Global community meets online to further the environmentally sound management of chemicals & waste

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

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:

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:

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

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:

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:

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 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,

For pesticides: Christine FUELL, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome: +39-06-57053765,

For media enquiries: Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (BRS, UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-7304495,

For FAO: FAO media relations office, Rome: +39-06-57053625,

[1] World Health Organisation, 2021, “New data on the public health impact of chemicals: knowns and unknowns” online at: