Press Releases

 

Pierce Brosnan and his son, Paris Brosnan, launch video appeal to tackle plastic waste pollution

Legendary Hollywood actor Pierce Brosnan and Paris Brosnan, a filmmaker and environmental activist, have joined forces with the BRS Conventions to draw attention to the need for plastic waste management. Their PSA video is part of the Plastic is Forever campaign.

Pierce Brosnan and his son, Paris Brosnan, launch video appeal to tackle plastic waste pollution

Pierce Brosnan and his son, Paris Brosnan, launch video appeal to tackle plastic waste pollution

Legendary Hollywood actor Pierce Brosnan and Paris Brosnan, a filmmaker and environmental activist, have joined forces with the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Conventions) to draw attention to the need for plastic waste management. Their PSA video is part of the Basel Convention “Plastic is Forever…so it’s time to get clever about managing it!” campaign. 

In the video, the Brosnans remark on the almost infinite life cycle of plastic, which typically takes hundreds of years to disintegrate, breaking down into microparticles that have been detected in the air, water, and even in human placentas.

“Our campaign slogan was born out of the need to show that not all is bleak when it comes to global environmental governance,” said Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the BRS Secretariat. “We want to raise awareness of the work put in place by the international community, and the tangible results we are achieving while trying to tackle the plastic waste crisis.”

The BRS Conventions are three multilateral environmental agreements administered by the United Nations Environment Programme, focused on protecting people and the environments from hazardous chemicals and wastes. The Basel Convention is the only international treaty that legally binds 189 countries in implementing strict controls for the transboundary movement of plastics. The Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendments are a steppingstone towards forging an international legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution.

“We wholeheartedly welcome the gracious contributions of Pierce Brosnan and Paris Brosnan to inform the general public about the constantly evolving state of the global plastic waste crisis and the tools we have at our disposal to address it,” noted Payet. “Hopefully, their millions of fans – including decision-makers – will be inspired by their message and engage in the minimization and management of plastic waste.”

The release of the Plastic is Forever promotional videos coincided with the conclusion of the 2022 BRS Conferences of Parties (BRS COPs). The campaign also includes a photo competition, a hackathon, a social media challenge (plastic in the sea and plastic on mountains), and an illuminations show that took place in Geneva’s Palais des Nations during the BRS COPs.

The PSA video featuring Paris and Pierce Brosnan was produced by Keely Brosnan on behalf of The Krim Group and Special Order.  Special thanks to Nancy Forner, ACE for assisting with post-production.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) brings together the three leading multilateral environmental agreements that share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes.
 http://www.brsmeas.org/

Communication material is available on the Plastic is Forever Trello: https://trello.com/b/6wO64kva/plastic-is-forever

For media inquiries contact: Marisofi Giannouli, BRS Associate Public Information Officer, marisofi.giannouli@un.org

BRS COPs conclude with major decisions on e-waste movement and ban of harmful chemicals affecting firefighters

Pierce Brosnan and Dominic Thiem salute Basel Convention’s work to foster the environmentally sound management of plastic waste.

BRS COPs conclude with major decisions on e-waste movement and ban of harmful chemicals affecting firefighters

BRS COPs conclude with major decisions on e-waste movement and ban of harmful chemicals affecting firefighters

Pierce Brosnan and Dominic Thiem salute Basel Convention’s work to foster the environmentally sound management of plastic waste.

Geneva, 17 June 2022 — The 2021-2022 meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS COPs) come to a close today after marathon proceedings that begun with the online segment in July 2021, continued with the High-level Segment in Stockholm, Sweden, on 1 June 2022 in association with the Stockholm+50 international meeting, and were finalized with the face-to-face segment in Geneva, Switzerland from 6 to 17 June 2022. Under the theme “Global Agreements for a Healthy Planet: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”, the hybrid BRS COPs were attended by over 1500 delegates from around the world.

Basel Convention

Upon the proposal by Ghana and Switzerland, the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-15) adopted landmark amendments to Annexes II, VIII and IX, which ensure that all transboundary movements of e-wastes, whether hazardous or not, are subject to the prior informed consent of the importing state and any state of transit. This bold decision not only protects vulnerable countries from unwanted imports, but also fosters the environmentally sound management of e-wastes with state-of-the-art technology and thus contributes to a circular economy.

In addition, BC COP-15 adopted technical guidelines on mercury wastes, as well as three updated technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of wastes from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Other adopted technical guidelines included the environmentally sound incineration of hazardous and other wastes as covered by disposal operations D10 and R1, and the environmentally sound disposal of hazardous wastes and other wastes in specially engineered landfill (D5).

Decisions were taken to update the technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of waste lead-acid batteries, to initiate the development of technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of other waste batteries, and to move forward on electronic approaches to the notification and movement documents.

BC COP-15 also continued the small intersessional working group to prepare findings and improve the strategic framework of the Convention for 2012–2021, initiated a new track of work to improve the functioning of the Prior Informed Consent procedure, and adopted new measures on tackling plastic wastes.

COP-15 further welcomed the work of the Implementation and Compliance Committee to support individual Parties overcome their compliance difficulties, and adopted two guidance documents it to improve the implementation of the Convention’s prior informed consent procedure – one of transit transboundary movements and the other on insurance, bond and guarantee.

Finally, COP-15 agreed to further consider the amendments put forward by the European Union to amend Annex IV of the Convention which is key to determining when a substance or object is to be considered a waste falling within the scope of the Convention.

Rotterdam Convention

The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-10) engaged in very extensive and inclusive discussions on chemicals and pesticides, and listed two industrial chemicals: decabromodiphenyl ether, and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds. This listing will make these chemicals subject to the Prior Informed Consent procedure, thereby granting Parties the right to decide on their future import.

Parties explicitly thanked the Secretariat and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for their support to identify less hazardous alternatives to the pesticides on the agenda” said Christine Fuell, Coordinator of the FAO part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat. However, no consensus to list them could be reached due to just a few of the 160 Parties present objecting. Numerous delegates commended the Chemical Review Committee for its excellent work in reviewing the chemicals and pesticides recommended for listing, and noted with disappointment that most of the reasons brought forward to object listings fell outside the scope of the Rotterdam Convention.

On a positive note, RC COP-10 agreed on the work programme for the newly established Compliance Committee. This important subsidiary body will take up its work as soon as possible and is expected to further improve the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention.

Stockholm Convention

The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-10) listed perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts, and PFHxS-related compounds in Annex A to the Convention, setting them for elimination. PFHxS, its salts and related substances have a high resistance to friction, heat, and chemical agents. They are widely used in firefighting foam, carpets, and non-stick cookware. They have been found to influence the human nervous system, brain development, and thyroid hormone.

In addition, a process was put in place for Parties to provide information on a voluntary basis about cases of trade occurring in contravention of the Stockholm Convention, building on the positive experience under the Basel Convention which sets out a similar process.

SC COP-10 also adopted decisions on two of the initial POPs listed under the Convention: PCB and DDT. On PCB, the SC COP urged Parties to step up their efforts by immediately implementing actions to eliminate its use in equipment by 2025, and to achieve the environmentally sound management of relevant PCB wastes by 2028. On DDT, the COP noted that, while there is a continued need for DDT for indoor residual spraying in specific settings for malaria vector control, it is assumed that DDT use may not be needed after 2030. Parties still using DDT for disease vector control were invited to review their needs, while a decision was taken to initiate a consultative process on a possible DDT phase-out plan.

Plastics Forum

From 8 to 10 June, the BRS COPs hosted the Plastics Forum, a multi-stakeholder event dedicated to promoting the environmentally sound management of plastic waste. The Plastics Forum, which featured more than 20 side events held in a 3-D virtual platform, marked the peak of the Plastic is Forever campaign, with a hackathon, a photo exhibition, the launch of a social media challenge, and an illuminations show on Geneva’s Palais des Nations. Two of the campaign’s promotional videos were screened during the closing plenary of the BRS COPs, featuring Hollywood stars Pierce Brosnan and his son Paris, as well as professional tennis player Dominic Thiem. The videos will be officially released on 21 June 2022, with a separate press release to follow.

Τhe three conference meetings strengthened the mandate for international cooperation with other organizations, including the Minamata Convention on mercury, in support of the recently adopted resolutions by the United Nations Environment Assembly to forge a new international legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution, and to establish a science policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and prevent pollution.

The 2023 BRS COPs will be held next May in the Bahamas.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) brings together the three leading multilateral environmental agreements that share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes. www.brsmeas.org

Communication material is available on the BRS Secretariat Trello: https://trello.com/b/iEDpXNHv/the-basel-rotterdam-and-stockholm-conventions

For media inquiries contact: Marisofi Giannouli, BRS Associate Public Information Officer, marisofi.giannouli@un.org

Global environmental agenda advances as BRS COPs are held in Geneva to discuss chemicals and wastes management

More than 1500 registered participants representing the BRS Conventions reconvene in Geneva, Switzerland, from 6 to 17 June, for the first time in three years. Under the theme “Global Agreements for a Healthy Planet: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”, the BRS COPs will address the impact of hazardous chemicals and wastes on human health and the environment.

Global environmental agenda advances as BRS COPs are held in Geneva to discuss chemicals and wastes management

Global environmental agenda advances as BRS COPs are held in Geneva to discuss chemicals and wastes management

More than 1500 registered participants representing the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Conventions) reconvene in Geneva, Switzerland, from 6 to 17 June, for the first time in three years. Under the theme “Global Agreements for a Healthy Planet: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”, the meetings of the Conferences of the BRS Conventions (BRS COPs) will address the impact of hazardous chemicals and wastes on human health and the environment.

“Our challenge during these COPs is to try and make the issues of chemical and waste, consumption and production, and pollution visible,” said BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet in his remarks during the opening ceremony, held on 6 June in Centre International de Conférences Genève. “We have invested a lot of time trying to create the perfect – or near-perfect – environment for the Parties to negotiate and achieve consensus.”

In turn, the Executive Secretary of the Food and Agriculture Organization part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, Rémi Nono Womdim, called upon all Parties and all institutions involved in the BRS COPs to cooperate and increase their efforts to halt the three planetary crises of pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change through the sound management of chemicals and waste. His thoughts were echoed by Payet who noted that “There is no winner or loser; we are all losers, if we don’t try and solve the crises.”

The fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-15) will consider, among others, amendment proposals focusing on e-wastes, the adoption of updated technical guidelines on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury wastes, and the adoption of guidance documents to improve specific aspects of the implementation of the prior informed consent procedure as it relates to transit transboundary movements, and insurance, bond and guarantee.  Discussions will also be held on disposal operations, such as engineered landfilling and incineration on land. Additionally, Parties are expected to initiate the updating of the technical guidelines on used lead acid batteries.

The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-10) will consider including in Annex III of the Convention two pesticides, two severely hazardous pesticide formulations, and three industrial chemicals. In addition, Parties will consider for the first time a work programme for the newly established Compliance Committee and receive a detailed overview of the technical assistance provided during the last two years, including work on the identification of alternatives to hazardous pesticides.

The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-10) will consider listing a new group of perfluorinated chemicals, targeting them for elimination. Discussions will be held on the use of DDT, and the identification and management of POPs contaminated sites. Moreover, Parties will discuss progress made in the preparation of the second effectiveness evaluation report and the third global monitoring report on POPs.

During the COPs, Parties will also discuss ways for the conventions to contribute to the key outcomes of the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), specifically, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee that will develop the legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, and the Science-Policy Panel on chemicals and waste that is expected to support the prevention of pollution. The provisions of the Stockholm Convention and of the Basel Convention, and in particular the Plastic Waste Amendments which are currently the sole legally binding provisions addressing plastic wastes, are expected to inform the negotiations of the aforementioned global instrument to end plastic pollution.

The BRS COPs will also adopt programmes of work and budgets for 2022-2023, and consider a new technical assistance plan for 2022-2025.

On the whole, more than 40 side events will be held, focusing on topics from pesticide risk reduction and e-waste management to hazardous child labour in agriculture and plastic waste streams.

Plastics Forum

This year, the BRS COPs will have a special focus on plastic waste management. The Plastics Forum is a multistakeholder umbrella event that will be held from 8 to 10 June to address the role of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions in tackling the global plastic waste crisis. Packed with interactive panel debates, spotlight presentations, and booth exhibits, the Plastics Forum will also include the Plastic is Forever hackathon and social media challenge. The Forum will end on a hopeful and celebratory note, with the illumination of the Palais des Nations façade on the nights of 10 and 11 June.

The Parties of the three Conventions adapted initial plans with regard to the scheduling of the BRS COPs, in response to the onset of COVID-19. As a result, BC COP-15, RC COP-10 and the SC COP-10 are held back-to-back in two stages: online from 26 to 30 July 2021, and face-to-face from 6 to 17 June 2022.

The High-level Segment of the BRS COPs took place on 1 June in Sweden. It was organized in connection with the Stockholm+50 event, commemorating the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. Held for the first time in four years, the BRS COPs High-level Segment was a resounding success, attended by over 100 ministers and high-level dignitaries from across the globe identifying opportunities to tackle the triple planetary environmental crisis of pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss, through the sustainable management of chemicals and wastes.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) brings together the three leading multilateral environmental agreements that share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes.
http://www.brsmeas.org/

More information on the 2021-2022 BRS COPs, including the High-level Segment and the Plastics Forum, is available here: http://www.brsmeas.org/20212022COPs/Overview/tabid/8395/language/en-US/Default.aspx

For technical information on the Rotterdam Convention, contact: Christine Fuell, Senior Technical Officer, christine.fuell@fao.org 

Information on the Plastic is Forever campaign can be found here: http://www.brsmeas.org/MediaHub/Campaigns/PlasticisForever/tabid/9151/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Further communication material is available on the BRS Secretariat Trello: https://trello.com/b/iEDpXNHv/the-basel-rotterdam-and-stockholm-conventions

For media inquiries, contact: Marisofi Giannouli, BRS Associate Public Information Officer, marisofi.giannouli@un.org

BRS COPs High-level Segment: a global event for a planet safe from chemicals and wastes

More than 100 ministers and other high-level representatives meet in Stockholm to discuss ways of addressing the triple planetary crisis of pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss, through the sound management of hazardous chemicals and wastes.

BRS COPs High-level Segment: a global event for a planet safe from chemicals and wastes

BRS COPs High-level Segment: a global event for a planet safe from chemicals and wastes

More than 100 ministers and other high-level representatives meet in Stockholm to discuss ways of addressing the triple planetary crisis of pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss, through the sound management of hazardous chemicals and wastes.

The High-level Segment of the 2021-2022 meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS COPs) was held in Sweden today, in association with the Stockholm+50, a global event commemorating the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. Joining in the celebrations that highlight 50 years of global environmental action, the High-level Segment marks the first time in five years that ministers have gathered under the BRS COPs to discuss policies that will help protect people and the environment from the adverse effects of hazardous chemicals and wastes.

Under the theme of “Global Agreements for a Healthy Planet: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”, the High-level Segment provided leaders with a dynamic and inclusive platform to explore opportunities and foster solutions that will help tackle the triple planetary environmental crisis of pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss. All of these three crises, largely driven by anthropogenic activity and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, are exacerbated by the unsound management of chemicals and wastes. The implementation of the three Conventions provides an overarching international legal basis for countries to address the crises and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Today we will be setting the tone for the upcoming BRS COPs, addressing a number of critical issues, from plastic and e-waste to harmful chemicals,” stated Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the BRS Secretariat. He went on to note that “for a sustainable transformation to happen, we need the buy-in of politicians and the private sector, but also the individuals.”

High-level Segment interactive discussions centered on pollution, a move towards a life-cycle management of chemicals and waste, and means of implementing the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions through the use of new technologies and innovative approaches to financing.

“Each year, one in six deaths is attributed to pollution,” remarked Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. “But the BRS Conventions have responded to the call of tackling this crisis.”

In turn, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, recognized the systemic importance of the Conventions as legally binding instruments that are crucial for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

Carlos-Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), expressed his gratitude to the BRS Secretariat for helping assess the financial needs of the Parties, thereby allowing GEF to be more strategic in delivering solutions.

Some of the key messages conveyed during the meeting touched on the need to design safe and sustainable chemicals so as to achieve full circularity in waste streams. Equally important emerged the need for governments and international organisations to invest in innovative technologies and financing. Worth noting was also the general consensus that the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes hinges on informing and engaging youth to advocate for a toxic-free planet.

Jan Dusík, Deputy Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic, echoed the thoughts of many when he stressed that “the human dimension should never be understated, as we are part of the chemicals and wastes problem, and its solution.”

The conclusion of the High-level Segment saw ministers build bridges across agendas to accelerate system-wide actions articulating a path to achieve a healthy planet and prosperity for all.

In her closing remarks, Katrin Schneeberger, State Secretary and Director of the Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland, stated that “the upcoming BRS COPs represent a concrete opportunity to take political action based on scientific assessments and the key outcomes of the High-level Segment.”

The High-level Segment took place in the Stockholm Exhibition & Convention Centre at Älvsjö, Sweden. It was held in the lead-up to BRS COPs, which will be in full effect next week.

Last year it was decided that, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-15), the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-10), and the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-10) would be held back-to-back in two stages: online from 26 to 30 July 2021, and face-to-face from 6 to 17 June 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) brings together the three leading multilateral environmental agreements that share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes.
 http://www.brsmeas.org/

More information on the 2021-2022 BRS COPs, including the High-level Segment and the Plastics Forum, can be found here: http://www.brsmeas.org/20212022COPs/Overview/tabid/8395/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Communication material is available on the BRS Secretariat Trello: https://trello.com/b/iEDpXNHv/the-basel-rotterdam-and-stockholm-conventions

Click here to watch the COPs High-level Segment video report.

For media inquiries contact: Marisofi Giannouli, BRS Associate Public Information Officer, marisofi.giannouli@un.org

Welcomed increase in funding for chemicals and wastes issues made available for the GEF

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), which serves as the financial mechanism for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention, has announced a substantial increase in funding, which includes a welcomed increase for issues pertaining to chemicals and waste.

Welcomed increase in funding for chemicals and wastes issues made available for the GEF

Welcomed increase in funding for chemicals and wastes issues made available for the GEF

The Global Environment Facility (GEF), which serves as the financial mechanism for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, has announced a substantial increase in funding, which includes a welcomed increase for issues pertaining to chemicals and waste. With 15 percent of the total allocation of funding allocated to the chemicals and waste focal area, the GEF replenishment signals the key role that chemicals and waste management plays in resolving the triple environmental planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

Discussions for the eighth replenishment of resources for the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund (GEF-8) were held virtually among representatives of civil society, environmental financiers, and the GEF’s recipient countries and 18 implementing agency partners, over the course of six meetings from April 2021 to February 2022. On 8 April 2022, these deliberations brought about a joint pledge of more than $5 billion US dollars by 29 countries for the Facility to protect human health and the environment. As a result, GEF funding is now increased by nearly 30 percent, compared to its most recent four-year operating cycle.

“The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions welcomes GEF’s robust replenishment, and in particular the heightened consideration paid to chemicals and wastes issues,” stated Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. He continued to underline that “The recent pledges will considerably boost the implementation of the Stockholm Convention, especially benefitting the Impact Programme on Supply Chains, as well as the management of both legacy and newly-listed Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).”

Among others, the Stockholm Convention provides an important contribution to resolving the global plastics waste crisis by controlling various POPs used in plastics as additives, flame retardants, plasticizers or in the manufacture of fluoropolymers. Of the 30 POPs listed under the Stockholm Convention, 15 are either plastic additives or by-products. Such actions by the Stockholm Convention will inform the upcoming negotiations towards a global legally binding instrument to end plastics pollution.

Ministers and other high-level representatives will discuss related issues at the High-level Segment of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions (BRS COPs), which will be held in connection with the Stockholm+50 international meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, on 1 June 2022. The 2022 face-to-face segment of the Stockholm Convention COP will take place from 6 to 17 June 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment.

For more information on the Stockholm Convention, go to www.chm.pops.int and follow the @brsmeas Twitter feed.

Contacts

For technical questions on the Stockholm Convention: Kei Ohno Woodall, BRS Programme Management Officer kei.ohno@un.org

For media inquiries: Marisofi Giannouli, BRS Associate Public Information officer, marisofi.giannouli@un.org

Experts recommend eliminating toxic pesticide methoxychlor, a DDT substitute, as Stockholm Convention POPRC17 meeting concludes in Geneva and online

The 17th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee also took steps towards the elimination of the plastic additive UV-328 and 4 other toxic chemicals.

Experts recommend eliminating toxic pesticide methoxychlor, a DDT substitute, as Stockholm Convention POPRC17 meeting concludes in Geneva and online

Experts recommend eliminating toxic pesticide methoxychlor, a DDT substitute, as Stockholm Convention POPRC17 meeting concludes in Geneva and online

Geneva, Switzerland: 28 January 2022

At a time when pollution is described by the United Nations as one of the three existential planetary threats currently facing society, along with climate change and loss of biodiversity, more than 250 scientific experts came together in Geneva and online this week, to review scientific data and make recommendations concerning the possible elimination of a number of toxic chemicals known as Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs.

The 17th meeting of the POPs Review Committee, held from 24 to 28 January 2022, recommended listing methoxychlor, a pesticide, in Annex A to the Stockholm Convention, without exemptions. Methoxychlor now goes forward to a future meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Stockholm Convention in 2023, where a decision to list would be expected to lead to global action towards its elimination or reduction from production and use, as well as the destruction of existing stocks and management of POPs wastes.

Methoxychlor has been used as a replacement for DDT against a wide range of pests including biting flies, houseflies, mosquito larvae, cockroaches and chiggers on field crops, fruit, vegetables, ornamentals as well as on livestock and pets. It is known to be very highly toxic to invertebrates and fish, including through its endocrine-disrupting effects, and has been detected in the environment and biota in the Arctic and in Antarctica, far from its production and use. Methoxychlor has also been detected in human serum, adipose tissues, umbilical cord blood and human breast milk.

The Committee also considered UV-328, a chemical typically found in certain types of plastics, and adopted its risk profile, moving it towards a possible recommendation to the Conference of the Parties for elimination. It noted that UV-328 is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and/or environmental effects, such that global action is warranted. A risk management evaluation will now be prepared, to be discussed at the next POPRC meeting, later this year, when a recommendation for elimination might be made, for consideration at a future Stockholm Convention COP.

The Committee also reached consensus on Dechlorane Plus, a flame retardant that has been in use since the 1960s, adopting the risk profile and moving it towards eventual possible elimination. This chemical is associated with harmful impacts such as oxidative damage, neurodevelopmental toxicity and endocrine disruption. Oxidative stress has been observed in marine macroalgae, fish, marine bivalves, earthworms, birds, and mice. In humans, exposure takes place by consumption of food and drinking water, inhalation of indoor and ambient air, as well as respiratory and oral uptake of dust. It has been detected in human blood and breast milk in many regions of the world, and the human foetus may be exposed via the umbilical cord blood, and breast milk may be an important source of exposure for infants.

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention, said that “The recommendation by POPRC to eliminate methoxychlor, a pesticide with long-term ecological and health effects, can contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment and is an important step towards the sound management of chemicals and waste worldwide. Moving other candidate POPs forward to the next stage of review, including the plastic additive UV-328 and flame retardant Dechlorane Plus, also represents vital progress. It  shows that – together- the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions provide the global legal and scientific framework, as well as platform of opportunity, for countries to continue to critically address the global pollution crisis, including from plastic waste.”

Three new proposals for listing additional substances for elimination or restriction were also reviewed for the first time by the Committee, which agreed that long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids, their salts and related compounds, chlorinated paraffins with carbon chain lengths C14-17 and chlorination levels at or exceeding 45 per cent chlorine by weight and chlorpyrifos all met the screening criteria specified in Annex D to the Convention, moving consideration of these chemical groups to the next review stage by the Committee later this year.

More information on all the chemicals under review is available online:

http://www.pops.int/TheConvention/POPsReviewCommittee/Meetings/POPRC17/Overview/tabid/8900/Default.aspx

At a previous meeting, POPRC recommended perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts, and PFHxS-related compounds be listed in Annex A to the Convention without specific exemptions, which will be considered at the face-to-face segment of the tenth meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Stockholm Convention (COP) to be held in June 2022. PFHxS, its salts, and PFHxS-related compounds are 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, its salts, and PFHxS-related compounds are known to be harmful to human health including the nervous system, brain development, endocrine system and thyroid hormone.

To date, 30 POPs, which covers hundreds 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 185 Parties, and benefits from almost universal coverage across the globe.

Dechlorane Plus is used worldwide as an additive flame retardant in electrical wire and cable coatings, plastic roofing materials, connectors in TV and computer monitors and as non-plasticizing flame retardants in polymeric systems such as nylon and polypropylene plastic. Widely detected in remote areas such as the Arctic and Antarctica, the toxic effects include endocrine disruption, oxidative stress and oxidative damages, and neurotoxicity, and is reported to cross the blood-brain barrier and to be maternally transferred to offspring in several species, including humans. The highest DP levels have been observed in occupationally exposed workers and residents living near production facilities and e-waste recycling sites in Asia.

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/Convention/POPsReviewCommittee/Chemicals/tabid/243/Default.aspx

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 the first non-halogenated chemical considered by POPRC. Given UV-328’s proliferation in plastic products, its eventual, possible 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.

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.chm.pops.int

For more info:

Technical contact: Kei Ohno Woodall, BRS Secretariat; email: kei.ohno@un.org tel: +41 79 233 3218

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

Mountains of Plastic

Spotlight on rampant plastic pollution in the mountains, as experts explore ways forward on the occasion of the 2021 International Mountain Day.

Mountains of Plastic

Mountains of Plastic

Geneva, 10 December2021

Spotlight on rampant plastic pollution in the mountains, as experts explore ways forward on the occasion of the 2021 International Mountain Day.

When it comes to plastic pollution, marine ecosystems have long dominated public discourse; and with good reason, as the impact that plastic waste is having on the oceans, rivers and lakes around the world cannot be overstated. That withstanding, plastic waste – including microplastics that are easily carried by air – can be found in even the remotest of mountain regions, degrading the biodiversity of these pristine ecosystems, and affecting negatively the health and livelihoods of local populations.

On the occasion of the 2021 International Mountain Day, the Geneva Environment Network in partnership with the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, GRID-Arendal, the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are organising an online event to shed light on the challenges posed by mountain plastic pollution, and to offer solutions that can help address the issue successfully. Sustainable mountain tourism, the overarching theme of this year’s International Mountain Day observance, lends itself nicely to the dialogue about plastic waste pollution in the mountains.

Mountain tourism, currently accounting for 15 to 20 per cent of the global tourism industry, is a key driver of development and prosperity for local populations, especially in developing countries. However, when sustainability is not taken into consideration, what started out as a blessing, can quickly turn into a threat. Currently, the plastic waste tourism footprint in mountains far exceeds that of local populations. Research by the BRS Secretariat reveals that in certain mountain regions, tourism has prompted an up to 38-fold increase of plastic waste generation within just three years.

Meanwhile, mountainous regions face specific challenges in addressing plastic waste due to their remoteness, limited access to human and financial resources, lack of economies of scale, and challenging natural conditions. Due to limited capacities and infrastructure in managing plastic waste, locals and tourists often resort to dumping and burning plastic waste outdoors, which in turn has dire repercussions on their health and the environment. It’s no wonder that a study carried out in the Himalayas has identified the presence of persistent organic pollutants in mountainous regions, with more volatile pollutants prone to concentrate at the higher and colder sites.[1] These and other conclusions are framing the development by the BRS Secretariat of its soon-to-be released report on plastic waste in remote and mountainous areas.

Abandoning mountain tourism altogether is not a viable solution, especially since the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have further compounded the vulnerabilities of mountain communities. The answer lies in using sustainability as a compass to tap into local potential and reinforce it with regulatory frameworks, robust infrastructure, and access to innovative solutions.

Success stories include garbage declaration and clearance systems for mountain expeditions in Nepal, the set-up of community-run collection centres in countries across the globe, recycling of bottles into ponchillas in Peru, engaging mountaineers in clean-up operations in Switzerland, creating full-cycle infrastructure for waste-sorting and management in a national park in Kazakhstan.

In addition, thanks to funding from the governments of Norway and France, the BRS Secretariat is implementing a project on Plastic Waste in Remote and Mountainous Areas which will strengthen capacities in managing plastic waste.

Mountain guides and mountaineers are also stepping up to advocate for plastic-free mountains. UNEP’s Mountain Heroes campaign, implemented in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee, capitalizes on the visibility of renown athletes to promote the environmental protection of mountains. The UIAA has established the UIAA Mountain Protection Award to showcase and reward responsible and sustainable behaviour and practices by climbers. And the IFMGA has in place a code of conduct for professional mountain guides, rendering them responsible for removing waste from their excursions.

The Plastic Waste in Mountains event will offer information on all the aforementioned initiatives, as well as insights from the 2021 Global Waste in Mountains Survey by GRID-Arendal. The event is part of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues, organized by the Geneva Environment Network.

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.

For more information, please contact:

For technical questions on mountain plastic waste pollution, please contact: Jost Dittkrist, BRS Programme Management Officer jost.dittkrist@un.org
For media inquiries please, contact: Marisofi Giannouli, BRS Associate Public Information officer, marisofi.giannouli@un.org


[1] X.-P. Wang, T.-D. Yao, Z.-Y. Cong, X.-L. Yan, S.-C. Kang, Y. Zhang (March 2007). Distribution of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Soil and Grasses Around Mt. Qomolangma, China. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 153-62. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6635018_Distribution_of_Persistent_Organic_Pollutants_in_Soil_and_Grasses_Around_Mt_Qomolangma_China.

Press Release: Unsound management of chemicals and wastes underpins runaway climate change

As the climate change COP-26 opens in Glasgow, the new BRS Press Release highlights the linkages between chemicals, waste, and climate change.

Press Release: Unsound management of chemicals and wastes underpins runaway climate change

Press Release: Unsound management of chemicals and wastes underpins runaway climate change

Geneva, 1 November 2021

With the eyes of the world on this week’s COP-26 on Climate Change, policymakers are urged to act in addressing ‘the elephant in the room’ – pollution arising from emissions from combustion, chemical production and non-circular waste management.

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. COP-26 needs to address pollution reduction, including the life-cycle approach to the management of chemicals and waste, including plastic waste, to simultaneously slow the increase in greenhouse gases and lead to improvements in environmental quality and the recovery of nature. ‘Making peace with nature’ is about stimulating and supporting the transition to a more sustainable global economy built upon circularity and a life-cycle approach to resource use. Since the sound management of chemicals and waste underpins all of the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, it needs to also be addressed through strategies and policies addressing climate change as well.”

A recent BRS Secretariat technical report, produced jointly with the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, explores the profound interlinkages between climate change, chemicals and waste.[1] Four main linkages are particularly pertinent to this week’s deliberations in Glasgow:

First, petrochemical and chemical industries, with strong links to the fossil fuels sector, continue to be significant contributors to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Releases of GHGs and hazardous chemicals happen at all stages in the life cycles of chemicals, including the production of input materials, primary and secondary production processes, chemical use and disposal. Hazardous chemicals and GHGs are release during everyday use of products including in agriculture through the application of pesticides, domestic refrigeration and air-conditioning, and specialist use in fire-fighting foams and explosion protection, to name just a few.

Second, as we tackle issues of land degradation and food production as a result of climate change, adaption responses often leads to increasing use of chemical fertilizer, pesticides and plastics, to combat higher incidences of pest and disease outbreaks, as well as the need to create more micro-environments for agricultural production. Reports indicate increased distribution, growth and reproduction of pests at higher temperatures and in wetter conditions, which in turn leads to a reduction in the efficacy of pesticides. 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[2]. Robust strategies are thus required for pest and disease mitigation to avoid excessive growth in pesticide use.

Third, 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 emissions scenario, mercury emissions from permafrost could reach a peak of 1.9 ± 1.1 Gg Hg per year in 2200[3], the equivalent of current global atmospheric emissions. Furthermore, flooding and other hydrological impacts caused by 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.

Fourth, increased mobilization and volatilization of chemicals from materials storage and stockpiles occurs as temperatures rise. An estimated that 240,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides are stockpiled in Eastern Europe alone, and 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[4]. Abandoned stockpiles of compounds containing heavy metals, which may include mercury, are also found in many parts of the world. Such stockpiles represent “ticking time-bombs” of chemical pollution in a world with rising temperatures.

Regionally, such impacts are already beginning to be felt. In the Arctic, for example, trends of POPs have generally been decreasing due to measures introduced to reduce emissions and releases, both before and since the establishment of the Stockholm Convention. Now, however, some are levelling off, and even showing upward trends in air and biota in recent years, climate change being part of the reason. Some POPs, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are no longer declining in the Arctic to the extent that would be expected, given known decreases in their primary source emissions, possibly due to climate change. This would support model-based studies which suggest climate change will affect contaminant transport pathways to the Arctic[5].

To highlight the importance of chemicals and waste to the climate change crisis and vice versa, the United Nations Palais des Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, will be illuminated green, the colour of the Basel Convention, from 4pm to 11pm on Monday, November 1st the opening day of COP-26. Follow the BRS social media accounts below for more details.

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 two recently published reports focussed on chemicals and wastes and climate change, and on chemicals and waste and biodiversity, exploring these key interlinkages further and providing 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/Other/tabid/2645/language/en-US/Default.aspx  

For more information, please contact:

Charlie AVIS, BRS Public Information Officer: +41-79-7304495, charles.avis@un.org


[1] Chemicals, Wastes, and Climate Change: Interlinkages and Potential for Coordinated Action, BRS Secretariat and the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention, Geneva: 2021, http://www.brsmeas.org/Implementation/Publications/Other/tabid/2645/language/en-US/Default.aspx

[2] Chemicals, Wastes, and Climate Change: Interlinkages and Potential for Coordinated Action, BRS Secretariat and the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention, Geneva: 2021, http://www.brsmeas.org/Implementation/Publications/Other/tabid/2645/language/en-US/Default.aspx

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] AMAP report on the Influence of Climate Change on the POPs and Chemicals of Emerging Arctic Concern: https://www.amap.no/documents/doc/pops-and-chemicals-of-emerging-arctic-concern-influence-of-climate-change.-summary-for-policy-makers/3511

The end of DDT?

Historic WHO announcement on a malaria vaccine, and recent recommendations of the Stockholm Convention’s Expert Group, give grounds for optimism that DDT could soon be phased out forever.

The end of DDT?

The end of DDT?

12th October 2021; Geneva, Switzerland

Ground-breaking malaria vaccine rollout and DDT Expert Group recommendations leave room for countries to stop relying on DDT for vector control.

Marking what is described by Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as “a historic moment” and “a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” the World Health Organization (WHO) is now recommending the widespread use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine. The recommendation is based on the positive results of an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, which has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019. Extensive use of the vaccine could lead to the eventual eradication of malaria, a disease that claims the lives of more than 260,000 children annually, in Africa alone.

Until now, malaria has been tackled primarily with vector control methods, such as the use of insecticides containing DDT (Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), an organic compound with chlorine. Sixty years ago, in 1961, American biologist Rachel Carson brought the issue of DDT toxicity to public awareness with her seminal book “Silent Spring”. Since then, the international community has been working on developing a safe, effective, and affordable alternative to DDT, with these efforts currently led by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the Global Alliance for Alternatives to DDT.

Until such an alternative is identified, the Stockholm Convention allows the use of DDT for public health interventions targeting disease vector control. The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions maintains a DDT Register listing all Parties that produce and/or use DDT for purposes that are deemed acceptable under the Stockholm Convention. The DDT Expert Group is tasked with assessing scientific, technical, environmental, and economic information related to DDT.

In December 2020, the DDT Expert Group of the Stockholm Convention recommended that additional steps be taken towards phasing out DDT. Specifically, the Group recommends that all 18 Parties currently in the DDT Register review their needs of DDT, and consider re-registering or withdrawing from the list by the end of 2022. The Expert Group also recommends that for those Parties that are still listed in the DDT Register as at 1 January 2023, consultations be engaged on a possible phase-out plan and, further recommends that from 1st January 2023 there no longer be a possibility for a Party to register for the acceptable purpose of use of DDT.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Stockholm Convention, these developments signal an opportune time for a change in the way the United Nations and the international community as a whole approach the use of what are known as “forever chemicals”, indicating a sense of urgency and mobilisation towards protecting human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants.

NOTES for EDITORS:

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.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 on the Stockholm Convention, please contact: Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention, Geneva: +41-79-2333218, kei.ohno@un.org.

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

BREAKING NEWS: Scientists recommend listing hazardous pesticides terbufos and iprodione in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention

The 17th meeting of the Chemicals Review Committee ended online today, with experts recommending the listing of a further two pesticides by the Rotterdam Convention COP-12 in 2023

BREAKING NEWS: Scientists recommend listing hazardous pesticides terbufos and iprodione in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention

BREAKING NEWS: Scientists recommend listing hazardous pesticides terbufos and iprodione in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention

24 September 2021

As part of the global community’s ongoing efforts to tackle the triple threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and negative impacts from hazardous chemicals and waste, international experts today recommended legally-binding control and information exchange on the international trade of two hazardous chemicals used in agriculture across the globe.

The two pesticides recommended for listing in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention, both used in agriculture, are known to have harmful impacts on human health and the environment. Terbufos, for example, is a soil insecticide used commonly on sorghum, maize, beet and potatoes and is known to pose a high to extremely high risk to aquatic organisms, birds, and small mammals due to its toxicity. Iprodione is a fungicide used on vines, fruits trees and vegetables, and has been classified as carcinogenic and toxic for reproduction.

The recommendations were made today at the 17th meeting of the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee (CRC), which met online from 20 to 24 September 2021, bringing together over more than one hundred experts from a wide spectrum of stakeholders from more than 50 countries.

The Committee had an unusually heavy agenda, with logistical and time constraints imposed by the pandemic-influenced requirement to meet online. Further discussions are needed on five additional pesticides, namely carbaryl, chlorfenvinphos, methidathon, methyl parathion and thiodicarb, which will be carried forward to the next CRC meeting in 2022.

The Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical 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.

Welcoming the recommendations, the Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (UNEP), Rolph Payet said: “We all know and feel the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most impacted have been the vulnerable: vulnerable countries, vulnerable populations, and the most vulnerable within vulnerable communities. These same communities are also the most at risk from exposure and impacts from poor management of chemicals. This week’s CRC recommendations seek to reduce this vulnerability, representing one way to benefit human health and environment where this is most needed.”

Rémi Nono Womdim, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), commended the work of the international experts of the Committee, adding: “Recommending these two pesticides become subject to a structured information exchange under the Convention is an important step towards a global reduction of the risk they pose to human health and the environment. This is urgently needed to ensure the production of safe and nutritious food for all while protecting the environment”.

The Committee’s recommendations to list these chemicals in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention will be forwarded to the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2023 (COP-11), together with a Decision Guidance Document (DGD) for each chemical. The DGD will be developed by CRC and finalized at its next meeting in 2022.

Meanwhile, COP-10, whose face-to-face segment is scheduled to be held in Geneva in June 2022, will consider, among others, two industrial chemicals previously recommended by CRC for listing in Annex III, namely decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE), an additive flame retardant and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, belonging to a group of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

Should the COP decide to list these chemicals, Parties to the Rotterdam Convention will be obliged to communicate and share information regarding the import and export of these chemicals. This is achieved through a legally-binding, structured information exchange procedure based on prior informed consent to international trade (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.

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 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 does not introduce bans on international trade but facilitates information exchange among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides and about their characteristics, facilitating a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties and other stakeholders. 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. 

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 in Annex A to the 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 cholesterol.[2]

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@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  

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

www.brsmeas.org      www.pic.int

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.

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