The report of the first meeting of the new informal Basel Convention partnership on household waste, held in Montevideo, Uruguay, from 2 to 4 August 2016, is now available online.
A list of concept notes for voluntary financial contributions for the biennium 2016/17 is now available on the BRS websites
The Secretariat hands over the signed BRS Geneva Gender Parity Pledge to Mr. Michael Moller, UNOG Director General.
On 2 December 2015, during the United Nations Oath of Office ceremony at the Palais des Nation, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat (BRS) handed over to Mr. Michael Moller, UNOG Director General, the signed BRS Geneva Gender Parity Pledge.
The Geneva Gender Parity Pledge aims to strive for gender parity in all discussions in International Geneva and in panels where BRS staff is involved. Further, the Secretariat commits to provide gender training sessions for its staff members to enable them to liaise with other United Nations colleagues and to beacon gender aspects; to include gender related sessions in the agenda of workshops organized by the BRS Secretariat to further strengthen the mainstreaming of gender equality in projects and programmes under the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions; and to update the BRS Gender Action Plan on a yearly basis.
Contact: Matthias Kern at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tatiana Terekhovap at email@example.com
The Secretariat has been made aware that emails were recently sent using abusively for instance the name of the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions or other staff as its author, a misleading sender’s name, or a misleading email address. Please read the Secretariat’s communication about this issue.
Pre-session documents for the three COPs, including the proposed programmes of work and budgets for the conventions for 2018-2019, are now available.
With financial support from Switzerland, parties will consult regionally at preparatory meetings organised in March in Bangkok, Dakar, Riga and Sao Paolo.
Register now to learn more about the next meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the three chemicals conventions. Available in English, French or Spanish.
Highlights of the first Stockholm Convention Effectiveness Evaluation Report, including factsheets on 5 key POPs, now available online.
Anne Daniel, Chair of the Stockholm Convention’s Effectiveness Evaluation Committee, shares her thoughts.
Interview with Anne Daniel, General Counsel with the Public Law Sector of Canada’s federal Department of Justice by Charlie Avis, BRS Public Information Officer
Charlie Avis: Anne, many thanks for joining us, tell us please what is your position, your role, and how do you relate to the work of implementing the Stockholm Convention?
Anne Daniel: Thank you. I work for the Department of Justice advising mainly Environment and Climate Change Canada on a wide range of multilateral environmental agreements. I served on the Canadian delegation during the negotiation of the Stockholm Convention, as well as at all of the COPs to date. I have also chaired a number of negotiating groups, and am currently leading efforts as Chair of the Stockholm Convention’s Effectiveness Evaluation Committee.
CA: You mentioned the Effectiveness Evaluation committee, whose report has just been published. What are the main conclusions from that evaluation you’d like to share with our audiences?
AD: The report is basically a snapshot of the progress the Convention is making in achieving its objective of protecting human health and the environment from POPs, measured against a framework of indicators provided by the Conference of the Parties (COP).
We concluded that the Convention provides an effective and dynamic framework to regulate POPs throughout their lifecycle, addressing the production, use, import, export, releases, and disposal of these chemicals worldwide. However, inadequate implementation is the key issue that has been identified in the evaluation, and we have made a number of recommendations aimed at resolving that problem.
CA: More specifically?
AD: To address inadequate implementation, we noted that priority attention should be given to developing, strengthening, and/or enforcing national legislation implementing the Convention that is appropriate for both industrial chemicals and pesticides and specifically implements the Convention’s obligations on POPs. This gap currently affects implementation of many of the listed POPs, and even PCBs, one of the original “dirty dozen”, where we concluded that the deadlines of 2025 and 2028 are not likely to be met by most Parties. We also note that Parties are becoming bound by amendments involving chemicals in commerce and not registering for exemptions that they need in order to be in compliance with their obligations. Another area of poor implementation is the submission of national reports, which are required every four years and outline how Parties have met their obligations. The reporting rate of about 40% meant that there were substantial gaps in the information the committee had to work with during our evaluation. We recommend that when a compliance committee is established, a priority focus of its work programme should be to improve reporting.
CA: It sounds like a lot of work. So people around the world are less exposed to these toxic chemicals than previously? What about “new” chemicals entering the market, how does the international community deal with those?
AD: Yes, the good news is that the Convention has an excellent Global Monitoring Programme, and monitoring results indicate that regulations targeting POPs are succeeding in reducing levels of POPs in humans and the environment. For POPs listed as of 2004, concentrations measured in air and in human populations have declined and continue to decline or remain at low levels due to restrictions on POPs that predated the Convention and are now incorporated in it. For the POPs added in 2009 and after, concentrations are beginning to show decreases, although in a few instances, increasing and/or stable levels are observed.
With better implementation, we can expect these results to improve, and we hope our evaluation report can contribute to helping bring the international community closer to meeting the Convention’s objective.
CA: In a few weeks time there will be the meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions. Will you be travelling to the Triple COPs in Geneva, and what are your hopes and expectations?
AD: I will indeed participate on the Canadian delegation for all three COPs. For the Stockholm Convention, I expect that the listing decisions and the discussions on a compliance mechanism will be important issues for many delegations, but I hope that Parties reading this interview will take the time to study the recommendations of our Committee, which will be inserted into and negotiated in the relevant COP decisions. As this is the first effectiveness evaluation done on the basis of a framework of indicators, our report examines all aspects of the Convention’s work and is very far-reaching.
CA: Clearly, much has been achieved, congratulations. What are the major challenges for the Convention, in years ahead?
AD: Based on our report, I would say that improving legislative implementation of the Convention’s obligations at the national level is a major challenge. As the Convention continues to list POPs, with many that are currently extensively used, it may be a challenge for many jurisdictions to take timely action to eliminate and restrict these as required. The Committee noted that there is no subsidiary body charged with focusing on implementation issues in the intersessional period—a real gap—and while adoption of a compliance mechanism has been a challenge in the past, it could fill this gap. Additional sources of financing also need to be sought and current sources focused on the priorities identified in our report, such as the elimination of the use of PCB in equipment by 2025 and the environmentally sound waste management of liquids and equipment containing or contaminated with PCB, the development of safer, effective and affordable alternatives to DDT and strengthening the capacity of Parties still relying on DDT to commence a sustainable transition away from DDT, and the use of best available techniques and best environmental practices to address releases of unintentionally produced POPs, among others.
CA: How does the international community respond to that?
AD: We have finished our work, and now it is up to the Conference of the Parties to carefully consider the Committee’s recommendations—and decide on the actions that will help improve our individual and collective performance—and move us closer to meeting the Convention’s goal of protecting human health and the environment from POPs. We are also asking that the secretariat be requested to update the framework of indicators based on the Committee’s recommendations so that the next evaluation is even better.
CA: On the subject of implementation, the Secretariat will host a Technology Fair, in the margins of the Triple COPs, to showcase solutions for implementing the three conventions, including from the private sector. Do you encourage Canadian and other businesses to take part?
AD: Yes, absolutely. This seems like a great opportunity for the private sector to showcase how they can contribute to the Convention`s objective. One of our recommendations is that there is a need to strengthen technical assistance and technology transfer activities, and I encourage those considering participating to review the executive summary of our report at paragraphs 130-137 for particular areas of need.
Regarding another event, the Committee`s Vice-chair and I will be hosting a side event at 1 pm on Tuesday April 25th before this issue arises on the Stockholm agenda. We plan to explain our report in detail to delegates in advance of plenary discussion.
CA: Thank you very much for your time answering these questions, and thank you also for providing leadership to the Effectiveness Evaluation Committee. I look forward to seeing you at the Triple COPs!
AD: You are very welcome….. Before signing off, I want to thank the incredible team that produced this comprehensive and detailed report,the executive summary and the report on the framework, which we hope will help not only the Stockholm Convention, but possibly other treaties that are seeking to evaluate their own performance: the entire Committee from all UN regions, our Vice-chair, Linroy Christian from Antigua and Barbuda, and the secretariat team that worked effectively and efficiently to support the Committee in this complex and challenging task.
Angola deposited its instrument of accession, meaning that the Convention will enter into force for Angola on 7 May 2017, immediately following the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.
Angola deposited its instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 6 February 2017, meaning that the Convention will enter into force for Angola on 7 May 2017, immediately following the thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.
Parties and observers, including from the private sector are invited to exhibit solutions at the BRS Technology Fair, which will be held on the margins of the COPs from 27 to 29 April 2017.
The Director of the Basel and Stockholm Regional Centre for anglophone Africa, Taeolo Letsela, shares his thoughts ahead of the 2017 Triple COPs.
Interview between Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer for the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, and Dr. Taelo Letsela, Director of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions Regional Centre for English-speaking countries in Africa, located in Pretoria, South Africa.
Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning Dr. Letsela and greetings from Geneva. Thank you for answering my questions which aim to shed light on the work you are doing to support the sound management of chemicals and waste across the African continent.
Taelo Letsela (TL): Thank you Charlie, it is a pleasure to share the work that we do in the centre with the rest of the world.
CA: Firstly, and at the risk of generalisation, what are the main constraints or challenges to protecting African people’s health, and the African environment, from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals and waste?
TL: Well there are many challenges but I think at the centre are the mere facts of widespread poverty and underdevelopment. You see there is a cynical relationship between these two and exposure to harmful chemicals and pollution of the environment within which people live. They both limit the options of people to choose; choice about means of livelihood, places to live in, materials to use, access to healthcare services, access to education, access to resources, decent jobs, and many other things. They breed perfect conditions for terrible impact on human health and the environment in most communities where they are most prevalent.
CA: Now, please tell us a little bit about the Regional Centre (RC) itself. Where are you housed, how many staff do you have, and when was the RC established: basically how did the Centre come about?
TL: The regional centre for English speaking African countries commonly known as the Africa Institute, is situated in Pretoria, South Africa, housed by the Department of Environmental Affairs of the Government of South Africa. It is an intergovernmental organization established through a statute that countries in the region have to ratify.
The Institute coordinates the efforts of these countries in the implementation of the chemicals and hazardous waste conventions. These are Basel, Stockholm, Rotterdam and recently Minamata conventions.
CA: Now, please tell us, Africa is a large and diverse continent, made up of many countries which differ from one another in many ways. I understand the centre primarily serves the Anglophone countries. How many Parties do you actually serve?
TL: Africa has 54 countries and the Africa Institute serves 23 of them. This covers a large area from southern Africa, East Africa and West Africa.
CA: It must be very challenging, yet very rewarding. What are the main technical issues or focus areas covered by the centre and what activities does the centre concentrate on in order to have the biggest possible impact?
TL: As you realise the mandate is quite large. Each of these conventions is a big task on its own yet the countries are expected to implement them all at the same time. The Institute, together with the countries narrow down this task to specific project based activities. For example, for Stockholm the focus now is on PCBs. The Institute is currently executing a large project for PCB elimination for 12 SADC countries. It has also submitted a PCBs elimination project for South Africa for GEF consideration. For Minamata, the focus is on assisting countries to understand their Mercury situation so that they may then take a decision to ratify the Minamata convention. For Basel and Rotterdam the focus is on awareness campaigns.
CA: One waste issue which seems constantly linked with Africa is electronic waste or e-waste. What insights would you like to share with our audience concerning e-waste, its impact on health, who is the most impacted, the overall social and economic costs and benefits? What would you say is the general level of awareness amongst policymakers and decision-makers concerning these risks?
TL: For starters I am not so sure that our policy makers on the continent have E waste as a priority waste stream. You see, waste management is a problem generally in almost all African countries. The bulk of waste is very poorly managed if ever. A high tech waste stream such E waste is even less understood. Yet there are some in African countries who have seen that that E waste may present some opportunities for them. Many of these operate in the informal sector, are unregulated and operate without any standards per se. These are the people who are in the forefront of the E waste challenge.
CA: The centre has a long tradition and proud record and has clearly achieved a lot, but is there a single achievement of which you are most proud?
TL: I am most proud of the ability of the centre to serve as a platform for countries on the continent to meet and discuss these common issues that relate to chemicals and hazardous waste management. An example is the meeting that we convened on the on-going challenges of listing chemicals in Annex III of the Rotterdam convention. The purpose of that meeting was for Africans to look at this issue on their own, develop their own positions and recommend options that arise from their own experiences to overcome the problem. The outcome of that dialogue is now being canvassed across the continent and with the rest of the world.
CA: On a somewhat more personal note, Dr Letsela, how did you come to lead this centre, how did your career lead you this in your direction, and what advice would you have for other Africans, male or female, striving for a career in science and international development?
TL: I have always had passion for environment and human health paradoxically. When I was younger I wanted to be a medical doctor which led me to study science, as I grew older, specifically after completing my undergraduate degree I decided to focus on environmental sciences. I think this is a career that can bring a lot of fulfilment to many young people and can bring a good sense of purpose. It may not bring the largest pay check at the end of the month, however its impact on the quality of life is unparalleled.
CA: And lastly, please give us your view on the next Triple COPs, to be held in Geneva in April-May 2017: what are your expectations, what do expect to be achieved, and how useful do you think the Technology Fair is likely to be for the countries in your region?
TL: Well I hope that Parties can bring themselves at the COPs to remember why in the first place they agreed on establishing these conventions. It was primarily to protect human health and the environment. All other benefits are secondary. Yet in recent times there seems to be increasing loss of focus in favour of other considerations. This is sad and the brunt of the failure at the international level will be borne by the poorest of the poor across the world. My expectations are high and I hope this time around most delegates will be powered up to put their people before any other considerations.
With respect to the technology fair, I think it is a welcome addition and hopefully delegates from Africa in particular, shall see some technologies that are affordable that may solve some of the challenges that we have on the continent.
CA: Thank you, for your time and for your answers and for sharing your insights. Good luck with your important work in this important region, and I hope we shall be able to meet in person at the Triple COPs in Geneva very soon?
TL: Thanks Charlie, it was a pleasure. And if your readers need any further information on our centre and its activities, please go to our website www.africainstitute.info.
Maria-Cristina Cardenas is the second in our “Countdown to the COPs” series as UNEP’s expert-of-the-day.
Using empty pesticide bottles to take drinking water to school is just one of the ways children are exposed to toxic chemicals, says FAO’s Elisabetta Tagliati in the latest in the BRS video series.
First in our “Countdown to the COPs” series, FAO’s Elisabetta Tagliati is now live as UNEP’s expert-of-the-day.
The objective of this webinar is to share the experience on how to effectively and safely treat (pre-treatment and main treatment) and eventually dispose of PCB containing wastes, gained in the implementation of a PCB destruction project in the Mediterranean Region. The project was implemented by the Stockholm Regional Centre in Barcelona (SCRC and SCP/RAC) and the UN Environment Mediterranean Assessment and Pollution Control Programme (MED POL).
The online briefings will provide Parties representatives, observers and other stakeholders with an overview of the issues that will be considered by the next meetings of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions to promote the “Sound Management of Chemicals and Wastes” for a “Detoxified Future”. Ministers will gather during the high-level segment to provide overall policy guidance and political leadership for renewed commitment to the implementation of the conventions.
The BRS Secretariat welcomes Carlos Martin-Novella as Deputy Executive Secretary. Mr Martin-Novella, previously at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), replaces Kerstin Stendahl, who joins IPCC, as of 1 January 2017.