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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

Basel Convention meetings point way forwards for sustainable management of waste

A Press Release is now available summarising major outcomes of the OEWG-10 and ICC-12 meetings, held in Nairobi from 30 May to 2 June and 4 to 6 June 2016, respectively.

Basel Convention meetings point way forwards for sustainable management of waste

Basel Convention meetings point way forwards for sustainable management of waste

Important technical and legal steps were taken by two subsidiary bodies of the Basel Convention last week at meetings held in Nairobi, Kenya. The Basel Convention’s OEWG is at the heart of efforts to reach several of the 2030 sustainable development goals, while the ICC is central to measuring progress towards these goals. Highlights of these meetings include progress towards the establishment of a new public-private global partnership on household waste; progress on defining guidance to countries on the environmentally sound management of E-waste and POPs waste; and progress with 12 specific submissions concerning individual Parties’ compliance and on a range of other issues of implementation and compliance with the Convention.

Held back-to-back with the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly, UNEA2, the 10th meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention (OEWG-10) took place from 30 May to 2 June and focused on the development of guidelines that promote the environmentally sound management (ESM) of wastes  and on improving national reporting. Some 210 experts gathered from all over the world, including representatives from national governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. With funding support provided by Denmark, Germany, Finland, Japan and Sweden, strong inputs were secured from developing countries.

OEWG10 - 13 decisions for more sustainable management of waste

A series of concrete steps were agreed, through the adoption of 13 decisions setting direction for further work on waste management until the next Conference of Parties, COP-13, which will be held in Geneva in April 2017. The OEWG provides a leadership role in the development of the technical guidelines for the ESM of specific wastes types or waste streams, which are especially useful in national waste management activities. OEWG-10 passed decisions relating to guidelines on the three newly-listed persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the Stockholm Convention; and guidelines on e-waste, the fastest growing waste stream in the world today.

In particular, OEWG-10 adopted decisions agreeing ways forward for:

  • Preparation of the mid-term evaluation of the strategic framework;
  • Developing guidelines for environmentally sound management (ESM);
  • The Cartagena Declaration on Prevention, Minimization and Recovery of Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes
  • Technical guidelines on persistent organic pollutant (POP) wastes;
  • Technical guidelines on e-waste, including on further work before COP-13;
  • National reporting;
  • Providing further legal clarity;
  • Consultation with the Committee Administering the Mechanism for Promoting Implementation and Compliance on guidance on the Basel Convention provisions dealing with illegal traffic;
  • Follow-up to the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE);
  • The creation of a new partnership for the ESM of household wastes;
  • Cooperation between the Basel Convention and the International Maritime Organization (IMO);
  • Cooperation with the World Customs Organization (WCO) on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System; and
  • The work programme for the OEWG for 2018-2019.

Fast-growing wastestream

It is estimated that, by 2018, there will be 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste produced per year, far-outstripping current capacities to properly manage it in an environmentally and socially appropriate manner.  E-waste is a fast-growing wastestream and poses a number of serious threats to human health and the environment. Conversely, if undertaken in an environmentally sound manner, e-waste recycling can offer sustainable livelihoods, green and decent work, and contribute to the development of a circular economy and the transition to a greener, more inclusive economy. The E-waste technical guidelines are designed to assist governments protect human health and the environment through sound management of waste, and also offer important clarification regarding the question of “what is waste” in order to guide receiving and sending countries as to which types of product constitute e-waste and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the Basel Convention.

For more on the outcomes of this meeting, including the technical guidelines and other OEWG products, please go to our website.

ICC-12 – The Basel Convention’s Implementation and Compliance Committee

The 12th meeting of the Implementation and Compliance Committee of the Basel Convention (ICC-12)) took place on 4-6 June 2016, under the chairmanship of Mr Juan Simonelli (Argentina).

The goal of the Basel ICC is to assist Parties implement and comply with the Convention. ICC-12 considered twelve specific submissions regarding Party implementation and compliance. Among other things, the ICC decided that the compliance matters regarding Afghanistan and Togo were resolved, it approved two compliance action plans submitted respectively by Eritrea and Liberia as well as new compliance action submitted by Togo, and it monitored the progress made by Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Swaziland in implementing their compliance action plans with the support of the implementation fund.

ICC-12 also made progress on all the general issues of implementation and compliance under its work programme. It reached conclusions on:

  • The development of guidance on illegal traffic;
  • Further work towards the development of guidance on insurance, bond and guarantee;
  • The classification of individual compliance performance with the national reporting obligation for 2013;
  • Steps to improve the completeness and timeliness of national reporting, including a side event on national reporting during COP-13;
  • Key issues pertaining to transit transboundary movements;
  • The initiation of work towards the development of electronic approaches to the notification and movement documents; and
  • Measures to improve the development of adequate national legal frameworks.

For more on the outcomes of this meeting, please go to our website.

------------------------------------

Notes for editors:

  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and has 183 parties. See www.basel.int.
  • The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS, supports parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org.

For more information, please refer to:

Website: www.brsmeas.org.

BRS Secretariat:

Kei Ohno-Woodall
Programme Officer, for OEWG-10
kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-22-9178364

Juliette Voinov Kohler
Legal officer, for ICC-12
Juliette.kohler@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-22-9178219

BRS Press
Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer
Charles.avis@brsmeas.org
Tel: +41-79-7304495

BRS and Climate-KIC launch first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on e-waste

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), together with its partner the European Institute for Innovation and Technology’s Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate-KIC), is proud to launch the first-ever Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, on the electronic and electrical waste, e-waste challenge.

BRS and Climate-KIC launch first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on e-waste

BRS and Climate-KIC launch first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on e-waste

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), together with its partner the European Institute for Innovation and Technology’s Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate-KIC), is proud to launch the first-ever Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, on the electronic and electrical waste, e-waste challenge.

It is estimated that, by 2018, there will be 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste produced per year, far-outstripping current capacities to properly manage it in an environmentally and socially appropriate manner.

According to Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, in his introductory video address to the MOOC, “In many countries women and children form up to 30% of the workforce in crude, e-waste processing and are therefore particularly vulnerable. When women and girls are affected in this way as the mothers of today and tomorrow, our common future is affected too. This MOOC will introduce you to the challenge of e-waste and especially to its environmentally sound recycling. The course will take you from the problem, to opportunities, and to possible actions at local, regional and national levels, and will guide you through policy tools and best practices for the collection, recycling, and final disposal of e-waste.”

Ebrahim Mohamed, Climate-KIC’s education director, added: “Our MOOC highlights that e-waste is a societal challenge that also is part of larger opportunity to create a prosperous zero carbon future, driven by innovation, jobs, and investment. Climate-KIC is seizing that opportunity by connecting both public and private sectors with climate change-focused education, research and innovation. Ideas are the oxygen of growth in the zero carbon economy, and I am convinced that this collaboration with UNEP will spark many new ones.”

Fast-growing waste stream

E-waste is a fast-growing waste stream in the world and poses a number of serious threats to human health and the environment. Conversely, if undertaken in an environmentally sound manner, e-waste recycling can offer sustainable livelihoods, green and decent work, and contribute to the development of a circular economy.

The course opens on Monday 4th April, and is aimed at students and researchers, policy makers, practitioners, entrepreneurs, e-waste recyclers and government officials and invites participants to become part of the solution to this growing problem. Relevant for developed and developing countries alike, the 8-week programme covers all aspects of e-waste with a view to turn the threat of this global tsunami of e-waste into an opportunity.

The MOOC explores and explains the Basel Convention technical guidelines on transboundary movements of e-waste which were adopted on an interim basis at the last Conference of the Parties (COP) in May 2015, and which provide much-needed guidance on how to identify e-waste and used equipment moving between countries, with the aim of controlling illegal traffic.

E-waste is categorized as hazardous waste due to the presence of toxic materials such as mercury, lead and brominated flame retardants which include some polybrominated diphenyl ethers listed in the annexes to the Stockholm Convention, considered as hazardous waste according to the Basel Convention.

E-waste may also contain precious metals such as gold, copper and nickel and rare materials of strategic value such as indium and palladium. These precious and heavy metals could be recovered, recycled and used as valuable source of secondary raw materials. It has been documented that e-wastes are shipped to developing countries where it is often not managed in an environmentally sound manner, thus posing a serious threat to both human health and the environment.

The MOOC has been developed in partnership by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, Climate-KIC, the University of Leuven (KU Leuven, Belgium),and the World Resources Forum.

All interested participants are invited to pre-register at the website www.learning.climate-kic.org/courses/e-waste-mooc

Notes for editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and has 183 parties. See www.basel.int

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS, supports parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org

Climate-KIC (Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community) is the EU’s largest public private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a zero carbon economy. They run programmes for students, start-ups and innovators across Europe via centres in major cities, convening a community of the best people and organisations. Their approach starts with improving the way people live in cities. Their focus on industry creates the products required for a better living environment, and they look to optimise land use to produce the food people need. Climate-KIC is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. See www.climate-kic.org

For more information, please refer to:

Website: www.brsmeas.org

BRS Secretariat – Francesca Cenni, Programme Officer, francesca.cenni@brsmeas.org tel: +41-22-9178364

BRS Press – Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer, Charles.avis@brsmeas.org tel: +41-79-7304495

 

Read the ICCM4 Press Release

Outcomes of the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management, featuring governments, civil society, and private sector, 28 September to 2 October in Geneva.

Read the ICCM4 Press Release

Read the ICCM4 Press Release

Achieving sound management of chemicals could prevent over 1 million deaths per year globally and massively contribute to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Geneva, 2 October 2015–Over 800 delegates, including ministers, CEOs, heads of intergovernmentalorganizations and leaders of civil society, meeting at the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4), committed today to step up action to safeguard people and the environment from the risk posed by inadequately managed chemicals.

Of the estimated 100,000+ chemicals on the market today, only a fraction has been thoroughly evaluated to determine their effects on human health and the environment. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that exposure to chemicals contributes to over 1 million deaths annually.

The infant death rate from environmental causes overall is 12 times higher in developing than in developed countries while childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year.

ICCM4 concluded with a commitment to invest in efforts to prevent these deaths and illnesses by assuring sound chemicals management throughout their lifecycleby 2020.

Achieving that goal would be a milestone toward realizing the historic 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda adopted by 193 countries last week, and containing goals on human health and well-being, food security, sustainable consumption and production, and water and sanitation – all issues directly affected by chemicals.

Addressing delegates at the conference, Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), stressed the challenges and opportunities of sound chemicals management, and the growing need for innovative partnerships and better information and knowledge.

Mr. Steiner said: “Chemicals are a part of our lives that we cannot do without. That’s precisely whywe need to fundamentally rethink how chemicals are developed and managed for industrial and commercial applications. Seeking out ad hoc alternatives to toxic chemicals is a Sisyphean effort. To tackle the challenge of green or sustainable chemistry at its root, we will need a shift in mindset and education so that the chemistry of tomorrow is sustainable from the start.”

Dr. Richard Lesiyampe, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenya, and President of ICCM4 said:“Projections show an increase in chemical production and use worldwide, with developing countries expected to produce and use by 2020 around 31 per cent and 33 per cent of global chemicals respectively.

"In building a chemical-safe future, we will address some of the most pressing issues that emerge as part of the sustainable development challenge including the need for increased capacity to address, prevent and manage aftermaths of chemical incidences. Strong capacity for governance, knowledge and information-sharing, and risk reduction will also be needed,”

Representatives of the global chemical business at the conference included the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), which has led the

“Responsible Care Global Charter”, promoting responsible management of chemicals throughout their lifecycle. UNEP and ICCA agreed to strengthen their partnership for a chemical-safe future.

Mr. Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council and ICCA Council Secretarysaid: “ICCA is committed to advancing SAICM implementation and promoting the sustainable and effective management of chemicals globally. Through our strengthened partnership, ICCA and UNEP will continue to work together to develop guidance for countries around the world so they can enhance and improve their chemical management systems.”

Well-represented at the conference, civil society has an indispensable role to play in achieving a chemical-safe world by gathering and sharing information, building capacity and empowering those who work with, or are affected by, chemicals everyday.

Dr. OlgaSperanskaya, International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) Co-Chair said: “Goodwill alone will not minimize adverse effects on the people most impacted by chemical exposure – women, children, workers, impoverished communities. Increased financial resources and a sense of urgency are needed if we are going to make progress - curb cancer and other diseases linked to unsound chemical management practices. We call on everyone involved – governments, international agencies, industry, and civil society – to make chemical safety a priority."

The conference concentrated on five priority policy issues requiring urgent action to protecthuman health and lives - lead in paint, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, chemicals in products, nanotechnology, and hazardous substances in the lifecycle of electronics and electrical products - and went further, by addingenvironmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants this week.

In addition, discussions on highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) which pose particular risks to children and have caused health problems and fatalities in many parts of the worldled toa decision topromote ecological alternatives and strengthennational legislation regarding the use of HHPs.

ICCM4 closed by adopting a global plan of action for sound management of chemicals by 2020, which proposes concrete interventions, promotes implementation of existing legal instruments and addresses emerging policy issues.

NOTES TO EDITORS

About ICCM

ICCM is the governing body of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). SAICM - to which UNEP provides the Secretariat - is a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world. It is unique for bringing together multiple sectors and stakeholders to address chemicals and waste issues that are not already within the scope of legally binding agreements.

SAICM has as its overall objective the achievement of the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment. This “2020 goal” was adopted by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 as part of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.Objectives are grouped under five themes: risk reduction; knowledge and information; governance; capacity-building and technical cooperation; and illegal international traffic.

For more information, visit www.saicm.org

For more information, please contact:

Isabelle Valentiny, Head of Communications, Regional Office for Europe, UNEP Geneva, +41 22 917 8404 or isabelle.valentiny@unep.org;

Lisa-maria.Hadeed@unep.org +41 79 372 1346

Honduras the first in Latin American to submit its revised NIP

A special ceremony during the 2015 Triple COPs marked the submission by Honduras of its National Implementation Programme (article in Spanish).

Honduras the first in Latin American to submit its revised NIP

Honduras the first in Latin American to submit its revised NIP

"Source: Honduras – Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores y Cooperación International"

El Embajador de Honduras en Ginebra, Giampaolo Rizzo Alvarado hizo entrega del Plan Nacional de Implementación del Convenio de Estocolmo (PNI), al Secretario de los convenios Rolph Payet.

Ginebra, Suiza. Destacada participación de Honduras en Ginebra, Suiza durante la 12va Conferencia de las Partes del Convenio de Basilea (COP 12), la 7ma Conferencia de las Partes del Convenio de Rotterdam (COP 7) y la 7ma Conferencia de las Partes del Convenio de Estocolmo (COP 7), que tuvieron por tema “De la ciencia a la acción, trabajando por un mañana más seguro”, y donde se desarrollaron importantes discusiones sobre la importación, utilización y disposición final de ciertos productos químicos; el control de los movimientos transfronterizos de desechos peligrosos y su eliminación, la protección de la salud humana y del medio ambiente frente a los Contaminantes Orgánicos Persistentes (COPs).

De las Triple COP desarrolladas en Ginebra, Suiza del 05 al 15 de mayo, resultaron guías técnicas para el manejo de desechos bajo la Convención de Basilea, cuatro nuevos químicos enlistados y otros más que serán sujetos a sesiones especiales de grupos de trabajo, de cara a la próxima Conferencia de las Partes, que se celebrará en 2017 también en Ginebra.

Honduras estuvo representado por el Asesor Legal de CESCCO y Coordinador de Movimientos Transfronterizos del Convenio de Basilea en Honduras, Marco Tulio Cálix; la Coordinadora del Convenio de Estocolmo sobre Contaminantes Orgánicos Persistentes (COPs), Ana Gabriela Ramírez; la Coordinadora del Convenio de Rotterdam en Honduras Emérita Ávila y la Misión Permanente de Honduras en Ginebra.

Fue en el marco de estas conferencias que la delegación de Honduras expuso los avances realizados en el cumplimiento e implementación de dichos convenios. Solamente en 2015, el país ha eliminado 70 toneladas de plaguicidas que contienen COPs y se estarán exportando 110 toneladas de Bifenilos Policlorados, contenidos en los residuos de la red de generación y distribución de energía eléctrica.

Los funcionarios hondureños tuvieron la oportunidad de compartir su experiencia en la ejecución del proyecto “Fortaleciendo el manejo de capacidades nacionales y la reducción de emisiones de COPs en Honduras”, con la delegación de Ecuador, encabezada por el Director Nacional de Control Ambiental Marco V. Enrique, del Ministerio de Ambiente, quien también mostró un gran interés en conocer el funcionamiento de Comisión Nacional para la Gestión Medioambiental de Productos Químicos (CNG), creada por decreto ejecutivo en 2014.

La Dra. Ana Gabriela Ramírez, junto con la Ing. Emérita Ávila y el Abg. Marco Tulio Cálix, se reunieron a su vez con la Señora Lady Virginia Traldi Meneses de la Compañía Ambiental del Estado de Sao Paulo (CETESB) y del Centro Regional del Convenio de Estocolmo sobre Contaminantes Orgánicos Persistentes para la Región de América Latina y el Caribe, con quien discutieron las bases para un próximo convenio de asistencia técnica relacionado con COPs y el mercurio.

Finalmente, en cumplimiento de estos convenios, el Embajador Giampaolo Rizzo-Alvarado, hizo entrega en nombre del Ministro de Energía, Recursos Naturales, Ambiente y Minas MIAMBIENTE José Antonio Galdámez, de la segunda versión del Plan Nacional de Implementación del Convenio de Estocolmo (PNI), al Secretario de los convenios Rolph Payet.

En la ceremonia de entrega se reconoció también el apoyo de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo Industrial (ONUDI) y el Fondo Global del Ambiente (GEF) para la consecución del plan, siendo Honduras el primer país de Latinoamérica en presentarlo, mostrando con ello el compromiso del gobierno del Presidente Juan Orlando Hernández al cumplimiento e implementación de dichos convenios.






Dirección General de Comunicación Estratégica Tegucigalpa, M.D.C. martes 19 de mayo de 2015

Parties adopt key decisions at 2015 Triple COPs
Finishing at 03:45 in the morning of Saturday, 16 May 2015, the Meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are over, with several key decisions taken.

Parties adopt key decisions at 2015 Triple COPs

Parties adopt key decisions at 2015 Triple COPs

Geneva, Switzerland - 16 May, 2015

Significant steps were agreed upon by parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, as the 2015 Triple COPs drew to a close early morning on 16 May 2015.

Staged under the theme “From Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow” from 4 to 15 May 2015, almost 1,200 participants from 171 countries converged on Geneva to push forward the chemicals and waste agenda at this biennial event.

A number of technical guidelines for the management of waste under the Basel Convention, four new listings (three under the Stockholm and one under the Rotterdam Conventions - polychlorinated napthalenes, hexachlorobutadiene, and pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters; and methamidophos respectively), and continued and strengthened synergies and implementation arrangements were the highlights of the decisions adopted on the final day. Meanwhile several chemicals considered were not listed, but instead deferred or made subject to special inter-sessional working group focus.

Basel Convention technical guidelines, aimed at assisting Parties to better manage crucial waste streams and move towards environmentally sound management (ESM), were adopted covering mercury waste and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) waste (one general and 6 specific waste-streams). Of high significance is the adoption on an interim basis of the technical guidelines concerning the transboundary movement of e-waste and used electronic and electrical products.

The BC technical guidelines on electronic, or e-waste provide much-needed guidance on how to identify e-waste and used equipment moving between countries, with the aim of controlling illegal traffic. Adoption came just days after UNEP released new data suggesting that as much as 90% of e-waste is dumped illegally, costing countries as much as US 18.8 $ billion annually and posing severe hazards to human health and the environment, particularly in Africa. Designed to provide a level playing field for all parties to the Convention, the guidelines will support and also encourage genuine recovery, repair, recycling and re-use of non-hazardous electronic components and equipment.

Regarding those pesticides where consensus could not be reached for listing, including paraquat and fenthion formulations, and trichlorfon, Clayton Campanhola, FAO Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, commented that “hazardous pesticides are not helping countries to produce more food with less, on the contrary: if badly managed, they cause negative impacts on natural resources and the health of rural communities and consumers.” In this respect, Parties requested additional technical assistance and support to identify alternatives to the use of hazardous pesticides which – if combined with integrated pest management (IPM) and agro-ecological approaches – form the basis for sustainable agricultural and rural development.

Whilst many Parties expressed their disappointment at the inability to reach consensus required for listing more of the chemicals proposed to be listed under the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet stressed the significance of the steps taken in noting that “our Conventions’ joint and mutually reinforcing objective is the protection of human health and the environment, and the Guidelines and additional listings decided upon by Parties during these two weeks continue to move us in this crucial direction. We have to place the sustainable management of chemicals and waste in the context of peoples’ lives, especially the more than 1 billion people on our planet who continue to live in absolute poverty and who strive to better themselves in whatever ways they can. We will never waver in our moral and political responsibilities towards the most vulnerable people in this world, and I believe strongly that the three conventions continue to offer the best framework for moving jointly towards a greener, more inclusive economy, and a safer tomorrow for all”.

Notes for editors:

  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and has 183 parties.

  • The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade promotes shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among its 154 Parties.

  • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. It has 179 Parties.

  • Polychlorinated napthalenes, Hexachlorobutadiene, and Pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters, are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) posing serious threats to human health and the environment.

  • Methamidophos is an extremely toxic organophosphate insecticide, causing serious adverse effects to human health, particularly to neural, immunity and reproductive systems.

  • E-waste data from the UNEP report “Waste Crime – Waste Risks: Gaps in Meeting the Global Waste Challenge” UNEP and GRID-Arendhal/Nairobi (2015), 67pp, ISBN: 978-82-7701-148-6

For more information, please refer to:
Website: www.brsmeas.org

BRS Secretariat

Kei Ohno Woodall, Programme Officer,
kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org tel: +41-79-2333218

BRS Press

Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer
Charles.avis@brsmeas.org tel: +41-79-7304495

FAO

Christine Fuell, Senior Technical Officer, Rotterdam Secretariat, Rome:
Christine.fuell@fao.org tel: +39-06-57053765

FAO Press

George Kourous, Information Officer, FAO Rome:
George.kourous@fao.org tel: +39-06-57053168

Global chemical conventions work together to continue supporting productive and sustainable agriculture, while protecting human health and the environment

Continuing the implementation of scientific synergies among global chemical agreements, the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee held its tenth meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, 22-24th October 2014, back-to-back with the tenth meeting of the Stockholm Convention’s POPs Review Committee, 27-30th October 2014.

Global chemical conventions work together to continue supporting productive and sustainable agriculture, while protecting human health and the environment

Global chemical conventions work together to continue supporting productive and sustainable agriculture, while protecting human health and the environment

Continuing the implementation of scientific synergies among global chemical agreements, the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee held its tenth meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, 22-24th October 2014, back-to-back with the tenth meeting of the Stockholm Convention’s POPs Review Committee, 27-30th October 2014.

The Chemical Review Committee (CRC), a subsidiary body of the Rotterdam Convention, made up of technical experts from across the world, met from 22-24th October and reviewed notifications of final regulatory action on three industrial chemicals and adopted draft decision guidance documents for the pesticide Methamidophos; and for the severely hazardous pesticide formulation .

Methamidophos is an insecticide widely used on a variety of crops including wheat, fruit trees, tomatoes, cotton, soybean and potatoes. Both chemical and non-chemical (Integrated Pest Management) alternatives are readily available. Fenthion[1] is used as a spray for bird control and can be replaced by a number of non-chemical measures including protection with nets, nest removal, bird scaring and trapping.

The recommended decision guidance documents will go forward for consideration of inclusion of these chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention at the forthcoming meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to be held in Geneva in May 2015.  “In doing so, we contribute not only to an informed decision making but also to the protection of the health of farmers and their families and with this we have a positive impact on food security at large”, said Christine Fuell, the Coordinator of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat within the FAO. If approved at the COP, the Convention’s Prior Informed Consent Procedure will then apply also to these pesticides.

Following from that, the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), a subsidiary body of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), met from 27-30th October and recommended the listing of pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters (PCP, sometimes commonly known as “angel dust”) within the list of POPs. The Committee thus recommended the elimination of its future production and use, while providing for a time-limited specific exemption for its production and use for utility poles and cross-arms. In doing so, the Committee adopted the risk management evaluation and proposed a recommendation for labelling requirements warning against the re-use for non-specified purposes. Whilst in the past this chemical was used as a biocide, insecticide, disinfectant and anti-microbial agent, these uses have been increasingly phased out although it is still used for preservation of, for example, wooden railway cross ties (or “sleepers”).

The Committee further considered a proposal for listing dicofol a pesticide and acaricide used in many countries on a variety of fruit, vegetable, and ornamental crops. Chemically related to DDT, a substance already listed in Annex B of the Convention, dicofol will now be scrutinized by the Committee for its potential persistent organic pollutants properties as the next step of the review process.

The work of the Committee members was described as very inclusive, very precise, and of high quality. Members also provided ideas and input for the preparation of the Science Fair that will be held during the upcoming meetings of the COPs in 2015. Reflecting the overall theme of the COPs “From Science to Action, Working Today for a Better Tomorrow” the Science Fair will highlight the work of Committees such as CRC and POPRC in providing a solid scientific base for decision-making and policies related to sound chemicals management, a key cornerstone in governments efforts to transition towards a greener, more inclusive economic path.

For more information on these and other outcomes of the two committee meetings, please contact:

Contact:

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

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

For more information: www.pops.int (Stockholm Convention) or www.pic.int (Rotterdam Convention).


Record Funding for the Global Environment

US$ 4.43 billion pledged for the Global Environment Facility.

Record Funding for the Global Environment

Record Funding for the Global Environment

GENEVA, April 16, 2014— 30 donor countries today pledged US$ 4.43 billion for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support developing countries' efforts over the next four years to prevent degradation of the global environment.

"Today's decision is a powerful signal from the global community about the importance of urgently reversing the negative environmental trends in order to ensure a sustainable future for everybody", said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF. "I am extremely encouraged by the broad coalition that has come together behind the belief in GEF's ability to play a critical role in helping achieve this transformation."

The funding will support projects in more than 140 countries to tackle a broad range of threats to the global environment, including climate change, deforestation, land degradation, extinction of species, toxic chemicals and waste, and threats to oceans and freshwater resources. The GEF is the main global mechanism to support developing countries' to take action to fulfill their commitments under the world's major multilateral environmental agreements. In GEF-6, donors agreed to new financing in support of the Minamata convention on Mercury that was signed in 2013, bringing to five the total number global environmental conventions that the GEF serves.

"The Global Environment Facility has gained the confidence of development partners for its strong track record in protecting the global environment and for its sound management of development partner funds," said Joachim von Amsberg, Vice President for Concessional Finance and Global Partnerships in the World Bank Group, which serves as Trustee for the GEF. "The environmental challenges the global community faces are significant, and funding for the GEF-6 program will help put us on a path toward our shared goal of sustainable development."

Donors emphasized GEF's role in supporting innovative and integrated solutions for the global environment. Among a number of innovations contained in GEF-6 is a new Integrated Approaches Pilot aimed at addressing environmental challenges by focusing on some of the underlying drivers of environmental degradation through special focus on for example food security in Africa, sustainable city development and on taking deforestation out of global commodity supply chains—all issues that can only be effectively addressed if broad coalitions of stakeholders across countries and sectors can be brought together around a common action agenda.

“We welcome the more than US$ 4.3 billion pledged by 30 donor countries to address the urgent environmental needs of developing countries, and appreciate the increase in the overall amount of funding accorded to the chemicals and waste focal area announced today,” said Kerstin Stendahl, Executive Secretary ad interim of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

“As the principal entity entrusted with the operation of the Financial Mechanism of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the GEF plays a catalytic role in leveraging funding from private and public donors for the Convention. We remain confident that the GEF will in the future be able to continue to address the growing financial and technical assistance needs of Parties to the Stockholm Convention, taking into account the increasing number of chemicals listed under the Convention and the growing number of parties it serves.”

“Every dollar pledged to address POPs chemicals must now be put to work as hard as possible to defeat the scourge of persistent organic pollutants,” Ms Stendahl added.

Mexico's Secretary of Finance and Public Credit, Luis Videgaray, who will host an Assembly of the GEF's 183 members in Cancun, Mexico, in May said, "Only by integrating environmental considerations into decision making by governments, private businesses and households can we hope to make a difference in the global environment. The GEF-6 effort gets under way at a critical time, and is a vital platform to help mobilize all stakeholders to play their part."

The GEF-6 program envisions devoting an increased share of resources to lower-income recipient countries. GEF will also further its engagement with the private sector, its work in gender mainstreaming, collaboration with civil society organizations, and increased focus on results and on leveraging other sources of funding for the benefit of the global environment by seeking higher levels of co-financing of its projects.

Underpinning efforts, the GEF is developing a longer-term strategy, GEF2020, which aims to enhance the GEF's impact by focusing its interventions more on the underlying drivers of environmental degradation.

Doris Leuthard, head of the Swiss Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications that hosted the meeting in Geneva said "We have better scientific evidence that human activity can lead to tipping points with a risk of irreversible and abrupt environmental change. By focusing on the drivers of environmental change and by seeking multiple benefits, the GEF is taking the right approach to turn around the worrying trends in the global environment".

This Press Release is available in Spanish.

About the Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 183 countries in partnership with international organizations, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. The GEF provides funding for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

Since 1991, the GEF has achieved a strong track record providing $12.5 billion in grants and leveraging $58 billion in co-financing for over 3,690 projects in over 165 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 16,000 small grants directly to civil society and community based organizations, totaling $653 million.

Contact: Christian Hofer, Senior Communications Officer, GEF,
chofer@thegef.org.

Zayed International Prize Honours Top Environmentalists
Colombia’s Paula Caballero Gómez is recognized as having been instrumental in the early conceptualization and promotion of Sustainable Development Goals.

Zayed International Prize Honours Top Environmentalists

Zayed International Prize Honours Top Environmentalists
Colombia’s Paula Caballero Gómez is recognized as having been instrumental in the early conceptualization and promotion of Sustainable Development Goals.
UN chemical experts recommend adding three pesticides to the PIC global watch list
Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee held its 9th meeting in Rome from 22 to 24 October 2013, back to back with the joint meeting of the conventions’ scientific review committees

UN chemical experts recommend adding three pesticides to the PIC global watch list

UN chemical experts recommend adding three pesticides to the PIC global watch list

Geneva and Rome, 25 October 2013 –The Chemical Review Committee, the scientific subsidiary body of the Rotterdam Convention, recommended this week that methamidophos (pesticide) and fenthion 640 ULV* (a severely hazardous pesticide formulation) be subject to the Convention’s Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. The Committee also adopted the draft Decision Guidance Document (DGD) for trichlorfon, a pesticide recommended for inclusion in the Committee’s eighth meeting held in March 2012.

The result of the ninth meeting of the Chemical Review Committee meeting is that three new Decision Guidance Documents will be forwarded to the Conference of the Parties in May 2015 for its consideration for inclusion in Annex III to the Convention and be subject to the PIC procedure.

The Prior Informed Consent procedure of the Convention is a key tool for developing countries to take informed and responsible decisions on the import and on the use of chemicals that represent a danger for the environment and for the human health. It enables member governments to alert each other to potential dangers by exchanging information on banned or severely restricted chemicals and to take informed decisions on them.  This provision prevents unwanted trade in the chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention and constitutes an early warning system.

The Committee reviewed notifications of final regulatory actions taken by parties for five chemicals: cyhexatin, lead arsenate, lead carbonate, methamidophos, pentachlorobenzene, and one severely hazardous pesticide formulation, fenthion 640 ULV.

On four other chemicals – cyhexatin, lead arsenate, lead carbonate and pentachlorobenzene – the Committee agreed that criteria were not met and no further decisions will be taken for these chemicals at the moment.

“This is the second time since the Convention entered into force in 2004 that the Committee has recommended adding a severely hazardous pesticide formulation to the Prior Informed Consent list, using the ‘fast track’ mechanism that ensures developing countries’ rights to know and trade chemicals safely are respected,” said Clayton Campanhola, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“Putting these pesticides under the Rotterdam Convention’s PIC procedure would continue to strengthen the hands of governments and support informed decision-making about the import and use of chemicals known to harm human health and the environment,” said Kerstin Stendahl, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The Committee’s recommendations will be sent to the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention for consideration at the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties, scheduled to be held from 4 to 15 May 2015 in Geneva.

The tenth meeting of the Chemical Review Committee will be held in Rome, Italy, from 20 to 24 October 2014 followed immediately by the POPs Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention, scheduled for 27 to 31 October 2014.

Note for Editors:

The objective of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm. The Convention contributes to the environmentally sound use of such chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.

Together, the Rotterdam, Basel and Stockholm conventions, the three leading global treaties governing hazardous chemicals, pesticide formulations and wastes, can help countries to manage hazardous chemicals throughout their life-cycle:

  • Rotterdam Convention provides early warning on dangerous chemicals and prevents the unwanted international trade on certain chemicals.
  • Stockholm Convention controls and eliminates production and use of  persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
  • Basel Convention limits “toxic trade” in hazardous wastes and ensures proper disposal of wastes.

The Chemical Review Committee is the scientific subsidiary body of the Rotterdam Convention.  The 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.

Trichlorfon is an insecticide used on a number of crops, including fruits and vegetables. The recommendation by the Chemical Review Committee to list trichlorfon in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention was based on final regulatory actions submitted by Brazil and the European Union.

Fenthion 640 ULV, among wide range use, it is also used for birds control against grain-eating birds. The proposal has been submitted by Chad, which experienced problems for human health caused by the formulation under conditions of use in its territory. The Committee decided at its ninth meeting to recommend listing it in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention as a Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulation (SHPF), based on the proposal of Chad.

Methamidiphos is an insecticide used on many crops, it is already present in Annex III to the Convention and subject to the PIC procedure as severely hazardous pesticide formulation (soluble liquid formulations of substance that exceed 600 g active ingredient/L) and it is classified as highly hazardous (I b oral toxicity) by the World Health Organization. The Committee decided at its ninth meeting to recommend listing it in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention as a pesticide, based on final regulatory actions submitted by Brazil and the European Union.

Contact:

Elisabetta TAGLIATI, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome, Tel. +39-06-5705-6420, elisabetta.tagliati@fao.org

Michael S. JONES, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva,  mobile/text message: +41-79-730-4495, michael.jones@brsmeas.org 

For more information, see  www.pic.int

*fenthion (ultra low volume formulations (ULV) at or above 640 g active ingredient/L)

New global treaty cuts mercury emissions and releases, sets up controls on products, mines and industrial plants

Kumamoto, Japan, 10 October 2013 - Japan, a country which has come to epitomize mercury poisoning in modern times, today became one of the first countries to sign a historic new international convention to reduce emissions and releases of the toxic metal into air, land and water and to phase out many products that contain mercury.

New global treaty cuts mercury emissions and releases, sets up controls on products, mines and industrial plants

New global treaty cuts mercury emissions and releases, sets up controls on products, mines and industrial plants

Japan among the first to sign Minamata Convention on Mercury

Kumamoto, Japan, 10 October 2013 - Japan, a country which has come to epitomize mercury poisoning in modern times, today became one of the first countries to sign a historic new international convention to reduce emissions and releases of the toxic metal into air, land and water and to phase out many products that contain mercury.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury – a global, legally binding treaty which opened for signature today – was agreed to by governments in January and formally adopted as international law today.

The new treaty is the first new global convention on environment and health for close to a decade. Coming at a time when some multilateral negotiations have faced challenges, its successful negotiation, after a four-year process, provides a new momentum to intergovernmental cooperation on the environment.

Its agreement is also significant in that many countries, despite the lingering effects of the global financial crisis, remained prepared to commit resources to combating the harmful effects of mercury.

Countries began the recognition for this new treaty at a special ceremonial opening of the Diplomatic Conference in Minamata, the city where many local people were poisoned in the mid-20th Century after eating mercury-contaminated seafood from Minamata Bay. As a consequence, the neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning has come to be known as Minamata Disease.

But the Minamata that delegates visited yesterday during a special field trip from the main conference venue in nearby Kumamoto City, is a vastly different place to that affected by mercury in the mid-1950s. Since then the city has remodelled itself as an eco-city, receiving international recognition for its wide range of recycling and environmental programmes.

The Minamata Convention provides for controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted. The treaty also addresses the direct mining of mercury, export and import of the metal, and safe storage of waste mercury.

Pinpointing populations at risk, boosting medical care and better training of health-care professionals in identifying and treating mercury-related effects will all result from adherence to the obligations of the new treaty.

“The Minamata Convention will protect people and improve standards of living for millions around the world, especially the most vulnerable,’’ United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in an address read to the conference. “Let us strive to achieve universal adherence to this valuable new instrument, and advance together toward a safer, more sustainable and healthier planet for all.”

“Mercury has some severe effects, both on human health and on the environment. UNEP has been proud to facilitate and support the treaty negotiation over the past four years because almost everyone in the world – be they small-scale gold miners, expectant mothers or waste-handlers in developing countries – will benefit from its provisions,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations.

Global action on mercury was agreed to in a landmark decision at the United Nations Environment Programme’s Governing Council meeting in 2009.

Governments unanimously decided to launch negotiations on an international mercury treaty to deal with world-wide emissions and discharges of the pollutant, which threatens the health of millions, from foetuses and babies to small-scale gold miners and their families.

Mercury's impacts on the human nervous system have been known for more than a century: the Mad Hatter of Alice in Wonderland fame was so called because hat-makers used the liquid metal to strengthen brims, breathing in the poisonous fumes.

Other potential impacts include impaired thyroid and liver function, irritability, tremors, disturbances to vision, memory loss and cardiovascular problems.

“With the signing of the Minamata Convention on Mercury we will be going a long way in protecting the world forever from the devastating health consequences from mercury,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Mercury is one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern and is a substance which disperses into and remains in ecosystems for generations, causing severe ill health and intellectual impairment to exposed populations.”

Governments successfully completed their negotiations at the fifth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee to prepare a global legally binding instrument on mercury, held in Geneva from 13 to 18 January 2013. They agreed to the text of the “Minamata Convention on Mercury”, which has now been presented for adoption and opened for signature at the Conference of Plenipotentiaries Diplomatic Conference, taking place at Hotel Nikko in Kumamoto and in Minamata, Japan, from 9 to 11 October 2013.

The Diplomatic Conference was preceded by an intergovernmental preparatory meeting on 7 and 8 October 2013 in Kumamoto.

Some key facts about the Diplomatic Conference:

  • Over 1,000 participants
  • Convention adopted by 139 governments
  • Convention signed by 87 governments

Treaty provisions

Under the provisions of the Minamata Convention, Governments have agreed on a range of mercury-containing products whose production, import and export will be banned by 2020. These items have non-mercury alternatives that will be further phased in as these are phased out. They include:

  • Batteries, except for ‘button cell’ batteries used in implantable medical devices
  • Switches and relays
  • Some compact fluorescent lamps
  • Mercury in cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps
  • Soaps and cosmetics (mercury is used in skin-whitening products)
  • Some mercury-containing medical items such as thermometers and blood pressure devices.

Mercury from small-scale gold-mining and from coal-fired power stations represent the biggest source of mercury pollution worldwide. Miners inhale mercury during smelting, and mercury run-off into rivers and streams contaminates fish, the food chain and people downstream. Under the Minamata Convention, Governments have agreed that countries will draw up strategies to reduce the amount of mercury used by small-scale miners and that national plans will be drawn up within three years of the treaty entering into force to reduce – and if possible eliminate – mercury.

The Convention will also control mercury emission and releases from large-scale industrial plants such as coal-fired power stations, industrial boilers, waste incinerators and cement clinkers facilities.

Editors’ notes

The full text of the treaty can be found here.

For more information about the Diplomatic Conference, please see here.

For a list of the countries that have signed the Convention so far, please see (from 10 October) www.mercuryconvention.org.

For more information about the effects of mercury, please click here.

Contacts

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Director of Communications and Spokesperson, Tel: +254 733 632 755 or +41 79 596 5737 (Roaming), Email: nick.nuttall@unep.org.

Tomoko Ishii, Media Consultant, UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre, Osaka, Japan. Mobile: +81 90 7091 8194 Tel: +81 6 6915 4581
Email: tomoko.ishii@unep.org (for information in English or in Japanese).

UNEP HQ: Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP News Desk. Tel.: +254 713 601 259 Email: unepnewsdesk@unep.org.

Moira O’Brien-Malone, UNEP Communications, Paris. Tel: +33 1 44 37 76 12 or +33 6 82 26 93 73. Email: moira.obrien-malone@unep.org.

Extraordinary UN Conference Takes Historic Strides to Strengthen Chemical Safety Globally

UNEP and FAO team up to promote synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in two-week chemicals and waste meeting.

 

Extraordinary UN Conference Takes Historic Strides to Strengthen Chemical Safety Globally

Extraordinary UN Conference Takes Historic Strides to Strengthen Chemical Safety Globally

UNEP and FAO team up to promote synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in two-week chemicals and waste meeting.

Geneva, Switzerland, 11 May 2013 – The three conventions that govern chemicals and hazardous waste safety at the global level concluded their first ever jointly held meetings of the parties late Friday night in Geneva. The historic meeting, attended by nearly two thousand participants from 170 countries, as well as 80 Ministers, adopted 50 separate decisions aimed at strengthening protection against hazardous chemicals and waste.

The three legally autonomous conventions had convened the joint meeting of the conferences of the parties to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between the conventions, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of their activities on the ground. Each convention then continued individually over the two-week period to deal with its own specific topics of the global chemicals and waste agenda before returning in a joint session at the end of the week to finalize their outcomes.

The meeting culminated in a ministerial segment on 9 and 10 May 2013 dedicated to the theme of strengthening synergies between the conventions at national, regional and global level. The ministerial segment was joined by Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva, and Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii.  The global agency leaders pledged to deepen cooperation and collaboration as part of a broader effort to raise the profile of chemicals and waste issues, promote green growth and alleviate poverty.

At its conclusion, the joint meeting acclaimed the “Geneva Statement on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”. The Geneva Statement welcomed the UNEP-led consultative process on financing options for chemicals and waste that has considered the need for heightened efforts to increase the political priority accorded to sound management of chemicals and waste.

In a press conference following the ministerial segment, Mr. Steiner called the conferences of the parties “a unique historic event coming at a time of unprecedented change and progress in the arena of global environmental governance. The strengthening of UNEP and the synergies process of chemicals and waste multilateral environmental agreements are complementary parts of the ongoing reform to fortify the environmental dimension of sustainable development.”

Ms. Ishii spoke of the challenges countries face protecting the planet's critical ecosystems from contamination by hazardous chemicals and waste and of GEF support for strategies to overcome them. “At this critical juncture, the Global Environment Facility is committed to its financial support to help countries address these important challenges in three ways,” said Ms. Ishii. “Assisting them in their efforts to mainstream sound chemicals management in national agendas, creating an integrated GEF chemicals and wastes focal area, and expanding engagement with the private sector.”

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said that in many countries intensive crop production has depleted agriculture’s natural resource base, jeopardizing future productivity. “To fight hunger and eradicate poverty, we will need to find more sustainable ways to produce 60 percent more food by 2050,” he said. However, he recognized that chemical pesticides would continue to be part of farming in many parts of the world in future.

“The challenge is to enable countries to manage pesticides safely, to use the right quantity, at the right time and in the right way and also to apply alternatives to hazardous pesticides. Because when we don’t, pesticides continue to pose a serious risk to human health and the environment and will eventually end up as waste. Today, half a million tons of obsolete pesticides are scattered around the developing world,” he said.

“Around 70 percent of the chemicals addressed by the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions are pesticides, and many are used in agriculture. It is in the best interest of all countries to ensure that the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions can work together, effectively and efficiently, to address various aspects of the chemical life cycle.”

The joint meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions also reviewed the impact of the arrangements put in place by governments in 2011 to strengthen synergies among the treaties.

The parties endorsed the organization of the Secretariat, and adopted a programme of work and budget individual and for joint activities of three conventions in 2014-2015. ”The parties have agreed to strengthen capacity building and technical assistance for countries by investing the savings realized over the past two years into an enhanced technical assistance programme that better meets the needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. “In an era of financial austerity, we have learned through synergies how to deliver more to parties while living within the economic limits faced by Governments today.”

“Much of the success of this synergies meeting is owed to the outstanding cooperation and inspired leadership of the three presidents of the conferences, Franz Perrez of Switzerland, Magdalena Balicka of Poland and Osvaldo Álvarez-Pérez of Chile,” added Mr. Willis.

The 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to list hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) to Annex A to the Convention with specific exemptions for expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings. Efforts to adopt a non-compliance mechanism, however, did not succeed in the face of continuing disagreement on how such a mechanism might function.

Basel Convention's parties, at their 11th Conference of the Parties, took decisions to strengthen compliance with the Convention. The Parties adopted a framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, and agreed, over the next two years, to develop technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electronic and electrical wastes (e-waste).

The meeting also decided terms of reference for the newly established Environmental Network for Optimizing Regulatory Compliance on Illegal Traffic (ENFORCE), which aims to prevent and combat illegal traffic in hazardous and other wastes through the better implementation and enforcement of national law.

The 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention had considered the possible addition of five chemicals and one severely hazardous pesticide formulation to Annex III of the Convention. It agreed by consensus to add the pesticide azinphos-methyl and the industrial chemicals PentaBDE, OctaBDE and PFOS to Annex III of the Convention.[1] Listing in Annex III 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 highest 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.

In contrast, the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention did not succeed in reaching agreement on the addition of chrysotile asbestos and a severely hazardous pesticide formulation containing paraquat to the Convention. The proposal to list chrysotile asbestos and the paraquat formulation will be considered at the next Conference of the Parties in 2015.

The joint meeting hosted a three-day Regional Fair from 1 to 3 May 2013 dedicated to the theme 'Synergies through regional delivery' and attended by 20 Stockholm Convention or Basel Convention Regional Centres and two Regional Offices of UNEP. The Fair provided the venue for the signing of bi-regional and intra-regional cooperation agreements between centres in Latin America and Caribbean, and Central and Eastern European regions in the areas of technical assistance and awareness-raising and outreach.

Note to editors:

Chemicals contribute many advantages to today's world; however their use can also pose risks to human health and the environment. To reduce this harmful global impact, three conventions have been established that regulate chemicals and hazardous waste at global level:

Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal regulates the export/import of hazardous waste and waste containing hazardous chemicals. The Convention was adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1992. It currently has 180 Parties.

Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade currently regulates information about the export/import of 47 hazardous chemicals listed in the Convention’s Annex III, 33 of which are pesticides (including 4 severely hazardous pesticide formulations) and 14 of which are industrial chemicals. The Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004. It currently has 152 Parties.

Unlike the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention does not ban or restrict trade in chemicals or pesticide formulations, but serves to strengthen protection of human health and the environment by expanding the exchange of critical safety information between exporting and importing States.

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants currently regulates 23 toxic substances that are persistent, travel long distances, bioaccumulate in organisms and are toxic. The Convention was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004. It currently has 179 Parties.

Contact:

Christine Fuell, Technical Senior Officer and Coordinator, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Tel. +39 06 5705 3765, christine.fuell@fao.org

Michael S. Jones, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Cell +41 (0) 79 730 44 95, msjones@brsmeas.org

Nick Nuttall, Director, Division of Communication and Public Information, and UNEP Spokesperson, +254 20 7623084, nick.nuttall@unep.org

For more information, visit the 2013 COPs website: synergies.pops.int or follow the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions on Twitter @brsmeas #brscops.

 


[1]PentaBDE: Pentabromodiphenyl ether (CAS No. 32534-81-9) and pentabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; OctaBDE: Octabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; PFOS: Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanesulfonates, perfluorooctanesulfonamides and perfluorooctanesulfonyls.

 

Global Environment Facility Premieres Documentary Film Mission: Planet De-Tox at Geneva Chemicals Conference
GEF-funded projects in Philippines, Mexico, China, Tanzania, Kenya show positive impacts of projects to clean up toxic chemicals and waste.

Global Environment Facility Premieres Documentary Film Mission: Planet De-Tox at Geneva Chemicals Conference

Global Environment Facility Premieres Documentary Film Mission: Planet De-Tox at Geneva Chemicals Conference

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 8, 2013 – The Global Environment Facility today premiered a documentary film, Mission: Planet De-Tox, now available free around the world, focusing on GEF-funded projects that address toxic chemical pollution on three continents.

GEF CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii introduced the film to an audience of several hundred delegates, observers, and guests at a special event at the Joint Conference of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions meeting in Geneva.

“Chemicals cut across the entire earth’s ecosystem,” said Ms. Ishii. “We want the world to know that there is a way to handle this challenge.”

Directed by Patrick Fries of Arrowhead Films, Mission: Planet De-Tox takes viewers to toxic chemical project sites in Asia, Africa and Latin America that are operating with the help of GEF funding and the implementation efforts of GEF partner agencies – the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the United Nations Development Programme. GEF Chemicals Team staffers Anil Sookdeo and Evelyn Swain travel to places where local initiative aided by international funding is making a difference. They visit:

  • General Santos City, the Philippines, where a huge, smoldering landfill emits toxic fumes. The unlined landfill, picked over by families risking their health to find valuables in the heaps of trash, is one of six in the country soon to be closed and rebuilt using environmentally sound methods.
  • Mexico City, where electrical equipment that threatens to contaminate water supplies with toxic PCBs is being taken off line, properly disposed, and replaced with modern equipment. Some 2,500 tons of PCB-laced chemicals and equipment – 10 percent of the country’s inventory – is being replaced under a GEF-funded program.
  • Morogoro, Tanzania, where a GEF-supported project is properly disposing of obsolete pesticides, including DDT, and to multiple locations elsewhere in Tanzania where GEF support is enabling the safe disposal of toxic medical waste.
  • Changzhou China, site of a pesticide factory, now demolished, that was rendered obsolete by GEF-funded efforts to develop safe and effective ways of getting rid of termites without the use of toxic chemicals that can linger in the air and water for years.
  • Nairobi and Mount Kenya, in Kenya, where new techniques are being used to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and where an air sampling station and a breast milk testing program, operating with GEF support, document the health threats posed by persistent organic pollutants. Data collected in Kenya feeds into the GEF/UNEP Global Monitoring Plan, which gathers data from all over the world to track hazardous chemicals.

“The film calls for action – very, very urgent action – and we need to work together to spread this message,” Ms. Ishii told the gathering.

The film is available on the GEF YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/GEFSecretariat. Groups and educational institutions interested in showing the film are encouraged to contact the GEF.

Contact:

In Geneva, Switzerland

Mr. John Diamond
Senior Communication Officer | Spokesperson
Phone +1 202 458 7953
E-mail: jdiamond@thegef.org

In Washington, DC

Mr. Christian Hofer
Senior Communication Officer
Phone: +1 202 458 0936
E-mail: chofer@thegef.org

### 

About the Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

Since 1991, GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $11.5 billion in grants and leveraging $57 billion in co-financing for over 3,215 projects in over 165 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 16,030 small grants directly to civil society and community based organizations, totaling $653.2 million. For more information, visit www.thegef.org.

Stay Connected

www.thegef.org/gef/gefrss

Global Environment Facility Launches e-Magazine App
Interactive app adds sizzle to the 2013 COPs.

Global Environment Facility Launches e-Magazine App

Global Environment Facility Launches e-Magazine App

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has released its newly redesigned newsletter “The Greenline” as an online app. The app is available free in the Apple iTunes app store.

Compared to the original newsletter the new Greenline app offers an interactive reading and viewing experience featuring full-screen video clips and photo galleries, instant page-turns, and sharing opportunities.

With The Greenline app installed, users will be notified when a new issue is released. GEF is also developing a version compatible for other tablets. The Greenline will continue to be available online at www.thegef.org in HTML format.

The first issue focusing on Chemicals is already available on the GEF website.

The GEF released the Greenline app at the back-to-back meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, in Geneva, Switzerland, on 1 May 2013.

Invitation to Press Conference & Media Event

Geneva International Conference Centre, Room 3, Geneva, 27 April 2013 at 11:00 a.m.

 

Invitation to Press Conference & Media Event

Invitation to Press Conference & Media Event

Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions to hold ‘sustainable synergies’ meetings aimed at solidifying collaboration among the leading global chemicals and waste agreements

Geneva International Conference Centre / Centre International de Conferences Genève, Room 3, Geneva, 27 April 2013 at 11:00 a.m.

Swiss Ambassador Franz Perrez and Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention Executive Secretary Jim Willis to brief media on the eve of the conference.

The three conventions that govern chemicals and hazardous waste safety at the global level will, for the first time, convene jointly in an historic back-to-back meeting of the parties in Geneva from 28 April to 10 May 2013. Nearly two thousand participants from more than 160 countries will attend the two-week long meeting.

The three legally autonomous conventions will begin by convening joint meetings of the conferences of the parties to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between the conventions, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of their activities on the ground. Each convention will then continue individually to deal with its own specific topics over the two-week period.

The meetings will culminate in a ministerial segment on 9 and 10 May 2013 dedicated to the theme of strengthening synergies between the conventions at national, regional and global level. The ministerial segment will be opened with scheduled remarks by Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva, and Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii. Over 80 Ministers and Deputy Ministers are scheduled to attend.

Journalists may notify of their intention to attend the 27 April 2013 press conference by emailing elisabeth.maret@bafu.admin.ch.
Media accreditation requirements for the conference may be accessed at http://synergies.pops.int/?tabid=3136.

For more information, visit http://synergies.pops.int, or contact:

Elisabeth Maret, Information Officer, Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Tel. +41 (0)31 323 28 69, elisabeth.maret@bafu.admin.ch

Michael S. Jones, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Mobile tel. +41 (0) 79 730 44 95, michael.jones@brsmeas.org

 

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