding my niche in working at the ministry and speaking several languages. And lastly, I would add that there continues to be a dire need for people with a scientific background at the policy level to push environmental issues to a more prominent position (where they should be) and increase understanding among decision makers on the subject matter that affects us as well as future generations.
CA: And lastly, please, what do you think are the most pressing, emerging issues will be for sustainable management of chemicals and wastes in central and Eastern Europe, in the next years, and how well is the region equipped to meet those challenges?
KS: In two words - complex mixtures - is the future pressing topic for all of us. So far, we have globally mostly generated information on impacts and effects of individual chemicals in the environment and for a limited pool of chemicals, but there is much more to be done, quite urgently. We have a little or no knowledge on synergistic effects of chemical mixtures that can enhance negative impacts of individual toxic compounds and such mixtures are all around us - in our personal care products, consumer goods, food and many other items.
The region will be better off in near future as mentioned above on where we would like to evolve. Our weakness is that a longitudinal studies have not been carried out more broadly in this region, but we are working on it. We gradually strengthened capacities and span of our research infrastructure, we established a new cohort (longitudinal) study in 2015, building on expertise available through WHO ELSPAC study since 1991, and we are also launching an exposome study that would generate important information for countries in the region as well as for global community and work of international organizations such as WHO and UNEP.
CA: Thank you, for your time and for your answers. Good luck with your important work!
KS: Thank you, Charlie, and if you need any further information on our centre and its activities, please go to our website http://www.recetox.muni.cz/rc/ and we look forward to working with you!
The latest BRS publication charts the Synergies process from 2006 to the present day through decisions adopted by parties to protect human health and environment.
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.
Important technical and legal steps were taken by two subsidiary bodies of the Basel Convention last week at meetings held in Nairobi, Kenya. The Basel Convention’s OEWG is at the heart of efforts to reach several of the 2030 sustainable development goals, while the ICC is central to measuring progress towards these goals. Highlights of these meetings include progress towards the establishment of a new public-private global partnership on household waste; progress on defining guidance to countries on the environmentally sound management of E-waste and POPs waste; and progress with 12 specific submissions concerning individual Parties’ compliance and on a range of other issues of implementation and compliance with the Convention.
Held back-to-back with the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly, UNEA2, the 10th meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention (OEWG-10) took place from 30 May to 2 June and focused on the development of guidelines that promote the environmentally sound management (ESM) of wastes and on improving national reporting. Some 210 experts gathered from all over the world, including representatives from national governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. With funding support provided by Denmark, Germany, Finland, Japan and Sweden, strong inputs were secured from developing countries.
A series of concrete steps were agreed, through the adoption of 13 decisions setting direction for further work on waste management until the next Conference of Parties, COP-13, which will be held in Geneva in April 2017. The OEWG provides a leadership role in the development of the technical guidelines for the ESM of specific wastes types or waste streams, which are especially useful in national waste management activities. OEWG-10 passed decisions relating to guidelines on the three newly-listed persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the Stockholm Convention; and guidelines on e-waste, the fastest growing waste stream in the world today.
In particular, OEWG-10 adopted decisions agreeing ways forward for:
It is estimated that, by 2018, there will be 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste produced per year, far-outstripping current capacities to properly manage it in an environmentally and socially appropriate manner. E-waste is a fast-growing wastestream and poses a number of serious threats to human health and the environment. Conversely, if undertaken in an environmentally sound manner, e-waste recycling can offer sustainable livelihoods, green and decent work, and contribute to the development of a circular economy and the transition to a greener, more inclusive economy. The E-waste technical guidelines are designed to assist governments protect human health and the environment through sound management of waste, and also offer important clarification regarding the question of “what is waste” in order to guide receiving and sending countries as to which types of product constitute e-waste and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the Basel Convention.
For more on the outcomes of this meeting, including the technical guidelines and other OEWG products, please go to our website.
The 12th meeting of the Implementation and Compliance Committee of the Basel Convention (ICC-12)) took place on 4-6 June 2016, under the chairmanship of Mr Juan Simonelli (Argentina).
The goal of the Basel ICC is to assist Parties implement and comply with the Convention. ICC-12 considered twelve specific submissions regarding Party implementation and compliance. Among other things, the ICC decided that the compliance matters regarding Afghanistan and Togo were resolved, it approved two compliance action plans submitted respectively by Eritrea and Liberia as well as new compliance action submitted by Togo, and it monitored the progress made by Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Swaziland in implementing their compliance action plans with the support of the implementation fund.
ICC-12 also made progress on all the general issues of implementation and compliance under its work programme. It reached conclusions on:
For more on the outcomes of this meeting, please go to our website.
Notes for editors:
For more information, please refer to:
Programme Officer, for OEWG-10
Juliette Voinov Kohler
Legal officer, for ICC-12
Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer
Resolutions on the sound management of chemicals and waste, marine litter, and the role of MEAs among resolutions agreed by UN member states at UNEA in Nairobi, 23 - 27 May 2016.
More than 2,000 delegates from around the world representing governments, civil society, and international organisations gathered from 23 – 27 May 2016 to attend the second UN Environment Assembly, held at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
As the first global meeting since the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change, UNEA2 aimed to forward efforts to deliver the environmental dimension of the 2030 agenda. A small team from the BRS Secretariat attended and contributed to numerous Side Events, panel discussions, High-Level forums, Green Room events and throughout the conference throughout the week in order to emphasise the centrality of sustainable management of chemicals and waste to the implementation of the SDGs. An interactive quiz was launched at UNEA2 on this subject to gauge delegates’ appreciation of these linkages and the results will be shared in due course. To take the quiz, please go to the BRS website.
Key resolutions adopted by Member States on Friday 27 May included those on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste, on Marine Litter, on Sustainable Consumption and Production, on Oceans, and on the role of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, (MEAs).
For more information on UNEA2 and on the resolutions agreed, please see the UNEP website.
The Government of Nigeria in consultation with the Secretariat has appointed Professor Percy C. Onianwa as the new director of Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for Africa effective 23 May 2016.
Not attending UNEA2? You can be there in spirit by taking our online SDG quiz, which will be shared with delegates throughout this week in Nairobi.
Read all about the big issues for the Caribbean in this interview with Dr. Ahmad Khan.
Interview between Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer for the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, and Dr. Ahmad Khan, Director of the Basel Convention Regional Centre for the Caribbean, located in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.
Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning Dr. Khan and thank you for your time to answer our questions: your Regional Centre is the next in a new 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.
Ahmad Khan (AK): Thank you Charlie for this opportunity to share our work with a wider audience!
CA: Firstly, please tell us a little bit about the Regional Centre (RC) itself. Where are you housed, how many staff do you have, and when was the RC established: basically how did the Centre come about?
AK: Charlie, the Caribbean BC Regional Centre was first established as a “desk” at the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) as early as 1998 but as time passed and more responsibilities were placed on the Regional Centres by the Conference of Parties, the Caribbean Regional Centre evolved into a fully autonomous regional institution. By 2008, the Centre had the legal authority to enter into contracts, hire staff and own its own physical assets and is now located at its leased premises in Port-of-Spain. The financial support for the centre is provided by the host country, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Its current staff complement is ten persons - three administrative staff, six professional staff and one chief cook and bottle washer!
CA: Now, please tell us, the Caribbean is a large and diverse region, made up of many countries which differ from one another in many ways. Do you serve all of the countries of the Caribbean, how many Parties are there, and how do you manage with the languages: Spanish, English, French, Dutch?
AK: The RC serves all the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions in the region and we have already started to serve those countries who have signed onto or are intending to ratify the new Minimata Convention. So far there are sixteen countries that are served in various ways by the Centre.
These are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Belize, The Republic of Cuba, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, The Republic of Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, The Federation of St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, The Republic of Suriname and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The operating language of the Centre is English but we do translate our educational material into Spanish, Dutch and French as needed. Our main activities are Training and Technology Transfer and thus far we have had only limited challenges with the differences in language between our member countries since most of the professional staff at the Ministries and Agencies in each country with whom we are in direct contact are often bi- or multi-lingual. Some of the staff at the Centre are bilingual English and Spanish speakers as well so this helps with our communication with our member countries.
AK: The focal areas of the Caribbean Regional Centre are defined by our member countries on a biennial cycle, during our annual Steering Committee meetings, and are mainly on building technical, institutional and legislative capacity in each country for the environmentally sound management of wastes and chemicals. Charlie, the priorities for the Caribbean over the next two biennial cycles (2016 – 2019) lie in the effective management of waste lubricating oils, electronic wastes, waste pneumatic tyres, industrial chemicals, lead acid batteries, obsolete pesticides, persistent organic pollutants, mercury and municipal wastes. It sounds like quite a mouthful but we are actively pursuing an agenda to institute a regional collaborative system for integrated waste and chemicals management with our member country partners to reduce the generation of wastes at source, to institute sustainable resource recovery measures and to institutionalize on a regional basis novel technologies for waste and chemicals recycling using the public sector/private sector/civil society collaborative approach. In short Charlie, our bottom up approach to serving our member countries’ needs have allowed us to overcome a number of challenges except one critical one and that is sourcing funding for implementation of projects and programmes in a timely manner.
CA: So I understand one specific area of focus for the RC is on e-waste, in relation to assisting parties fulfil their obligations under the Basel Convention. What would you say is the level of awareness amongst the general public in the region concerning e-waste? And amongst policymakers and decision-makers?
AK: Charlie the e-waste situation in the Caribbean is like La Soufriere in Montserrat, the peak gets bigger and bigger as time goes on. This is because the Caribbean in general is consumer driven when it comes to mobile phones, computers and other ICT equipment….everyone must have the latest and hottest gadget!
In addition some islands have even instituted policies to provide free laptop computers and tablets to every student entering a secondary school or tertiary educational institution all of which come back as waste within three to five years. Regrettably, the level of education and awareness of the e-waste problem by both the policy and decision makers and the population in general is not yet at a stage where this toxic and hazardous waste stream is given the attention it deserves.
We at the Centre have produced brochures and newsletters to enhance the level of awareness of all stakeholder and interest groups in the islands. But what we expect will work best for us is when we have finally been able to establish sub-regional e-waste refurbishment, disassembly and material recycling facilities to remove this waste stream from our landfills, waterways, beaches and backyards.
It is important to note that the Caribbean may be diverse and extend over quite a large acreage of space but our population size is at best 17 million people so the economies of scale hamper what we can do by way of investment in recycling facilities. For instance, when the precious and semi-precious metal containing components are recovered from waste electronic equipment, we can only hope to be able to broker this on the international market rather than set up metal recovery facilities. The latter option is too costly and not sustainable in relation to the volumes of e-waste generated within the entire Caribbean region.
CA: Let us now consider the wider region served by the RC. How do you liase with all these other countries, who are your partners on the ground there, and what kinds of activities do you carry out in-country?
AK: The BCRC-Caribbean works with our member countries in two ways. We work primarily through the political and technical Focal Points of the waste and chemicals conventions in government, in each country. But the BCRC-Caribbean is also fortunate to have a very competent and knowledgeable Steering Committee which is comprised of representatives of the fourteen countries who are parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. These fourteen ladies and gentlemen ensure delivery of our services on the ground in each country but also bring back to us the issues of priority concern for each country and assist us in developing work programmes to address these.
Our services for now are essentially project driven but we have also conducted workshops and seminars on topics related to e-waste management, on waste oils management, on used lead acid battery collection and disposal, on waste tyres recovery and recycling, on NIPs updates, on Mercury assessments and on industrial chemicals and obsolete pesticides management.
AK: I cannot identify a single achievement that stands out but I think in developing our delivery of services to the region, we have been successful in creating networks with the public sector, the private sector, the business communities and civil society groups which work well with us and through which we work effectively. Our medium term goal is to expand that network and to encourage these four groups of stakeholders to collaborate and cooperate on projects and programmes aimed at improving the environmentally sound management of wastes and chemicals in the region among themselves and for us to eventually take on the role of “facilitators of the process”, providing technical support and advisory services as required.
AK: The next 5 to 10 years is a very important period for the Caribbean region as it moves towards firstly adopting the Sustainable Development Goals and then integrating these into national policy, planning and legislation. In the short term, I see the BCRC-Caribbean working towards aligning the environmentally sound management of wastes and chemicals into some of the relevant SDGs and by extension assisting the countries we serve in achieving higher degrees of compliance and implementation of the wastes and chemicals conventions and protocols. But more importantly in the medium to long term period, I see the Centre increasing its capacity to develop projects, source funding to support the implementation of these projects and executing them on behalf of our Caribbean partners and at the same time building capacity in the region and in individual countries so that they can eventually take ownership to do it themselves.
CA: Dr Khan, how did you come to lead this RC, how did your career lead you this in your direction, and what advice would you have for other Trinidadians, male or female, striving for a career in science and international development?
AK: When you embark on a career in a small island developing state you invariably become a jack of all trades because of the limited human resource capital in these types of countries. I came to this job after developing a career in waste and chemicals management in the region so I think I brought some experience in the field with me. But I started out as an environmental scientist with an emphasis and interest in marine pollution and oceanography in a marine scientific research institution. I moved away from applied research fairly quickly and became an environmental management professional in an integrated oil and gas company. This transition allowed me to move my career from being an applied scientist into the management and engineering disciplines. I took that experience and training with me to the private sector and further development my career as an environmental management practitioner in a consulting environment. I think the fifteen years spent in the consulting business made me an expert in nothing but knowledgeable in a little bit of everything….so here I am now coasting to retirement…..
Charlie, I think the most important thing I can share with young men and women in the region, who are interested in a career in science and international development, is to keep the focus on what you want to achieve in life. Scientific knowledge is evolving almost on a daily basis and as professionals we must recognise that science and technology can provide a pathway to do so much good for so many people with so little effort. I have always held the view that the more we learn as an individual, the greater is our responsibility to improve the quality of life of our fellow human beings and I’d like to encourage others to adopt the same philosophy.
CA: And lastly, please, what do you think are the most pressing, emerging issues will be for sustainable management of chemicals and wastes in the Caribbean, in the next years, and how well is the region equipped to meet those challenges?
AK: This is a difficult question to answer Charlie since the region has a diverse economic base. For the larger and more industrialized islands like Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Cuba and Jamaica, the main challenge will be to integrate waste and chemicals management into national environmental policy and legislation and then to enforce the provisions in law so created. It will also be important to stimulate economic activities in waste minimization, resource recovery and recycling in these countries.
For the smaller islands whose economies are more dependent on tourism, commercial enterprises and agriculture, the main challenge will be to ensure that all wastes and chemicals generated at the municipal level are properly handled and disposed of in such a manner to minimize impacts to human health and the environment. For these islands, the preservation of living and non-living natural resources is of paramount importance since these resources are the drivers of the local economies.
As a region the Caribbean is strong in having the capacity to identify and develop programmes and activities to address its priority issues on wastes and chemicals management but its limitation in capacity to fund and implement programmes and activities has to be strengthened.
In the next three years the BCRC-Caribbean will be working with at least eight of the islands and territories in the region to build capacity to achieve these objectives.
CA: Thank you, for your time and for your answers. Good luck with your important work in this important region, and I hope we shall be able to meet in person at the UNEA2 in Nairobi next month?
AK: Thank you, Charlie, and if you need any further information on our centre and its activities, please go to our website www.bcrc-caribbean.org.
Adopted at COP.12, these much-anticipated guidelines are a crucial resource for parties seeking to sustainably manage this fast-growing waste stream.
Delivering the environmental dimension of the SDGs means achieving sustainable management of chemicals and waste, the message at UNEA-2 in Nairobi, 23-27 May.
Delivering on the environmental dimension of the SDGs requires achieving the sustainable management of chemicals and waste, that is one key message which UNEA-2 is expected to underline and re-affirm. It is also the message brought by the BRS Secretariat staff travelling to UNEA-2 in Nairobi, 23-27 May 2016. Through participation in a series of side events, panel discussions, and civil society green room events the BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet, and Deputy Executive Secretary Kerstin Stendahl, will promote the implementation of the BRS Conventions as part of the efforts to integrate chemicals and wastes into national implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.
The UNEA-2 Committee of the Whole (CoW) will meet throughout the week to prepare decisions for adoption. Important for chemicals and wastes will be the negotiations on the Omnibus Decision on Chemicals and Waste as a renewed commitment to strengthened implementation at national level. Sustainable consumption and production, marine plastic debris and microplastics, and air quality as well as many cross-cutting issues will also be of relevance as pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of SDGs implementation, themes which may well be developed in more detail (further explored?) at the 2017 Triple COPs.
On the first day, Monday 23 May at 1300, Rolph Payet will provide the Opening Remarks to UNEA-2’s first Side Event (#1), on “Advancing Sustainable Chemistry in a Sustainable Development Context”, organised by the Government of Germany, Federal Ministry of the Environment. On Tuesday 24 May at 1800, Kerstin Stendahl will join the Gender and Environment Forum event, co-hosted by UNEP and the Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment (NWMLE). Wednesday 25 May at 1030, Rolph Payet will speak at a Media Roundtable on “Marine & Plastic Litter: A global problem requiring global solutions” and then at 1300, the Rotterdam Convention President, Franz Perrez from Switzerland, and Rolph Payet will act as Panellists to the UNEP-facilitated Side Event (#19) on “The mutually supportive role and benefits of MEAs and the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development”.
Thursday 26 May begins with Kerstin Stendahl participating in the Ministerial Breakfast for Women Ministers of Environment at 0730, and then at 1300, Rolph Payet contributes as Panellist to the Norwegian Government’s Side Event (#24) on “Marine Litter and Microplastics”, whilst at the same time Kerstin Stendahl will moderate the Side Event (#26) on “The Impact of Childhood Exposure to Toxic Chemicals on Children’s Rights”, organised by the UN Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Wastes, co-sponsored by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNICEF. That evening at 1700, Rolph Payet will then feature as Panellist on the Global Universites Partnership/UNEP Green Room Event (#22)on “Innovation and Solutions: Environmental Education for Sustainable Development Goals”.
In addition, the BRS secretariat will have an information Booth at UNEA-2 where interested delegates will be able to access, electronically, a range of important documents and publications and where BRS staff will be asking questions of delegates concerning the SDGs and chemicals and waste. The Secretariat will also be communicating latest news and updates live and direct from Nairobi through live-tweeting on @brsmeas. Follow us on twitter in order to stay up-to-date with what is happening at this important event, which has become known as “the global parliament for the environment”.
For more information on UNEA-2 please consult the UNEP website http://web.unep.org/unea/.
Read the BRS Executive Secretary’s address to the first International Conference on Chemical Safety and Security (ICCSS1) held in Kielce, Poland 18-20 April 2016.
Ladies and Gentlemen
As we entered the third millennium, our world had become more globalised and interconnected. We can today manufacture to bespoke needs in one part of the world and ship to anywhere within days. However, those great transformations have exposed millions of people and biodiversity to hazardous chemicals and wastes.
New estimates from the World Health Organization indicate that at least 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012, primarily from environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation. The situation is far worse in the developing world, the WHO report finds. Low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions had the largest environment-related disease burden in 2012, with a combined total of 7.3 million deaths, most attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution, whilst there were also 2.2 million deaths in the African region, 1.4 million deaths in the European region, 854,000 deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean region and 847,000 deaths in the region of the Americas. Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, estimated that 41 million tones of electronic wastes are generated per year, growing to 50 million tons by next year.
Africa and Asia, being the destinations for large-scale shipments of hazardous wastes, has resulted in large areas turned into illegal dumps scavenged by the poor in those countries. Inconsistency in regulations between exporting and importing countries - including what is classified as hazardous or contaminated waste - poses a challenge to effectively combating illegal waste trafficking. Wastes have the potential to pollute and expose millions of people to hazardous chemicals through food chains, water, the oceans and the atmosphere.
Contaminated land is also global issue with chemical safety concerns at hand. In many countries, hundreds of square kilometers of land have a legacy of contaminated land resulting from mining, past industrial activity, intensive agriculture, chemical stockpiles and waste management. Sadly, despite efforts by numerous organizations, such as UNEP, FAO, UNIDO and donors such as the GEF - land contamination is still on the increase especially in the developing countries. Contamination of water bodies, remote communities and also the atmosphere through open burning presents a serious chemical danger to the entire planet.
Chemical Safety, in the context of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions involves all efforts to ensure the protection of human health and the environment through sound management of chemicals and wastes. Whilst our conventions are limited to a few chemicals it provides an international legal framework for the sound management of chemicals and wastes. Furthermore, many of those chemicals, such as POPs are present in almost all materials and products produced in the last 50 years or so. Their accumulation in the environment in expected to last beyond this century due to their long-term environmental persistence.
The Stockholm Convention lists 26 chemicals that are persistent, toxic, bio-accumulative and travel long distances in the environment for which consumption, production and use, import and export, disposal and/or environmental release must be reduced, prohibited and/or eliminated. The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive global agreement specifically targeting hazardous and other wastes. The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade focuses on facilitating information exchange about hazardous chemicals and severely hazardous pesticide formulations, by providing for a national decision-making process on their imports and exports and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.
Against this backdrop of widespread use of chemicals in products, the capacity of countries to implement chemical safety is severely limited in many parts of the world. The Special Programme under UNEP and the Chemicals and Wastes Conventions is expected to support countries in building robust policies, regulations and mechanisms for the sound management of chemicals. However, resources remain limited. Although in 2014, the global chemicals industry earned more than 5 trillion dollars, its contribution to the sound management of chemicals and wastes is but a pittance. The current contributions to the UNEP Special programme are about 14 million dollars, which is about 0.0028%. The GEF Chemicals and Waste Portfolio, which includes partnerships with industry, at 2.7 billion USD, does not even come close to 1%. Indeed, there are numerous efforts and initiatives by industry but we cannot achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals with this level of support from the industry.
For example, in a report to the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention indicates that there are at least 11,000 Tons of DDT stockpiles around the world. DDT has been linked to a large number of cancers, male infertility and child growth. Such stockpiles are a clear and present danger to millions of people located in those areas. Can we remove those stockpiles in a sound manner - yes, and before 2030 - yes - We need financial resources and political will!
It is also an honor and a pleasure for me to represent the Executive Director of UNEP, Mr Achim Steiner, who unfortunately could not be with us this afternoon. UNEP remains committed to the sound management of chemicals and wastes, and to the minimization of hazardous wastes. Many initiatives implemented by UNEP have addressed the issue of chemical safety, especially in areas of institutional support and scientific knowledge. It has produced a number of guidance and capacity building to countries on sound management of chemical wastes, and led many global initiatives such as the DDT Alliance. As such, the UNEP Chemicals and Waste branch, based in Geneva, is a very strong partner with the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention Secretariat. We also work very closely with the Minamata Convention Secretariat.
The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are successful examples of the commitment of the global community, including governments, industry, academia and public interest groups towards a common goal to produce and use chemicals in ways that minimize adverse effects to human health and the environment. Although these three conventions have done a great deal to improve the global situation regarding toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes, the treaties alone cannot solve all the problems. The global chemicals industry whoch accounts for around 9% of the world's economy needs to play a greater role. We need to continue to build partnerships and invest in a future that is driven by sustainable chemistry and the sound management of chemicals and wastes.
The Sustainable Development Agenda provides us with a unique opportunity to engage and make this vision a reality. The role of initiatives such as the Chemss2016 forum in strengthening community preparedness and enhancing chemical safety and security is of great importance for the global environmental sound management of chemicals and wastes and for the international community to achieve sustainable development goals.
In closing, I wish to thank the people of Poland for their warm welcome. The conference organizers, in particular Andrzej Jagusiewicz, who was also former President of the Basel Convention, for his invitation to this timely global conference.
Marking 25 years of service to UNEP, BRS staff Laura Meszaros from Argentina, and Ariel Dayao from the Philippines, were recently honoured at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
Marking 25 years of service to UNEP, BRS staff Laura Meszaros from Argentina, and Ariel Dayao from the Philippines, were recently honoured at the United Nations, Geneva.
During a special awards ceremony at the Palais des Nations on 12 April 2016, the Director-General of UNOG, Mr. Michael Møller, presented them with silver medals and expressed appreciation for their dedication and commitment, highlighting that the Organization’s achievements were made thanks to their spirit of teamwork and cooperation.
The second feature in our series on regional implementation highlights the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Kenya (SCRC-Kenya) is hosted by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), in Nairobi.
The icipe, founded in 1970, was nominated by the Africa region to serve as a Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in July 2010.Its primary objective is to research and develop alternative and environmentally friendly pest and vector management strategies that are effective, selective, non-polluting, non-resistance inducing, and which are affordable to resource-limited rural and urban communities. The Centre was endorsed by COP5 in 2011 as a regional and sub-regional centre for capacity building and the transfer of technology for a period of four years. Further, in 2015 the COP7 evaluated the performance of SCRC-Kenya; took note of its excellent performance and endorsed it for another term of four years. The Centre provides assistance mainly to almost all the African countries but could also support countries in other continents having similar issues.
Being hosted in icipe, SCRC Kenya focuses at undertaking research and development for non-chemical alternatives to the use of hazardous pesticides including persistence organic pollutants (POPs) for management of pests and disease vectors. It also promotes capacity-building and transfer of technology to farmers and other stakeholders. Alternative technologies and conservation efforts contribute to reduction in the use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other hazardous chemicals in vector and pest control in Africa, and thus reduce their negative impacts. The activities of the SCRC-Kenya are particularly important because most of the POPs that are listed under the Stockholm Convention are pesticides.
A key solution to reducing the impact of hazardous synthetic pesticide substances is to shift to the use of non-chemical alternatives for control of pests and disease vectors. In Africa however, many countries face major barriers to the accomplishment of the shift to the use of non-chemical alternatives that include inadequate expertise, resources, relevant information, technology, and development assistance and policies.
SCRC-Kenya has a long tradition of collaboration, with over 100 partner institutions in Africa and elsewhere in the world that include National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), NGOs, universities, other international organizations. The Centre’s R&D work involves rural communities and members, farmers and farmer groups, national extension service providers and community-based organizations. SCRC-Kenya has formulated innovative approaches through Public-Private Community Partnerships (PPCPs) to create better and more effective products, processes, services and technologies
SCRC-Kenya works in a holistic and integrated approach through a 4-H paradigm comprising “Human Health, Animal Health, Plant Health and Environmental Health”. Research and development has led to a number of effective alternatives that are contributing to reduction in the use of hazardous pesticides including persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Africa. Some of the most successful initiatives taken by the centre that led to significant reduction in the use of chemical based pesticides include:
For more information on these initiatives and other information relating to icipe SCRC-Kenya please visit the website: www.icipe.org and for more on other Regional Centres, see http://synergies.pops.int/Implementation/TechnicalAssistance/RegionalCentres/tabid/2636/language/en-US/Default.aspx