Press Releases

 

Online Segment of 2021 Triple COPs successfully concludes with key decisions adopted

More than 1,300 representatives from more than 160 countries agree key decisions to keep work towards sound management of chemicals and waste on track.

Online Segment of 2021 Triple COPs successfully concludes with key decisions adopted

Online Segment of 2021 Triple COPs successfully concludes with key decisions adopted

Geneva & Rome, 30 July 2021

Despite the ongoing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parties to the   Basel, Rotterdam, & Stockholm (BRS) conventions met this week in a virtual format, taking essential decisions aimed at continuing work of the conventions, which together protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste. Over 160 Parties and 1,300 participants attended the meetings.

The outcomes of this week’s online segment of the 2021 meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, & Stockholm conventions (Triple COPs) include the adoption of an interim budget for 2022, and a decision to resume discussions during a face-to-face segment of the meetings in Geneva, from 6 to 17 June 2022.

An important step was reached under the Rotterdam Convention, with the first-ever elections of the members of the Compliance Committee, whose mandate is to assist individual Parties to resolve their compliance difficulties and also review systemic issues of compliance.

Under the Stockholm Convention, it was decided to forward two important outcomes to the Global Environment Facility (The GEF, the Stockholm Convention’s financial mechanism) given ongoing negotiations for its eight replenishment, namely the fifth review of the financial mechanism; and the report of the full assessment of the funding necessary and available for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention for the period 2022–2026. According to the needs assessment report, US$4.9 billion are needed to address persistent organic pollutants, out of which US$2.39 billion are needed to address polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Under the Stockholm Convention, the election of the members to the effectiveness evaluation committee marks the initiation of the second evaluation of the effectiveness of the Convention, to assess whether the Convention is succeeding in achieving its objective of protecting human health and the environment from POPs.

Side events on various topics were organized and attended by numerous participants, including on plastic waste pollution, following the adoption of the Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendments and the establishment of the Plastic Waste Partnership in 2019.

Speaking at today’s planned adjournment of the Triple COPs, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary (UNEP) of the three conventions, said that “I’m proud that this week, Parties to the three Conventions have reached agreement on all agenda items prioritized for this online segment. This means that despite the financial, human resource, and operational constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the crucial work of the three conventions can move forward seamlessly, enabling governments and other stakeholders around the world to better protect people and environment.”

FAO hosted a side event attended by more than 240 participants to discuss scientific data and experiences from African, Caribbean and Pacific Islands with highly hazardous pesticides and alternatives. Rémi Nono Womdim, Executive Secretary (FAO) of the Rotterdam Convention, commented: “FAO ensures its commitment to continue supporting parties in their efforts to reduce the risk from these and other pesticides”, adding: “Due to COVID-19, discussions on listing of further hazardous chemicals and pesticides to Annex III of the Convention will only take place in 2022.”

The three conventions constitute a coordinated, life-cycle approach to the environmentally sound management of chemicals & waste across the world. The legally binding BRS conventions share a common goal of protecting human health and the environment from the hazards of chemicals and waste, and have almost universal coverage with 188, 164, and 184 Parties respectively.

The Basel Convention, has, since 1st January 2021, included additional provisions for curbing the proliferation of plastic waste. A number of new publications on plastic waste were launched this week, including an interactive Storymap:

(https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/63f88d8da65841f3a13ba4018d26361d), and a new series of infographics “Drowning in Plastics: Marine Litter and Plastic Waste – Vital Graphics”, published together with UNEP and GRID-Arendal, Norway, and soon available on www.basel.int.

The Rotterdam Convention provides a structured information exchange procedure based on prior informed consent to international trade (the PIC Procedure), enabling Parties to take informed decisions on future imports of hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals, achieve sound management, and ultimately lower the risk of harmful impacts on health and the environment. Through this, the Convention’s implementation contributes to better production, a better environment, better nutrition, and a better life. For more info see www.pic.int.

The Stockholm Convention, covering the elimination and reduction of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), celebrates twenty years since its adoption. Coinciding with this landmark, the recently published third regional monitoring reports mark an important milestone towards the second effectiveness evaluation, with an enhanced information basis to support the assessment of trends in concentrations of POPs measured over time. Overall, the reports confirm the previously observed declining trends of POPs in the environment and in human populations, and show that, if measures are implemented to reduce or eliminate releases, the concentrations measured in humans and in the environment will follow, and continue to decrease. . For more info:

http://chm.pops.int/Implementation/GlobalMonitoringPlan/MonitoringReports/tabid/525/Default.aspx

The BRS Secretariat thanks the donors whose support allowed the organization of the online segment of the COPs, as well as the regional preparatory meetings, and under such extraordinary circumstances: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The online segment will be followed by a face-to-face segment, scheduled from 6 to 17 June 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Note for Editors:

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.

The BRS Secretariat recently published two reports focussed on chemicals and wastes and climate change, and on chemicals and waste and biodiversity, which explore these key interlinkages further and which provide a forward-looking investigation of opportunities for enhanced cooperation to better address these complex challenges. These landmark reports are available online:

http://www.brsmeas.org/Implementation/Publications/ScientificandTechnicalPublications/tabid/3790/language/en-US/Default.aspx

For more information, please contact:

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

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

2021 Triple COPs convened online with more than 1,000 delegates, 26 to 30 July

Read the official press release as more than 150 countries join the online segment of the 2021 meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, & Stockholm conventions.

2021 Triple COPs convened online with more than 1,000 delegates, 26 to 30 July

2021 Triple COPs convened online with more than 1,000 delegates, 26 to 30 July

Geneva & Rome
26 July 2021

With an estimated 2 million lives lost annually due to exposure to hazardous chemicals & waste,[1] and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic underlining the importance of environmentally sound management of chemicals and waste, key negotiations go ahead this week online to take decisions on time-sensitive issues, including the adoption of a budget for the Basel, Rotterdam, & Stockholm (BRS) conventions for 2022 and providing advice to the Global Environment Facility.

More than 1,200 representatives from governments, business, and civil society will participate in the 2021 meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) conventions, online segment from 26 to 30 July 2021.

The three conventions constitute a coordinated, life-cycle approach to the environmentally sound management of chemicals & waste across the world. The legally binding BRS conventions share a common goal of protecting human health and the environment from the hazards of chemicals and waste, and have almost universal coverage with 188, 164, and 184 Parties respectively.

Welcoming delegates to the online segment, the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam & Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Mr Rolph Payet, said that “these meetings demonstrate the great political will which exists to tackle chemicals and waste issues, given that the pollution crisis is, by now, together with climate change and biodiversity loss, an existential threat to our societies and peoples’ well-being.”

Mr Qu Dongyu, the Director-General of FAO (which co-administers the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention), referring to the newly-adopted FAO Strategic Framework, called upon countries to “renew and strengthen our commitment to keep addressing chemicals, pesticides and waste high on the international agenda, to protect human health and the environment, while transforming our agri-food systems, to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.”

The Basel Convention, covers hazardous waste and other wastes requiring special consideration, including medical waste, household waste, and electronic waste, and has, since 1st January 2021, included additional provisions for curbing the proliferation of plastic waste. A number of new publications on plastic waste will be launched this week, including an interactive Storymap and a new series of infographics “Drowning in Plastics: Marine Litter and Plastic Waste – Vital Graphics”, published together with UNEP and GRID-Arendal. These will be available on www.basel.int.

The Rotterdam Convention provides a structured information exchange procedure based on prior informed consent to international trade (the PIC Procedure), enabling Parties to take informed decisions on future imports of hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals, achieve sound management, and ultimately lower the risk of harmful impacts on health and the environment. Through this, the Convention’s implementation contributes to better production, a better environment, better nutrition, and a better life.

The Stockholm Convention, covering the elimination and reduction of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCB and DDT, celebrates twenty years since its adoption. Coinciding with this landmark, the recently published third regional monitoring reports show that POPs concentrations in the environment and in human populations continue previously observed declining trends. While the presence of POPs is ubiquitous, if measures are implemented to reduce or eliminate both intentional and unintentional releases, the concentrations measured in humans and in the environment will continue to decrease. Insights from the third regional monitoring reports also point at the role of the POPs monitoring work in supporting assessment processes beyond chemicals and wastes issues, towards better understanding of changes in biodiversity, and climate change effects on ecosystem function and structure. For more info:

http://chm.pops.int/Implementation/GlobalMonitoringPlan/MonitoringReports/tabid/525/Default.aspx

This week, the conferences of the Parties to the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions are also expected to kick start the work of the Compliance Committee of the Rotterdam Convention and the Effectiveness Evaluation Committee of the Stockholm Convention. The three conferences of the Parties are also expected to adopt programmes of budget to enable the conventions to continue their important work in 2022. Finally, the Stockholm Convention Conference of the Parties will also seek to adopt an important decision on the Convention’s financial mechanism. This would include the forwarding of needs assessment reports for 2022 to 2026 and the 5th review of the financial mechanism to the Global Environment Facility, for consideration during the negotiations of the eighth replenishment of the Facility’s trust fund. 

The BRS Secretariat recently published two reports focussed on chemicals and wastes and climate change, and on chemicals and waste and biodiversity, which explore these key interlinkages further and which provide a forward-looking investigation of opportunities for enhanced cooperation to better address these complex challenges. These landmark reports are available online:

http://www.brsmeas.org/Implementation/Publications/ScientificandTechnicalPublications/tabid/3790/language/en-US/Default.aspx

The BRS Secretariat thanks the donors whose support allowed the organization of the online segment of the COPs, as well as the regional preparatory meetings, and under such extraordinary circumstances: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The online segment will be followed by a face-to-face segment.

Note for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental 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 information on the Basel Convention, please see www.basel.int

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 164 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 their international trade subject to a prior informed consent (PIC) procedure. The Rotterdam Convention 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 – it does not constitute a ban on trade in chemicals. 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. More information is available at: www.pic.int

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), 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. Exposure to 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 population or its environment from POPs. For more information on the Stockholm Convention and POPs, see: www.chm.pops.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 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 more information, please contact:

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

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


[1] World Health Organisation, 2021, “New data on the public health impact of chemicals: knowns and unknowns” online at: https://www.who.int/news/item/06-07-2021-new-data-on-the-public-health-impact-of-chemicals-knowns-and-unknowns

Climate change and chemicals & waste combine to threaten biodiversity

New joint report by the BRS and Minamata conventions secretariats released to mark World Environment Day.

Climate change and chemicals & waste combine to threaten biodiversity

Climate change and chemicals & waste combine to threaten biodiversity

Geneva, Switzerland
4 June 2021

The report is launched  at  the occasion of United Nations World Environment Day on 5th June 2021, and ahead of key upcoming international meetings later this year on biodiversity, on climate change and on hazardous chemicals and wastes,[1] identifying options for better coordinating actions in addressing these issues.

Climate change and the management of hazardous chemicals and wastes are key global environmental challenges for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The new report, entitled “Chemicals, Wastes and Climate Change: Interlinkages and Potential for Coordinated Action”, adds to previous information provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in pointing out that:

Climate change can lead to increased releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment. One example is that the melting of polar and alpine glaciers, permafrost and ocean ice induced by climate change results in releases of trapped hazardous chemicals, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury. Projections suggest that under a high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions scenario, mercury emissions from permafrost could reach a peak of 1.9 ± 1.1 Gg Hg per year in 2200, the equivalent of current global atmospheric emissions. Furthermore, the melting of sea ice and permafrost, sometimes compounded by increased precipitation, can lead to local contamination due to physical disruption and damage of pipelines and storage facilities, leading to oil and chemical spills.

Climate change can lead to increasing use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, to combat higher incidences of pest and disease outbreaks, as increased distribution, growth and reproduction of pests is observed at higher temperatures and in wetter conditions, and because the efficacy of pesticides decreases with increased temperature. Pesticide usage as a result of both increased temperature and precipitation could rise by 1.1 to 2.5% by 2040 and by 2.4 to 9.1% by 2070 in China alone, despite current efforts to reduce pesticide usage. Robust strategies are thus required for pest and disease mitigation to avoid excessive growth in pesticide use.

Increased mobilization and volatilization of chemicals from materials storage and stockpiles will occur as temperatures rise. These effects will be most relevant in the case of chemicals with relatively low direct emissions during manufacturing and chemicals which are not readily incorporated into materials. For example, it is estimated that 240,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides are stockpiled in Eastern Europe alone, and that between 4 and 7 million tonnes of HCH isomers, generated as a by-product of the manufacture of the POP Lindane, have been stockpiled globally since the 1950s. Abandoned stockpiles of compounds containing heavy metals, which may include mercury, are also found in parts of the world.

The impacts of climate change are already being observed[2], including increased temperature, changes to precipitation, shifts in ocean currents, melting of ice, rising sea levels and increased severity and frequency of sea level events, thawing permafrost, retreat of glaciers and ice sheets, increase in weather conditions conducive to fires and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. These impacts are linked to increased releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment, long range transport and environmental fate, as well as human and environmental exposure, leading to higher health risks of both human populations and the environment.

On the other hand, the chemicals and waste management sectors are significant contributors to global GHG emissions, and have strong links to the fossil fuels sector. Releases of GHGs and hazardous chemicals occur at all stages in the life cycles of chemicals, including production of input materials, primary and secondary production processes, use and disposal. Releases of hazardous chemicals and GHGs from the use phase of products that can occur include the application of pesticides, and release of high value chemicals in refrigeration and air-conditioning, fire suppression and explosion protection, foam blowing, and other applications.

This new report maps the interlinkages between chemicals and wastes and climate change, providing an essential baseline for future work and collaboration between States and organizations, especially towards adopting a more holistic approach in addressing those global environmental issues. Driven by the need to unite forces in the face of shared environmental challenges, the report accompanies another recently published by the Secretariats on the linkages between chemicals, waste and biodiversity loss.

According to Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, “the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss through increasing pollution from chemicals and wastes show no signs of slowing. This report demonstrates how those twin threats are in fact inter-related. The sound management of chemicals and waste, including plastic waste, when implemented in coordination with climate change measures, will simultaneously slow the increase in greenhouse gases and lead to improvements in environmental quality, including through the restoration of nature and ecosystems. This in turn will positively impact livelihoods and the attainment of a dignified life for all, a greener, more inclusive economy built upon circularity and life-cycle resource use. We must therefore continue to work as a global community to make progress in addressing the root causes of these threats for a clean and healthy planet. We will then achieve, in short, a healthier world population, and more resilient natural systems now and into the future”.

Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, underlines that “climate change is irreversible but not unstoppable. We are witnesses of a vicious circle where climate change increases the releases of hazardous chemicals while being at the same time exacerbated by them. To break this cycle and better protect the environment and people’s health, it is important to mobilize further resources, develop and implement cost-effective strategies, enhance international cooperation and, all in all, keep supporting the current multilateral environmental agreements. In the case of the Minamata Convention, and with worrying signs like the increase of mercury emissions in permafrost regions, climate action is essential to make mercury history. When problems are connected, so are the solutions”.

The joint report reviews existing scientific knowledge on climate change and hazardous chemicals and wastes management to improve decision-making for simultaneously addressing these two critical elements of the broader sustainability challenge. Together with the biodiversity report, the report will be considered at the next meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (July 2021) and the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention (November 2021).

Read it here: Chemicals, Wastes and Climate Change: Interlinkages and Potential for Coordinated Action

Contacts:
For further information on the work of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions: www.brsmeas.org.
Contact: Ana-Maria Witt (tel.: +41-22-918553; email: ana-maria.witt@un.org); Charlie Avis (tel.: +41-79-7304495; email: charles.avis@un.org).

For further information on the work of the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury: www.mercuryconvention.org.
Contact: Claudia ten Have, Senior Policy and Coordination Officer (tel.: +41-22-9178638; email: claudia.tenhave@un.org); Eisaku Toda (tel.: +41-22-9178187; email: eisaku.toda@un.org).


[1] Including the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, 11 to 24 October 2021; the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change  , 1 to 12 November 2021; the meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm conventions (online segment) 26 to 30 July 2021; and the 4th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Minamata Convention, 1 to 5 November 2021.

[2] See for example, UN Environment Programme, 2021, “Facts about the Climate Emergency” at https://www.unep.org/explore-topics/climate-change/facts-about-climate-emergency

 

NOTES for Editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (1989), the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (1998), the Stockholm on Persistent Organic Pollutants (2001), and Minamata (2013) Conventions were adopted to manage and reduce the harmful impacts of certain hazardous chemicals and wastes on the environment and on human health.

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 ensure sound management of the chemicals and wastes covered. This results in controls on or reduced harm to human health and the environment stemming from the production, use, trade and disposal of the covered chemicals and wastes. Since the Conventions contribute to a greater whole, their full implementation makes a significant, and vital contribution to the protection of the environment, biodiversity, and the health and well-being of people.

Happy Birthday: The Stockholm Convention is 20 years young!

Read the BRS Press Release marking the 20th anniversary of the adoption, on 22 May 2001, of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Happy Birthday: The Stockholm Convention is 20 years young!

Happy Birthday: The Stockholm Convention is 20 years young!
 
BRS and Minamata convention secretariats release “Key Insights” from joint study linking chemicals and waste and biodiversity

As the world marks International Biodiversity Day on 22 May, read the joint BRS/Minamata Press Release and find out more about this ground-breaking study.

BRS and Minamata convention secretariats release “Key Insights” from joint study linking chemicals and waste and biodiversity

BRS and Minamata convention secretariats release “Key Insights” from joint study linking chemicals and waste and biodiversity

Geneva, Switzerland
21 May 2021

All eyes are on global biodiversity this week, as the world celebrates the International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May) and calls are made to stem the tide of biodiversity loss worldwide. With biodiversity loss occurring at an unprecedented rate, the secretariats of four UN multilateral agreements have teamed up to develop the key insights of an upcoming study that puts the spotlight on one of the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss, namely the unsound management of chemicals and waste.

Pollution, including from hazardous wastes and chemicals, is widely accepted as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. Meanwhile, the production, use and trade of chemicals is growing in all regions of the world, driven by global megatrends such as population and increasing consumption patterns. Global sales in chemicals were worth approximately USD 3.5 trillion (including pesticides but excluding pharmaceuticals) in 2017 and chemicals production is expected to double in size again between 2017 and 2030. Hazardous chemicals and other pollutants (e.g. endocrine-disrupting chemicals and pharmaceutical pollutants) continue to be released in large quantities and are ubiquitous in humans and the environment. The global waste market has become a viable economic sector, estimated at USD 410 billion per year, from collection through to recycling—yet only about one-third of the world’s municipal solid waste is properly managed, and much of that is increasingly hazardous. Marine litter, including plastics and microplastics, is now found in all oceans, at all depths.

The study on the “Interlinkages between the chemicals and waste multilateral environmental agreements and biodiversity: Key Insights” was jointly conducted by the Secretariats of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Driven by the need to gather forces in the face of shared environmental challenges, the full document, together with another study on climate change, will be released in the coming months. In mapping the interlinkages between chemicals and wastes and biological diversity, the study provides an essential baseline for future work and collaboration between conventions, in different spheres and within them, to efficiently tackle this worldwide issue.

For instance, many chemicals, such as those known as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and mercury, are transported around the globe through the environment, so their emission and release can affect human health and the environment, including wildlife, even in remote locations. Once released, they typically persist in the environment circulating between air, water, sediments, soil and biota in various forms, and may not be removed from this cycle for a century or more. Pollution from chemicals and wastes impacts our natural world in many ways. From the choking of life in our rivers and oceans by plastic waste or pesticides, to endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity in humans and wildlife caused by the take-up and accumulation of industrial chemicals such as PCBs and PFOS, to the  poisoning of our soils, freshwater and air, or as mercury dramatically affecting the health of small-scale gold miners wastes through dumping or open burning of waste, unsound management of chemicals and waste places a burden on biodiversity across the globe. Common to each of these examples 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. Wildlife and other biodiversity are also heavily impacted.

In particular, levels of mercury and the POP polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) remain a significant exposure concern for many Arctic biota, including polar bears, killer whales, pilot whales, seals, and various seabird, shorebird, and birds-of-prey species. The levels of these chemicals put these species at higher risk of immune, reproductive and/or carcinogenic effects. This is complicated by the fact that Arctic wildlife and fish are exposed to a complex cocktail of environmental contaminants including mercury, legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs), emerging chemicals of concern, and other pollutants that in combination may act to increase the risk of biological effects.

According to Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the BRS Conventions, “the release of this landmark study is timely, on the occasion of international Biodiversity Day, but it is also urgent, as the twin threats to a healthy planet – climate change and biodiversity loss – show no signs of slowing. The report shows that the sound management of chemicals and waste, including plastic waste, would significantly reduce the impacts on our planet’s habitats and species, plus deliver a whole series of other benefits including better human health, movement towards a circular economy, and more equitable, sustainable development in the poorest regions of the world. Since the four conventions provide a framework for exactly this action, we invite governments, civil society, and the private sector to renew efforts and act urgently, including through fullest possible implementation of the Plastic Waste Amendments to the Basel Convention and accelerated actions to achieve Stockholm Convention 2025 targets on the phase-out of PCBs and other POPs”.

Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, underlines that “the key insights of this study shed a light on what the chemicals and waste conventions can do – by working in close collaboration –  to better protect biological diversity, ecosystem services and human health. If we want to effectively address the critical role of pollution in biodiversity loss, we must understand that such a worldwide, complex problem needs solutions that are interconnected, smart-targeted and shared. For example, a toxic contaminant like mercury persists in the environment, bioaccumulating and biomagnifying in the food chain, and travels to the most remote locations, from affecting the marine mammals and fish in the Arctic to appearing at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on Earth. Pollution is an international issue that knows no borders and that will only worsen with time unless we put our findings into action. I thank organizations and countries for their commitment and encourage all to combine efforts against this global threat to human health and the environment. The Minamata Convention will do its part.”

The joint Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minimata Conventions' study reviews existing scientific knowledge to improve decision-making for sound management of these pollutants under the conventions, and will undoubtedly result in improvements to the state of biodiversity. The study will be considered at the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (July 2021), the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention (November 2021), as well as the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity convening to adopt the Global Biodiversity Framework, in late 2021.

Read here: “Interlinkages between the chemicals and waste multilateral environmental agreements and biodiversity: Key Insights”.

Contacts:

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

Contact: Maria Cristina Cardenas (tel.: +41-22-9178170; email: maria-cristina.cardenas@un.org )

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

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

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NOTES for Editors:

The Basel (1989), Rotterdam (1998), Stockholm (2001), and Minamata (2013) Conventions were adopted to manage and reduce the harmful impacts of certain hazardous chemicals and wastes on the environment and on human health. While focused on hazardous chemicals and wastes management, each of these Conventions also decidedly contributes to the overall protection of biological diversity and the range of ecosystem goods and services provided by nature.

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 ensure sound management of the chemicals and wastes covered. This results in controls on or reduced harm to human health and the environment stemming from the production, use, trade and disposal of the covered chemicals and wastes. Since the Conventions 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.

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

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