Chemicals and Waste MEAs Cross Synergies Milestones

In a milestone of the synergies process between multilateral environmental agreements, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions held their first ever jointly held ordinary meetings of the parties in April and May 2013 to foster cooperation and collaboration between the conventions.

The conferences of the parties of the three conventions worked in joint contact groups to promote implementation and strengthen the management of harmful substances throughout their life-cycle. The COPs took more than 50 substantive decisions to fortify protection to health and environment offered by the conventions.

 The Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to list hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) in Annex A to the Convention with specific exemptions for expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings. HBCD is set to become the 23rd persistent organic pollutant to be listed under the Stockholm Convention. The Parties to the Basel Convention adopted a framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, and agreed to develop technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electronic and electrical wastes, or e-waste, the fastest growing hazardous waste stream globally.

The Parties to the Rotterdam Convention agreed to add the pesticide Azinphos-methyl and the industrial chemicals PentaBDE, OctaBDE and PFOS to Annex III of the Convention. This triggers an exchange of information between Parties and helps countries make informed decisions about future import and use of the chemicals. The addition of four substances is the largest number to be added to the Convention's prior informed consent procedure by any conference of the parties since the adoption of the Convention in 1998.

Call sounded for development of an international panel on chemicals

On 9 May 2013, over 80 ministers and vice-ministers met in a high level segment to consider the theme “Synergies and the implementation of the chemicals and wastes conventions at the national, regional and global levels” and to share their national experiences. Participants noted that the synergies process was not a time-finite event but a continuing process: synergies meant cost savings and those savings should be channeled into improving implementation at the national level.

Ministers called for the development of an international panel on chemicals integrating scientific expertise from industry, the private sector and academic institutions, similar to the International Panel on Climate Change, which could form the basis for a stronger science-policy interface. Existing models for monitoring networks could be expanded globally. 

The decisions of the joint COPs provide a solid foundation for the next two years of implementation of the three leading global chemicals and wastes instruments.

Strengthening the Conventions' Science-Policy Interface

The first joint meeting of the Rotterdam Convention Chemical Review Committee and the Stockholm Convention Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee took place in Rome on 20 October 2013, to promote synergies between the conventions by strengthening their science-policy interface.

Combating illegal traffic gets ENFORCEment boost

Under the Basel Convention, the newly established Environmental Network for Optimizing Regulatory Compliance on Illegal Traffic (ENFORCE) was launched in 2013 to prevent and combat illegal traffic in hazardous and other wastes through better implementation and enforcement of national legislation. 

Secretariat Acts to Promote Sustainability, Green Practices, gender and regional balance

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions decreased its carbon footprint by 50% from 2010 to 2012, part of its concerted effort towards becoming climate neutral.
The Secretariat's senior management team achieved both gender and regional balance during 2013, with three men and three women currently serving as branch chiefs or as executive officers drawn from across all five major UN regions. A Gender action plan was also adopted.