News Features

 

PACE E-waste award-winning photos now online
View the 4 finalist E-waste photographs honoured at the COPs, including the winning entry from Kai Loeffelbein (Germany).

PACE E-waste award-winning photos now online

PACE E-waste award-winning photos now online

 

Triple COPs on track amid calls for action
The second week of the Triple COPs is underway as parties respond to calls, including from UNEP Chief Achim Steiner, for action on urgent waste and chemicals issues

Triple COPs on track amid calls for action

Triple COPs on track amid calls for action
 
Science Fair takes COPs back to basics
Dozens of events, hundreds of partners, and thousands of conversations: the Science Fair was closed by donor partner Finland on saturday having underlined the scientific basis for the three conventions

Science Fair takes COPs back to basics

Science Fair takes COPs back to basics
 
INTERVIEW: Look ahead to the Triple COPs with the three COP Coordinators
A look ahead to what to expect from the Triple COPs with Alain Wittig, Andrea Lechner, and Marylene Beau

INTERVIEW: Look ahead to the Triple COPs with the three COP Coordinators

INTERVIEW: Look ahead to the Triple COPs with the three COP Coordinators

INTERVIEW: Look ahead to the Triple COPs with the three COP Coordinators

Interview between Charlie Avis, BRS Public Information Officer, and the three COP Coordinators, respectively Basel: Alain Wittig; Rotterdam: Andrea Lechner; and Stockholm: Marylene Beau, Programme Officers with the BRS Secretariat.

Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning, Alain, Andrea, and Marylene, you must be very busy right now with less than a week before the Triple COPs, so thanks for your time. Tell me, how are the preparations going?
Alain Wittig (AW): Good morning, Charlie and thank you! Yes indeed we are all very busy with the final preparations of the organization of the Triple COPs - all is going well. We had the great pleasure of meeting the 3 COP Presidents in Geneva last week to finalize arrangements for these meetings. We discussed, among others, the rotation of chairing the various joint sessions on joint issues and the arrangements for the meetings of the bureaux and contact groups. The entire Secretariat is now working hard in finalizing the last arrangements to ensure that all is in place for the opening of the meetings next Monday to enable the successful running of the meetings of COPs.

CA: What does it actually mean “COP Coordinator”, what do you actually do?
Andrea Lechner (AL): Everything! Well, actually each of us is in charge of the COP-related work under one of the Conventions. In preparing for the COPs, we make sure that all meeting documents are prepared on time and that the organization of work provides sufficient time for discussing all agenda items. We also coordinate the intersessional work with the bureaux and the presidents of our COPs in terms of follow-up to decisions taken, bureaux meetings and ensuring that Convention-specific activities are incorporated into the Secretariat’s work plans and are duly implemented as requested by the COPs. 

CA: You seem to work very much as a team - which would suggest there is a lot in common to your individual responsibilities. Is this how you identify “synergies”?
Marylene Beau (MB): Indeed, although we have specific areas of responsibilities, we very much work together as a team to organize these meetings. The Conventions, through the synergies process, have a joint secretariat (UNEP part) which facilitates the implementation of consistent approaches and processes across the three conventions. This is done at different levels, e.g. programmatic or administrative levels. Regarding the servicing of the meetings of the COPs, a lot of synergies have been identified and the best practices have been retained and improved throughout the years to enhance the efficiency of the Secretariat’s functions in this regard.

CA: Let’s turn to the COPs themselves. Is the agenda for this coming Triple COP organised any differently to the previous one? Will there be joint sessions featuring all three conventions together?
AW: The Triple COPs this year will in many ways be organized in a similar manner as in 2013, but they will also feature some differences. For example, this year there will be no high-level segment or simultaneous extraordinary meetings. Regarding some of the similarities, the three COPs are again being organized back-to-back and will include joint sessions on joint issues. Another similarity is that the joint sessions will be followed by sequential sessions of each individual COP meeting, starting with the SC COP, followed by the BC COP and finally the RC COP. The last day of the meetings will again feature a joint session to consider the outcomes of the joint contact groups and would discuss any outstanding joint issues, before each COP closes its meeting.

CA: Can you describe the process: how do decisions get made in the COPs, and how does that eventually influence national implementation?
AL: Decisions at the COPs are generally taken by consensus. The texts for these decisions are prepared by the Secretariat and presented in pre-session documents or so-called Conference Room Papers. For more complex items, contact groups are set up at the meetings to prepare draft decisions for adoption in plenary. Having the three COPs meet during the same two-week period allows them to take harmonized decisions on common issues. After the COPs, it is up to each country to implement these decisions at the national level. For some more substantive decisions, such as those to amend the convention for example in order to list new chemicals, parties to the conventions might need to amend their national regulations in order to reflect the decision taken by the COP.

CA: So what is coming up next week, which is common to the three conventions?
MB: The upcoming COPs will include some joint sessions during which issues that are common to two or three of the conventions will be considered. The items for the joint sessions were agreed upon by the bureaux of the COPs. The objective of the joint sessions is to strengthen implementation and interlinkages between the areas of work under the different conventions or to address cross-cutting organizational matters. Items that will be considered in joint sessions include POPs wastes, technical assistance, financial resources, compliance under the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, international cooperation and coordination, programmes of work and budgets.  

 CA: Are there interesting things happening alongside the COPs?
AW: Yes, many interesting events will take place in the margins of the COPs! A science fair will take place in parallel to the negotiation process from 7 to 9 May 2015 under the common theme of this year’s Triple COPs - ‘From science to action, working for a safer tomorrow’. The aim of the Fair is to increase the understanding of the scientific basis and related processes of the three conventions and to increase awareness of the in-depth scientific considerations relating to decision-making under the three conventions. In addition to the science fair, more than 35 side events will be held during lunch breaks and in the evenings on major issues covered under the conventions. The Government of Switzerland will organize a number of events, such as a reception during the evening of Monday 4 May, and a boat trip on Sunday 10 May 2015, to give a warm welcome to delegates to Geneva.

CA: And the million dollar (chemicals and waste) question: what are your expectations for next week, what will be decided?
AL: There are a number of “standing” items on the agenda of every COP that we expect guidance on from the parties: These include for example the Secretariat’s technical assistance programme, financial resources for chemicals and wastes and last but not least the programme of work and budget for the next biennium. From COP coordinator side, the most exciting discussions at the upcoming COPs will be related to the adoption of technical guidelines under the Basel Convention, the listing of new chemicals under the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions and the possible adoption of procedures and mechanisms on compliance under the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. We look forward to the decisions parties will take on these matters.

CA: Any surprises in store?
MB: A lot of the issues at the agendas of the COPs have been consulted and discussed among regions and countries during the preparatory process leading to the meetings, either through the bureaux or the regional preparatory meetings that took place in March-April.  We thus feel much more aware about issues that could come up than in the past. However, for large meetings like the Triple COPs, we can always expect some surprises, which we hope will be good ones!  

CA: Thank you very much for your time, good luck next week.
AW, AL, MB: Thank you very much Charlie for this opportunity and we wish a successful COP to all participants.

 

Countdown to the Triple COPs – Presidents’ Joint Meeting takes place in Geneva
The Presidents of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions met on 21 April 2015 to finalize arrangements for the preparation of the upcoming Triple COPs

Countdown to the Triple COPs – Presidents’ Joint Meeting takes place in Geneva

Countdown to the Triple COPs – Presidents’ Joint Meeting takes place in Geneva



Countdown to the Triple COPs: FAO and the Rotterdam Convention
FAO’s Elisabetta Tagliati answers your questions on the Rotterdam Convention and the relationships between pesticides, agriculture and environment.

Countdown to the Triple COPs: FAO and the Rotterdam Convention

Countdown to the Triple COPs: FAO and the Rotterdam Convention
 
Umoja, a new way of managing the United Nations administration, is being deployed
As part of a United Nations (UN)–wide initiative, UNEP and the BRS Secretariat will be implementing a new enterprise resource planning system named ‘Umoja’ with effect from 1 June 2015.

Umoja, a new way of managing the United Nations administration, is being deployed

Umoja, a new way of managing the United Nations administration, is being deployed

BRS Secretariat and the implementation of Umoja

As part of a United Nations (UN)–wide initiative, UNEP and the BRS Secretariat will be implementing a new enterprise resource planning system named ‘Umoja’ with effect from 1 June 2015.

Umoja, which means ‘unity’ in Kiswahili, is the United Nations’ administrative reform initiative, which involves a complete re-work of the way the organization manages its administration, in both business processes and Information Technology solutions.  A single modern technology platform will replace outdated and disparate systems and will change the roles and responsibilities of staff and the way the United Nations interacts with its service providers.  The system, which uses industry-leading technology and best practices, will improve decision-making processes, automate financial processes and improve reporting of information. Once the system is implemented, all areas of administrative work, including finance and budget, procurement, travel and human resource management will be managed in a more efficient and automated manner.  

The BRS Secretariat has appointed Mr. Osmany Pereira, as the focal point for BRS and, as the person to answer any queries you may have with respect to the implementation of Umoja (osmany.pereira@unep.org).

Long term benefits of Umoja

Umoja will bring many benefits including streamlined business processes, better financial control, reduced time spent on administrative processes, harmonized use of administrative data and information and self-service for Secretariat staff and managers:  

  • The Secretariat will be able to provide real time financial data, reports and analysis to the Parties of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm       Conventions by allowing faster data access.
  • Data for vendors, consultants and partners will be centrally stored and better integrated with finance.
  • Procurement procedures and financial statements will be automated.
  • Umoja automates processing based on the existing United Nations (UN) Rules and Regulations.
  • Travel of participants to be funded by the Secretariat to meetings, consultancies and procurement will continue to be managed by the        Secretariat according to the applicable UN Rules and Regulations.  

Short-term challenges of Umoja

Business will be affected during the periods prior to and after implementation of the system.  In preparation for the implementation of Umoja, the Secretariat will be required to ramp down its activities from April 2015. There will be a two week blackout period from 15 to 31 May, during which the data from the current system will be converted to Umoja. After Umoja is launched and during the period from June to July, there will be an initial slowdown of business as staff learn how to operate in the new environment.  The Secretariat has reviewed activities scheduled to take place during the period from April to July and set deadlines with the affected periods in mind and wish to request the understanding and cooperation of Parties during this period.

Although this is not expected to affect the organization and delivery of the Triple COPs from 4 to 15 May 2015, some delays in the processing of payment disbursements and travel claims may occur.

We would like to assure you that all measures have been taken to ensure that the blackout period leading to Umoja will cause minimal operational disruptions and contingency plans have been put in place.  Staff training in relevant areas is ongoing and a UNEP Deployment Team will provide hands-on user support to the Secretariat during the initial months of implementation.    

The Secretariat thanks its Parties and partners in advance for their patience and understanding during the introduction of Umoja.

Interview with FAO’s Christine Fuell
Find out all about Rotterdam Convention implementation and the role of FAO in the latest of our interview series marking the Countdown to the Triple COPs.

Interview with FAO’s Christine Fuell

Interview with FAO’s Christine Fuell

 

Register now for the COPs Excursion on Lake Geneva
The Government of Switzerland invites delegates of the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to join a boat cruise on Lake Geneva on Sunday, 10 May 2015. Registration is required.

Register now for the COPs Excursion on Lake Geneva

Register now for the COPs Excursion on Lake Geneva

 

Protecting children from pesticides: new visual tool now available
Raising awareness about child labour and harmful exposure to pesticides, a new visual facilitator’s guide covers issues and preventative steps, and is available in different languages and adapted to different contexts.

Protecting children from pesticides: new visual tool now available

Protecting children from pesticides: new visual tool now available
 
First ever, interactive, online Synergies publication now available
Aiming to help Customs Authorities meet their responsibilities for protecting against the adverse impacts of hazardous chemicals and wastes, this is the first ever interactive BRS publication.

First ever, interactive, online Synergies publication now available

First ever, interactive, online Synergies publication now available
 
Countdown to the Triple COPs – Update on Stockholm listings
Ask Kei Ohno all you need to know about chemicals proposed to be newly listed at this year’s Conference of the Parties

Countdown to the Triple COPs – Update on Stockholm listings

Countdown to the Triple COPs – Update on Stockholm listings
 
Country-Led Initiative the focus for your questions
Ask Susan Wingfield how the CLI helps countries capture the benefits of improved waste management

Country-Led Initiative the focus for your questions

Country-Led Initiative the focus for your questions
 
An African perspective: capacities and partnerships in focus
Join Professor Oladele Osibanjo as he describes the main capacity constraints, and partnership opportunities, for solving waste and chemicals issues in Africa

An African perspective: capacities and partnerships in focus

An African perspective: capacities and partnerships in focus

Regional Capacity, and Innovative Partnerships for the Sustainable Management of Waste: An African Perspective

Interview between Professor Oladele Osibanjo, Executive Director of the Basel Convention Coordinating Centre For Training & Technology Transfer for the African Region (Ibadan, Nigeria) and Charlie Avis, BRS Secretariat Public Information Officer

Charlie Avis: Good morning, Professor Osibanjo, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. Please tell me, what is the role of your Centre, and why is it important?

Professor Oladele Osibanjo:  Thank you. The Centre aims to strengthen the capacity of the parties in Africa in complying with the provisions of the Basel Convention in legal, technical and institutional arrangements; strengthen the framework for environmentally sound management (ESM) of hazardous and other wastes across the Africa region. It also assists them to effectively implement their obligations on trans-boundary movements of hazardous and other wastes. This is done very much in partnership with the Basel Convention Regional Centres (BCRCs) in Egypt for Arabic-speaking countries; in Senegal for Francophone; and South Africa (Africa Institute) for Anglophone African countries respectively.

One important role of the Centre is to facilitate interaction and exchange of information between the BRS Secretariat and Regional Centres, and among the Regional Centres, Parties and other related institutions. The centre convenes regional consultations to identify  priorities and formulate strategies, and helps define and execute regional programmes. These contribute to synergies and mechanisms of cooperation among the Regional Centres and other stakeholders in environmentally sound management (ESM) and minimization of the generation of hazardous wastes and technological transfer in and outside the region. The Centre also maintains a regional information system accessible to stakeholders.

CA:  What are the main capacity constraints facing African governments striving to implement the Basel Convention?

OO:   The infrastructure for sound management of hazardous wastes varies from no action, to little or weak action,  among the parties in the African region. The parties are at different stages of development with different approaches to hazardous waste management. Hence the importance of a regional approach as this helps parties in the region to adopt a common template for addressing ESM of hazardous waste. It also allows parties lagging behind to catch up faster with the rest of the region. It further helps to promote the implementation of the environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes as an essential contribution to the attainment of sustainable livelihood, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the protection of human health and the environment in the region.

The capacity challenges are multidimensional and complex. In general, waste disposal is practised more than waste management (collection, storage, sorting, transportation, recycling, processing and disposal) often due to a lack of or weak infrastructure for hazardous waste management with limited knowledge and understanding of the operational and managerial/maintenance aspects of hazardous waste management. This can also be a function of missing and/or inadequate legal and institutional/administrative frameworks for hazardous waste ESM and the control of transboundary movements. Insufficient financial resources result in poor funding leading to low standards of  hazardous waste management.  Also, a prevailing low level of awareness at all levels of governance of the adverse environmental and human health impacts of hazardous waste can lead to  a  lack of political will. Not least, the non-domestication of the Basel Convention after ratification into national laws weakens the control of transboundary movement of hazardous waste at the national level.

CA:  In terms of sector, what is the fastest growing waste stream in Africa?

OO:  The fastest growing waste stream in Africa in terms of sector is electronic waste, also known as e-waste, or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Africa generates about 2 million metric tons of e-waste annually. This stems from the fact that Africa is one of the major destinations of e-waste exports from developed countries under the guise of exporting used or second-hand functional electronic products to assist Africa bridge the so-called digital divide. Less than 20% of African population can afford to purchase new electronic products hence the high demand for used electronic products which could be near end of life or are already end-of-life on arrival in Africa.

CA:  How can partnerships contribute to solving these issues?

OO:  The issue of e-waste is a globalized problem requiring global solutions. The Basel Convention Parties recognized the importance of public-private partnerships in the development of innovative, appropriate, and effective strategies for achieving the ESM of hazardous waste. Thus the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE) was launched at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9)in Bali, Indonesia in June 2008. PACE is a multi-stakeholder partnership forum with representatives of Governments, private sector (both producers and recyclers), international organizations, academia, the Basel Convention Regional Centres/Basel Convention Coordinating Centres – and environmental public-interest non-governmental organizations. They come together to tackle issues related to the ESM, repair, refurbishment, recycling and disposal of used and end-of-life computing equipment. PACE has developed international guidelines for ESM of end-of-life computing equipment and has begun to test the implementation of these guidelines in pilot activities in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.  

Other international partnerships include the United Nations University initiative StEP (Solving the E waste Problem (StEP) which also focuses on providing solutions to the e-waste problem, through the application of scientific research based on the life-cycle approach.  There is also the UNEP Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) which is carried out with the Information Communication Sector (ICT) since 2001.

CA:  What do you consider to be the three main successes of PACE, for the African region?

OO:   PACE provided a unique forum for representatives of personal computer manufacturers, recyclers, international organizations, academia, BCRCs/BCCCs, environmental NGOs, and governments to tackle environmentally sound refurbishment, repair, material recovery, recycling and disposal of used and end-of-life computing equipment in an environmentally sound manner. It raised awareness, particularly through the participation of government officials and Directors of BCRCs/BCCC from Africa, all gaining exposure, knowledge and experience in the process.  At the country level, Africa also benefitted from PACE, for example the E-waste inventory in Burkina Faso, and a pilot project on collection and management of used and end-of-life computing equipment from informal sector which is on-going in the same country.

CA:  How would you like to see the platform established by MPPI and PACE taken forward?

OO:   The legacies of these two global partnerships should be sustained, strengthened and taken forward in a variety of ways. It is important that the knowledge and experiences gained in MPPI and PACE in promoting ESM on used and end-of-life mobile phones and computing equipment is not lost, and that their multi-stakeholder platform should continue to provide a platform for advancing ESM in a wider spectrum of WEEE issues and products beyond consumer electronics and cover other categories of E-waste in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, at the regional and national levels beyond December 2015.

In practical terms, establishing an ‘’Ad hoc follow-up group‘’ on PACE at the end of COP 12, would continue already initiated activities that are ongoing, finalize pilot projects,  and enable reporting of lessons learned. It is also important to undertake revision of section 3 of the Guidance Document on the Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of Used and End-of-Life Computing Equipment.

lt is also important that a New PACE or PACE after PACE be established after December 2015, that would provide a global coordination role towards facilitating the strengthening of information and experience sharing and discussion on emerging issues within the wider WEEE agenda. An expanded mandate (TOR) and governance structure envisioned for the NEW PACE  under a proposed 2-tier coordination arrangement would give greater responsibility to the BCRCs/BCCCs in regional and national coordination; while the Basel Convention Secretariat retains the primary role for global coordination, which model would require consideration and approval by COP 13 and follow-up implementation strategy.

CA:  Finally, will you be travelling to the triple COPs in Geneva in May, and if so, what are your expectations?

OO:   Yes l will be traveling to the triple COP. My expectations are many and will share a few with you. I would love to see more active participation and greater involvement of delegates from developing and economic in transition countries in contact groups’ activities. This, together with improved and more predictable and sustainable funding mechanisms for implementing Chemicals and Waste MEAs in developing countries, would do much for tackling the waste issues in Africa.

New progammes on enhanced advocacy, awareness-raising and education on the global chemicals and waste issues would be welcome, with connectivities and implications for sustainable development, poverty alleviation and the creation of green jobs, for developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

CA:  Thank you very much for your time.

OO:   It is my pleasure. Thank you.

Focus on regional issues - Your chance to ask-an-expert
Suman Sharma answers your questions on How does Technical Assistance assist Parties implement the Chemicals and Waste Conventions?

Focus on regional issues - Your chance to ask-an-expert

Focus on regional issues - Your chance to ask-an-expert
 
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