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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.

Growing Coffee without Endosulfan: experiences with traps for managing Coffee Berry Borer (CBB)

Growing Coffee without Endosulfan: experiences with traps for managing Coffee Berry Borer (CBB)
 

Call for applications by 31 December 2014.

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Consultancy announcement: illegal traffic and trade

Call for applications by 31 December 2014.
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Webinars to focus on 2015 COPs, Endosulfan, E-waste, National Reporting, and NIP updating

Webinars to focus on 2015 COPs, Endosulfan, E-waste, National Reporting, and NIP updating
 

The Secretariat is pleased to announce the launch of a new online tool for finding its many joint technical and scientific publications. The use of an integrated search engine combines publications from the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Convention processes for the first time, and enables interested browsers to search by keyword, life cycle phase, or chemical/waste name under the Conventions.

The tool aims to better facilitate the sharing of key information about sustainable chemicals management amongst stakeholders, ease the work of Parties and Observers to the three Conventions, is the latest in the ongoing process of harmonisation and improvement of knowledge management within the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions.

New Tool Goes Live for Finding Technical and Scientific Publications

The Secretariat is pleased to announce the launch of a new online tool for finding its many joint technical and scientific publications. The use of an integrated search engine combines publications from the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Convention processes for the first time, and enables interested browsers to search by keyword, life cycle phase, or chemical/waste name under the Conventions.

The tool aims to better facilitate the sharing of key information about sustainable chemicals management amongst stakeholders, ease the work of Parties and Observers to the three Conventions, is the latest in the ongoing process of harmonisation and improvement of knowledge management within the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions.

Pre-session documents for the three COPs now available

Pre-session documents for the three COPs now available

Pre-session documents for the three COPs, including programmes of work and proposed budgets for the biennium 2016-2017, are available on the Secretariat websites.

Pre-session documents for the three COPs now available

Pre-session documents for the three COPs now available
 
Interview: Science as the Bottom Line

Interview: Science as the Bottom Line

Abiola Olanipekun, Chief of the BRS Scientific Support Branch, explains that rigorous and inclusive scientific processes underpin the 3 conventions

Interview: Science as the Bottom Line

Interview: Science as the Bottom Line

Interview with Abiola Olanipekun, Chief of the BRS Scientific Support Branch by Charlie Avis, BRS Public Information Officer

Charlie Avis: Abiola, why will a Science Fair accompany the forthcoming triple COPs of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions here in Geneva, from 7-9th May 2015? 

Abiola Olanipekun: Thank you. We are staging a 3 day Science Fair in order to raise awareness amongst delegates, parties and stakeholders, concerning how science underpins the implementation of the three conventions. The event will feature interactive displays, special events, film viewings, hands-on exhibits, panel discussions, lots of presentations and posters, and this diversity reflects the enormous range of stakeholders who together are moving forward the agenda for sustainable management of chemicals and waste.

CA: How does science underpin the conventions’ implementation, then?

AO: The science/policy interface is of supreme importance, in a world shaped by often largely political and economic interests. Right since the negotiation and adoption of the three Conventions, a sound scientific base was seen as necessary to give the Conventions both the information, and the credibility, they need in order to pursue their goals of protecting human health and the environment.

CA: More specifically?

AO: Scientific analysis is central to every step of the process. For example, when a chemical is proposed for listing under the Stockholm Convention, a party is to submit a proposal, accompanied by a scientific justification for the need for global control. Scientific evaluation is carried out by experts from various countries from all United Nations (UN) regions, who are involved in the work of the respective technical subsidiary bodies under the Conventions. These experts sign a “declaration of conflict of interest” meaning that they will not pursue any financial interests or influence by a commercial entity to enter into their deliberations. Further steps requiring inputs from the scientific community include risk mitigation through identification of suitable alternatives and the search for Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices. Guidelines for monitoring, capacity-building on the implementation of alternatives, assistance with reporting obligations, and a host of other activities are also undertaken based on state-of-the-art science and objective expertise.

CA: It sounds like a lot of work. Is it bearing fruit?

AO: Yes, the good news is that according to our data, people and the environment are less exposed to certain Persistent Organic Pollutants (or POPs) than previously. The trend is definitely downwards with respect to chemicals listed in the Convention annexes. But at the same time, we have our work cut out: since new chemicals are entering the market – and therefore entering our environment and our bodies, all the time.

CA: Please tell me about this good news, what are you actually measuring? 

AO: We are mandated to carry out a global monitoring programme to measure POPs concentrations in the air, water and in human populations (breast milk and maternal blood) and have been implementing this global programme since the entry into force of the Stockholm Convention in 2004. Within 11 years of existence of the Convention, a rich and extremely valuable global POPs monitoring dataset has been generated. These data are compiled into Regional and Global Monitoring Reports every six years. The first reports were published in 2009, showing baseline concentrations of POPs in all UN regions, and the second round of reports are being issued in the next weeks and will focus on the identification of trends in exposure to POPs over time.

CA: And what do the data show?

AO: The trends are definitely downwards! This demonstrates the effectiveness of the Convention. For the first time, these monitoring data are also made available through a global monitoring plan data warehouse and information system which can be accessed at http://www.pops-gmp.org/  The development and adoption of technical guidelines for environmentally sound management of wastes under the Basel Convention is also critical in ensuring that hazardous wastes are managed in a manner to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from such wastes.

CA: Very impressive indeed. What are the major challenges for the Conventions, in terms of the scientific underpinning for implementation?

AO: Capacity. Many developing countries lack the capacity – or resources - to effectively engage in the scientific processes, meaning that it is challenging to ensure that their inputs are properly integrated. This is especially problematic because exposure to certain types of chemicals and pollutants is often higher in developing countries than elsewhere – for example in the by-hand and informal recycling of electronic waste.

CA: How do you respond to that?

AO: The Secretariat has a very full technical assistance programme, and all efforts are made to include the regional perspectives, including through the designated Basel and Stockholm Conventions  Regional Centres, and by bringing developing country delegates to the relevant meetings. Financial support from our “donor” partners is very necessary for this. But beyond that, we need to better assist parties to mainstream scientific approaches and evidence into national development planning processes, to encourage sharing of information between parties and between sectors, to integrate the chemicals and wastes issues into the wider development agenda, and to ensure that these issues are properly reflected in the planning and definition of the Sustainable Development Goals. We need to strengthen the “synergies” at all these different levels and scales.

CA: And the Science Fair, is it the first step towards that?

AO:  Not the first step, but a very significant step, yes. There is no time to waste. I would like to thank the donors and hosts of the Science Fair – the governments of Finland and Switzerland respectively – for supporting us to highlight the importance of Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow.

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs

For three days on the margins of the COPs, the BRS Secretariat and its partners will present the scientific basis for sustainable management of chemicals and waste, at the Science Fair, 7-9 May 2015.

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs
 
BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on www.unep.org

BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on www.unep.org

As part of the “Countdown to the Triple COPs” on UNEP’s Ask-an-Expert interactive portal, ask BRS Programme Officer Mario Yarto all you need to know about how the chemical listings processes work.

BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on www.unep.org

BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on www.unep.org
 
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International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

By journalist Bryce Baschuk from Bloomberg

International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

By journalist Bryce Baschuk from Bloomberg
Source: Daily Report for Executives: News Archive > 2015 > February > 02/06/2015 > Regulation & Law > Hazardous Substances: International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

Feb. 5 — The United Nations' climate change negotiations in Paris may be 2015's environmental cause celebre, but Rolph Payet wants the world to remember that toxic chemicals should be a front-burner topic in Geneva.

“Chemicals and waste are also very important,” said Payet, the new executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions. “If we don't manage them properly, they can affect the environment in more or less greater ways than climate change,” he told Bloomberg BNA during a recent interview in Geneva.

During Payet's first four months in office, the former Seychelles minister for environment and energy has been hard at work preparing chemical stakeholders for what he hopes will be a momentous year.

Specifically, he is seeking to establish firm guidelines for the management of electronic waste and mercury, adopt a new chemicals and waste compliance mechanism and list several toxins at the May 4–15 BRS conference of parties (COPs) in Geneva.

Compliance Mechanism

The issue most at stake at the 2015 BRS COPs is the successful adoption of a compliance mechanism to increase transparency and enforcement of international chemicals and waste management, Payet said.

In May, parties to the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions will consider rules to ensure that countries are applying the relevant management and customs procedures for chemicals that are listed as harmful to human health and the environment.

“We do need certain minimum levels of practice so that this international system will work,” he said. “A compliance mechanism for those two conventions is therefore a priority for the COPs.”

The Rotterdam Convention requires countries that export restricted chemicals to adequately notify the receiving country. The Stockholm Convention requires parties to prohibit the production, use and trade of certain persistent organic pollutants.

E-Waste Awareness

Payet said he hopes parties to the Basel Convention—which defines limits on the cross-border movement of hazardous waste and its disposal—will adopt clear guidelines on how to deal with the hazardous and costly effects of electronic waste, or e-waste.

E-waste from discarded mobile devices and computer equipment is considered hazardous due to the presence of toxic materials such as mercury, cadmium, asbestos and lead.

“Televisions, computers and mobile devices contain a range of hazardous substances,” Payet said. “When they end up as e-waste—for example in the landfill—they will leach out into the environment and create problems.

“Ten years from now we don't want to look back and say we wish we could have done something more about it,” he said.

Draft Technical Guidelines

Last year, the United Nations issued its latest draft technical guidelines on the transboundary movements of e-waste.

The guidelines seek to establish the difference between hazardous and non-hazardous e-waste, provide guidance on the transboundary movements of e-waste and offer inspection guidelines for enforcement officials to control the transportation of e-waste.

“Parties are sending signals that say: ‘Look, let's have particular guidelines because the problem is growing and we need to work on it,’ ” Payet said. “I am committed to supporting parties by all means to adopt those guidelines.”

Members of the Basel Convention COP will consider the e-waste debate May 8–12. “I hope the guidelines will be adopted by this COP,” he said. “You have to be ambitious.”

Mercury Poisoning

Payet said he is equally optimistic that parties will adopt the draft technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of mercury waste in 2016.

“Mercury is a toxic chemical and we need to take actions to reduce and eliminate anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury,” he said. “On the policy side, I believe it will come into force by next year. The trend I've seen is certainly encouraging.”

He added, “There is a lot of work to be done in the dentistry sector, for example, because a lot of us are walking around with amalgam in our teeth. As for mercury thermometers, there are many alternatives.”

New Chemical Listings

Payet said he plans to work closely with members of the chemicals industry to help prepare them for the listing of new chemicals.

“I encourage industry to monitor closely which chemicals are being discussed, and which chemicals the science is showing are toxic, with a view to developing a strategy for slowly phasing out harmful chemicals and addressing some of the challenges,” he said.

Payet said he's optimistic the Rotterdam Convention COP will list paraquat dichloride formulation, an herbicide considered toxic to humans and animals, during its May meetings.

“Listing a chemical in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention does not constitute a ban on its use,” he said. “Parties that considered it safe to do so could still use the chemical, but the exchange of information required for chemicals listed in Annex III would enable them to use the chemical in a more informed manner with information received from exporting countries.”

Payet said he hopes parties will support alternatives to the use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in countries that depend on it for controlling the spread of malaria. In May, the Stockholm Convention COP will review measures to reduce or eliminate releases from intentional production and use of DDT.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at ghenderson@bna.com

For More Information

The UN's draft technical guidelines on the transboundary movements of e-waste are available at http://bit.ly/1Ax48Mm.

Draft technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of mercury waste are available at http://bit.ly/1v2tzyk

Focus on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

Why is Capacity-Building crucial for implementing the Conventions? An Interview with the Chief of the BRS Technical Assistance Branch, Maria Cristina Cardenas, tells us why.

Focus on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

Focus on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

Central to the Quest for Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste

Interview with Maria Cristina Cardenas, Chief of the BRS Technical Assistance Branch by Charlie Avis, BRS Public Information Officer

Charlie Avis: Maria Cristina, you are Chief of the BRS Technical Assistance Branch, please tell us what “capacity-building” means to the Secretariat, and why is it important? 

Maria Cristina Cardenas: Thank you. The capacity building programme aims to assist parties to create the enabling environment necessary for enhanced or strengthened efforts to implement their obligations under the conventions. It is important because only by implementing the conventions will we achieve the objectives set out, namely to protect the environment and human health from the effects of chemicals and hazardous wastes.

CA: What are the main capacity gaps at national level, and where are the gaps (geographically) most acute?

MCC: According to the recent needs assessment that was undertaken by the Secretariat, the main needs are in the fields of the environmentally-sound management of priority waste streams, in particular on e-wastes, used lead-acid batteries, persistent organic pollutants wastes and mercury wastes; the collection of data for undertaking inventories for POPs and for reporting ; the monitoring of human health or environmental incidents at the national level, in order to prepare proposals for listing severely hazardous pesticide formulations; the identification of alternative substances or methods to substitute for newly-listed chemicals, and the collection of information for updating NIPs and for reporting.

In terms of the geographical scope the needs vary between and among regions as well as between the conventions themselves.

CA: The webinar series seems to have been especially effective, with more than 1,100 participants benefitting last year alone. How long has the BRS Secretariat been staging webinars?

MCC: The webinar programme was officially launched by the Stockholm Convention Secretariat in February 2011, and one year later it was expanded to include the Basel and Rotterdam Conventions (when the 3 Secretariats were officially merged into one).

CA: Can you please give me a concrete example of a webinar (title, scope, length, speakers, number and origin of participants)?  

MCC: Webinars are training or information sessions with a duration of maximum 60 minutes. They are generally organized twice a week on Tuesdays (10-11am) and Thursdays (4-5pm Geneva time) in order to provide an opportunity for participants from different time zones to connect.  The sessions are hosted and chaired by Secretariat staff, who introduces the presenter for the session. He or she is usually an invited expert on a specific topic or a Secretariat staff member who responsible for a particular programme. Presentations take about 30 minutes, leaving ample time for participants to ask questions and engage with the presenter.  Typically there are 20 to 30 participants attending each webinar session.  Of course there are always exceptions and for instance the up-coming webinar sessions on briefings for the COPs are scheduled for 90 minutes. This is to allow for the presenter to provide the full overview of the COPs as well for the participants to be able to ask questions.  The majority of our webinar sessions are recorded and thus if you miss one you can always view the recording of the presentations and download the questions asked.

CA: How do you deal with the language needs of participants? 

MCC: Sessions are offered in the official UN languages depending on the interest of the topic. Generally we schedule sessions mainly in English, French and Spanish, however we have also run them in Arabic and in Russian. We hope to soon offer webinars with simultaneous interpretation into a second language, after we have overcome some technical obstacles.

CA: What kind of feedback have you received – from participants, from parties, for your colleagues?

MCC: Overall the feedback that we receive from parties and participants is very positive. Stakeholders around the globe are happy to be able to join the webinars and be in touch with experts and the Secretariat in real time without having to move away from their desks.  Many find it to be a very useful training tool in addition to the face-to-face activities that the Secretariat organizes.

CA: You mention face-to-face training: In addition to webinars, what else is the BRS Secretariat doing to fill these capacity needs?

MCC: The  Secretariat’s technical assistance programme builds upon the strengths and best practices of the individual programmes for the delivery of capacity-building support under each of the 3 conventions.  We have four main components:  Needs assessment; Development of supporting tools and methodologies; Capacity-building and training activities; Partnerships and regional centres . The idea is to provide a full suite or awareness-raising and technical support across the spectrum of themes and issues of relevance to the conventions, globally.

CA: What plans do you have for the future, for BRS capacity-building?

MCC:  We are currently exploring the different avenues offered by technology, in particular we are looking into expanding the use of virtual, electronic, platforms. We will soon be launching online training modules, and we are also working with academia to developing some massive open online courses (MOOCs). In addition we will continue to strengthen our face-to-face training programme by promoting the use of hands-on training methodologies and information exchange during practical training activities and workshops.

CA: And the “flagship” webinar programme will undoubtedly continue. Last question, will capacity issues be prominent at the triple COPs, and if so, where, and what kind of decisions/commitment can we expect?

MCC:  Yes indeed, the Webinar programme will continue to run and be strengthened.  As for the COPs, capacity issues will be quite prominent, and technical assistance is an agenda item under each of the three COPs. It will be introduced during the joint session of the triple COPs on the first day, and is expected to be discussed in a contact group which will be operating during the 3 COPs. Parties will be provided with an overview of what the secretariat has undertaken since the last COPs as well as a proposed programme on technical assistance for the three conventions. This programme is basically a continuation of the programme which was set up in 2012 after the re-organization of the 3 secretariats into one.  It also takes into account the needs assessments that were carried out for each of the conventions in 2014. In addition the Basel and Stockholm COPs will evaluate the performance and sustainability of the 23 regional centres serving the Conventions.

CAA: So, all-in-all, it is expected the COPs will recognise the importance of capacity-building for fulfilling the conventions’ objectives, leading to a renewed mandate for the next two years. Maria Cristina, thank you very much for your time.


Growing Coffee without Endosulfan: experiences with traps for managing Coffee Berry Borer (CBB)

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.

Growing Coffee without Endosulfan: experiences with traps for managing Coffee Berry Borer (CBB)

Growing Coffee without Endosulfan: experiences with traps for managing Coffee Berry Borer (CBB)
 
Executive Secretary addresses SAICM Open-Ended Working Group

The 2nd meeting of the Strategic Approach to Integrated Chemicals Management, OEWG, takes place in Geneva 15 to 17 December 2014. The Executive Secretary's speech is now available.


Executive Secretary addresses SAICM Open-Ended Working Group

Executive Secretary addresses SAICM Open-Ended Working Group

Speaking notes for Rolph Payet on the Basel and Stockholm Regional Centres 15 December 2014

Dear participants,

The Basel Convention provides in Article 14 for the establishment of Regional Centres for Training and Technology Transfer (BCRCs) regarding the management of hazardous wastes and other wastes and the minimization of their generation, and the Stockholm Convention provides in Article 12 for the establishment of regional and subregional centres for capacity-building and transfer of technology (SCRCs) to assist developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition to fulfil their obligations under the Convention.

The 14 Basel Convention Regional Centres and 16 Stockholm Convention Regional Centres, where 7 serve as joint regional or sub-regional centres, are established and operating pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions and decisions of the Conference of Parties. Their primary purpose is to provide services, mainly technical assistance, capacity building and in many cases project implementation and coordination for the implementation of the Conventions to the Parties served by the Centres.

At our last regional centres meeting three weeks ago, heads of those centres called for a more integrated approach to chemicals management and they are ready to implement not only the decisions of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, but also decisions within the chemicals area provided financing is available, such as from the GEF, UNEP SAICM QSP, and voluntary contributions to the BRS Secretariat among others.

All Centres are indeed catalysts for the promotion and implementation of policies aimed at life-cycle of chemicals and integrated waste management. They are suitable forum where programmes’ synergies could be established or where their potential could be exploited.

The network of the Basel and the Stockholm Conventions Regional Centres is also working with the regional offices of UNEP and FAO. The Regional Centres are conducting training programmes, workshops, seminars and pilot projects in the field of the environmentally sound management (ESM) of hazardous wastes and the elimination of POPs, transfer of environmentally sound technology and minimization of the generation of hazardous wastes, with specific emphasis on training of trainers, disseminating information, including promotion of public awareness, identifying, developing and strengthening mechanisms for the transfer of technology.

The Regional Centres are also organizing meetings, symposiums, missions in the field and carrying out joint projects in cooperation with UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO, FAO, UNITAR, WHO and industry and non-governmental organizations. In doing so, the centres work closely with SAICM.

We fully endorse and support the request by the SAICM regional meetings that the Basel and Stockholm Conventions regional centres continue to act as regional delivery centres for SAICM and that our regional centres are key actors in the implementation of various projects at the regional level. We wish to recognize and support the contribution of the SAICM Quick Start Programme to several of the projects carried out by the regional centres.

We are working together to support countries to enhance their capacity to achieve the sound management of chemicals and wastes for a better living and contributing to the three dimensions of sustainable development. We thank you for your support and efforts.

We invite countries that are willing to enhance their capacity for the sound management of chemicals and wastes, including the implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata Conventions, to continue to submit their needs for capacity building of human resources and strengthening of the institutions to the BRS Secretariat or the Basel and Stockholm Regional Centres.

I take the opportunity to bring to your attention information document SAICM/OEWG.2/INF/8 and especially the table which summarizes the main areas of cooperation.

Finally, I like to highlight that the United Nations Environment Assembly of UNEP in its Resolution 1/5 on chemicals and waste acknowledged the role of the regional centres of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions to support the implementation of those conventions and all relevant activities, as well as the role that they play in contributing to other chemicals –and waste-related instruments and in mainstreaming the sound management of chemicals and waste.

Thank you for your attention!

BRS Secretariat joins UNEP in becoming climate neutral

Through its support to a 15 MW wind energy project in India, offsetting the 1,159 tonnes of travel and other business-related carbon emissions, the Secretariat is now climate neutral.

BRS Secretariat joins UNEP in becoming climate neutral

BRS Secretariat joins UNEP in becoming climate neutral
 
Briefing on Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions COPs in 2015

The online briefings aim at providing parties, observers and other stakeholders with an overview of the issues that will be discussed during the meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, to be held in Geneva, from 4-15 May 2015.

Briefing on Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions COPs in 2015

Briefing on Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions COPs in 2015
 
Human Rights and the Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Wastes

At a side event held in December 2014, the Executive Secretary led a debate on the linkages between human rights and hazardous chemicals and wastes


Human Rights and the Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Wastes

Human Rights and the Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Wastes

The link between human rights and the quality of the human environment in all its dimensions was first acknowledged at the United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Declaration) in 1972. Over the past several decades, this linkage has been sustained through various international declarations and international legal instruments.

In a world where inequality is increasing, poor people are disproportionately more exposed to the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste. As the international community discusses the post-2015 policy agenda, including the formulation of meaningful and integrated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide policies and interventions into the next decade, the relevance of a rights-based approach to development, including sustainable chemicals and waste management, is of greater relevance than ever before.

On 17 December 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, moderated a side-event on “A Rights-Based Approach to Sound Chemicals Management”. This was co-organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and held during the second meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

The purpose of this event was to bring together the expertise of various stakeholders dealing with human rights and the environment, in order to share their experiences and discuss a human-rights based approach to sound chemicals management, hence contributing to achieve the overarching goal of sustainable development.

In this regard, the Executive Secretary underlined that the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are strongly committed to protecting both the environment and human beings, thus addressing human rights such as the right to live in a healthy environment among others.

More specifically, the discussions focused on sharing lessons learned as well as identifying challenges and opportunities in the efforts of interlinking such priorities. The panel of speakers and participants, representing a wide range of stakeholders - including the UN OHCHR Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, national ministries, and civil society - considered the following: why and how human rights may be integrated in the achievement of the sound management of hazardous chemicals and, vice versa; and why and how managing chemicals in a sound manner may better contribute in promoting human rights. The debates analysed what has been achieved so far and shed light on actions required by 2020.

For more information, please see:

SAICM OEWG webpage: http://www.saicm.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=510:information-pack-2nd-meeting-of-the-open-ended-working-group-geneva-15-17-december-2015&catid=92:oewg

OHCHR webpage: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/SRToxicWastesIndex.aspx


Why are the meetings of the COPs Important ?

As 2015 begins, David Ogden, Chief of the Conventions Operations Branch, tells us why.

Why are the meetings of the COPs Important ?

Why are the meetings of the COPs Important ?

An explanation of the significance of the forthcoming 2015 Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

Interview with David Ogden, Chief of Conventions Operations Branch, by Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat

Charlie Avis: David, please tell me, why are the triple COPs in 2015 important?

David Ogden: Well, the triple COPs - or the 2015 Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, to name them in full - are the principal platform for proposing sustainable solutions, based on sound science, to protect human health and the environment from the possible adverse effects of hazardous chemicals and waste. Together, the three conventions represent not just a governance structure, but also a set of tools and shared capacities for assisting governments implement these solutions. So what happens at the triple COPs in May next year will influence the direction the Parties take sustainable chemicals and waste management for the next two years, and beyond.

CA: What will be discussed?

DO: Some key guidance documents, which are developed to assist countries put in place the necessary arrangements for implementation, will be discussed at the COPs. In particular, draft Technical Guidelines on E-Waste, on POPs waste, and on Mercury waste, will be on the agenda. Also, Parties have put forward a number of new chemicals for possible inclusion in the Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention processes: this is a key step for sustainably managing those substances, if they are found to present harmful threats to human and environmental health. Also, the new work programme for 2016-17 will be discussed, including a number of key initiatives such as ensuring appropriate technical assistance for the regions, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Stockholm convention.

CA: E-waste sounds interesting. Why is E-waste on the agenda?

DO: E-waste is a rapidly growing waste stream – mobile phone usage is very high across the world and many devices don’t last very long. We need proper recycling, reuse, and disposal of these appliances, because they are for example full of heavy metals and other potentially hazardous substances. Gram for gram, there is more gold in a mobile phone than in retrievable gold ore, so it is also an opportunity and a real, economic, resource. But recycling and disposal needs to be done in a way which is also safe for workers, good for society as a whole, and also good for the environment. Hence the draft Technical Guidelines, which will assist governments with appropriate procedures on transboundary movements of E-waste.

CA: You mentioned science in your opening remarks: why is science so important to all of this?

DO: The Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm processes are scientifically-driven. There is a need first to identify and then to understand the risks from chemicals and waste, in order to be able to propose alternatives and sustainable approaches to their management. “Science is the judge” for whether chemicals and waste are listed, and eventually banned, or not. After that, socio-economic factors influence the types of measures used to address the risks. All aspects of the Conventions’ decision-making are therefore underpinned by rigorous, international, cooperative scientific analysis. To help explain how this works, this time we are organising a Science Fair to bring these complexities to a wider audience.

CA: What is the Science Fair?

DO: Together with our partners – governments as well as civil society, and the private sector – we will stage a three-day Fair, highlighting how science is used to inform all the different steps for deciding and implementing the different aspects of the three conventions. From 7th to 9th May, we will showcase work from all over the world, employing a variety of media including videos, interactive exhibits, panel discussions and others. The Fair reflects the overall theme of the meetings of the COPs, which is “From Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow”.

CA: For a Safer Tomorrow: a good place for us to stop. Thank you for your time. 

Bureaux approve the schedule of work for the 2015 COPs
At their joint meeting on 11-12 November, the bureaux successfully laid foundations for the forthcoming COPs. An advance version of the schedule is now available.

Bureaux approve the schedule of work for the 2015 COPs

Bureaux approve the schedule of work for the 2015 COPs
At their joint meeting on 11-12 November, the bureaux successfully laid foundations for the forthcoming COPs. An advance version of the schedule is now available.
Detoxifying  Development: How strengthened sound management of chemicals and wastes contributes to sustainable development
A summary of the United Nations Environment Assembly panel discussion held on 24 June 2014 in Nairobi.

Detoxifying Development: How strengthened sound management of chemicals and wastes contributes to sustainable development

Detoxifying  Development: How strengthened sound management of chemicals and wastes contributes to sustainable development

Detoxifying Development

FOCUS / BRIEF DESCRIPTION / MAJOR ISSUES DISCUSSED:

While chemicals contribute significantly to our well‐being, they can also pose a threat to human health and the environment if they are not managed well. Their potentially adverse impacts, combined with the limited capacity in many countries to deal with these impacts, make the sound management of chemicals and waste a key issue that cuts across many areas of our lives. In Johannesburg in 2002 governments agreed that, by 2020, chemicals should be used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment. The 2020 target was further recognized in the Rio+20 outcome “The Future We Want”. The 2006 Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) also reaffirmed the Johannesburg 2020 goal.

Chemicals and waste management is traditionally considered an environmental issue. However, it also has significant benefits for the economic and social objectives of sustainable development. These benefits are demonstrated by a number of efforts and initiatives, e. g. the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paints, sound management of electrical and electronic waste, promotion of alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides, to name just a few.

Sound management of chemicals and wastes has the potential of supporting progress in a wide range of thematic areas: poverty eradication, health, agriculture, water, industrial growth, and employment. It therefore has a catalyzing potential to support relevant sustainable development goals (SDGs) currently under development.

This can be done through the full and effective implementation of the existing agreed frameworks in the chemicals and waste cluster, including legally binding and voluntary instruments, efforts and initiatives, such as the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the Minamata Convention on Mercury and SAICM – all contributing to sustainable development and the protection of human health and the environment. SDGs need to reflect the importance of international commitments, including those made in multilateral environmental agreements and to stress the need of the Post‐2015 framework to be consistent with and build on these commitments.

In order to positively contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, it is important to enable and require the effective coordination of local, national, regional and global environmental policy and legal frameworks for effective implementation and enforcement of their provisions. These coordinating efforts are expected to strengthen institutional frameworks and policy coherence. At the national level, implementation can be strengthened by enhanced cooperation and coordination among relevant stakeholders. For example, Nigeria established a national committee on chemicals management which engages relevant ministries and key NGOs. Mainstreaming of chemicals and wastes into the national development agenda is another opportunity for linking it to the sustainable development process.

In addition to actions taking place at the international and national levels, regional efforts have a catalyzing role to play for implementation of existing MEAs and promotion of coherent chemicals and waste management.

OUTCOME / WAY FORWARD:

  • Recognize that the sound management of chemicals and waste contributes to the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development.
  • Promote efforts for the coordinated implementation of the existing global policy and legal regimes in the chemicals and waste management cluster.
  • Ensure that chemicals and waste management is properly reflected in the SDGs, including as targets under the SDGs on health, sustainable agriculture, poverty reduction, sustainable production and consumption, industrialization, water and sustainable cities.

CONCLUSIONS / RECOMMENDATIONS:

Effective implementation of the existing international, regional and national legal and policy regimes addressing chemicals and wastes supports sustainable development, and help realize the future sustainable development goals. By striving for policy coherence and efficiency at the national level, and through improved use of resources and greater coordination among the key stakeholders for the implementation of the national legal framework, we can make strides towards achieving sustainable development.

UNEA should send a signal to the decision‐makers engaged in New York in the negotiations of the SDGs about the crucial potential that can be brought by the sound management of chemicals and wastes for the achievement of SDGs. At the moment, the integration of sound management of chemicals and waste into SDGs is an opportunity for the international community which should not be missed.

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Upcoming meetings

Meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions
Geneva, Switzerland, from 4 to 15 May 2015

Meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

Geneva, Switzerland, from 4 to 15 May 2015


Venue: Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG), 17 rue de Varembé, Geneva, Switzerland.

Highlights: The twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-12), the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-7) and the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-7) will be held back-to-back from 4 to 15 May 2015. The meetings will include joint sessions among two or three of the conferences of the parties on joint issues.

The theme for the meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions is ‘From science to action, working for a safer tomorrow’.

Working languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
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Recent Meetings

December 2014
Sub-regional workshop on illegal traffic of hazardous wastes, including PCBs and other wastes
Barranquilla, Colombia, 10 - 12 December 2014

Sub-regional workshop on illegal traffic of hazardous wastes, including PCBs and other wastes

Barranquilla, Colombia, 10 - 12 December 2014


Background: Under the Basel Convention, each Party is required to take appropriate legal administrative and other measures to implement and enforce the provisions of the Convention, including appropriate national/domestic legislation to prevent and punish illegal traffic (art. 4.4 and 9.5). The Secretariat’s activities support the effective implementation of these requirements and hence the achievement of fundamental objectives of the Convention.

According to Annex A part II of the Stockholm Convention, Parties to the Convention are obliged to eliminate equipment and oils containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from use by 2025 and bring these under environmentally sound waste management by 2028.

Over the years, the Secretariat carried out a number of training activities to support parties in preventing and combating illegal traffic in hazardous wastes and other wastes, including more recently two workshops that focused on the prosecution of illegal traffic. The first workshop for prosecutors took place in Bratislava, the Slovak Republic, on 26-27 June 2012 for countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. The workshop for Central and South America took place on 28-29 August 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Furthermore, the Secretariat provided support to Parties on the environmentally sound management of POPs wastes including PCBs wastes in a series of regional workshops that took place in 2009 and 2010. The Secretariat also undertook activities to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition in implementing the Basel Convention technical guidelines on POPs waste, including PCBs. These as well as a number of documents and guidance on inventory of PCBs and environmentally sound management of PCBs, have been prepared by the Secretariat.

Organized by: The sub-regional workshop was organized by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia in collaboration with the Basel Convention Regional Centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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November 2014
Annual joint meeting of Directors of the regional centres under the Basel and Stockholm Conventions
Geneva, Switzerland, 27 - 28 November 2014

Annual joint meeting of Directors of the regional centres under the Basel and Stockholm Conventions

Geneva, Switzerland, 27 - 28 November 2014


Venue: International Environment House-2 (IEH-2), Châtelaine, Geneva

Background: Decisions BC-11/12 (Basel Convention regional and coordinating centres), BC-11/13 (Process for evaluating the performance and sustainability of the Basel Convention regional and coordinating centres), and SC-6/16 (Regional and subregional centres for capacity-building and the transfer of technology), among others, are implemented through programme budget for Activity 19. Activity 19 includes convening of annual joint meetings to enhance cooperation and coordination between regional centres under the Basel and Stockholm conventions to promote and enhance synergies in delivery of technical assistance under the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions.

Organizer(s): The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

Working Language: English only

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Joint meeting of the bureaux of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockhol
Geneva, Switzerland, 11 - 12 November 2014

Joint meeting of the bureaux of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockhol

Geneva, Switzerland, 11 - 12 November 2014


Venue: International Environment House 2 (IEH-2), Châtelaine-Geneva, Switzerland.

The bureaux approved, among other things, the tentative schedule of work, including joint sessions on joint issues, for the meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, taking place from 4 to15 May 2015 in Geneva. The bureaux also agreed on an approach on credentials for these back-to-back meetings and discussed other organizational matters and the arrangements for the regional preparatory meetings taking place in March/April 2015.

Working Language: The working language of the meeting was English.

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