Press Releases

 

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the BRS Secretariat launch a new wave of practical pilot projects on better managing plastic waste

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (BRS) are moving forward with the roll-out of over 50 pilot projects across the world. The initiative fosters the introduction of practical innovations to policymaking in the form of changes to business-as-usual prompted by the Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments, which became effective on 1 January this year.

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the BRS Secretariat launch a new wave of practical pilot projects on better managing plastic waste

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the BRS Secretariat launch a new wave of practical pilot projects on better managing plastic waste

Geneva, 6th April 2021: The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership and the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (BRS) are moving forward with the roll-out of over 50 pilot projects across the world. The initiative fosters the introduction of practical innovations to policymaking in the form of changes to business-as-usual prompted by the Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments, which became effective on 1 January this year.

The urgency for tackling plastic waste pollution was noted at the recent UN Environment Assembly, held in Nairobi and online. “Tackling chemical pollution and waste is a critical journey in finding solutions for climate change and biodiversity,” noted BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet during the Leadership Dialogues of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5). Payet went on to urge governments and the international community to ensure that “building back better” after the COVID-19 pandemic does not revert to “building back the same”.

Many projects are kicked off through the framework of the Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership, a new platform comprising more than a hundred actors from governments, private sector and civil society organisations collectively seeking solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. Yet more pilots are funded through the Convention’s Small Grants Programme, developed to build local capacities in addressing plastic waste through the implementation of the Basel Convention.

Overall, the projects focus on the environmentally sound management of plastic waste, the prevention and minimization of the generation of plastic waste, and the control of transboundary movements of plastic waste. They represent an excellent vehicle to usher in practical considerations brought on by the implementation of the Plastic Waste Amendments, accelerating efforts to ensure waste plastics are only traded with countries that have the necessary infrastructure to allow for the environmentally sound management of plastic waste.

The BRS Secretariat is grateful to the governments of France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland, together with the Norwegian Agency for Development (Norad) and the Norwegian Retailer’s Environment Fund, for providing financial resources to enable these projects to be rolled out across the world.

The Plastic Waste Partnership co-Chairs Ole Thomas Thommesen (Norway) and Ross Bartley (Bureau of International Recycling) expressed their confidence that “this initial number of pilot projects will go a long way in generating practical solutions and knowledge-sharing, and ultimately support countries to become more self-sufficient when it comes to managing plastic waste locally.”

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment treaty on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 188 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as three types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste, residues arising from the incineration of household wastes ash and certain plastic wastes requiring special consideration. For more info see www.basel.int

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership (PWP) currently has more than 100 members from government, civil society and the private sector, and four project groups through which pilot projects and other activities, including public awareness and outreach, are implemented. For more on the PWP see: http://www.basel.int/tabid/8096  

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports Parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste management, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more information and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

Contacts

For technical questions on plastic waste, contact:
Kei Ohno Woodall, Programme Officer, BRS Secretariat, Kei.ohno@un.org Tel: +41-79-2333218

For Plastic Waste Partnership enquiries, contact:
Susan Wingfield and Melisa Lim, Programme Officer, BRS Secretariat, susan.wingfield@un.org and melisa.lim@un.org

For enquiries related to the Plastic Waste Amendments, contact:
Melisa Lim and Yvonne Ewang, melisa.lim@un.org and Yvonne.ewang@un.org

For media enquiries, interviews, & more information, contact:
Charlie Avis: Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat, Charles.avis@un.org Tel: +41-79-7304495


Big Year for chemicals & waste continues as UN experts take steps to recommend eliminating UV-328

Read the BRS Press Release summarising the outcomes of the 16th meeting of the Stockholm Convention’s POPs Review Committee, 11-16 January 2021.

Big Year for chemicals & waste continues as UN experts take steps to recommend eliminating UV-328

Big Year for chemicals & waste continues as UN experts take steps to recommend eliminating UV-328

Geneva, Switzerland: 16 January 2021 - Just two weeks after the landmark Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments became effective for 186 states, almost 200 UN scientific experts and observers from around the world met online this week to review the scientific case for listing UV-328, a toxic chemical additive typically found in certain specific types of plastics, in Annex A to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

UV-328 is a ubiquitous high-volume additive typically used as an ultra-violet (UV) stabiliser in plastic products such as some personal care products, rubber and coatings. UV-328 is found in the environment and biota, including in remote areas such as the Arctic and the Pacific Ocean, far from its production and use. UV-328 has been found to be transported with, and may subsequently be released from plastic debris, which is taken up for example by seabirds with subsequent accumulation in their tissue, and microplastics. In humans, UV-328 has been detected in breast milk.  It is also the first non-halogenated chemical considered by the Stockholm Convention scientific subsidiary body, the POPs Review Committee. Possible eventual listing in Annex A, B and/or C at a future meeting of the Conference of Parties of the Stockholm Convention would then trigger its reduction or elimination.

The 16th Meeting of the POPs Review Committee, held online from 11 to 16 January 2021, concluded that UV-328 satisfies all criteria set out in Annex D to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)1, namely persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport and adverse effects to humans and/or the environment. UV-328 now goes forward to the next stage of the review by the Committee. After rigorous scientific review and socio-economic considerations, a future meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Stockholm Convention will take into account the recommendations of the Committee, and may decide to list it, leading to actions towards its elimination or reduction from production and use, as well as the destruction of existing stocks and management of POPs wastes. Given UV-328’s proliferation in plastic products, such a listing would strengthen the Stockholm Convention’s role as a key, additional, instrument for governments across the globe to tackle the growing plastic waste crisis.

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention, said that “The evaluation by POPRC of UV-328, a plastic chemical additive with long-term ecological and health effects, boosts the important work we have begun to address the toxic components present in many types of plastics. The synergies between the Basel and Stockholm Conventions provide the global legal and scientific framework, as well as a platform of opportunity for countries to continue to critically address the global plastics crisis.”

The Committee also considered other chemicals and adopted the risk profile for Methoxychlor, a pesticide used as a replacement for DDT, and decided that it is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects such that global action is warranted. An intersessional working group will continue the work by preparing a draft risk management evaluation that includes an analysis of possible control measures for Methoxychlor. 

The Committee also considered Dechlorane Plus, a flame retardant that has been in use since the 1960s, deciding  – following extensive discussions – that while information on persistence, bioaccumulation and the potential for long-range environmental transport was conclusive, the information on adverse effects was deemed insufficient to support a decision on the risk profile at this moment. Information and scientific research on adverse effects of Dechlorane Plus on human health and the environment is therefore urgently needed – before September 2021 – for the Committee to be able to further evaluate potential adverse effects and recommend if global action on this chemical is warranted.

POPRC last year recommended Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts, and PFHxS-related compounds be listed in Annex A to the Convention, which will be considered at the next meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Stockholm Convention (COP) to be held in July 2021. PFHxS is a group of industrial chemicals used widely in a number of consumer goods as a surfactant and sealant including in carpets, leather, clothing, textiles, fire-fighting foams, papermaking, printing inks and non-stick cookware. PFHxS is known to be harmful to human health including the nervous system, brain development, endocrine system and thyroid hormone.

To date, 30 POPs, which covers thousands of related chemicals, are listed in the Annexes A, B and C to the legally binding Stockholm Convention. The Convention, which entered into force in 2004 has 184 Parties, and benefits from almost universal coverage across the globe.

Notes for Editors:

UV-328

UV-328 is a substituted phenolic benzotriazole (BZT) used as a UV absorber in many products. BZTs absorb the full spectrum of UV light and are mostly used in transparent plastics, coatings, and personal care products (PCPs). UV-328 in particular can be used in many types of plastic polymer matrices, typically in concentrations between 0.1 and 0.5% of mass. UV-328 is used as a printing ink additive in food contact materials, too. Because it is not bound to the polymer, UV-328 can migrate from within the polymer matrix and eventually diffuse out of the matrix and enter the environment.

PFHxS

PFHxS, its salts and related compounds have unique properties with a high resistance to friction, heat, chemical agents, low surface energy and are used as a water, grease, oil and soil repellent. It is widely utilized in a variety of consumer goods such as carpets, leather, apparel, textiles, firefighting foam, papermaking, printing inks, sealants, and non-stick cookware. PFHxS concentrations are found in biota and humans alike and its elimination takes approximately 8 years. Effects of PFHxS in humans are found to influence the nervous system, brain development, endocrine system and thyroid hormone. For more on PFHxS see: http://chm.pops.int/tabid/243/

POPs and the Stockholm Convention

Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious adverse health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. Given that these chemicals can be transported over long distances, no one government acting alone can protect its citizens or its environment from POPs. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004, is a global treaty requiring its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment, to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact 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.

For more information on the Stockholm Convention, POPs, and POPRC: www.pops.int

For more info:

Technical contact: Kei Woodall Ohno, BRS Secretariat; email: kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org tel: +41-22-9178201

Press contact: Charlie Avis, BRS Secretariat email: Charles.avis@brsmeas.org tel: +41-79-7304495



[1] That it is toxic to both humans and wildlife, persists over long periods in the environment, accumulates in organisms, and that when released can be transported over long distances by air or water, in this case as an additive to plastic waste which ends up as marine plastic litter.

World’s first global, legally-binding measures on curbing plastic waste become effective for 186 States

The Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments become effective on 1 January 2021, changing the way plastic waste is traded, to better protect human health and the environment.

World’s first global, legally-binding measures on curbing plastic waste become effective for 186 States

World’s first global, legally-binding measures on curbing plastic waste become effective for 186 States

1st January 2021: Geneva, Switzerland

Plastic pollution is a growing global concern. Today, the world’s first global legally-binding measures on curbing plastic waste become effective for 186 States[1].

Unanimously agreed at the breakthrough May 2019 Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, the Plastic Waste Amendments clarify the way plastic waste is internationally traded, bringing additional types of plastic waste into the existing control mechanism known as the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure. The Amendments also specify measures to support implementation, especially by developing countries.

Increased transparency, traceability, and sharing of information will make enforcement more effective, curbing the illegal dumping of plastic waste in countries not wishing to receive such waste or lacking the capabilities for environmentally sound waste management. This new regime also provides a powerful incentive for the private sector, governments and other stakeholders to creating enabling environments and technologies for recycling and pressure to reduce the generation of plastic waste. Moreover, it will help create new jobs and economic opportunities, including by incentivizing innovation, such as in the design of sustainable alternatives and the phase-out of toxic plastic additives.

The growth of plastics production since the mid-20th century has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material, resulting in a corresponding increase in plastic waste. Approximately 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste have been generated since 1950, of which 12 per cent has been incinerated, less than 10 per cent recycled and nearly 80 per cent either discarded or landfilled[2].

The Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention, Rolph Payet, commented that “the global community has demonstrated its commitment to tackle plastic waste, and today is truly a landmark date for efforts to protect human health and the environment from hazardous waste. For 186 States around the world, the days of indiscriminate dumping of plastic waste are over. We in the BRS Secretariat are proud to have helped Parties achieve this milestone, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them and all stakeholders to ensure effective implementation, including through flagship technical assistance and capacity development projects funded by the European Union, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.”

To help operationalise the Amendments, a string of additional steps have been taken by the Conference of the Parties, including establishing the Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership (PWP) that currently has more than 100 members from government, civil society and the private sector, and four project groups through which pilot projects and other activities, including public awareness and outreach, are implemented. For more on the PWP see:

http://www.basel.int/Implementation/Plasticwastes/PlasticWastePartnership/tabid/8096/Default.aspx  

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment treaty on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 188 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as three types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste, residues arising from the incineration of household wastes ash and certain plastic wastes requiring special consideration. For more info see www.basel.int

At the heart of the Basel Convention is a regulatory system to control transboundary movements of covered hazardous and other wastes, through a Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. The Convention also offers avenues for all Parties to take collective action towards minimising plastic waste generation at source and promoting environmentally sound management. The last meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), 29 April to 10 May 2019 in Geneva, in addition to its decision to amend the Annexes to the Convention as they relate to plastic wastes which become effective on 1 January 2021, decided upon a range of further actions to better address plastic wastes, including the establishment of a new Partnership on Plastic Waste.[3] More on plastic waste here:

http://www.basel.int/Implementation/Plasticwaste/Overview/tabid/8347/Default.aspx  

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports Parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste management, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more information and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

For technical questions on plastic waste, contact:

Kei Ohno Woodall, Programme Officer, BRS Secretariat, Kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org Tel: +41-79-2333218

For media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:

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


[1] The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal has 188 Parties. Turkey opted out of the Amendments as domestic processes take place. Canada and China initially opted out, but have since accepted, bringing the total to 186 States and the European Union. Parties had until 24 March 2020 (6 months after communication of adoption of the amendments) to notify the depositary that they did not accept the amendment.

[2] Dauvergne, P. (2018). Why is the global governance of plastic failing the oceans? Global Environmental 48 Change 51, 22-31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.05.002.; Geyer, R. (2020). Production, Use and Fate of Synthetic Polymers in Plastic Waste and Recycling. Letcher, 8 T.M. (ed.). Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.

International Mountains Day marked as countries prepare for expanded control of plastic waste

The Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments become effective on New Year’s Day 2021, giving new impetus to the protection of mountains and other regions from plastic waste pollution.

International Mountains Day marked as countries prepare for expanded control of plastic waste

International Mountains Day marked as countries prepare for expanded control of plastic waste

11th December 2020: Geneva, Switzerland

Hot on the heels of the discovery of plastic waste pollution in snow deposits on Mount Everest at 8,440 metres above sea level[1], International Mountains Day is marked in Geneva with a reminder that the first and to date only legally-binding international agreement on curbing plastic waste becomes effective in 184 countries on 1 January 2021.

The growth of plastics production since the mid-20th century has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material. Approximately 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste have been generated since 1950, of which 12 per cent has been incinerated, less than 10 per cent recycled and nearly 80 per cent either discarded or landfilled[2].

Plastic pollution is a growing global concern. The public is increasingly moved by images of plastic waste in seas and on beaches worldwide, whilst simultaneously, scientific research aims at understanding the effect of particles known as “microplastics” on human health and the environment. Much of the on-going research is focused on effects of microplastics on the marine and freshwater environments; and more studies are indicating the presence of microplastics in the atmosphere and revealing their impact on inland ecosystems.[3] This is particularly worrying given the importance of land-based ecosystems and the services they deliver. Plastic is everywhere, even in places where one would not expect to find it. Remote but important regions are increasingly impacted, from Mount Everest and other high-altitude and apparently pristine alpine nature reserves[4] to small islands in the middle of our oceans, for example in the Indian Ocean[5].

Today, 11 December, we celebrate the International Mountains Day. Designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2003, this day raises awareness on the beauty of mountains and their importance to our daily life, highlights opportunities and constraints in mountain development, and builds alliances that will bring positive change to mountain environments – and the people who live there – around the world. Mountain environments need protection from plastic waste.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989 and as of today has 188 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. It is the only global legally-binding agreement covering plastic waste. Recent decisions at the Basel Convention’s Conference of the Parties (COP) have shown that the international community recognises the need to tackle this problem at source. In May 2019 the ground-breaking decisions to amend the Annexes to the Convention was adopted. This was a first step to challenge the most pressing questions in the field of plastic waste, namely, how to prevent and minimize their generation, how to better control transboundary movements of plastic wastes, how to manage enormous quantities of plastic waste in an environmentally sound manner and how to prevent leakages into the environment, giving ever more attention to land-based sources of plastic waste. These Amendments become effective on 1 January 2021.

The Plastic Waste Amendments will change the way plastic waste is internationally traded, bringing additional types of plastic waste into the existing control mechanism known as the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure. Increased transparency, traceability, and sharing of information will make enforcement more effective, curbing the illegal dumping of plastic waste in countries lacking the capabilities for environmentally sound management. This new regime will also provide a powerful incentive for the private sector, governments and other stakeholders to strengthen capacities for recycling. Moreover, it will help create jobs and economic opportunities, not least by incentivizing innovation, such as in the design of alternatives to plastics and the phase-out of toxic additives.

The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Partnership was set up to help operationalise the Plastic Waste Amendments and to reduce significantly the discharge of plastic waste and microplastics into the environment. With more than 100 members from government, civil society and the private sector, the Partnership has four project groups through which pilot projects and other activities will be implemented.

The Secretariat of the Basel Convention is also proud to implement a project entitled “Plastic waste in remote and mountainous areas”, with financial support from France and Norway. The project aims to build an improved understanding of the plastic waste situation in remote and mountainous areas, enhance knowledge of lessons learned and best practices in the environmentally sound management of plastic waste in such areas among relevant stakeholders, and enhance their ability for informed decision-making through the availability of options and recommendations, increased awareness of the plastic waste challenge and the steps needed to address it. Some activities will also be implemented with a particular focus on the pilot country, Kyrgyzstan. including clean-up campaigns and the installation of collection containers for plastic waste.

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment treaty on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 188 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as three types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste, residues arising from the incineration of household wastes ash and certain plastic wastes requiring special consideration. For more info see www.basel.int

At the heart of the Basel Convention is a regulatory system to control transboundary movements of covered hazardous and other wastes, through a Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. The Convention also offers avenues for all States to take collective action towards minimising plastic waste generation at source and promoting environmentally sound management. The last meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), 29 April to 10 May 2019 in Geneva, in addition to its decision to amend the Annexes to the Convention as they relate to plastic wastes[6] which become effective on 1 January 2021, decided upon a range of further actions to better address plastic wastes,[7] including the establishment of a new Partnership on Plastic Waste. More on plastic waste here.

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, 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, and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

For technical questions on plastic waste, contact:
Kei Ohno Woodall, Programme Officer, BRS Secretariat
Kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org Tel: +41-79-2333218

For media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:
Charlie Avis: Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat
Charles.avis@brsmeas.org Tel: +41-79-7304495



[1] University of Plymouth, UK (2020): Microplastics in the Death Zone https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/microplastics-in-the-death-zone

[2] Dauvergne, P. (2018). Why is the global governance of plastic failing the oceans? Global Environmental 48 Change 51, 22-31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.05.002.; Geyer, R. (2020). Production, Use and Fate of Synthetic Polymers in Plastic Waste and Recycling. Letcher, 8 T.M. (ed.). Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.

[3] ibid

[4] https://www.unibe.ch/news/media_news/media_relations_e/media_releases/2018/medienmitteilungen_2018/ soils_in_swiss_nature_reserves_contain_significant_quantities_of_microplastics/index_eng.html 

[5] Lavers, J.L., Dicks, L., Dicks, M.R. et al. Significant plastic accumulation on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Australia. Sci Rep 9, 7102 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-43375-4 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-43375-4

Sound management of chemicals and waste a prerequisite for turning the tide on biodiversity loss

Joint press release from the BRS and Minamata convention secretariats on the occasion of the UN Summit on Biodiversity.

Sound management of chemicals and waste a prerequisite for turning the tide on biodiversity loss

Sound management of chemicals and waste a prerequisite for turning the tide on biodiversity loss

Geneva, Switzerland; 30 September 2020 - All eyes are on biodiversity today, as the UN Summit on Biodiversity brings together the international community in the name of stemming the tide of biodiversity loss worldwide. With biodiversity loss occurring at an unprecedented rate, we are called upon to recognise not only our common global duty to halt the destruction of our natural world, but also to act where we are, and where we can, to safeguard and restore the life-supporting functions of our Planet.

The Basel (1989), Rotterdam (1998), Stockholm (2001), and Minamata (2013) Conventions were agreed in order to manage and reduce the harmful impacts of hazardous chemicals and wastes on the environment and on human health. While focused on chemicals and wastes management, each of these Conventions also decidedly contributes to the overall protection of biological diversity and the range of goods and services provided by our Planet’s ecosystems.

Pollution is widely accepted as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. Pollution might be experienced as plastics or pesticides choking life in our rivers and oceans, or as industrial chemicals such as PCBs and PFOS, taken up by living organisms and accumulating up the food-chain, causing multiple damages such as endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity, or as wastes dumping or open burning, poisoning our soils, freshwater and air, or as mercury dramatically affecting the health of small-scale gold miners. Common to each of these examples of unsustainable use of chemicals and wastes, is the almost irreparable damage done to the ecosystems and to Nature’s ability to thrive and to contribute to the well-being of people. 

As independent and  legally binding instruments, the four Conventions provide for specific means to achieve their respective objectives, including by setting obligations for their respective Parties to control or reduce harm to human health and the environment stemming from the production, use, trade and disposal of the covered chemicals and wastes. Since they contribute to a greater whole, their full implementation makes a significant, and vital contribution to the protection of the environment and biodiversity, and overall, to the health and well-being of people.

As a contribution to efforts to protect biodiversity, the secretariats of the four conventions have joined forces to develop an exploratory study highlighting the pollutants regulated by the four Conventions and their impacts on biodiversity. Based on existing scientific knowledge, the sound management of these pollutants under our Conventions will undoubtedly result in improvements to the state of biodiversity. The study will be launched at the 5th Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, convening in 2021, in the run-up to the Conferences of the Parties of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (July 2021), the Conference of the Parties of the Minamata Convention (November 2021), as well as the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity convening to adopt the Global Biodiversity Framework, in late 2021.

For further information on the work of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions: www.brsmeas.org

Contact: Katarina Magulova (tel: +41-22-9178170; email: Katarina.magulova@brsmeas.org )

For further information on the work of the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention: www.mercuryconvention.org

Contact person: Claudia ten Have, Senior Policy and Coordination Officer (tel: +41-22-9178638; email: claudia.tenhave@un.org )

Rotterdam Convention Press Release: UN experts recommend listing DecaBDE and PFOA

The 16th meeting of the Chemicals Review Committee concludes successfully online with two chemicals recommended for listing in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention at the next COP.

Rotterdam Convention Press Release: UN experts recommend listing DecaBDE and PFOA

Rotterdam Convention Press Release: UN experts recommend listing DecaBDE and PFOA

11 September 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic underlining the importance of sound management of chemicals and waste, UN experts recommend legally-binding control and information exchange on international trade of two industrial chemical groups.

The new recommendations were made today at the 16th meeting of the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemicals Review Committee (CRC), supported by the Convention Secretariat provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP), bringing together over 100 specialists from more than 50 countries.

Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) is an additive flame retardant applied to plastics, textiles and coatings and can be found in computers, TVs, wires and cables, pipes, carpets, automotive parts and aircraft. It is known to be highly persistent, has high potential for bioaccumulation and long-range transport, and affects human and animal reproductive and nervous systems as an endocrine disruptor[1], and is listed under the Stockholm Convention as a persistent organic pollutant.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds belong to a group of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), which comprises more than 4,000 chemicals. PFOA is used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams. PFOA is also a persistent organic pollutant, linked to major health issues such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and high cholestero[2].

The Rotterdam Convention’s Chemicals Review Committee (CRC) ensures rigorous scientific underpinning for decision-making on the international trade and management of hazardous chemicals. The online meeting included experts from government, civil society and industry.

The Committee’s recommendations to list these chemicals in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention are now forwarded to the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10), scheduled to be held in Geneva in July 2021. Should the COP10 decide to list, it will oblige Parties to the Rotterdam Convention to better communicate and share information regarding the import and export of these substances. This is achieved through a legally-binding, structured information exchange procedure based on prior informed consent to international trade (the PIC Procedure), enabling importing countries to take informed decisions, achieve sound management, and ultimately lower the risk of harmful impacts on health and the environment.

Welcoming the recommendations, the Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (UNEP), Rolph Payet said that “this meeting shows that multilateralism in environmental governance is alive and well, and the Secretariat will continue working with Parties and stakeholders towards the sound management of hazardous chemicals and waste worldwide.”

Rémi Nono Womdim, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), commended the work of the international experts of the Committee and added “I hope we will soon be able to meet again in person to discuss the large number of notifications of final regulatory actions for pesticides received – a result of the great collective efforts of Parties, CRC Members, and the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat. Together we can protect the environment and food systems.”

Note for Editors:

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The 163 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibilities and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. To date 52 hazardous chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III, making their international trade subject to a prior informed consent (PIC) procedure.

The Rotterdam Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates information exchange among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides and about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties. In addition, through its PIC Procedure, the Convention provides a legally binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of certain chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment.

For more information, please contact:

For industrial chemicals: Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-2333218, +41-22-9178201, kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org

For pesticides: Christine FUELL, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome: +39-06-57053765, christine.fuell@fao.org

For media enquiries: Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (BRS, UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-7304495, charles.avis@brsmeas.org

FAO media relations office, Rome: +39-06-57053625, FAO-Newsroom@fao.org.

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

[1] For more information on DecaBDE see:
http://chm.pops.int/Implementation/Alternatives/AlternativestoPOPs/ChemicalslistedinAnnexA/cdecaBDE/tabid/5985/Default.aspx

[2] For more information on PFOA see:
http://chm.pops.int/Implementation/Alternatives/AlternativestoPOPs/ChemicalslistedinAnnexA/PFOA/tabid/8292/Default.aspx

Press Release: Basel Convention’s Open-ended Working Group meeting (online segment) concludes successfully

More than 600 experts from more than 100 countries participate at online segment of OEWG-12.

Press Release: Basel Convention’s Open-ended Working Group meeting (online segment) concludes successfully

Press Release: Basel Convention’s Open-ended Working Group meeting (online segment) concludes successfully

Geneva, 3 September 2020 - With the quantity of hazardous waste entering the environment very likely to be increasing due to the worldwide COVID19 pandemic, and an estimated 1000 million tonnes of plastic waste entering landfills or the environment by 2050, more than 600 participants from more than 120 countries came together online this week to discuss ways to minimise, and soundly manage, hazardous and other waste covered by the UN Basel Convention across the world.

The meeting, of a subsidiary body to the UN Basel Convention known as the Open-ended Working Group, was convened by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) and took place online, with a follow-up face-to-face segment of the meeting also planned back-to-back with the next UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2021*.

The Basel Convention, which has almost universal coverage with 188 Parties, is the most comprehensive legally-binding multilateral environment agreement governing transboundary movements of hazardous and other waste. Waste streams included in this legal framework include electronic waste, plastic waste, and medical waste.

Key outcomes from the meeting included updates and inputs from Parties and Observers into a range of technical, strategic and legal work including the various products of the intersessional processes (draft reports, manuals, technical guidelines, guidance & recommendations). Finalised intersessional products will be considered at the face-to-face segment of the meeting mentioned above, and the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention scheduled for Geneva in July 2021.

“Despite the massive challenges society faces now not just from climate change but also from COVID-19, global environmental governance with respect to sound management of waste is alive and well. Perhaps never before has the importance of multilateral agreements and concerted, coordinated, globally agreed actions towards a healthy planet been so pressing and so visible. I’m proud of the steps the Basel Convention’s 188 Parties took this week and look forward to working with them to secure a healthier and safe environment for all” commented the Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention.

On plastic waste specifically, Payet went on to add “I applaud the efforts of countries that are tackling the challenge of plastic wastes heads on, for instance by legislating accordingly, I applaud also all stakeholders that support countries in their efforts, and I urge responsible behaviour by producers, traders and consumers alike. So I renew my call for all Parties to the Convention to uphold their commitment and continue to further strengthen efforts to reduce single use plastics, to ensure plastics enter into appropriate recycling systems and avoid dumping into the environment, in particular in developing country Parties.’

Notes editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment treaty on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 188 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and residues arising from the incineration of household wastes ash. For more info see www.basel.int

The Basel Convention offers avenues for all States to take collective action towards minimising plastic waste generation at source and promoting environmentally sound management. The last meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), 29 April to 10 May 2019 in Geneva, in addition to its decision to amend the Annexes to the Convention as they relate to plastic wastes[1] which become effective on 1 January 2021; decided upon a range of further actions to better address plastic wastes,[2] including the establishment of a new Partnership on Plastic Waste. More on plastic waste here:

http://www.basel.int/Implementation/MarinePlasticLitterandMicroplastics/Overview/tabid/6068/Default.aspx

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, 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 info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

Media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:

Charlie Avis: Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat

Charles.avis@brsmeas.org Tel: +41-79-7304495



* Subject to the availability of resources and a positive development of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation

BRS Secretariat urges sound management of medical and household waste as part of COVID-19 response

Read the Secretariat’s Press Release on the need to prioritise waste management during the COVID-19 outbreak.

BRS Secretariat urges sound management of medical and household waste as part of COVID-19 response

BRS Secretariat urges sound management of medical and household waste as part of COVID-19 response

Geneva, 20 March 2020 - With the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continuing to spread and its impacts upon human health and the economy intensifying day-by-day, governments are urged to treat waste management, including of medical, household and other hazardous waste, as an urgent and essential public service in order to minimise possible secondary impacts upon health and the environment.

During such an outbreak, many types of additional medical and hazardous waste are generated, including infected masks, gloves and other protective equipment, together with a higher volume of non-infected items of the same nature. Unsound management of this waste could cause unforeseen “knock-on” effects on human health and the environment. The safe handling, and final disposal of this waste is therefore a vital element in an effective emergency response.

Effective management of biomedical and health-care waste requires appropriate identification, collection, separation, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal, as well as important associated aspects including disinfection, personnel protection and training. The UN Basel Convention’s Technical Guidelines on the Environmentally Sound Management of Biomedical and Healthcare Wastes, includes information and practical aspects of waste management useful for authorities seeking to minimise hazards to human health and the environment.

Further resources on the safe handling and final disposal of medical wastes can be found on the website of the Basel Convention’s Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, in Beijing, which lists a series of guidance documents and best practices at: http://bcrc.tsinghua.edu.cn/en/col/1257152450718/index.html

The safe management of household waste is also likely to be critical during the COVID-19 emergency. Medical waste such as contaminated masks, gloves, used or expired medicines, and other items can easily become mixed with domestic garbage, but should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of separately. These should be separately stored from other household waste streams and collected by specialist municipality or waste management operators. Guidelines on the specificities of recycling or disposing of such waste is given in detail in the Basel Convention’s Factsheet on Healthcare or Medical Waste, at: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=5839

Parties to the Basel Convention are currently working on a guidance document for soundly managing household waste and whilst not yet finalized, an initial draft may be consulted for provisional guidance: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=8227

The BRS Executive Secretary, Rolph Payet, stated that “All branches of society are coming together to collectively beat the virus and to minimize the human and economic impact of COVID-19 across the world. In tackling this enormous and unprecedented challenge, I urge decision-makers at every level: international, nationally, and at municipal, city and district levels, to make every effort to ensure that waste management, including that from medical and household sources, is given the attention - indeed priority - it requires in order to ensure the minimization of impacts upon human health and the environment from these potentially hazardous waste streams.”

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 is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and incinerator ash. For more info see: www.basel.int

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, services the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing hazardous chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:

Charlie AVIS,
BRS Public Information Officer,
Geneva +41-79-730-4495

Governments, industry, civil society and UN join forces to beat plastic waste pollution

The first meeting of the Basel Convention’s new Plastic Waste Partnership concluded successfully in Seychelles, 5 March 2020. Read the outcomes summarised in the BRS Press Release.

Governments, industry, civil society and UN join forces to beat plastic waste pollution

Governments, industry, civil society and UN join forces to beat plastic waste pollution

Geneva, 5 March 2020 - With an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic waste in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources[1], a new Plastic Waste Partnership, established by the Basel Convention, has met for the first time to discuss ways to prevent, minimise, and soundly manage, plastic waste from across the world.

The meeting, convened by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS) and hosted by the Seychelles Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, gathered more than 100 representatives from members of the Partnership, in Seychelles from 2 to 5 March 2020.

At the opening of the meeting, Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn, called the Partnership “a unique opportunity to kick-start the efforts to better deal with the environmental challenges of plastic waste.” Mr. Didier Dogley, Seychelles Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine then said that “in 2018, on World Environment Day, the world was called to beat plastic pollution. We were then reminded that our world is drowning in plastic pollution. I wish to commend the Basel Convention for initiating this Plastic Waste Partnership; I feel comforted to see that there is a real commitment by the world community towards fighting this plastic curse at the global level.”

The BRS Executive Secretary, Mr. Rolph Payet, announced a new project on plastic waste funded by the Norwegian Development Agency, Norad, to help build capacities for managing plastic waste in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. He described how this 6.9 million USD project will help operationalize the Plastic Waste Amendment adopted in May 2019 by 187 Parties to better incorporate plastic wastes of most concern into the legally-binding framework of the Basel Convention. The new project supports many activities of Convention’s work programme, for instance a Small Grants Programme which will channel funds to the grassroots level in priority regions.

The meeting outcomes included agreement on the activities the Partnership working group will tackle as a first step.  This includes activities on prevention and minimization of plastic waste, facilitating its proper collection and recycling, preparations for entry into force of the Plastic Waste Amendment and plans for outreach and awareness raising activities. The working group will develop and implement these activities along with supporting pilot projects and will provide a first report back on its progress at the twelfth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention (Geneva, 22-25 June 2020).

Also launched during the meeting was a Plastic Waste Photo Contest, aiming to raise awareness not only of the plastic waste problem, but also the solutions out there, our collective progress to date and the challenges and opportunities moving forward. Entries from professional, amateur, and junior photographers are invited by 30 September 2020 and will be judged by a National Geographic photographer.

Reflecting on the packed week of discussions, events and announcements, BRS Executive Secretary, Mr. Rolph Payet, applauded the Partnership on its first great leap forward in tackling the plastic waste issue while noting that the hard work was just about to begin. He also reaffirmed the commitment of the BRS Secretariat to the issue and in its support to the Partnership.

Separately, Mr Payet met with the President of Seychelles, H.E. Mr Danny Faure. More details are available on the Seychelles State House website: http://www.statehouse.gov.sc/news/4758/president-faure-receives-professor-rolph-payet-at-state-house.

The meeting was made possible using funding generously provided by the governments of Canada, Japan, Norway, Seychelles and Switzerland.

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 is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and incinerator ash. For more info see: www.basel.int

On May 10, 2019, the Parties to the Basel Convention adopted two important decisions to address plastic waste, namely the adoption of the Plastic Waste Amendment, and a decision setting out a range of further actions, including the establishment of the Plastic Waste Partnership. These steps have strengthened the Basel Convention as the only global legally-binding instrument to specifically address plastic waste. For more on the Amendments see: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=8347

On March 2, 2020, the Plastic Waste Partnership launched the Plastic Waste Photo Contest, to raise awareness on this global issue. For more information on the Contest see: http://www.basel.int/?tabid=8348

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, services the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing hazardous chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

For more on the Plastic Waste Partnership, contact:

Susan WINGFIELD
BRS Programme Officer, Geneva
+41-22-9178406
Melisa LIM
BRS Programme Officer, Geneva
+41-22-91782283

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:

Charlie AVIS
BRS Public Information Officer, Geneva
+41-79-730-4495



[1] Data from “Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures” by Frederic Gallo et. al. in Environmental Sciences Europe 2018; 30(1): 13, at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918521/

Enroll for this online course to help tackle the global E-waste challenge

The BRS Secretariat and partners’ Massive Open Online Course on electronic, or e-waste, is a unique opportunity to learn how you can become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Enroll for this online course to help tackle the global E-waste challenge

Enroll for this online course to help tackle the global E-waste challenge

It is estimated that, by 2050, there will be about 120 million metric tonnes of e-waste produced per year, far-outstripping current capacities to properly manage it in an environmentally and socially appropriate manner[1].

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), together with its partners the European Institute for Innovation and Technology’s Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate-KIC), the European Institute for Innovation and Technology’s RawMaterials Knowledge and Innovation Community (RawMaterials-KIC), the International Telecommunication Union, KU Leuven and the World Resources Forum, is proud to launch an updated Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, on the electronic and electrical waste - or e-waste - challenge, also with contributions from the World Health Organization.

Rolph Payet, BRS Executive Secretary, said that “this MOOC will introduce you to the challenge of e-waste and especially to its environmentally sound recycling. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to impacts of e-waste processing on health. In some countries they represent as much as 30% of the workforce. When women and girls are affected in this way as the mothers of today and tomorrow, our common future is affected too. The course will guide you through the problem, to opportunities, and to possible actions at local, national and regional levels, and will introduce you to policy tools, standards and best practices for the collection, recycling, and final disposal of e-waste.”

 “I have always believed that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have a vital role to play in combatting the major environmental challenges facing the world, such as climate change and e-waste,” said Malcolm Johnson, ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Deputy Secretary-General. “So, I am especially pleased to support this MOOC which will enable stakeholders across the world - in developing and developed countries alike - to access valuable e-waste resources, insights, best practices, standards and tools, and translate these into practical actions to protect people’s health and the environment.”

“E-waste is a serious health problem affecting millions of young children, adolescents, future mothers to-be. These are people who work in dangerous conditions to retrieve precious metals to earn money to support their families. This work exposes them to dangerous chemicals, heavy metals, toxic air. E-waste pollutes their communities, their homes, their schools, their soil, their food, and the air they breathe. We urgently need to have e-waste very clearly identified as a health problem. As the health agency of the United Nations, WHO’s duty is to communicate the evidence, the information, the tools we have available to address this emerging health hazard. We must raise awareness, and advocate for multisectoral policies that promote and protect our children’s health and their rights” added Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, at the World Health Organization (WHO).

EIT Climate-KIC’s Learning Services Lead, Solveig Zophoniasdottir, added: “Our MOOC highlights that e-waste is a societal challenge that also is part of a larger opportunity to create a prosperous zero carbon future, driven by innovation, jobs, and investment. EIT 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.”

Karel Van Acker, professor in Circular Economy at KU Leuven in Belgium and a member of EIT RawMaterials, mentioned the huge opportunities of a circular economy for electronics in saving resources, lowering the environmental footprint and recovering value, and the close link it has with climate change mitigation.

According to Bas de Leeuw, Managing Director of the World Resources Forum the relaunch of the MOOC on E-waste comes very timely: “Circular Economy is attracting worldwide attention, in particular stimulated by the programs of the European Commission and others. We need to make sure that this not only makes sense for the environment but also for the economy, and for wellbeing and human development in developing countries. At the WRF we have hands-on experience in this field through our Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) program, and we are very pleased to be able to share our knowledge and skills to the wider community. Making standards – which is a core priority in our portfolio - is one thing, turning them into action requires further capacity building and supporting all stakeholders in the value chains.”

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 Tuesday 18th February, and is aimed at students and researchers, policy makers in the environment and telecommunication sector, 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 explosion of e-waste into an opportunity. The course is organized in five mini-courses which could be taken one after the other or independently.

The MOOC explores and explains the Basel Convention technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electrical and electronic waste and used electrical and electronic equipment, in particular regarding the distinction between waste and non-waste.

E-waste can be classified as hazardous waste under the Basel Convention 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.

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.

To register for the MOOC: https://learning.climate-kic.org/en/programmes-and-courses/e-waste

For more information on the MOOC: http://www.basel.int/Implementation/TechnicalAssistance/MOOC/tabid/4966/Default.aspx

The MOOC was updated and expanded thanks to the generous financial support of the European Union.

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

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 is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and incinerator ash. For more info see www.basel.int The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, services the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing hazardous chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See www.brsmeas.org for more info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

EIT Climate-KIC is Europe’s largest public-private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a net zero carbon economy. With over 380 formal partners from across 26 countries, its mission is to catalyse systemic change for climate action through innovation in areas of human activity that have a critical impact on greenhouse gas emissions - cities, lands, materials and finance - and to create climate-resilient communities. Education underpins these themes to accelerate learning and to inspire and empower the next generation of climate leaders.

EIT RawMaterials, initiated and funded by the EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology), a body of the European Union, is the largest consortium in the raw materials sector worldwide. Its vision is to develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe. Its mission is to enable sustainable competitiveness of the European minerals, metals and materials sector along the value chain by driving innovation, education and entrepreneurship. EIT RawMaterials unites more than 120 core and associate partners and 180+ project partners from leading industry, universities and research institutions from more than 20 EU countries.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication

technologies (ICTs), driving innovation in ICTs with a global membership including 193 Member States and over 900 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations. Established in 1865, ITU is responsible for coordinating the shared global use of radio-frequency spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, improving communication infrastructure in developing countries, and establishing international standards that support the interconnection and interoperability of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to cutting-edge wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, oceanographic and satellite-based earth monitoring as well as converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world. For more information, visit: www.itu.int 

KU Leuven is Europe’s most innovative university (according to the news agency Reuters) and ranks 48th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. As Belgium's largest university, KU Leuven welcomes close to 60,000 students from over 140 countries. Its 7,000 researchers are active in a comprehensive range of disciplines. KU Leuven is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and has a strong European and international orientation. www.kuleuven.be  

The World Health Organization (WHO) works worldwide to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. Our goal is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being. As the health agency for the United Nations, we are building a better, healthier future for people all over the world.  For more information about WHO and its work, visit www.who.int. Follow WHO on FacebookTwitterYouTubeInstagram

The World Resources Forum (WRF) is best-known for its annual flagship events, providing the global platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue on resource governance and resource efficiency. The WRF Secretariat also leads or contributes to large projects in these fields, including the Swiss-funded Sustainable Recycling Industry (SRI) program, a range of EC H2020 coordination and research projects - FORAM, CEWASTE, RE:SOURCING and CICERONE – and a number of projects with United Nations, development agencies and industry. Together with UNEP the WRF has published a MOOC on Decoupling (The Revolution Trainer), and together with the BRS Convention Secretariat and partners the MOOC on e-waste. www.wrforum.org

For more information, contact:

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


[1] Estimates from: A New Circular Vision for Electronics, time for a global reboot. World Economic Forum, 2019. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_A_New_Circular_Vision_for_Electronics.pdf

New UN project tackles plastic pollution in mountainous and remote regions

International Mountains Day 2019 marked by a special event in Geneva on 11 December, coinciding with the launch of a new project to help tackle plastic pollution, funded by Norway. Read the BRS Press Release.

New UN project tackles plastic pollution in mountainous and remote regions

New UN project tackles plastic pollution in mountainous and remote regions

Representatives from governments, international organisations, business and industry, and civil society gathered today in Geneva to launch a new UN project on plastic waste in mountainous and remote regions.

The growth of plastics production since the mid-20th century has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material. Around 60 per cent of all plastics ever produced have been discarded and are accumulating in landfills or in the natural environment[1].

Pollution from plastic waste is a growing global concern. The public is increasingly moved by images of plastic waste in seas and on beaches worldwide, whilst simultaneously, scientific research aims at understanding the effect of particles known as “microplastics” on human health and the environment. Much of the on-going research is focused on effects of microplastics on the marine and freshwater environments; however, little is known about the impact of microplastics on inland ecosystems.[2] This is particularly worrying given the importance of land-based ecosystems and the services they deliver. Plastic is everywhere, even in places where one would not expect to find it. Remote but important regions, and populations, are increasingly impacted. For example, microplastic can be found in high-altitude, apparently pristine alpine nature reserves[3] and at the same time, in the Arctic or on small islands in the middle of our oceans, for example the Indian Ocean[4].

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989 and as of today has 187 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. It is the only legally-binding agreement covering plastic waste. Recent decisions at the Basel Convention’s Conference of Parties – or COP - have shown that the international community recognises the need to tackle this problem at source. In May 2019 the ground-breaking decisions to amend the Annexes of the Convention was a first step to challenge the most pressing questions in the field of plastic waste, namely, how to better control transboundary movements of plastic wastes, how to deal with enormous quantities of plastic waste in an environmentally sound manner and how to prevent leakages into the environment, giving ever more attention to land-based sources of plastic waste.

Today, 11 December, we celebrate the International Mountains Day. Designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2003, this day raises awareness on the beauty of mountains and their importance to our daily life, highlights opportunities and constraints in mountain development, and builds alliances that will bring positive change to mountain environments – and the people who live there - around the world.

Thus, the Secretariat of the Basel Convention is proud to announce the start of a new project named “Plastic waste in remote and mountainous areas”. The project aims to collect best practices of the environmentally sound management of plastic waste and raise awareness for the problem within the tourism sector and outdoor recreation industry. Subsequently, the project seeks to apply the collected best practices to mountainous and remote areas in a developing country setting through pilot testing of the outcomes. Envisaged partners include UN Environment Programme, ski and mountaineering organisations, and the private sector including tourism and sports equipment manufacturers.

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and incinerator ash. For more info see www.basel.int

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, 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 info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

The Basel Convention offers avenues for all States to take collective action towards minimising plastic waste generation at source and promoting their environmentally sound management. The recent Conference of the Parties (COP), 29 April to 10 May 2019 in Geneva, decided upon a range of additional steps to better address the challenges of plastics wastes[5] including amendments to the Convention on plastic wastes[6]; and the establishment of a new Partnership on Plastic Waste. This Partnership, launched in October 2019, is designed as an international vehicle for public-private cooperation, sharing of best practices, and technical assistance in the area of at-source measures to minimise and more effectively manage plastic waste, thus helping tackle the global environmental problem of marine plastic litter. More on minimising plastic waste here.

Media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:
Charlie Avis: Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat
Charles.avis@brsmeas.org Tel: +41-79-7304495

Substantive questions related to the project, contact:
Marius Wiher: Programme Officer, BRS Secretariat
marius.wiher@brsmeas.org Tel.: +41-22-9178828


[1] Bigalke, Moritz; Filella, Montserrat (2019). Foreword to the research front on ‘Microplastics in Soils'. Environmental chemistry, 16(1-2), pp. 1-2. CSIRO Publishing. Doi: 10.1071/ENv16n1_FO

[2] ibid

[3] https://www.unibe.ch/news/media_news/media_relations_e/media_releases/2018/medienmitteilungen_2018/ soils_in_swiss_nature_reserves_contain_significant_quantities_of_microplastics/index_eng.html

[4] Lavers, J.L., Dicks, L., Dicks, M.R. et al. Significant plastic accumulation on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Australia. Sci Rep 9, 7102 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-43375-4 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-43375-4

UN experts recommend stricter trade measures for PFOA

Read the BRS Press Release summarising outcomes of the 15th meeting of the Chemical Review Committee of the Rotterdam Convention, which concluded 10 October 2019 at FAO headquarters in Rome.

UN experts recommend stricter trade measures for PFOA

UN experts recommend stricter trade measures for PFOA

Rome, Italy, and Geneva, Switzerland: 10 October 2019 - UN experts have recommended stricter, legally-binding measures for information exchange concerning trade in the industrial chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, widely used in domestic non-stick cooking ware and food-processing appliances, textiles, paper and paints, and firefighting foams. PFOA is known to be toxic to humans and the environment with links to major health issues such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.[1]

With a goal of protecting human health and environment by assisting governments to make informed decisions concerning trade in pesticides and industrial chemicals, the UN Rotterdam Convention’s Chemicals Review Committee (CRC) held its 15th meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, from 8 to 10 October 2019. Chemicals experts from all the UN regions attended the meeting together with representatives from government, civil society and industry.

PFOA was included earlier this year for elimination in Annex A to the UN Stockholm Convention, and should there be a complimentary listing in Annex III by the Rotterdam Convention when its governing body meets in 2021 this would imply more information would be available for countries wishing to still use PFOA. It would also put in place a legally-binding, structured information exchange procedure based on prior informed consent to trade. This would enable importing countries to be more informed, to soundly manage the chemical and to lower the risk of harmful impacts on health and the environment.

The experts at the CRC meeting also reviewed three additional chemicals, namely: the pesticide amitrole; the industrial chemical decabromodiphenyl ether; and nonylphenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates (pesticide and industrial chemical). Of these, the Committee decided to recommend that the governing body of the Convention (the Conference of the Parties or ‘COP’) list decabromodiphenyl ether in Annex III. The CRC will now prepare a detailed decision guidance document to accompany its recommendation to the COP.

The work of the Chemicals Review Committee provides an important contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG12, which refers in its targets to the sound management of chemicals and waste” said Mr. Hans Dreyer, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), who also commended the work of the 31 international experts of the Committee.

Mr. Carlos Martin-Novella, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (UNEP), added that “This Convention exists to ensure information exchange takes place so that governments may take informed decisions and share responsibility concerning the trade in hazardous chemicals, thus protecting human health and the environment. The experts’ recommendation to list PFOA, and also move ahead with one additional chemical, is therefore a positive step towards the sound management of chemicals across the world.”

Note for Editors:

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The 161 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. To date 52 hazardous chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III, making trade of these subject to a prior informed consent (PIC) procedure.

The Rotterdam Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks. The information can be used to inform and improve decision making. In addition, through its PIC Procedure, the Convention provides a legally binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of certain chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment.

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
  • FAO media relations office (For journalists) Rome: (+39) 06 570 53625. E-mail: FAO-Newsroom@fao.org
  • 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
  • For BRS conventions general media enquiries: www.brsmeas.org
  • or contact: Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva +41-79-7304495
Read the Basel Convention press release on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment

Entry into force of amendment to UN treaty boosts efforts to prevent waste dumping.

Read the Basel Convention press release on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment

Read the Basel Convention press release on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment

Date: 13 September 2019 

Momentum and political will continues to grow for tackling the world’s ever-intensifying waste problem, with this week celebrating the threshold for the Basel Convention1’s Ban Amendment to enter into force being reached. The Ban Amendment prohibits the export of hazardous waste from developed countries (OECD, EU member states, Liechtenstein) to developing countries.

The Ban Amendment will enter into force on 5 December 2019 following the recent ratification by Croatia. At the time of its adoption in 1995, some felt the amendment was a way to address challenges faced by developing countries and countries with economies in transition to control imports of hazardous and other wastes that they were unable to manage in an environmentally sound manner.

The spirit of the Ban Amendment has been very much alive for many years, in spite of the time elapsed between its adoption and entry into force. Many developed country Parties to the Convention have already made use of their prerogative to ban the export of hazardous wastes, while many developing countries also made use of their prerogative to ban the import of hazardous wastes.

The entry into force of the Ban Amendment has significant political weight, acting as a flagship of international efforts to ensure that those countries with the capacity to manage their hazardous wastes in an environmentally sound manner take responsibility for them, while still allowing Parties wishing to receive wastes required as raw materials for recycling or recovery industries.

International efforts to reach the threshold for entry into force – 66 of the 87 Parties as at 22 September 1995 – included a multi-year country-led initiative by Indonesia and Switzerland launched in 2011, assistance by the Basel Convention Secretariat to individual Parties facing difficulties in ratifying the Ban Amendment, as well as awareness-raising activities by many other stakeholders.

Reflecting on these latest developments, the Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention, Rolph Payet, said today that “public awareness of the scale and impact of our waste problem has risen enormously in recent years and Parties are stepping up their efforts to collectively tackle this, both at home through innovative measures and also globally through international, multilateral action. The Basel Convention has continually evolved to reflect these new challenges and the entry into force of the Ban Amendment is another milestone towards minimising risks from the adverse effects of transboundary movements of hazardous waste. Quite simply, the world will be a safer, healthier place from now on.”

NOTES for EDITORS:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and incinerator ash. For more info see www.basel.int

The Ban Amendment was adopted by decision III/1 at the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 1995. It added a new preambular paragraph, an additional paragraph to Article 4 and a new Annex VII to the Convention. The Ban Amendment provides for the prohibition by Parties listed in Annex VII (members of the EU, OECD and Liechtenstein) of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes to States not in Annex VII. For more information: http://www.basel.int/Implementation/LegalMatters/BanAmendment/Overview/tabid/1484/Default.aspx

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, 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 info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

Media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:

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

Substantive questions related to the Ban Amendment, contact:

Yvonne Ewang-Sanvincenti
Legal Officer, BRS Secretariat
yvonne.ewang@brsmeas.org
Tel.: +41-22-9178112


1 The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989, entered into force in 1992, and as of today has 187 Parties. Its overarching goal is the protection of human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes.

7 million premature deaths per year from visible and invisible air pollution

On the occasion of World Environment Day, read the BRS Press Release highlighting the need to make the invisible, visible to beat air pollution.

7 million premature deaths per year from visible and invisible air pollution

7 million premature deaths per year from visible and invisible air pollution

As public attention today focusses on air pollution through the marking of the UN World Environment Day, it is more important than ever to realise that not all air pollution - such as smog - is visible and that there are many invisible pollutants in our air, including highly toxic Persistent Organic Pollutants (or POPs).

Known to be long-lasting, highly transportable through air and water, and bio-accumulative – meaning that they become concentrated in fatty tissue ever-higher up the food chain - POPs are linked to many negative impacts upon human health and the environment including certain types of cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damages to the central and peripheral nervous systems.[i]

Since POPs are transported through water and through air, neither of which respect national boundaries, global actions are required to combat this form of pollution. To that end, countries came together to define and implement the Stockholm Convention (adopted in 2001, entered into force in 2004), which by now has 182 Parties who are required to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment.

Last month, at the latest meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention, Parties agreed to add two more toxic chemical groups to the list of POPs to be eliminated: namely Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and its salts and PFOA-related compounds. The latter has till now been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams.

The Stockholm Convention does not only deal with the reduction and elimination of these very toxic pollutants. It also makes provisions for monitoring the success of pollution reduction efforts, through its Global Monitoring Plan, which measures POPs concentrations around the world in the media of air, water, blood and breast milk, as well as working on the identification and development of alternatives to these chemicals.

Speaking on World Environment Day, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention, Carlos Martin-Novella, remarked that “Activities around the world today rightly remind us that air pollution is an enormous health problem, and silent killer, worldwide. But not all air pollution is as visible as the clouds of smog which sit over some of our cities. POPs are largely invisible to the eye and yet are amongst the most toxic substances known to humankind, travelling through air and water and ending up in the most remote environments, and in our bodies through the food-chain and through environmental exposure. We need to make the invisible, visible, and to that end the Stockholm Convention brings together countries who strive for a POPs-free future.”

Notes for Editors:

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants 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. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. As of the end of this COP, 30 chemicals of global concern are listed under the Stockholm Convention. See www.pops.int

Listing of Chemicals: Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) under the Stockholm Convention

The two new chemicals listed in Annex A to the Stockholm Convention are the pesticide Dicofol, and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) its salts and PFOA-related compounds (some applications with time-limited exemptions). Listing in Annex A to the Convention obliges Parties to eliminate these chemicals from production and use. The two chemicals are listed on the basis of a robust review process addressing risks, management options and alternatives by the UN’s POPs Review Committee. Dicofol is used as a miticide on a variety of field crops, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals and tea and coffee and is known to cause skin irritation and hyperstimulation of nerve transmissions in humans as well as being highly toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates, algae and birds. PFOA is a widely-used industrial chemical used in the production of non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams. As a substance of very high concern, it is known to be linked to major health problems including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease and hypertension in pregnancy. More information on these chemicals is available in factsheets.

  • For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:
    Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva +41-79-730-4495
New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

The 2019 Triple COPs concluded successfully with a raft of decisions to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of chemicals and wastes, including plastic waste.

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

New era for plastic waste management as governments agree landmark actions on chemicals and waste

Geneva, 10 May 2019 - Decisions on plastic waste have been reached today in Geneva, as approximately 180 governments adopted a raft of decisions aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste.

Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources1. Governments this week amended the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment. At the same time, a new Partnership on Plastic Waste was established to mobilise business, government, academic and civil society resources, interests and expertise to assist in implementing the new measures, to provide a set of practical supports – including tools, best practices, technical and financial assistance - for this ground-breaking agreement.

Other far-reaching decisions from the two weeks included the elimination of two toxic chemical groups, which together total about 4,000 chemicals, listed into Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, namely Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and its salts and PFOA-related compounds. The latter has till now been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams.

Important progress was also made under the Rotterdam Convention, which provides a legally-binding framework for information exchange and informed decision-making in the trade of certain hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals. Two chemicals, the pesticide phorate and the industrial chemical hexabromocyclododecane were added to Annex III of the convention, making them subject to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure, through which countries can decide on future imports of these chemicals. A further decision, to approve procedures and mechanisms on compliance with the Rotterdam Convention – seen as a crucial step for further improving implementation of this key convention - was adopted with great appreciation by Parties.

Working for two weeks in Geneva under the theme of “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”, approximately 1,400 delegates from around 180 countries converged for the meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (Triple COPs). Participants benefited from the numerous opportunities and events to exchange information on alternatives to these chemicals, as well as best practices.

Speaking at the closing session of the Triple COPs, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary (UNEP) of the three conventions, said that “I’m proud that this week in Geneva, Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste. Plastic waste is acknowledged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, and the fact that this week close to 1 million people around the world signed a petition urging Basel Convention Parties to take action here in Geneva at the COPs is a sign that public awareness and desire for action is high.

We were able to list two out of 7 candidate chemicals and will continue working closely with parties to identify feasible alternative solutions to hazardous pesticides, taking due account of food security and market access aspects” added Hans Dreyer, Executive Secretary (FAO) of the Rotterdam Convention.

Notes for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 187 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes and other wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as “hazardous” based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of wastes defined as “other wastes” – household waste and incinerator ash. See www.basel.int

Plastic Waste

With an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic in our seas, 80-90% of which has come from land-based sources, the high public profile of this issue is understandable. Reducing waste generation at source, and improving waste management thereafter, would go a long way towards solving this problem. For more on this see:  http://www.brsmeas.org/?tabid=4332&blogId=5169 and http://www.brsmeas.org/tabid/7656/Default.aspx

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment (UNEP). The 161 Parties to this legally-binding Convention share responsibility and cooperate to safely manage chemicals in international trade. As of the end of this COP, 52 chemicals and pesticides are listed in its Annex III. The Convention does not introduce bans but facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and their potential risks, to inform and improve national decision making. In addition, through the PIC Procedure, it provides a legally-binding mechanism to support national decisions on the import of selected chemicals and pesticides in order to minimize the risk they pose to human health and the environment. See www.pic.int

Listing of Chemicals: Pesticides and Industrial Chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention

The newly-listed chemicals are phorate (a pesticide) and hexabromocyclododecane (an industrial chemical) these chemicals would be included in the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure enabling better-informed decision-making on the trade in chemicals, thereby protecting human health and the environment. More information on these chemicals is available at: http://www.pic.int/tabid/1185/Default.aspx

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants 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. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Convention requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage. As of the end of this COP, 30 chemicals of global concern are listed under the Stockholm Convention. See www.pops.int

Listing of Chemicals: Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) under the Stockholm Convention

The two new chemicals listed in Annex A to the Stockholm Convention are the pesticide Dicofol, and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) its salts and PFOA-related compounds (some applications with time-limited exemptions). Listing in Annex A to the Convention obliges Parties to eliminate these chemicals from use. The two chemicals are listed on the basis of a robust review process addressing risks, management options and alternatives by the UN’s POPs Review Committee. Dicofol is used as a miticide on a variety of field crops, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals and tea and coffee and is known to cause skin irritation and hyperstimulation of nerve transmissions in humans as well as being highly toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates, algae and birds. PFOA is a widely-used industrial chemical used in the production of non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as a surfactant in textiles, carpets, paper, paints and fire-fighting foams. As a substance of very high concern, it is known to be linked to major health problems including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease and hypertension in pregnancy. More information on these chemicals is available in factsheets at: http://chm.pops.int/tabid/243/Default.aspx

For BRS conventions general media enquiries see: www.brsmeas.org or contact:
Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva
+41-79-730-4495

 

 

 


1 Data from “Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures” by Frederic Gallo et. al. in Environmental Sciences Europe 2018; 30(1): 13, at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5918521/

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