Remarks by Bakary Kante (UNEP) at the opening of the ordinary and extraordinary meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, 28 April 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

Sunday, 28 April 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

Madame President Magdalena Balicka,

Mr. President Osvaldo Álvarez-Pérez,

Mr. President Franz Perriz,

Excellences, distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a distinct honour to address you this morning on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, on the occasion of the opening of this historic set of conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions.

I am delighted to be here in Switzerland on the occasion of the second extraordinary meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, the eleventh ordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Convention, the sixth ordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, and the sixth ordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention.

Madam and Mister Presidents, the Government and the people of Switzerland deserve our deep thanks for the warm welcome and hospitality afforded to delegates meeting here in the beautiful city of Geneva.

Mr. Steiner regrets that he could not be with you today. He very much looks forward to joining you next week to participate in the discussions of the high-level segment and closing session of these extraordinary meetings.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished delegates,

This marks a milestone in the development of these three legally autonomous agreements.

The manner in which the meetings are organized is but one indication of the innovative spirit which has flowed into chemicals and waste MEAs’ work, a process captured by the phrase, ‘sustainable synergies’.

Synergies mean much more than the organization of meetings, more than the combining of the secretariats of the three conventions into an integrated, comprehensive organization.

Synergies is the spirit in which work on implementation of the conventions is done, one that combines an approach for the sound management of chemicals and waste at all levels that responds in an effective, efficient, coherent and coordinated manner to new and emerging issues and challenges.

The synergies process among the Conventions constitutes the first international effort to streamline environmental governance and as such has been on the leading edge of efforts to harmonize and improve cooperation and coordination between MEAs.

It is a key part of the long-term effort to gear international environmental governance to the challenges of the 21st century.

I applaud your courage in taking the synergies process to the next, higher stage of development, one that breaks the mold and continues to recast the framework of global environmental governance.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished delegates,

The adoption of The Future We Want at Rio+20 and its endorsement by the UN General Assembly has reaffirmed the target, set in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, to by 2020 ensure that" chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment".At the Rio conference, Governments recognized the significant contributions to sustainable development made by the chemicals and wastes multilateral environmental agreements. In the year following the Rio+20 Conference, the world’s attention has been riveted on chemicals and waste management as never before.

The 3rd International Conference on Chemicals Management, meeting under UNEP’s auspices in Nairobi last September, agreed to take forward work on five emerging issues,including hazardous substances within the lifecycle of electronic products.

The publication of the first Global Chemicals Outlook and the Costs of Inaction report have demonstrated the unacceptable toll on human health the mismanagement of pesticides place on developing countries.

The agreement reached in Geneva last January on the future global instrument on Mercury was another major step toward securing The Future We Want.

The release of the State of Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012 and Summary for Decision-Makers at the UNEP Governing Council, and the adoption by that same body of a substantive decision on Chemicals and Waste Management, in February of this year, testified to the sobering challenges we face and the need to press ahead in the search for sustainable solutions to chemicals and waste management issues.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished delegates,

The conference agenda of Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions before you respond to these challenges.

To illustrate with but a few examples, the parties to the Basel Convention, will consider adoption of guidelines to address the environmentally sound management of electronic and electrical waste.

The parties to the Rotterdam Convention will consider proposals next week to add to the Convention’s Annex III pesticides and industrial chemicals to ensure informed actions can be taken to protect human health and the environment against their harmful effects.

And the parties to the Stockholm Convention will consider adding a widely used industrial chemical to the Convention’s Annex A, putting it on course for elimination from most applications.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished delegates,

As you move forward, UNEP may be counted upon as a close partner. With the strengthened mandate UNEP received following Rio+20 and the decision of the UN General Assembly to open UNEP up to universal membership, UNEP is now in an even better position to contribute to the success of the conventions.

UNEP and FAO have undertaken a review of the arrangements adopted pursuant to the “Synergies Decisions” on cooperation and coordination among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The report provides an assessment of the progress made towards the implementation of the synergies decisions with the objective of establishing how the synergies process has contributed to enhancing cooperation and coordination at all levels. It is our hope that the findings of the review will assist you in developing further synergies among your conventions.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished delegates,

We have moved the chemicals and waste agenda from a position of once relative isolation to centre stage on the development agenda. This is clearly where it belongs.

With your help, the conventions will remain on the centre stage until we deliver enduring, sustainable solutions for 2020 and beyond.

Thank you.