The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions are multilateral environmental agreements, which share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was created to protect people and the environment from the negative effects of the inappropriate management of hazardous wastes worldwide. It is the most comprehensive global treaty dealing with hazardous waste materials throughout their lifecycles, from production and transport to final use and disposal.
The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for certain hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in international trade provides Parties with a first line of defence against hazardous chemicals. It promotes international efforts to protect human health and the environment as well as enabling countries to decide if they want to import hazardous chemicals and pesticides listed in the Convention.
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from highly dangerous, long-lasting chemicals by restricting and ultimately eliminating their production, use, trade, release and storage.
To enhance cooperation and coordination among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, their respective conferences of the Parties have taken a series of decisions.
This so-called "synergies process" aims to strengthen the implementation of the three conventions at the national, regional and global levels by providing coherent policy guidance, enhancing efficiency in the provision of support to Parties to the conventions, reducing their administrative burden and maximizing the effective and efficient use of resources at all levels, while maintaining the legal autonomy of these three multilateral environmental agreements. This unique approach is a successful example to other parts of the global environmental agenda and demonstrates how to enhance international environmental governance through coordination and cooperation.
In addition to initiating reforms to the secretariats of the three conventions on an administrative as well as operational level, this process is changing the way in which the implementation of the conventions are undertaken at the national and regional levels. Parties to the conventions and entities supporting countries in the implementation of the conventions, such as regional centres, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations, also undertake efforts to increase coherence in the implementation of the conventions.
Some examples of benefits of the enhanced coordination and cooperation among multilateral environmental agreements for countries:
- Improved use of available resources through more coordinated national frameworks, institutional mechanisms and enforcement capacity dealing with chemicals and wastes;
- Raised profile of the issue at the national and international levels which can result in increased resources to support chemicals and waste management programmes;
- Better coordinated technical assistance activities and better use of resources to support developing countries and countries with economies in transition to implement the conventions;
- More integrated approach towards sound chemicals and wastes management and the opportunity to mainstream those issues into national development plans;
- More cost-effective implementation of the conventions through synergistic efforts.