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A Brief Historical Perspective on International Progress in the Sound Management of Chemicals and Wastes
Jim Willis guest article published in IISD Chemicals and Wastes Policy & Practice on 28 March 2014.

A Brief Historical Perspective on International Progress in the Sound Management of Chemicals and Wastes

A Brief Historical Perspective on International Progress in the Sound Management of Chemicals and Wastes
Jim Willis guest article published in IISD Chemicals and Wastes Policy & Practice on 28 March 2014.
First e-learning tool launched to prevent illegal trade in hazardous chemicals and waste
INTERPOL and the BRS Secretariat launch e-learning module to help law enforcement officers identify and prevent illegal trade in hazardous chemicals and wastes

First e-learning tool launched to prevent illegal trade in hazardous chemicals and waste

First e-learning tool launched to prevent illegal trade in hazardous chemicals and waste
INTERPOL and the BRS Secretariat launch e-learning module to help law enforcement officers identify and prevent illegal trade in hazardous chemicals and wastes
17 participants strengthened their skills at the training session on chairing meetings of all conventions
Training contributes to gender and regional diversity in conventions’ corps of highly qualified chairpersons

17 participants strengthened their skills at the training session on chairing meetings of all conventions

17 participants strengthened their skills at the training session on chairing meetings of all conventions

Training contributes to gender and regional diversity in conventions’ corps of highly qualified chairpersons

The Pilot training session on chairing meetings of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) conventions took place in Glion, Switzerland, from 3 to 5 March 2014. The training was conducted by the Institute of Advanced Studies of the United Nations University in cooperation with the Secretariat. It brought together 17 participants from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Cook Islands, Ecuador, Egypt, Georgia, Indonesia, Japan, Malawi, Poland, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, and Switzerland.

The participants benefited from experience of former chairs who led various BRS processes, including the conferences of the parties, meetings of subsidiary bodies, contact groups and informal consultations. Through the combination of lectures, case studies, videos and simulation exercises the participants learned firsthand how to effectively chair intergovernmental meetings and guide them toward consensual outcomes.

“The pilot raining extends the conventions’ corps of highly qualified chairpersons, ensuring that we can call upon experienced chairs from all regions, while maintaining gender and regional diversity among them,” said Kerstin Stendahl, BRS Deputy Executive Secretary.

The training session was held through the generous support of the Government of Switzerland.
Chemicals and waste MEAs cross synergies milestones
2013 was marked by a year of achievements for the three conventions

Chemicals and waste MEAs cross synergies milestones

Chemicals and waste MEAs cross synergies milestones

In a milestone of the synergies process between multilateral environmental agreements, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions held their first ever jointly held ordinary meetings of the parties in April and May 2013 to foster cooperation and collaboration between the conventions.

The conferences of the parties of the three conventions worked in joint contact groups to promote implementation and strengthen the management of harmful substances throughout their life-cycle. The COPs took more than 50 substantive decisions to fortify protection to health and environment offered by the conventions.

 The Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to list hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) in Annex A to the Convention with specific exemptions for expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings. HBCD is set to become the 23rd persistent organic pollutant to be listed under the Stockholm Convention. The Parties to the Basel Convention adopted a framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, and agreed to develop technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electronic and electrical wastes, or e-waste, the fastest growing hazardous waste stream globally.

The Parties to the Rotterdam Convention agreed to add the pesticide Azinphos-methyl and the industrial chemicals PentaBDE, OctaBDE and PFOS to Annex III of the Convention. This triggers an exchange of information between Parties and helps countries make informed decisions about future import and use of the chemicals. The addition of four substances is the largest number to be added to the Convention's prior informed consent procedure by any conference of the parties since the adoption of the Convention in 1998.

Call sounded for development of an international panel on chemicals

On 9 May 2013, over 80 ministers and vice-ministers met in a high level segment to consider the theme “Synergies and the implementation of the chemicals and wastes conventions at the national, regional and global levels” and to share their national experiences. Participants noted that the synergies process was not a time-finite event but a continuing process: synergies meant cost savings and those savings should be channeled into improving implementation at the national level.

Ministers called for the development of an international panel on chemicals integrating scientific expertise from industry, the private sector and academic institutions, similar to the International Panel on Climate Change, which could form the basis for a stronger science-policy interface. Existing models for monitoring networks could be expanded globally. 

The decisions of the joint COPs provide a solid foundation for the next two years of implementation of the three leading global chemicals and wastes instruments.

Strengthening the Conventions' Science-Policy Interface

The first joint meeting of the Rotterdam Convention Chemical Review Committee and the Stockholm Convention Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee took place in Rome on 20 October 2013, to promote synergies between the conventions by strengthening their science-policy interface.

Combating illegal traffic gets ENFORCEment boost

Under the Basel Convention, the newly established Environmental Network for Optimizing Regulatory Compliance on Illegal Traffic (ENFORCE) was launched in 2013 to prevent and combat illegal traffic in hazardous and other wastes through better implementation and enforcement of national legislation. 

Secretariat Acts to Promote Sustainability, Green Practices, gender and regional balance

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions decreased its carbon footprint by 50% from 2010 to 2012, part of its concerted effort towards becoming climate neutral.
The Secretariat's senior management team achieved both gender and regional balance during 2013, with three men and three women currently serving as branch chiefs or as executive officers drawn from across all five major UN regions. A Gender action plan was also adopted.

Regional Centres aim to score a goal against chemical contamination
At annual joint meeting Regional Centres of the Basel and Stockholm conventions exchange plans for evaluating performance and sustainability  

Regional Centres aim to score a goal against chemical contamination

Regional Centres aim to score a goal against chemical contamination

At annual joint meeting Regional Centres of the Basel and Stockholm conventions exchange plans for evaluating performance and sustainability

The annual joint meeting to enhance cooperation and coordination between the regional centres under the Basel and Stockholm conventions took place in Geneva from 27 to 29 November 2013. The meeting was attended by 22 out of 23 Basel and Stockholm conventions regional centres.  

Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, opened the meeting by inviting the centres to become more involved not only with the implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions but also with the implementation of the international chemicals agenda and the Minamata Convention when expertise and support can be provided also to these international chemicals and wastes processes.  

The meeting focused its discussion primarily on issues relating to the performance and sustainability of the regional centres under the Basel and Stockholm conventions. The methodology for evaluating the performance and sustainability of the regional and subregional centres and the draft evaluation of all the centres based on the methodology were discussed extensively and recommendations were made on how to collect relevant information in order to undertake such an evaluation objectively.

The Secretariat shared with the Regional Centres drafts of a revised template for activity reporting and for preparing business plan/workplans by the Regional Centres. It also shared a questionnaire to collect feedbacks from the parties on the performance of the Regional Centres.

The Regional Centres worked in groups and shared their successes and challenges, institutional dreams and inspiration from the peers within their groups and later with everyone in an effort to strengthen the Regional Centres by enhancing cooperation and collaboration among themselves.  

Regional Centres from the GRULAC region discussed “Scoring a Goal Against Chemical Contamination”, a special awareness raising initiative on chemicals and waste. The initiative aims at raising awareness on the importance of the chemicals and waste agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean by capturing the opportunity of the FIFA World Football Cup scheduled to be held in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian cities in June and July 2014.

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