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

Countdown to the Triple COPs: FAO and the Rotterdam Convention

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

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

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

BRS Secretariat and the implementation of Umoja

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

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  A single modern technology platform will replace outdated and disparate systems and will change the roles and responsibilities of staff and the way the United Nations interacts with its service providers.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

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

Long term benefits of Umoja

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

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

Short-term challenges of Umoja

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

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

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

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

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

Interview with FAO’s Christine Fuell

Interview with FAO’s Christine Fuell

 

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

Register now for the COPs Excursion on Lake Geneva

Register now for the COPs Excursion on Lake Geneva

 

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

Protecting children from pesticides: new visual tool now available

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

First ever, interactive, online Synergies publication now available

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

Countdown to the Triple COPs – Update on Stockholm listings

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

Country-Led Initiative the focus for your questions

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

An African perspective: capacities and partnerships in focus

An African perspective: capacities and partnerships in focus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CA:  How can partnerships contribute to solving these issues?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CA:  Thank you very much for your time.

OO:   It is my pleasure. Thank you.

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

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

Focus on regional issues - Your chance to ask-an-expert
 
The role of partnerships and stakeholders in the sustainable management of chemicals and waste
Countdown to the Triple COPs: BRS’ Matthias Kern answers your questions on www.unep.org concerning implementing the Conventions through partnerships.

The role of partnerships and stakeholders in the sustainable management of chemicals and waste

The role of partnerships and stakeholders in the sustainable management of chemicals and waste
 
BRS’ Tatiana Terekhova answers your question on Gender
Second in the popular Countdown to the Triple COPs series of UNEP “Expert-of-the-Day”, Tatiana explains the importance of gender for the sustainable management of chemicals and waste

BRS’ Tatiana Terekhova answers your question on Gender

BRS’ Tatiana Terekhova answers your question on Gender
 
BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on www.unep.org
As part of the “Countdown to the Triple COPs” on UNEP’s Ask-an-Expert interactive portal, ask BRS Programme Officer Mario Yarto all you need to know about how the chemical listings processes work.

BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on www.unep.org

BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on www.unep.org
 
International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties
By journalist Bryce Baschuk from Bloomberg Key Development: The new executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions is seeking to increase awareness about the negative impacts of e-waste, mercury and other pollutants. What's Next: The BRS conference of parties will con...

International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

By journalist Bryce Baschuk from Bloomberg
Source: Daily Report for Executives: News Archive > 2015 > February > 02/06/2015 > Regulation & Law > Hazardous Substances: International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

Feb. 5 — The United Nations' climate change negotiations in Paris may be 2015's environmental cause celebre, but Rolph Payet wants the world to remember that toxic chemicals should be a front-burner topic in Geneva.

“Chemicals and waste are also very important,” said Payet, the new executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions. “If we don't manage them properly, they can affect the environment in more or less greater ways than climate change,” he told Bloomberg BNA during a recent interview in Geneva.

During Payet's first four months in office, the former Seychelles minister for environment and energy has been hard at work preparing chemical stakeholders for what he hopes will be a momentous year.

Specifically, he is seeking to establish firm guidelines for the management of electronic waste and mercury, adopt a new chemicals and waste compliance mechanism and list several toxins at the May 4–15 BRS conference of parties (COPs) in Geneva.

Compliance Mechanism

The issue most at stake at the 2015 BRS COPs is the successful adoption of a compliance mechanism to increase transparency and enforcement of international chemicals and waste management, Payet said.

In May, parties to the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions will consider rules to ensure that countries are applying the relevant management and customs procedures for chemicals that are listed as harmful to human health and the environment.

“We do need certain minimum levels of practice so that this international system will work,” he said. “A compliance mechanism for those two conventions is therefore a priority for the COPs.”

The Rotterdam Convention requires countries that export restricted chemicals to adequately notify the receiving country. The Stockholm Convention requires parties to prohibit the production, use and trade of certain persistent organic pollutants.

E-Waste Awareness

Payet said he hopes parties to the Basel Convention—which defines limits on the cross-border movement of hazardous waste and its disposal—will adopt clear guidelines on how to deal with the hazardous and costly effects of electronic waste, or e-waste.

E-waste from discarded mobile devices and computer equipment is considered hazardous due to the presence of toxic materials such as mercury, cadmium, asbestos and lead.

“Televisions, computers and mobile devices contain a range of hazardous substances,” Payet said. “When they end up as e-waste—for example in the landfill—they will leach out into the environment and create problems.

“Ten years from now we don't want to look back and say we wish we could have done something more about it,” he said.

Draft Technical Guidelines

Last year, the United Nations issued its latest draft technical guidelines on the transboundary movements of e-waste.

The guidelines seek to establish the difference between hazardous and non-hazardous e-waste, provide guidance on the transboundary movements of e-waste and offer inspection guidelines for enforcement officials to control the transportation of e-waste.

“Parties are sending signals that say: ‘Look, let's have particular guidelines because the problem is growing and we need to work on it,’ ” Payet said. “I am committed to supporting parties by all means to adopt those guidelines.”

Members of the Basel Convention COP will consider the e-waste debate May 8–12. “I hope the guidelines will be adopted by this COP,” he said. “You have to be ambitious.”

Mercury Poisoning

Payet said he is equally optimistic that parties will adopt the draft technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of mercury waste in 2016.

“Mercury is a toxic chemical and we need to take actions to reduce and eliminate anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury,” he said. “On the policy side, I believe it will come into force by next year. The trend I've seen is certainly encouraging.”

He added, “There is a lot of work to be done in the dentistry sector, for example, because a lot of us are walking around with amalgam in our teeth. As for mercury thermometers, there are many alternatives.”

New Chemical Listings

Payet said he plans to work closely with members of the chemicals industry to help prepare them for the listing of new chemicals.

“I encourage industry to monitor closely which chemicals are being discussed, and which chemicals the science is showing are toxic, with a view to developing a strategy for slowly phasing out harmful chemicals and addressing some of the challenges,” he said.

Payet said he's optimistic the Rotterdam Convention COP will list paraquat dichloride formulation, an herbicide considered toxic to humans and animals, during its May meetings.

“Listing a chemical in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention does not constitute a ban on its use,” he said. “Parties that considered it safe to do so could still use the chemical, but the exchange of information required for chemicals listed in Annex III would enable them to use the chemical in a more informed manner with information received from exporting countries.”

Payet said he hopes parties will support alternatives to the use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in countries that depend on it for controlling the spread of malaria. In May, the Stockholm Convention COP will review measures to reduce or eliminate releases from intentional production and use of DDT.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at ghenderson@bna.com

For More Information

The UN's draft technical guidelines on the transboundary movements of e-waste are available at http://bit.ly/1Ax48Mm.

Draft technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of mercury waste are available at http://bit.ly/1v2tzyk

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs
For three days on the margins of the COPs, the BRS Secretariat and its partners will present the scientific basis for sustainable management of chemicals and waste, at the Science Fair, 7-9 May 2015.

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs
 
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