Information exchange is one of the core functions of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.
The Basel Convention has several provisions addressing information exchange. Parties are required to report information on the generation, export and import of hazardous and others wastes; report on cases of illegal traffic; and share import and export prohibitions. Information on accidents occurring during the transboundary movement and disposal of wastes, the available disposal and re-cycling facilities, and measures undertaken for development of technologies for reduction and/or elimination of wastes, are also covered under the Convention. Finally, the Convention provides for the exchange of information on the adverse effects of hazardous and other wastes on health and the environment.
Article 14 of the Rotterdam Convention states that parties shall facilitate the exchange of scientific, technical, economic and legal information concerning the chemicals within the scope of the Convention, including toxicological, ecotoxicological and safety information as well as the provision of publicly available information on domestic regulatory actions relevant to the objectives of the Convention.
Article 9 of the Stockholm Convention states that Parties shall facilitate or undertake the exchange of information relevant to the reduction or elimination of POPs and that the Secretariat shall serve as a clearing-house mechanism for information on POPs, including information provided by Parties, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.
The Conferences of the Parties of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, through their respective decisions on synergies requested the secretariat to develop common systems for information exchange, including a clearing-house mechanism, with the aim of having these systems serve all three conventions, and to build them on the basis of the existing system in each of the conventions.
The following concepts and objectives were introduced and discussed at the Conferences of the Parties of the Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions in the context of the clearing-house mechanism:
The clearing‑house mechanism is a multi-stakeholder global mechanism set up and operated by the secretariat under the guidance and oversight of the Parties to facilitate the exchange of information on hazardous chemicals and wastes. Its three major components are:
- Information capital, or the content of information exchanged by the clearing-house mechanism network members. Information capital consists primarily of information on hazardous chemicals and wastes but may include additional information as decided by the Parties of the three conventions;
- Human capital, or the global network of information providers, users and institutions working to implement the conventions and formally contributing to and using the clearing‑house mechanism;
- Operational capital, or the set of information tools, products and services and the necessary processes and resources to design, implement, operate and further enhance them.
The clearing‑house mechanism:
- provides one entry point to a wide range of sources of available information relevant to chemicals and wastes management;
- facilitates the sharing of information on the implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, including on models of coordination mechanisms and examples of good coordination practices from countries;
- facilitates the transfer of expertise and know-how between stakeholders;
- develops a unique development strategy for the clearing-house mechanism across the three conventions, making better use of available resources;
- keeps parties and other stakeholders well informed regarding convention issues, meetings, programmes, etc., in a more integrated and user-friendly environment;
- consolidates the use of available resources.
The clearing-house mechanism embraces all traditional, scientific and technological ways and means of transmitting information, including paper-based, electronic components and internet-based tools. It operates as a global, open and transparent network and takes a proactive and collaborative approach to identifying, prioritizing and meeting the information needs of its wide range of users.