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New BRS COPs app now available for download
Don't miss a thing from the 2017 Triple COPs: Get the new, improved, BRS mobile application.

New BRS COPs app now available for download

New BRS COPs app now available for download

BRS App iconBRS App provides a window to information about the meetings of the global chemicals and wastes conventions. It gives quick and easy access to essential information about the 2015 COPs as well as other information about the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

BRS App is available on App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android devices.

For more information about the BRS App, please contact Julien Hortoneda at Julien.Hortoneda@brsmeas.org.


Media background notes on the COPs now online
All you need to know about the 2017 Triple COPs in one place: download your copy now!

Media background notes on the COPs now online

Media background notes on the COPs now online

All you need to know about the 2017 Triple COPs in one place: download your copy now!

New BRS infographic explains all about Basel Convention work on ESM
An online interactive infographic describes the Guidelines, Expert Working Group, Manuals, Pilot Projects and Toolbox which support the parties’ work on environmentally sound management (ESM)

New BRS infographic explains all about Basel Convention work on ESM

New BRS infographic explains all about Basel Convention work on ESM

 

Field interviews confirm ongoing exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides amongst island rural families
A new Rotterdam Convention study in small island developing states (SIDs) found that whilst the use of organic alternatives is increasing, threats posed by the misues of toxic chemicals still persist.

Field interviews confirm ongoing exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides amongst island rural families

Field interviews confirm ongoing exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides amongst island rural families
 
The sound management of chemicals and waste as a human right
Ahead of the 2017 Triple COPs, recent meetings in Geneva have emphasised that freedom from a polluted environment is a human right

The sound management of chemicals and waste as a human right

The sound management of chemicals and waste as a human right

(This article is an expanded version of the BRS Blog by Malika Amelie Taoufiq-Cailliau, Legal Officer, which appeared on www.brsmeas.org during March 2017)

Ahead of the meetings of the BRS Conferences of the Parties (COPs), to be held 24 April to 5 May 2017 in Geneva, discussions on a human rights-based approach for better protection of the environment and of human health, the common objectives of the BRS Conventions, and thus for the sound management of chemicals and wastes, were ‘effervescing’ recently under various fora, such as at the 34th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council which took place 27 February to 24 March, and the annual International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) from 10 to 19 March.

According to reports recently published by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2017)[1][2], 1.7 million children die each year due to a polluted environment; of which 570,000 deaths occur each year among children under five years old, due the main pollutant, the air. The reports emphasise electronic and electrical wastes as one of the emerging environmental threats to children; and that harmful chemicals work themselves through the food chain thus contributing to this alarming situation.

On the occasion of one of the numerous discussions that took place during the recent Geneva meetings on environment and human rights at the Human Rights Council, at a side-event organised on 6 March WHO’s Ms. Maria Neira stressed that “human health is a human right” and even more a child’s right. Thus, “investing in the removal of environmental risks to health, such as improving water quality or using cleaner fuels, will result in massive health benefits”. Much work is still needed to turn this into protection on the ground, building on the human rights commitment as embodied through the ‘Geneva Pledge’ (for Human Rights in Climate Action) and later the Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015 in Paris by 195 Parties and entered into force in November 2016, which marked the first times that a Multilateral Environmental Agreement strongly advocated for a human rights-based approach of environment protection in its preamble[3]

This watershed took place shortly after the adoption in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is itself strongly grounded in human rights and provides further opportunities to advocate integration of human rights within the framework of international efforts to promote sustainable development to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this context, UN Environment stressed the importance of respecting, protecting and promoting human rights and gender equality in “Delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, through the adoption of Resolution L.6 at the Second Session of the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2), convened on 23-27 May 2016, in order to ensure that no one is “left behind”, in particular the most vulnerable, such as children, who need special attention and actions. 

The latest Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Mr. Baskut Tuncak, as presented to the Human Rights Council, at its 33rd session in September 2016, moved towards this by focusing on children’s rights[4]  and by pointing out the “silent pandemic” of disease and disability affecting millions of children, to the point that paediatricians have now sadly begun to refer to children born “pre-polluted.”

The Report further states that, to remedy the situation:

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

Indeed, children are the future. They are and should be at the core of our preoccupations and work. They are among the most affected by harmful effects on health and the environment caused by hazardous chemicals wastes; but as children can be great agents of change, they are also part of the solution for a ‘detoxified future’. This is why on 13 March 2017, for instance, the BRS Secretariat participated in a panel at the FIFDH[5]  and presented on the BRS Conventions to a youth audience and the wider public, explaining the roles of these international treaties in protecting human health and the environment.

What comes next? The meetings of the ‘BRS Triple COPs’, from 24 April to 5 May 2017, in Geneva, will provide Parties and other stakeholders with an opportunity to address these issues, whether at a side-event on “Human rights, Children’s Rights, and Hazardous Substances & Wastes” or at the High-Level Segment, to be attended by Environment Ministers from upwards of 80 countries.

Decisions taken at the COPs, whether for the listing of additional chemicals in the annexes to the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, or for new partnerships to solve problems of waste management under the Basel Convention, will therefore play a role in protecting children from exposure, and ultimately in saving young lives. Only in this way can we detoxify the future.

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[1] See: http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/don-t-pollute-my-future/en/

[2] See: http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/inheriting-a-sustainable-world/en/

[3] The Preamble of the Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change makes it clear that all States “should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights”.

[4] To read the entire report, in the 6 official UN languages, click on the following link: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/33/41

[5] For more information on the 2017 edition of the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH), and its full programme, see: http://www.fifdh.org/site/en/2017-edition/programme

Latest information on the 2017 Triple COPs
All the latest information, including the schedule for Bureaux and Regional meetings for Sunday 23rd April, for the 2017 Triple COPs is available online

Latest information on the 2017 Triple COPs

Latest information on the 2017 Triple COPs

 

How does technical assistance support implementation of the three chemicals conventions?
Capacity building is an integral part of the support to parties provided by the BRS Secretariat, read about it here ahead of the Triple COPs.

How does technical assistance support implementation of the three chemicals conventions?

How does technical assistance support implementation of the three chemicals conventions?

The current technical assistance and capacity-building programme has four main components: needs assessment and the development of supporting tools and methodologies; capacity-development; partnerships; and regional delivery. It was developed and presented to the Parties for the first time at the meetings of the conferences of the Parties held in 2013. Since then the Secretariat has been implementing its technical assistance activities based on the programme.

Based on past experience in implementation, lessons learned and the needs expressed by Parties, the Secretariat has developed a draft four-year technical assistance plan for 2018-2021 replacing the current biennial programme approach with a view to better addressing the needs of Parties. The activities are now planned in such a way as to allow for improved impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation.

The plan is based on objectives and guiding principles that together set a strategic direction for the technical assistance activities to support Parties in implementing the conventions. In the light of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it also seeks to support Parties in integrating chemicals and wastes management into national strategies for sustainable development.

The plan includes activities that Parties, non-Party States, regional centres and other organizations can implement at the national, regional and international levels that are in line with the directions and priorities set by Parties through their respective decisions and programmes of work.

While using the harmonized approach across the three conventions, specific characteristics of technical assistance for each convention are taken into account. Capacity development to support Parties in the implementation of the three conventions and cross-cutting issues focuses on the following thematic areas:

    1. Basel Convention: national strategies for the environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes, control procedures for transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes, the take-back procedure, the Ban Amendment, the disposal of hazardous wastes and waste prevention and minimization;

    2. Rotterdam Convention: national action plans, information exchange obligations, effective participation in the work of the Chemical Review Committee, submission of import responses for pesticides and industrial chemicals listed in Annex III to the Convention, alternatives to Annex III chemicals, monitoring, data collection, reporting of pesticide poisoning incidents related to severely hazardous pesticide formulations, national decision-making process related to banning or restricting chemicals and submission of notifications of final regulatory action, and the establishment of systems and procedures for sending export notifications with regard to banned or severely restricted chemicals not listed in Annex III to the Convention;

    3. Stockholm Convention: guidance for the development and updating of national implementation plans, including on inventories, effective participation in the work of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee, elimination or restriction of the production and use of intentionally produced persistent organic pollutants, alternatives to persistent organic pollutants, reduction or elimination of releases of unintentionally produced persistent organic pollutants, persistent organic pollutants in articles, stockpiles, and the environmentally sound management and disposal of persistent organic pollutant wastes;

    4. Cross-cutting areas pertinent to two or all three of the conventions: legal and institutional frameworks, national coordination, the exchange of information on chemicals and wastes, the provision of support to customs officers, illegal traffic and trade of hazardous chemicals and wastes, inventories, national reporting under the Basel and Stockholm conventions, gender and social dimensions, the mainstreaming of chemicals and wastes into national sustainable development strategies in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, accident prevention and preparedness for hazardous waste and chemicals emergencies, the strengthening of the legal-science-policy-business interface, regional cooperation among entities responsible for the implementation of the conventions, and the enhancement of skills for chairing meetings of convention bodies.

The technical assistance plan for the period 2018–2021 is submitted for consideration to the upcoming Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions which will be held in Geneva from 24 April - 5 May 2017. In order to provide sufficient time for planning and implementation of projects and activities, which includes the mobilization of resources, the plan lays down the foundation for the next four years, describing the overall goal and objectives, as well as expected outputs and outcomes, with the understanding that the plan will be reviewed and adjusted, as needed, by the Conferences of the Parties in 2019.

Matthias Kern
Technical Assistance Branch
Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

More than 40 side events scheduled for chemical conventions’ COPs
Browse the newly published list of planned side events, including two film screenings, for the forthcoming 2017 Triple COPs.

More than 40 side events scheduled for chemical conventions’ COPs

More than 40 side events scheduled for chemical conventions’ COPs
 
Keep well informed with the BRS clearing house mechanism, now with new, user-friendly, web section
Discover the information, tools and communities that make the joint clearing house mechanism a reality to support the conventions.

Keep well informed with the BRS clearing house mechanism, now with new, user-friendly, web section

Keep well informed with the BRS clearing house mechanism, now with new, user-friendly, web section

 

Ten Gender Pioneers to be honoured at the 2017 Triple COPs
Nominations are sought for outstanding women and men who have pioneered the integration of gender into the sound management of chemicals and wastes

Ten Gender Pioneers to be honoured at the 2017 Triple COPs

Ten Gender Pioneers to be honoured at the 2017 Triple COPs

 

Investigating how to integrate gender into implementation of the chemicals conventions
Highlights from the scoping studies on integrating gender issues into the implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions in Nigeria and Indonesia are now available

Investigating how to integrate gender into implementation of the chemicals conventions

Investigating how to integrate gender into implementation of the chemicals conventions

 

Geneva-based gender and environment advocates honoured
The work of Senior Programme Officer and former BRS Gender Coordinator, Matthias Kern, was recognised during International Women’s Day celebrations on 8 March 2017

Geneva-based gender and environment advocates honoured

Geneva-based gender and environment advocates honoured

 

Feature article: Reducing risks from pesticides by empowering rural women
Women are vulnerable to the harmful effects of chemicals when working in agriculture: are they also the solution?

Feature article: Reducing risks from pesticides by empowering rural women

Feature article: Reducing risks from pesticides by empowering rural women

Pesticide Risk Reduction through Empowering rural women

Women are central to the development of rural areas and national economies. They make up at least 43 percent of the agricultural workforce worldwide, with that figure rising to more than 70 percent in some countries.

By improving rural women’s access to resources and opportunities, food security can be enhanced for current and future generations. This goal lies at the heart of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) mandate.  

Finding simple solutions to accelerate progress, however, is no easy matter. The prevalence of toxic chemicals and pesticides around the world is especially hazardous to women. What is worse, those most vulnerable are unaware of the dangers they face in using and handling these substances.

“The livelihoods of rural families are dependent on their crops and their harvests. They rely on these to feed their children, themselves and to sell at market. Often, this is their sole form of survival. So, when a farmer identifies a pest threatening their only source of food or money; their immediate reaction is that a “ready-to-use” solution like a pesticide is the exactly what they need,” said Elisabetta Tagliati, FAO Programme Officer for the Rotterdam Convention (RC).

Protecting vulnerable groups

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, is to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls. Addressing key challenges such as poverty, inequality, and discrimination against women is essential to change the course of the 21st century.

The target is to enhance the use of enabling technology, and in particular information and communications, to promote the empowerment of women.

Gender equality and rural women’s empowerment are central to UN efforts to reduce rural poverty and to achieve food security for all. By supporting national governments, several countries have now adopted national food and agriculture policies and action plans that fully integrate the need to spread knowledge about either cutting down on the use of or handing pesticides appropriately.

Ultimately, to increase incomes, it is essential to maximise women’s presence in rural institutions in addition to creating gender-parity by amending policies at local, national and international levels. Raising awareness of practices carrying low or high risks is key to advancing the economic empowerment of women working in agriculture. 

Safeguarding health

Building a safer planet involves spreading the word about the correct ways to handle pesticides, from their purchase and sale, through to transporting them, in addition to raising awareness about the precautions to take to store them safely. The risks to those spraying fields without adequate equipment are high and ensuring instructions can be understood by those coming in to contact with pesticides is essential. Labels intended to inform are often a barrier towards safe use because many of those utilising the chemicals are unable to read or understand the languages in which guidelines are produced. “Insecticides are designed to destroy insects and this means they are also likely to be toxic to humans. Herbicides are widely used, and over time, low doses of exposure, can increase the risks of Parkinson’s disease, cancers, diabetes, gluten intolerance, infertility, and reproduction disorders,” said Tagliati.  The RC has also noted that children commonly play in fields where pesticides are present and that women frequently wash contaminated clothes with their bare hands.

To tackle these trends, the RC holds international and national workshops to train and advise individuals.  

Promoting the sound management of toxic substances

“Globally we are looking at about 500,000 chemicals that are used in industrial processes. Some 5000 chemicals are added to that list every year. Most of them are extremely beneficial. Among them are medicines for saving lives. They are also necessary for industrial processes, to produce equipment for use, and, they are required to sustain a certain level of agricultural production such as fertilisers and plant protection products. About 200 million farmers apply these substances around the world,” said Gerold Wyrwal, FAO Agricultural Officer for the Rotterdam RC.

Many of these farmers are women and these women are often the victims of disturbing experiences.

Scientists report that global reproductive health is being affected and the research shows that pesticides are at least partly to blame. Moreover, pesticides have been linked to miscarriages, premature births and reduced fertility in both men and women.  

The evidence indicates that exposure; even to small doses can be lethal. The pesticide problem calls for renewed and ongoing action.

Text by Sarah Barden
Communications and Advocacy Officer
FAO Rotterdam Convention Secretariat

New joint information profiles now online for 193 countries
The BRS Clearing House Mechanism takes another step forward with joint country profiles now bringing all national information on chemicals governance into one place.

New joint information profiles now online for 193 countries

New joint information profiles now online for 193 countries
 
Technology Fair to showcase solutions at 2017 Triple COPs
Parties and observers, including from the private sector are invited to exhibit solutions at the BRS Technology Fair, which will be held on the margins of the COPs from 27 to 29 April 2017.

Technology Fair to showcase solutions at 2017 Triple COPs

Technology Fair to showcase solutions at 2017 Triple COPs
 
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