News Features

 

Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping
The Secretariat is proud to be climate neutral for 2015, thanks to the signature of an agreement with UNFCCC to offset its CO2 emissions.

Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping

Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping
 
Environmentally sound management of waste the focus for experts’ meeting in Belgium
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.

Environmentally sound management of waste the focus for experts’ meeting in Belgium

Environmentally sound management of waste the focus for experts’ meeting in Belgium

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.

BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes
E-waste and the forthcoming Triple COPs were the subject of discussions at the WTO Committee on Trade & Environment, on 14-15 November 2016, in Geneva.

BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

On 14-15 November 2016, on the occasion of the regular session of the Committee on Trade & Environment (CTE) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) - i.e. the ‘CTE regular’ - now chaired by the Ambassador of Chile to the World Trade Organization, his excellency Mr. Héctor Casanueva, WTO members and observers discussed and focused more particularly on importance issues related to the relationship between Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and the WTO Agreements.

Several Secretariats of MEAs were represented and offered briefings on recent and forthcoming meetings of their respective Conferences of the Parties (COPs), as well as presentations on technical matters. Among these MEAs, one may highlight: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions on hazardous chemicals and wastes.

The Executive Secretary of the BRS Conventions, Dr. Rolph Payet, opened the morning session of 15 November, with some introductory remarks on the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment, as formally recognized in the provisions of the BRS Conventions – e.g. the preambles of the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. He then briefed on the outcomes of the 2015 meetings of the BRS Conventions COPs, followed by a briefing on the joint and specific issues at stake at the forthcoming meetings of the COPs, including the High Level Segment, to be held back-to-back from 24 April until 5 May 2017 in Geneva. Then Mr. Matthias Kern, Senior Programme Officer, offered a presentation on e-Wastes, as there was a strong request by WTO membership on this particular topic. The presentations were followed by some questions and comments by delegations, among other things, on the listing of chemicals, intersessional work and compliance.

The BRS presentation on the conventions and on e-waste under the Basel Convention can be downloaded.

With respect to the matters covered by the BRS Conventions, some countries then shared their national experiences, including on their implementing institutional, legal and policy frameworks and other measures: Chile provided an overview on the recently adopted framework law for waste management, extended producer responsibility and promotion of recycling; Canada made a presentation on their approach to chemical management. Also, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented its work on e-waste management.  

For more information on the above, please consult the BRS Conventions’ websites, and on the WTO Trade & Environment cluster as well as the CTE, consult:

The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs
The bureaux met on 3 and 4 November 2016 and agreed on the organization of the 2017 COPs and discussed other organizational matters, such as the high-level segment.

The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs

The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs
 
Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs
The high-level segment of the next Triple COPs is scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday, 4 May and the morning of Friday, 5 May 2017.

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs
 
Do you get the monthly BRS #Detox Newsletter?
Ahead of the Triple COPs in April 2017, get the latest in everything connected to the sound management of chemicals and waste straight to your inbox each month.

Do you get the monthly BRS #Detox Newsletter?

Do you get the monthly BRS #Detox Newsletter?
 
Uruguay playing lead regional role in sound management of chemicals and waste
Our regional focus switches to Latin America and the role of The Uruguayan Technological Laboratory (LATU) in Montevideo, which assists parties implement the Basel and Stockholm Conventions

Uruguay playing lead regional role in sound management of chemicals and waste

Uruguay playing lead regional role in sound management of chemicals and waste

In 1997 Parties to the Basel Convention selected Uruguay to host a Basel Convention Regional Centre. The Uruguayan Technological Laboratory (LATU) in Montevideo - with the management support of the Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment - has hosted the Centre physically in its premise since then. The same Centre was then nominated in 2007 to serve as a regional centre under the Stockholm Convention and was endorsed by the Parties as a regional centre under the Convention in 2009, initially for four years and then recently re-endorsed for another term of four years.

The Centre has been involved in various trainings and technology transfer activities since its establishment. Life cycle approach in the management of chemicals and wastes is central to the Centre’s plans, projects, and activities and it thus provides opportunities in promoting synergy among the chemicals-related Conventions. The centre has a long experience in organizing regional and international meetings related to the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions. Apart from its training and capacity building activities, the centre has also been involved in developing technical guidelines on hazardous waste management.

Through LATU, a public private initiative established in 1965, the centre can offer to its clients, and the beneficiaries the services in following areas:

  • Quality management, ISO certification etc.
  • Laboratory services on POPs analysis in various matrices
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Biotechnology
  • Enterprise development and management and Environment Management System consultancy

Some of its flagship projects include:

  • Minimization and environmentally sound management of mercury containing waste, affecting most exposed populations in various economic sectors, including the health sector, in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean supported by USEPA.
  • Global Monitoring Programme Phase I executed in collaboration with UNEP Chemicals. The objectives were to build regional capacity on data analysis for POPs in air and breast milk among others.
  • Implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and sound chemical hazard communication for government, business and industry, and public interest and labour organisations.
  • Diagnosis of Legal and Institutional infrastructures for sound management of chemicals.
  • Environmentally sound storage and disposal of surplus mercury in two countries of LAC, Argentina and Uruguay.
  • Capacity Building on Hazardous Waste and Promotion of Best Available Technologies and Best Environmental Practices (BATs and BEPs), training in Hazardous Waste.

Parties served: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).

For more information visit: http://www.ccbasilea-crestocolmo.org.uy/en 

Regional focus switches to Kuwait
This month we highlight the work of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre for Kuwait.

Regional focus switches to Kuwait

Regional focus switches to Kuwait
 
Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals
The outcomes of the recent Rotterdam Convention CRC-12 and Stockholm Convention POPRC-12 meetings are now available online, featuring proposed new chemicals listings at the COPs in Geneva in 2017.

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

PRESS RELEASE : For a FUTURE DETOXIFIED

UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

Geneva & Rome: 26 September 2016 - Experts and observers joined members of the Rotterdam (RC) and Stockholm (SC) Conventions’ Review Committees in Rome in recent days to consider available scientific evidence concerning a number of hazardous chemicals for inclusion in annexes of the two Conventions, both of which aim to protect human health and the environment.

The Rotterdam Convention – which currently has 155 Parties – provides an early warning on the trade of certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides, through the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure, a mechanism for disseminating the decisions of importing Parties. The Stockholm Convention – with currently 180 parties – aims to eliminate the use of certain toxic chemicals, specifically those referred to as “Persistent Organic Pollutants” (POPS). The latter obliges governments to regulate the production, use and trade of specific chemicals throughout their life cycles.

The 12th meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC) of the Rotterdam Convention, which concluded on 16 September, agreed to recommend the listing of carbofuran suspension concentrate 330 g/L as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation in Annex III of the Convention, following a proposal from Colombia.  The meeting also finalized draft decision guidance documents on two highly toxic pesticides – carbofuran and carbosulfan – used to control insects in a wide variety of crops.

The next step will be for the Conference of the Parties at its meeting in 2017 to decide whether to list these two pesticides in Annex III of the Convention and subject them to the PIC procedure. 47 chemicals are currently listed in the Annex, including pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or restricted by two or more Parties.

“It is important to note that the basis for the consideration of these pesticides by the CRC were decisions taken by developing countries. Decisions that are leading to action at the global level,” said William Murray, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (RC) for the FAO.

According to the latest FAO data, international pesticide sales are valued at up to USD 480 billion a year. UNEP estimates that as many as three percent of those working in agriculture worldwide suffer from acute pesticide poisoning, with adolescents facing a higher risk.

When used appropriately, pesticides can help to protect food and other crops from excessive damage by pests and diseases. They can also protect humans and livestock from diseases. Misuse of pesticides however, is not only a threat to those earning a living through farming but also to the environment and the economy.

The Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) then staged its 12th meeting, back-to-back with the CRC, and concluded its work on 23 September by agreeing to propose two new industrial chemicals for inclusion in the Convention’s annexes.

Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) are mostly used in manufacturing of products such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, and used in metalworking fluids. These highly persistent and toxic compounds have been found in breastmilk of Inuit women in the Arctic, demonstrating their persistence and long-range environmental transport. Listing in Annex A for elimination by the COP is proposed.

The Committee considered and adopted additional information for decabromodiphenyl ether (commercial mixture, c-decaBDE), widely used as flame retardants, defining necessary specific exemptions related to automotive industry, for this chemical’s listing in Annex A of the Convention by the COP.

The Committee evaluated the new information on hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) and concluded that there are unintentional releases of HCBD from the certain chemical production processes and incineration processes. In 2013, the Committee recommended listing of HCBD in Annexes A and C and in 2015, the COP listed it in Annex A. Annex C lists chemicals subjects to the measures to reduce or eliminate releases from unintentional production.

Progress was also made on pentadecafluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, and dicofol, for which the Committee adopted the respective Draft Risk Profiles, moving them to the next review stage, requiring a risk management evaluation that includes an analysis of possible control measures. Finally, the Committee endorsed the guidance on alternatives to perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and its related chemicals to assist countries in phasing-out of those chemicals listed under the Convention.

“Both the CRC and POPRC meetings were effective and productive and have paved the way for important decisions to be taken at our triple COPs in April next year,” said Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions for UNEP. “These decisions will further protect human health and environment from hazardous chemicals and will guide the international community towards not just a future detoxified, but also towards implementing the SDGs through the sound management of chemicals and waste” he added.

The next meetings of the Conferences of Parties (COPs) for both conventions, together with that of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, will be held in Geneva from 24 April to 5 May 2017 under the title “A Future Detoxified: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”.

Note for editors:

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade creates legally binding obligations for its currently 155 parties. It currently covers 47 chemicals,  pesticides and pesticide formulations.

The Chemical Review Committee consists of thirty-one scientific experts appointed by the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention charged with undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing. 

Carbofuran is a WHO class Ib pesticide and used to control insects in a wide variety of field crops, including potatoes, corn and soybeans. It is extremely toxic via the oral route and by inhalation (LD50 2 mg/kg in mice[1]) . It is also highly toxic to freshwater invertebrates and extremely toxic to birds.

Carbosulfan is a broad-spectrum carbamate insecticide used to control various insects, including locusts and different types of grasshoppers, mites and nematodes mainly on potatoes, sugar beet, rice, maize and citrus. It is highly toxic to birds, aquatic invertebrates and bees[3]

For more information, please contact:

For CRC/Rotterdam Convention: www.pic.int 

Christine FUELL, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome: + 39-06-5705-3765, christine.fuell@fao.org

Erwin NORTHOFF, Chief of Corporate Communications (FAO), Rome: + 39-06-5705-3105, erwin.northoff@fao.org

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs, creates legally binding obligations for its 180 parties and currently includes 26 chemicals listed within its annexes.

The POPs Review Committee consists of thirty-one scientific experts appointed by the Conference of the Parties charged with undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing. 

More information on all the chemicals currently listed, or proposed and/or under review for listing, can be found on the Stockholm Convention homepages at: www. chm.pops.int

Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-2333218, +41-22-917-78201, kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org 

Charlie AVIS, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-730-4495, charles.avis@brsmeas.org

Preparations intensify for 2017 triple conferences of the parties (COPs): Geneva, Switzerland
Parties have been officially informed of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions COPs, featuring a high-level segment, to be held in Geneva from 24 April to 5 May 2017.

Preparations intensify for 2017 triple conferences of the parties (COPs): Geneva, Switzerland

Preparations intensify for 2017 triple conferences of the parties (COPs): Geneva, Switzerland
 
 “The Silent Pandemic” - UN Human Rights Council discusses hazardous substances and wastes
The Human Rights Council has considered the latest Report by the Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances & wastes.

“The Silent Pandemic” - UN Human Rights Council discusses hazardous substances and wastes

 “The Silent Pandemic” - UN Human Rights Council discusses hazardous substances and wastes

The 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, recently considered the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, which this year focuses especially on children’s rights.

On 15 September 2016, on the occasion of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, the latest Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Mr. Baskut Tuncak, was presented and discussed in Geneva, Switzerland. (See A/HRC/33/41).

The Report is the result of a broad consultative process with States, international organizations, civil society, national human rights institutions, and other stakeholders.

This year, the Report focuses particularly on children’s rights with respect to hazardous chemicals and wastes since, it comments, there is now what doctors refer to as a “silent pandemic” of disease and disability affecting millions during childhood and later in life. According to the Report, childhood exposure is a systemic problem everywhere, and not just limited to poisoning, as all around the world, children are born with sometimes huge quantities of hazardous substances in their bodies; pediatricians have now begun referring to some children as being born “pre-polluted.”  The World Health Organization estimated that over 1.5 million children under five died prematurely from toxics, pollution and other exposures; also, numerous health impacts are linked to childhood exposure to toxics, such as cancer, developmental disorders, learning disabilities and respiratory illnesses. 

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.

Finally, the Report ended on the Special Rapporteur offering recommendations to the various stakeholders to protect the rights of the child from toxic chemicals.

The presentation was followed by quite a few interventions by States, IGOs such as UNICEF, and NGOs: accountability and responsibility by businesses were often put forward. In his response further to the interventions, the Special Rapporteur stated that UNEP's chemicals work was largely driven by the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions as well as the – yet to enter into force - Minamata Convention, which together cover only 26 hazardous substances throughout their lifecycle, out of the thousands out there that would need regulation, and that this was a big gap. He further noted that SAICM, which he called an ambitious and broad mandate, has regrettably received insufficient financial resources. He also referred to the notable absence of compliance mechanisms under some of the previously mentioned Conventions. He also expressed his hope that Ministries of Health would be more involved in the topic of hazardous substances, and noted relative underfunding of the WHO Environment and Health Programme.

For more information on the above, consult:

Click here to read the entire report, in the 6 official UN languages.

Updated BRS Gender Action Plan now online
Reflecting the Secretariat’s commitment to taking action to reduce gender inequalities, the updated BRS Gender Action Plan is now available.

Updated BRS Gender Action Plan now online

Updated BRS Gender Action Plan now online
 
Brazil in the spotlight as we continue to focus on regional centres
Find out about the work of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Brazil in the spotlight as we continue to focus on regional centres

Brazil in the spotlight as we continue to focus on regional centres
 
Your views sought on how to move “From Science to Action”
Secretariat launches online consultation process for enhanced science-policy mainstreaming.

Your views sought on how to move “From Science to Action”

Your views sought on how to move “From Science to Action”

Secretariat launches online consultation process for enhanced science-policy mainstreaming.

At the 2015 COPs, the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions adopted decisions BC-12/22, RC-7/12 and SC-7/30 on “From science to action” by which they recognized the importance of the science-policy interface for the effectiveness of the conventions and the need for greater access to scientific understanding in developing countries to enhance informed decision-making on the implementation of the conventions.

The Secretariat was requested to prepare a road map for further engaging parties and other stakeholders in informed dialogue for enhanced science-based action in the implementation of the conventions at the national and regional levels.

For this purpose, the Secretariat is carrying out an online survey to collect information on the challenges and opportunities of parties and stakeholders in bringing science and policy together.

We kindly invite responses to this survey. It should take about 10 minutes to respond to the questions. The information will then be used in the development of the draft road map.

The link to the online questionnaire is the following:
http://fs.pops.int/fs-ScienceToAction.aspx

For technical support and questions, please contact Ms. Kei Ohno Woodall at the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions by:
E-mail: kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org or tel.: +41 22 917 82 01.

Report now online from Montevideo meeting on household waste
The report of the first meeting of the new informal Basel Convention partnership on household waste, held in Montevideo, Uruguay, from 2 to 4 August 2016, is now available online.

Report now online from Montevideo meeting on household waste

Report now online from Montevideo meeting on household waste
 
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