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Coming soon: online webinars to help prepare for the 2017 Triple COPs
Register now to learn more about the next meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the three chemicals conventions. Available in English, French or Spanish.

Coming soon: online webinars to help prepare for the 2017 Triple COPs

Coming soon: online webinars to help prepare for the 2017 Triple COPs

Register now to learn more about the next meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the three chemicals conventions. Available in English, French or Spanish.

Monitoring shows regulations are reducing environmental & human exposure to toxic chemicals
Highlights of the first Stockholm Convention Effectiveness Evaluation Report, including factsheets on 5 key POPs, now available online.

Monitoring shows regulations are reducing environmental & human exposure to toxic chemicals

Monitoring shows regulations are reducing environmental & human exposure to toxic chemicals
 
Angola accedes to the Basel Convention, becoming the 186th Party
Angola deposited its instrument of accession, meaning that the Convention will enter into force for Angola on 7 May 2017, immediately following the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

Angola accedes to the Basel Convention, becoming the 186th Party

Angola accedes to the Basel Convention, becoming the 186th Party

Angola deposited its instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 6 February 2017, meaning that the Convention will enter into force for Angola on 7 May 2017, immediately following the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

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
 
Latest regional focus takes us to Pretoria, South Africa
The Director of the Basel and Stockholm Regional Centre for anglophone Africa, Taeolo Letsela, shares his thoughts ahead of the 2017 Triple COPs.

Latest regional focus takes us to Pretoria, South Africa

Latest regional focus takes us to Pretoria, South Africa

Interview between Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer for the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, and Dr. Taelo Letsela, Director of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions Regional Centre for English-speaking countries in Africa, located in Pretoria, South Africa.

Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning Dr. Letsela and greetings from Geneva. Thank you for answering my questions which aim to shed light on the work you are doing to support the sound management of chemicals and waste across the African continent.

Taelo Letsela (TL): Thank you Charlie, it is a pleasure to share the work that we do in the centre with the rest of the world.

CA: Firstly, and at the risk of generalisation, what are the main constraints or challenges to protecting African people’s health, and the African environment, from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals and waste?

TL: Well there are many challenges but I think at the centre are the mere facts of widespread poverty and underdevelopment. You see there is a cynical relationship between these two and exposure to harmful chemicals and pollution of the environment within which people live. They both limit the options of people to choose; choice about means of livelihood, places to live in, materials to use, access to healthcare services, access to education, access to resources, decent jobs, and many other things. They breed perfect conditions for terrible impact on human health and the environment in most communities where they are most prevalent.

CA: Now, 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?

TL: The regional centre for English speaking African countries commonly known as the Africa Institute, is situated in Pretoria, South Africa, housed by the Department of Environmental Affairs of the Government of South Africa. It is an intergovernmental organization established through a statute that countries in the region have to ratify.

The Institute coordinates the efforts of these countries in the implementation of the chemicals and hazardous waste conventions. These are Basel, Stockholm, Rotterdam and recently Minamata conventions.

CA: Now, please tell us, Africa is a large and diverse continent, made up of many countries which differ from one another in many ways. I understand the centre primarily serves the Anglophone countries. How many Parties do you actually serve?

TL: Africa has 54 countries and the Africa Institute serves 23 of them. This covers a large area from southern Africa, East Africa and West Africa.

CA: It must be very challenging, yet very rewarding. What are the main technical issues or focus areas covered by the centre and what activities does the centre concentrate on in order to have the biggest possible impact?

TL: As you realise the mandate is quite large. Each of these conventions is a big task on its own yet the countries are expected to implement them all at the same time. The Institute, together with the countries narrow down this task to specific project based activities. For example, for Stockholm the focus now is on PCBs. The Institute is currently executing a large project for PCB elimination for 12 SADC countries. It has also submitted a PCBs elimination project for South Africa for GEF consideration. For Minamata, the focus is on assisting countries to understand their Mercury situation so that they may then take a decision to ratify the Minamata convention. For Basel and Rotterdam the focus is on awareness campaigns.

CA: One waste issue which seems constantly linked with Africa is electronic waste or e-waste. What insights would you like to share with our audience concerning e-waste, its impact on health, who is the most impacted, the overall social and economic costs and benefits? What would you say is the general level of awareness amongst policymakers and decision-makers concerning these risks?

TL: For starters I am not so sure that our policy makers on the continent have E waste as a priority waste stream. You see, waste management is a problem generally in almost all African countries. The bulk of waste is very poorly managed if ever. A high tech waste stream such E waste is even less understood. Yet there are some in African countries who have seen that that E waste may present some opportunities for them. Many of these operate in the informal sector, are unregulated and operate without any standards per se. These are the people who are in the forefront of the E waste challenge.

CA: The centre has a long tradition and proud record and has clearly achieved a lot, but is there a single achievement of which you are most proud?

TL: I am most proud of the ability of the centre to serve as a platform for countries on the continent to meet and discuss these common issues that relate to chemicals and hazardous waste management. An example is the meeting that we convened on the on-going challenges of listing chemicals in Annex III of the Rotterdam convention. The purpose of that meeting was for Africans to look at this issue on their own, develop their own positions and recommend options that arise from their own experiences to overcome the problem. The outcome of that dialogue is now being canvassed across the continent and with the rest of the world.

CA: On a somewhat more personal note, Dr Letsela, how did you come to lead this centre, how did your career lead you this in your direction, and what advice would you have for other Africans, male or female, striving for a career in science and international development?

TL: I have always had passion for environment and human health paradoxically. When I was younger I wanted to be a medical doctor which led me to study science, as I grew older, specifically after completing my undergraduate degree I decided to focus on environmental sciences. I think this is a career that can bring a lot of fulfilment to many young people and can bring a good sense of purpose. It may not bring the largest pay check at the end of the month, however its impact on the quality of life is unparalleled.

CA: And lastly, please give us your view on the next Triple COPs, to be held in Geneva in April-May 2017: what are your expectations, what do expect to be achieved, and how useful do you think the Technology Fair is likely to be for the countries in your region?

TL: Well I hope that Parties can bring themselves at the COPs to remember why in the first place they agreed on establishing these conventions. It was primarily to protect human health and the environment. All other benefits are secondary. Yet in recent times there seems to be increasing loss of focus in favour of other considerations. This is sad and the brunt of the failure at the international level will be borne by the poorest of the poor across the world. My expectations are high and I hope this time around most delegates will be powered up to put their people before any other considerations.

With respect to the technology fair, I think it is a welcome addition and hopefully delegates from Africa in particular, shall see some technologies that are affordable that may solve some of the challenges that we have on the continent.

CA: Thank you, for your time and for your answers and for sharing your insights. Good luck with your important work in this important region, and I hope we shall be able to meet in person at the Triple COPs in Geneva very soon?

TL: Thanks Charlie, it was a pleasure. And if your readers need any further information on our centre and its activities, please go to our website www.africainstitute.info.

What role for the private sector in implementing the chemicals conventions?
Maria-Cristina Cardenas is the second in our “Countdown to the COPs” series as UNEP’s expert-of-the-day.

What role for the private sector in implementing the chemicals conventions?

What role for the private sector in implementing the chemicals conventions?
 
Watch the new BRS video on children and pesticides
Using empty pesticide bottles to take drinking water to school is just one of the ways children are exposed to toxic chemicals, says FAO’s Elisabetta Tagliati in the latest in the BRS video series.

Watch the new BRS video on children and pesticides

Watch the new BRS video on children and pesticides
 
Ask your questions live on children and pesticides
First in our “Countdown to the COPs” series, FAO’s Elisabetta Tagliati is now live as UNEP’s expert-of-the-day.

Ask your questions live on children and pesticides

Ask your questions live on children and pesticides
 
Regional BRS Preparatory Meetings scheduled to ensure efficient COPs
With financial support from Switzerland, parties will consult regionally at preparatory meetings organised in March in Bangkok, Dakar, Riga and Sao Paolo.

Regional BRS Preparatory Meetings scheduled to ensure efficient COPs

Regional BRS Preparatory Meetings scheduled to ensure efficient COPs
 
New Deputy Executive Secretary for the BRS Secretariat
The BRS Secretariat welcomes Carlos Martin-Novella as Deputy Executive Secretary. Mr Martin-Novella, previously at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), replaces Kerstin Stendahl, who joins IPCC, as of 1 January 2017.

New Deputy Executive Secretary for the BRS Secretariat

New Deputy Executive Secretary for the BRS Secretariat
 
Basel Convention workshop on environmentally sound management delivers tools for hazardous waste management
Expert Group finalizes practical manuals on Extended Producer Responsibility, financing systems, and guidance on the prevention and minimization of waste.

Basel Convention workshop on environmentally sound management delivers tools for hazardous waste management

Basel Convention workshop on environmentally sound management delivers tools for hazardous waste management

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

Now online: pre-session documents, including budget documents for consideration by the COPs
Pre-session documents for the three COPs, including the proposed programmes of work and budgets for the conventions for 2018-2019, are now available.

Now online: pre-session documents, including budget documents for consideration by the COPs

Now online: pre-session documents, including budget documents for consideration by the COPs
 
Focus on regional implementation switches to Africa
Find out more about the work of the Basel and Stockholm Regional centre in Pretoria, South Africa.

Focus on regional implementation switches to Africa

Focus on regional implementation switches to Africa

South Africa was selected as a site to establish Basel Convention Regional Centre for English-speaking countries in Africa in 1997. Africa Institute for the Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous and other wastes, the Africa Institute in short, was established for this purpose as an inter-governmental organization in March 2004 through an agreement between member states.  Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia have ratified the agreement as of today. The BCRC South Africa was formally established through a framework agreement that was signed between the Africa Institute and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention in 2012.

The same centre was nominated also to serve as Stockholm Convention regional centre in July 2010 for English speaking African Parties and has been endorsed since 2011 as the Regional Centre for Capacity-building and the transfer of technology by the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention.

In keeping with the synergy decision that was taken by the Parties to the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions, the Africa Institute also serves within the region to address the Rotterdam convention capacity-building initiatives as well. The Institute positions itself as a suitable vehicle that the countries in the region will use to also implement the Mercury treaty once it is finalized. Since the New Inception of the Institute (2009), a number of partnerships have been forged successfully and cooperation started working with:

  • Government of Denmark
  • Government of Sweden, through The Swedish Chemical Agency(KemI)
  • Government of Finland, through MFA and with Finnish Environment Authority (SYKE)
  • Relevant United Nations Agencies, such as UNEP, UNIDO, UNITAR 

These Institutions provide much needed financial and technical support to the Institute, and allowed it to mount the critical skills, through current professional staff of the Institute. It was through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland that three professional staff members were employed; these are highly qualified personnel with Masters and Ph.D. qualifications in Chemistry, Environmental Management and Ecology. The Institute has implemented and executed a range of projects in most of the member countries, including the following:

  • Program and Institutional Support for Establishment and Operation of the Africa Institute for Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous and Other Wastes
  • Management of Chemicals in English Speaking Africa Countries
  • Ports Management – “Probo Koala” Project
  • Capacity Strengthening and Technical Assistance for the Implementation of Stockholm Convention National Implementation Plans (NIPs) in African Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Islands Developing States (SIDS).

Parties served

Angola, Botswana, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

For more information visit: www.africainstitute.info

Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year
The Executive Secretary and staff wish all parties, observers, collaborators, partners and donors a peaceful and successful (Triple COPs) 2017.

Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year

Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year
BRS 2017 seasons greetings
Strengthening enforcement of environmental law in Europe
The Secretariat recently extended its agreement with IMPEL on illegal waste and chemicals trafficking to include cooperation relevant to all three conventions.

Strengthening enforcement of environmental law in Europe

Strengthening enforcement of environmental law in Europe

The Secretariat recently extended its agreement with IMPEL on illegal waste and chemicals trafficking to include cooperation relevant to all three conventions.

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