All activities

Technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of wastes with mercury
The technical guidelines to properly manage wastes consisting of elemental mercury and wastes containing or contaminated with mercury aim to protect human health and the environment.  

Technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of wastes with mercury

Technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of wastes with mercury

The technical guidelines to properly manage wastes consisting of elemental mercury and wastes containing or contaminated with mercury aim to protect human health and the environment.

 

Message of Condolence to the Family, Friends and Colleagues of the Late John Myslicki
It is with deep sadness that we at the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions learnt of the death of Mr. John Myslicki, a lifelong champion of the Basel Convention. John died in the presence of his family at the age of 64 on 18 August 2012.

Message of Condolence to the Family, Friends and Colleagues of the Late John Myslicki

Message of Condolence to the Family, Friends and Colleagues of the Late John Myslicki

It is with deep sadness that we at the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions learnt of the death of Mr. John Myslicki, a lifelong champion of the Basel Convention. John died in the presence of his family at the age of 64 on 18 August 2012.

In a career spanning several decades, John contributed immensely to the development of the Basel Convention, participating first as a negotiator of the Convention and later serving on the Canadian delegation. He also acted as an informal historian of the Basel Convention, documenting its early genesis and negotiation. John later lent his invaluable experience to the Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative and the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE).

We have lost a friend and a colleague who always worked towards the goal of a better environment. His enthusiasm was and remains a guide for us to continue this work. We all will miss John.

To the family, friends and colleagues of John Myslicki, we wish to express our deepest sympathy for your loss. We share in your sorrow with respect, friendship and support.

 

The Working Group will consider several scientific and technical, legal and strategic matters, including the development of the technical guidelines on transboundary movement of e-waste, in particular regarding the distinction between waste and non-waste; development of the technical guidelines on persistent organic pollutants; and the proposals for new entries to the list of wastes contained in Annex IX to the Basel Convention submitted by Finland, Ireland, and the Netherlands.  

Basel Convention Open-ended Working Group to review framework for environmental sound management of wastes

The eighth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention is being held from 25 to 28 September 2012 at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG), in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Open-ended Working Group keeps under continuous review the implementation of the Convention’s work plan, specific operational policies and decisions taken by the Conference of the Parties for the implementation of the Convention. It meets once every two years.

The Working Group will consider several scientific and technical, legal and strategic matters, including the development of the technical guidelines on transboundary movement of e-waste, in particular regarding the distinction between waste and non-waste; development of the technical guidelines on persistent organic pollutants; and the proposals for new entries to the list of wastes contained in Annex IX to the Basel Convention submitted by Finland, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

As a follow-up to the Indonesian-Swiss country-led initiative to improve the effectiveness of the Basel Convention adopted at COP10 of the Convention, a progress report on the development of guidelines for environmentally sound management of waste will be provided, and the report on the interpretation of certain terminology to provide further legal clarity will be considered.

The outcomes of the meeting will help set the stage for the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, which will be held back-to-back with the conferences of the parties to the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions during a two-week period from 28 April to 10 May 2013 in Geneva. These back-to-back conferences will be held for the first time in tandem with an extra-ordinary meeting of the conferences of the parties charged with solidifying synergies among the three conventions.

New European Union Directive on E-waste Comes Into Force
Research conducted by the Basel Convention provided the backdrop to a new directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment.  

New European Union Directive on E-waste Comes Into Force

New European Union Directive on E-waste Comes Into Force

Research conducted by the Basel Convention provided the backdrop to a new directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment.

 

Concern over ship dismantling practices prompts capacity building initiatives
The benefits of ship dismantling, or recycling, derive from the materials and equipment comprising end-of-life ships, whose scrap steel, mechanical parts and other valuable equipment are recycled or refurbished for use in other industries. End-of-life ships also comprise of an array of hazardous materials – such as asbestos, PCB and waste oils – which can have serious implications for the environment and human health if not managed properly.   

Concern over ship dismantling practices prompts capacity building initiatives

Concern over ship dismantling practices prompts capacity building initiatives

The benefits of ship dismantling, or recycling, derive from the materials and equipment comprising end-of-life ships, whose scrap steel, mechanical parts and other valuable equipment are recycled or refurbished for use in other industries. End-of-life ships also comprise of an array of hazardous materials – such as asbestos, PCB and waste oils – which can have serious implications for the environment and human health if not managed properly. 

Concern has been expressed at the international level over the environmental, health and safety standards in this industry, particularly in those countries employing the beaching method of ship recycling.  Ship recycling commonly takes place in developing countries which tend to have a competitive advantage as they provide a pool of low cost labour, may have weaker environmental protection / worker health and safety regulations, and have national demand for the outputs of the activity (predominantly scrap steel). Poor enforcement of regulations relating to this activity means that problems with local environmental pollution are commonplace and incidents of worker injury and fatality are high. These concerns are compounded given the upward trend in recycling activity experienced in the past few years. 

The Basel Convention has been involved in the issue of ship dismantling for over a decade and works at the policy and technical levels and through its capacity building programme toward improving environmental, health and safety standards in this important industry.

UN report graphs global waste challenges
Vital Waste Graphics 3 charts global trends and sheds light on the obstacles that prevent the practical implementation of waste minimization, recycling and resource recovery.  

UN report graphs global waste challenges

UN report graphs global waste challenges

A new report, Vital Waste Graphics 3, charts global trends and sheds light on the obstacles that prevent the practical implementation of policies to promote waste minimization, recycling and resource recovery. 

Vital Waste Graphics 3 covers a wide-range of waste-related topics, including preventive tools for wastes; the market for clean-up and treatment of hazardous waste and recycling of scrap metals; biogas and compost; solid waste management; waste external costs to health, biodiversity, climate change, and land use; producer and consumer responsibility; food waste; green procurement; disasters and waste; waste crime and illegal traffic. 

The report’s message is presented through more than 70 charts and graphs that reveal, explain and communicate connections between the environment and society.  

Vital Waste Graphics 3 draws and maps a broader vision of the present and for the future, in order to raise awareness of the costs and consequences of generating waste, and the opportunities of minimizing and managing it in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

Already, the livelihoods of 15 million people worldwide – and one to two percent of the urban population in some developing countries – depend on waste picking or the scavenging of waste.  Protective measures for waste workers and nearby inhabitants, pollution control systems and risk mitigation measures are often insufficient in low-income countries.

Manufacturing products according to “green design” principles which integrate environmental and health considerations into their design, improved product labeling and certification of waste are among the measures that could protect health and environment, boost recycling rates, and contribute to turning waste into revenue and resources for other economic activities.

Vital Waste Graphics 3 is available here.

 

UN-led Meeting Agrees on Priority Actions for Managing E-Waste in Africa
Pan-African Forum on E-Waste Underlines Green Economy Opportunities in E-Waste Sector  

UN-led Meeting Agrees on Priority Actions for Managing E-Waste in Africa

UN-led Meeting Agrees on Priority Actions for Managing E-Waste in Africa

Pan-African Forum on E-Waste Underlines Green Economy Opportunities in E-Waste Sector

Nairobi, 16 March 2012 - Priority actions for reducing the environmental and health impacts of growing levels of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste), alongside promoting the sector's potential for green jobs and economic development, were today agreed by representatives from 18 African states, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and academia.

The actions were agreed on the final day of the Pan-African Forum on E-Waste, which was held at the Nairobi headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Organized by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention and UNEP, with support from the Government of Kenya, and private sector companies including Dell, HP, Nokia and Philips, the forum was the first event of its kind on the continent. It focused on long-term solutions to the rising levels of obsolete mobile phones, refrigerators, televisions and other e-products in Africa.

Increasing domestic consumption of electronic products, coupled with the ongoing import of waste electronics into Africa from other regions, means that the continent is set to generate a higher volume of e-waste than Europe by 2017.

The Pan-African Forum on E-Waste in Nairobi adopted a 'Call to Action', which outlines 8 priority areas to improve the environmentally-sound management of e-waste in Africa.

These include:

  • Implementation and enforcement by African states of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and the Bamako Convention, which bans the import of hazardous wastes into Africa
  • Development of national systems to improve the collection, recycling, transport, storage and disposal of e-waste
  • National institutions to co-operate with multiple stakeholders (UN, NGOs, private sector and others) in producing e-waste assessments
  • Recognition that the safe and sustainable recycling of e-waste provides an opportunity for green jobs and poverty reduction
  • Awareness raising activities on environmental and health hazards linked to the unsound management of e-waste

"Managing e-waste, and other kinds of waste, is essential for the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy", said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"Sustainable management of e-waste can combat poverty and generate green jobs through recycling, collection and processing of e-waste - and safeguard the environment and human health from the hazards posed by rising levels of waste electronics. With just over three months until the Rio+20 conference in Brazil, this event has underlined how smart public policies, creative financial incentives and technology transfer can turn e-waste from a challenge into an important resource for sustainable development," added Mr. Steiner.

He highlighted that global recycling rates of some e-waste metals-known as rare earth metals-can be as low as one per cent despite these metals being crucial for components in hybrid electric car batteries to the magnets in wind turbines.

"The future of the clean tech, high-tech products and the transition to a Green Economy may in part depend on boosting the recycling of e-waste in order to assure a steady and streamlined supply of these specialty metals for these 21st century industries," added Mr Steiner.

As well as serving as a valuable source of secondary raw materials, the recovery and recycling of e-waste can reduce pressure on scarce natural resources and contribute to emissions reductions.

"One tonne of obsolete mobile phones contains more gold than one tonne of ore and the picture is similar for other precious substances", said Katherina Kummer-Peiry, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention.

"If you consider the value of these materials, then this represents an important economic opportunity. There are recyclers and other industrial sectors who are interested in taking advantage of such opportunities, which can in turn create green jobs and support sustainable development."

Delegates at the Pan-African E-waste Forum underlined the importance of improved access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Africa towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

But the disposal of obsolete electronic equipment can pose significant environmental and health risks. E-waste can contain hazardous substances, including heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and endocrine disrupting substances such as brominated flame retardants.

Much of the recycling of e-waste that takes place in Africa today occurs on an informal basis - often on uncontrolled dumpsites or landfills. Hazardous substances can be released during these dismantling and disposal operations. Open burning of cables, for example, is a major source of dioxin emissions; a persistent organic pollutant that travels over long-distances and can end up in food chain.

Attendees at the Pan-African E-Waste Forum underlined the fact that recycling and recovery activities need to move from the unregulated, informal sector, where health and environmental risks are high, to a more regulated system using international recycling standards.

"Africa's environmental challenges are growing by the day. This includes the exponential growth of electronic waste," said Ali D. Mohamed, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources of Kenya.

"It is now the time for Africa to take action on addressing health and environmental problems as a result of current recycling practices, while creating jobs and business opportunities and alleviating poverty. We want to achieve this through an enforceable legislative framework," added Mr. Mohamed.

As part of the 'Call to Action', manufacturers, importers, re-sellers and other handlers of electrical and electronic products should be required to organize the collection, recycling and recovery of e-waste. The forum agreed that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) should be a key component of the environmentally sound management of e-waste.

Notes to Editors:

For more information on the Pan-African Forum on E-Waste, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/77xrsnm

UNEP Metals Recycling Report: http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel/metals_recycling/

Basel Convention Report, Where are WEEE in Africa? Findings from the Basel Convention E-waste Africa Programme, available at: www.basel.int

UNEP Report From E-Waste to Resources: http://www.unep.org/PDF/PressReleases/E-Waste_publication_screen_FINALVERSION-sml.pdf

Financial support for the Pan-African Forum on E-Waste was provided by the European Commission, the Governments of Norway and Canada, HP, Dell, Microsoft, Sims Recycling Solutions, Safaricom and the National Environmental Management Authority of Kenya.

The event was held in collaboration with BCCC-Nigeria, EMPA, IMPEL, Nokia, OKO-Institut, Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) and United Nations University.

Media Contacts:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information Acting Director and Spokesperson, Tel. +41 795 965 737 or +254 733 632 755, e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org,

Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on Tel. +254 207623088, Mobile: +254 731666214, Email: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Michael Stanley-Jones, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Tel. + 41-22-917-8668, Mobile + 41-79-730-4495, E-mail: msjones@pops.int

Photo: Kai Loeffelbein

 

UN system collaborates on electronic waste disposal
International collaboration to promote environmentally sound management of e-waste was strengthened with the signing of an agreement between the Basel Convention Secretariat  and ITU aimed at protecting the environment.

UN system collaborates on electronic waste disposal

UN system collaborates on electronic waste disposal

ITU and Secretariat of the Basel Convention to protect environment from hazardous e-Waste

Geneva, 12 March 2012 - International collaboration to promote environmentally sound management of e-waste was strengthened with the signing of an agreement between the Secretariat of the Basel Convention (SBC) and ITU aimed at protecting the environment from the adverse effects of e-Waste.

The rapid spread of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) has raised public attention on the negative effects arising from inadequate disposal and waste management. Electronic waste, which contains toxic materials used in the manufacturing process, can cause widespread damage to the environment and human health. The ITU-SBC collaboration seeks to collect and recycle the hazardous materials by introducing safeguards in the management of the waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), or e-Waste.

Developing countries are expecting a surge in e-Waste, with mobile phone waste expected to grow exponentially. Sharp increases of e-Waste have until now not been matched with policy and regulatory mechanisms nor with infrastructure to cope with the influx in developing countries. Currently, only 13 per cent of e-Waste is reported to be recycled with or without safety procedures.

The issue of e-Waste as an emerging telecommunications policy and regulatory issue has received recognition at the highest level in ITU. Key examples of ITU´s activities in this area include:

  • The adoption of Recommendation ITU-T L.1000, “Universal power adapter and charger solution for mobile terminals and other ICT devices”, which dramatically reduces production and cuts the waste produced by mobile chargers.
  • The adoption of Recommendation ITU-T L.1100, which details the procedures to be employed when recycling rare metal components included in ICT equipment.
  • Designing e-Waste management strategies for environmental protection; publishing and disseminating best practices; and assisting countries in the drafting, adoption and implementation of  policies, laws, and regulations related to e-Waste management.

At the level of global environmental policy, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which came into force in 1992, is the most comprehensive environmental agreement on the management of hazardous and other waste. But many countries have not yet successfully translated its provisions into their national legislation. Now, with the signing of the ITU-SBC Administrative Agreement, efforts between both UN mechanisms will be leveraged, maximizing value at the global level and strengthening collaboration between telecommunication/ICT and environmental policy makers for the global good.

“The ICT sector is already making significant progress in improving its environmental performance and reducing e-Waste through improved best practices and standards,” stated ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. “The collaboration with the Secretariat of the Basel Convention will allow the global community to address this ever-increasing problem through a holistic approach, involving the recycling industry as well as environmental policy makers.”

“The positive impact of ICT on development, particularly in developing countries and countries with economies in transition is well recognized and acknowledged,” said Mr Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. “However, ICT equipment has to be dealt with in view of its entire life-cycle, and this includes the time when the equipment comes to its end-of-life and becomes e-Waste. Collaboration between ITU and SBC will further our shared objectives in support of sustainable development that essentially includes environmentally sound management of waste.”

ITU and SBC have agreed to cooperate through regular dialogues and meetings; exchange of information, practices, experiences and materials; coordination of activities in areas of mutual interest, including development of green ICT standards, international cooperation and capacity building; and execution of supplementary activities, projects and programmes.

For more information, please contact:

Sanjay Acharya

Chief, Media Relations and Public Information

International Telecommunication Union

E-mail: sanjay.acharya@itu.int

Tel: +41 22 730 5046

Mobile: +41 79 249 4861

Matthias Kern

Senior Programme Officer

Secretariat of the Basel Convention

E-mail: matthias.kern@unep.org 

Tel: +41 22 917 8767

About ITU

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology. For over 145 years, ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve communication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to new-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology and converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world.

www.itu.int

Facebook: www.itu.int/facebook  

Twitter: www.itu.int/twitter

About Basel Convention

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1992. It protects human health and the environment against the adverse effects resulting from the generation, management, transboundary movements and disposal of hazardous and other wastes. The Convention currently has 178 member countries (Parties).

www.basel.int

Photo copyright: Kai Loeffelbein 

 

Domestic Consumption is Main Contributor to Africa’s Growing E-Waste
UN Report Finds Imports of Waste Electronics from Europe Continue to Add to Problem

Domestic Consumption is Main Contributor to Africa’s Growing E-Waste

Domestic Consumption is Main Contributor to Africa’s Growing E-Waste

UN Report Finds Imports of Waste Electronics from Europe Continue to Add to Problem

Geneva, 10 February 2012 – West Africa faces a rising tide of e-waste generated by domestic consumption of new and used electrical and electronic equipment, according to a new United Nations report.

Domestic consumption makes up the majority (up to 85 percent) of waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) produced in the region, according to the study, Where are WEEE in Africa?  

The e-waste problem in West Africa is further exacerbated by an ongoing stream of used equipment from industrialised countries, significant volumes of which prove unsuitable for re-use and contribute further to the amount of e-waste generated locally.

In the five countries studied in the UN report (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria), between 650,000 and 1,000,000 tonnes of domestic e-waste are generated each year, which need to be managed to protect human health and the environment in the region.

Where are WEEE in Africa? sheds light on current recycling practices and on socio-economic characteristics of the e-waste sector in West Africa. It also provides the quantitative data on the use, import and disposal of electronic and electrical equipment in the region.

The report draws on the findings of national e-waste assessments carried out in the five countries from 2009 to 2011.

"Effective management of the growing amount of e-waste generated in Africa and other parts of the world is an important part of the transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy”, said United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary General Achim Steiner.

“We can grow Africa’s economies, generate decent employment and safeguard the environment by supporting sustainable e-waste management and recovering the valuable metals and other resources locked inside products that end up as e-waste. In the run-up to Rio+20 in June, this report shows how measures such as improved collection strategies and establishing more formal recycling structures, can limit environmental damage and provide economic opportunities,” added Mr. Steiner.

Risks and Opportunities of E-Waste

The use of electrical and electronic equipment is still low in Africa compared to other regions of the world, but it is growing at a staggering pace. The penetration rate of personal computers in Africa, for example, has increased by a factor of 10 in the last decade, while the number of mobile phone subscribers has increased by a factor of 100.

Electrical and electronic equipment can contain hazardous substances (e.g. heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and endocrine disrupting substances such as brominated flame retardants). 

Hazardous substances are released during various dismantling and disposal operations and are particularly severe during the burning of cables to liberate copper and of plastics to reduce waste volumes. Open burning of cables is a major source of dioxin emissions, a persistent organic pollutant that travels over long-distances that bio-accumulates in organisms up through the global food chain.

Electrical and electronic equipment also contains materials of strategic value such as indium and palladium and precious metals such as gold, copper and silver. These can be recovered and recycled, thereby serving as a valuable source of secondary raw materials, reducing pressure on scarce natural resources, as well as minimizing the overall environmental footprint.

The report, which was prepared by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention and partners, also documents the economic and environmental potential of building a sound resource recovery and waste management system for e-waste, along with the risks of continuing on the present course.

“E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream world-wide and a key waste stream under the Basel Convention. Dealing with electronic and electrical equipment properly presents a serious environmental and health challenge for many countries, yet also offers a potentially significant opportunity to create green businesses and green jobs,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The report examined the flows of EEE and e-waste between Europe and West Africa. Among the major findings:

  • In Ghana in 2009, investigators found that around 70% of all EEE imports were used EEE; 30% of second-hand imports were estimated to be non-functioning (therefore e-waste), producing about 40,000 tonnes of e-waste in 2010.
  • Field investigations in Benin and Côte d’Ivoire have shown that about half of the imported used EEE is actually non-functional and non-repairable, thus defined as import of e-waste.
  • An analysis of 176 containers of two categories of used electrical and electronic equipment imported into Nigeria, conducted from March to July 2010, revealed that more than 75% of all containers came from Europe, approximately 15% from Asia, 5% from African ports (mainly Morocco) and 5% from North America. A similar distribution could be observed in Ghana, where 85% of used EEE imports originated in Europe, 4% in Asia, 8% in North America, and 3% from other destinations.
  • The UK is the dominant exporting country to Africa for both new and used EEE, followed with large gaps by France and Germany. Nigeria is the most dominant African importing country for new and used EEE, followed by Ghana.
  • The amount of e-waste generated in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria from the consumption of new or used EEE of good quality with a reasonable life-span is comparable to the total amount of e-waste generated in Belgium or the Netherlands, and equates to approximately 5% of all e-waste generated in the European Union.

 Child Labour Concerns

The exposure to hazardous substances in and around dismantling sites causes manifold health and safety risks for collectors, recyclers and neighbouring communities. Children’s health in particular may be at risk.  Child labour is common in West Africa’s scrap metal business, the report’s investigators found. Collection and dismantling activities are carried out by children from the age of 12, however younger children from the age of five are sometimes engaged in light work, including dismantling of small parts and sorting of materials.

In contrast to the informal recycling sector, where collection and recycling of e-waste is almost exclusively carried out by individuals largely consisting of migrant labourers who are often stigmatized in African societies as ‘scavengers’, refurbishment is viewed as a  relatively attractive economic opportunity for an increasingly well-educated, semi-professional labour force. In Accra (Ghana) and Lagos (Nigeria), the refurbishing sector provides income to more than 30,000 people.

“Sustainable solutions for e-waste management in Africa require measures aimed at imports and exports control, collection and recycling, policy and legislation that incorporate extended producer responsibility, recognize the important role of the informal sector, promote awareness raising and education, as well as compliance monitoring and enforcement. Appropriate health and safety measures for those involved in recycling, as well as environmentally sound practices, should be ensured,”   said Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, Director of Basel Convention Regional Coordinating Center for Africa, a co-author of the report.

Copies of the report, Where are WEEE in Africa? Findings from the Basel Convention E-waste Africa Programme, can be downloaded from www.basel.int

Note to Editors

The report was prepared by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention in cooperation with the Basel Convention Regional Coordinating Centre for the African Region (BCCC-Nigeria) based in Nigeria and the Basel Convention Regional Centre for French-speaking countries in Africa (BCRC-Senegal) based in Senegal, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), the Institute for Applied Ecology (the Öko-Institut), the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) and the governments of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

The Basel Convention E-waste Africa Programme aims at enhancing the environmental governance of e-wastes and creating favourable social and economic conditions for partnerships and small businesses in the recycling sector in Africa. The initial phase of the programme consists of the E-waste Africa project and complementary activities triggered by the project and implemented by partner organizations. 

The overarching goal of the E-waste Africa project is to enhance the capacity of West Africa and other African countries to tackle the growing problem of e-waste and thereby protect the health of citizens, particularly children, while providing economic opportunities. Specifically, the project aims to improve the level of information available on flows of EEE and e-waste imported into West African countries; assess the baseline situation in terms of amounts of EEE imports, EEE in use and e-waste in partner countries, as well as environmental impacts of the e-waste sector; study the social-economic aspects of the increasing volumes of used EEE and e-waste; and strengthen national capacities to monitor and control transboundary movements of e-waste and to prevent illegal traffic.

 Waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) is a priority waste stream addressed by the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions is administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The Convention entered into force in 1992.

 The Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention prohibits the export of hazardous waste from OECD to non-OECD countries. It was adopted in 1995, but has yet to enter into force. Parties reaffirmed their support for the amendment at their 10th meeting in October 2011 by adopting a decision that is widely expected to speed the Ban Amendment’s ratification and entry into force.

The Cartagena Declaration on prevention and minimization of hazardous wastes, also adopted by the Parties at their 10th meeting, reaffirms that the Basel Convention is the primary global legal instrument for guiding the environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes and their disposal, including efforts to prevent and minimize their generation, and efficiently and safely manage those that cannot be avoided. The hazardous waste challenge, it declares “is best addressed through the avoidance of the use of hazardous substances in products and processes as well as through production methods that avoid and prevent waste generation.” 

The Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and the Control of the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Waste within Africa (Bamako Convention) was adopted in 1991 and entered into force in 1998. The Bamako Convention incorporates the prohibition of all imports of hazardous waste into those countries which are Parties, but unlike the Basel Convention does not exclude certain hazardous wastes (e.g. radioactive wastes). All 53 member States of the Organization of African Union (OAU) are parties to the Bamako Convention.

For more information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information Acting Director and Spokesperson, Tel. +41 795 965 737 or +254 733 632 755, e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org,

Michael Stanley-Jones, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, + 41-22-917-8668; (m) + 41-79-730-4495, e-mail: SafePlanet@unep.org,

Tatiana Terekhova, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, + 41-22-917-8340, e-mail: Tatiana.Terekhova@unep.org

Télécharger la version française du communiqué de presse.

 

Basel joins the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development
The UNEP Secretariat of the Basel Convention is pleased to announce that it is joining the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development.

Basel joins the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development

Basel joins the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development

Port Louis, Mauritius (7 December 2011) – The UNEP Secretariat of the Basel Convention is pleased to announce that it is joining the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development.  

In a statement issued on the opening day of  the International Telecommunication Union’s World Telecommunications/ICT Indicators Meeting  on 7 December 2011, Mr Torbjorn Fredriksson, Chief of the ICT Analysis Section of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said,

“The inclusion of the Basel Convention Secretariat is particularly valuable at a time when growing attention is being paid to the measurement of the environmental implications for ICT, such as the growth of electronic waste “ said the current chair of the Partnership Steering Committee.

“The Secretariat of the Basel Convention will bring to the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development its expertise and experience with e-waste issues on global level, its network of national and international institutions, academics, industry and civil society,” commented Mr Matthias Kern, who will be representing the Basel Convention Secretariat in the Partnership.

“Measuring e-waste is one of the emerging topics we are exploring at this year’s World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Meeting. I am extremely pleased to announce the new membership of the UNEP Secretariat of the Basel Convention at this occasion,” said Ms Susan Teltscher, Head of ITU’s ICT Data and Statistics Division.

ITU, the Basel Convention  Secretariat and the United Nations University are conducting a joint online survey on e-waste – http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ewastesurvey2011 – through 31 January 2012.

 

Historic agreement ends 15 year deadlock over banning North-South movements of hazardous waste
International conference adopts a package of strategic decisions on waste avoidance and management in the 21st century

Historic agreement ends 15 year deadlock over banning North-South movements of hazardous waste

Historic agreement ends 15 year deadlock over banning North-South movements of hazardous waste

International conference adopts a package of strategic decisions on waste avoidance and management in the 21st century

Geneva (25 October 2011) – Representatives of 118 members of the Basel Convention, the global treaty on waste management, have reached a historic agreement unblocking an amendment that will ban the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries, known as the Ban Amendment.

The groundbreaking decision, containing a set of measures aimed at strengthening international control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, was adopted on 21 October, the closing day of the 10th meeting of the Parties to the Convention (COP10), in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

The ground for the breakthrough was prepared by the Country Led Initiative (CLI) to Improve the Effectiveness of the Basel Convention, initiated by the Governments of Indonesia and Switzerland at the last Conference in 2008.  The effort was supported by the Government of Colombia, host of the Conference.

The so-called CLI decision allows the Ban Amendment to come into force for those countries who wish to adhere to it, but also moves forward in establishing a regime for countries who wish to trade in waste to ensure the minimization of health and environmental impacts, ensuring adequate social and labour conditions and creating new economic opportunities. It clarifies the interpretation of Article 17(5) of the Convention, setting the bar for entry into force of the Ban Amendment. The amendment will enter force once an additional 17 parties ratify it.

“The results of the Cartagena conference offer a concrete example of how transformative environmental action can serve to reduce poverty and promote a healthy environment and social equity, advancing the promise of a green, sustainable economy which will be the focus of the Rio+20 conference next year,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "All too often UN negotiations can be characterized by frustration and stalemate. The Cartagena meeting provides an antidote to such perceptions and bodes well for the next round of discussions on the way forwards towards  an ambitious  mercury treaty that reconvene at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi next week," he added.

“In Cartagena, we have demonstrated that multilateralism works,” said Paula Caballero, the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs officer who served as President of COP10.

“The striking progress made in Cartagena demonstrates how by working together Governments can find common ground on issues that have confounded agreement for well over a decade. Cartagena has given to the global community a model for achieving sustainable development in the field of waste management,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The agreement on the Ban Amendment capped a week of negotiations between the Conference’s 700 participants.  In addition to the CLI decision, the Conference in Cartagena also adopted Strategic Framework for the implementation of the Convention over the years 2012-2021, which sets out a vision, guiding principles, strategic objectives, means of implementation, and indicators of achievements. The Strategic Framework aims at strengthening the environmentally sound management of such wastes as a contribution to promoting human health, sustainable livelihoods, and eradicating poverty.  Technical Guidelines were adopted on co-processing of hazardous wastes in cement kilns, environmentally sound management of mercury wastes, and environmentally sound management of used tyres, and further work was mandated on additional guidelines.

More than 25 separate decisions on matters as wide-ranging as compliance, financial assistance, private- public partnerships, and the role of the Regional Centres for Training and Technology.

The Parties also adopted the Cartagena Declaration on prevention and minimization of hazardous wastes. The declaration complements the Strategic Framework in determining the work under the Convention in years to come. It reaffirms that the Basel Convention is the primary global legal instrument for guiding the environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes and their disposal, including efforts to prevent and minimize their generation, and efficiently and safely manage those that cannot be avoided.

A key provision of the declaration recommends that the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) “should consider prevention, minimization and recovery of wastes as a key contribution to advancing the three pillars of sustainable development through environmentally and socially sound economic development, poverty reduction, and protection of human health and livelihoods.”  

The declaration also calls for the creation of a global methodology for accurate measurement of national waste generation. This would provide a means of gauging national efforts to make progress in waste prevention.

The Cartagena meeting was the last of three related conferences of the Parties to the major chemicals and waste global treaties held in 2011. The parties to the Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions had met in April and June 2011, respectively. Decisions on synergies between the three conventions taken at the earlier meetings depended on the concurrent agreement of COP10. The Basel Convention´s Parties adopted a substantially identical decision enhancing cooperation and coordination among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and agreed on joint activities in the synergies part of the 2012-2013 work programme.

The 10th meeting of the Conference to the Parties to the Basel Convention was held from 17–21 October 2011.

The eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2013. Mr. Franz Perrez (Switzerland) was elected to serve as President of the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

Note to editors:

The 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive global environmental treaty dealing with hazardous and other wastes.  It has 178 members (Parties) and aims to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of the generation, management, transboundary movements and disposal of hazardous and other wastes.  

The Basel Convention has two pillars. First, it regulates the transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes. Second, the Convention obliges its Parties to ensure that such wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. To this end, Parties are required to prevent or minimize the generation of wastes at source, to treat and dispose of wastes as close as possible to their place of generation and to minimize the quantities that are moved across borders. Strong controls have to be applied from the generation of a hazardous waste to its storage, transport, treatment, reuse, recycling, recovery and final disposal.

The Conference of the Parties is the supreme decision-making organ of the Basel Convention. It meets every other year to discuss programmatic and budgetary issues for the next biennium.

The Ban Amendment was adopted in 1995. Entry into force of the amendment had been mired in a controversy over the number of ratifications by Parties needed to bring this about.  In the intervening decade, the quantity of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes has increased.  A growing share of the international trade in hazardous waste is believed to lie outside of the framework of environmentally sound management.

Trade in hazardous waste has grown significantly between developing countries, a trend unforeseen when the Convention was adopted more than two decades ago. Such trade is not addressed by the Ban Amendment.

Recent years have seen efforts under the Basel Convention to develop a global strategy for environmentally sound waste management.  In 2002, UNEP has established under the Basel Convention a partnership addressing the environmentally sound management of used and end-of-life mobile phones, the first of several strategic partnerships in different areas of waste management.  

In 2008 an additional partnership - the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE) - was launched on used and end-of-life computing equipments. In these partnerships government representatives work together with the manufacturers, recycling industry, academic institutions and public interest NGOs.

The Basel Convention has 14 Regional and Coordinating Centres, with one or more operating on every continent. The Centres develop and undertake regional projects, and deliver training and technology transfer for the implementation of the Convention under the direction of the Conference of the Parties and of the Secretariat of the Convention.

The Cartagena meeting was held under the theme “Prevention, minimization and recovery of wastes”. It marked only the second time the Conference of the Parties has been held in the Latin American and Caribbean region. The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention was held in Piriapolis, Uruguay, in 1992.

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011 to be the International Year of Chemistry.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Katharina Kummer Peiry, Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the Basel Convention,
+41-22-917 5488, e-mail: Katharina.Kummer@unep.org

Mr. Michael Stanley-Jones, Press Officer, Joint Services of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, UNEP, +41 (0)79 730 4495, e-mail: SafePlanet@unep.org

Please also consult the web site of the Basel Convention: http://www.basel.int/

Donwnolad the Spanish version.

 

Central America launches two national pilot projects to speed safe destruction of ozone-depleting substances and persistent organic pollutants
Destroying large banks of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) together with persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Central America launches two national pilot projects to speed safe destruction of ozone-depleting substances and persistent organic pollutants

Central America launches two national pilot projects to speed safe destruction of ozone-depleting substances and persistent organic pollutants

Basel Convention Regional Center for Central America and Mexico (BCRC – CAM), Cartagena de Indias, Colombia (21 October 2011) – Destroying large banks of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), harmful to the earth’s atmosphere, together with persistent organic pollutants (POPs), damaging to human health and the environment, are the twin aims of a unique regional partnership launched on 21st October 2011 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. This initiative is supported financially by Norway and Switzerland.

Central American leaders coordinating destruction of ozone-depleting substances and persistent organic pollutants announced two national pilot projects to help meet the challenge of collecting and destroying mounting stocks of chemicals and wastes in the region, on the closing day of the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention.

The Central American initiative will start with the above mentioned two national pilot destruction projects and then expand into other four Central American countries,  collecting and destroying ODS and POPs and reducing ODS emissions, which could damage the ozone layer and increase climate change, while at the same time cleaning up POPs. Thus, six Central American countries will be cleaned of these substances: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, based on the feasibility assessment which is currently under preparation.  It will evaluate conditions for possible coordination with other POPs disposal procedures.

Cost analysis studies will be carried out to ensure that the collection, transportation and destruction can take place in an economical, as well as in an environmentally sound manner, according to procedures approved under the Montreal Protocol on Protection of the Ozone Layer, the Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This initiative will provide free-of-charge technical and financial support for the environmentally sound destruction of ODS and POPs to motivate holders of these substances to stop releasing them to the environment.

“To overcome the difficulties faced by Parties in the identification of ODS banks for destruction and then ensure the ultimate destruction of these harmful substances, countries need new approaches. This groundbreaking project may set a precedent for future initiatives,” said Marco Gonzalez, Executive Secretary of the Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

“Having a joint approach to ODS and POPs destruction provides a highly cost-effective model which can be shared and replicated in other regions,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. “By promoting synergies between three international treaties and regional and national partners, the project will deliver concrete benefits to the economic and environmental health of the region and the globe,” he concluded.

Miguel Araujo, Director of the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Central America and Mexico (BCRC-CAM) and leader of the initiative, said “The Basel Convention and national regulations intended to discourage undesirable shipments of chemical substances and wastes also may be perceived as inhibiting the desirable shipment of ODS and POPs to responsible destruction facilities in a variety of countries.”

“The solution is to find ways to encourage, finance, and streamline shipment of ODS and POPs to safe destruction without opening loopholes that would allow the unsafe or undesirable shipment of other toxic and hazardous substances and wastes,” Mr. Araujo said.  

Experts from three multilateral environmental agreements – the 1985 Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants – have joined in support of the initiative.

The initiative sets an example of synergies between the multilateral environmental agreements and regional and national actors. It will encourage national coordination efforts and help reduce costs of implementation of the treaties by preventing duplication of work.

Initiative organizers underscore the urgency and relevance of this effort, given the higher cost effectiveness of a coordinated ODS and POPs destruction, current delays in preparing ODS inventories and facilities that can destroy ODS banks in the Central American region.

The initiative results can also be replicated in other regions of the world.

Note to editors

Initiative “Coordinated Destruction of ODS and POPs Banks in Central America”

The initiative is organized and managed by the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Central America and Mexico (Centro Regional del Convenio de Basilea para Centroamérica y México, BCRC-CAM) in El Salvador.  

The initiative is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, with special technical support provided by the Netherlands Ministry of Defense, United States Department of Defense, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, UNEP, Refrigerant Reclaim Australia, Hortitectnia, and the National Institute for Advanced Science and Technology of Japan.

Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development is providing legal, capacity building, and networking support to identify and resolve barriers to the desirable cross-border shipment of ODS and POPS for destruction. The goal is to fully satisfy the norms of prior informed consent, while supporting sustainable solutions to chemical management.

The initiative has two components implemented by BCRC-CAM:

  1. “Pilot destruction of ODS and POPs and Legal Analysis of Feasibility of Transboundary Movements within Central American countries”, financed by Norway, which will produce calibrated protocols for the destruction of ODS and POPs banks based on pilot destructions, and a legal analysis on the feasibility of intraregional transboundary movements of ODS and POPs. It seeks the use of existing capacities for the destruction of ODS that are not currently available in many Central American countries. In turn, the new Central American initiative will provide information on existing ODS and POPs banks and alternate technologies and costs for their destruction.
  2. “Feasibility Assessment and Preparation of National Destruction Plans of ODS and POPs for six Central American Countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama)”, financed by Switzerland. It includes cost estimates of collection, transportation and destruction of ODS and POPs banks,

The initiative will seek synergies with related efforts in the region (e.g. Reduction of Chemical Runoff in Agriculture and Tourism (REPCAR II), remediation activities in coordination with the BlackSmith Institute).

The three multilateral environmental conventions

The Basel Convention was drafted and adopted when a tightening of environmental regulations in industrialized countries in the 1980s stimulated irresponsible shipping of hazardous waste to developing countries and to Eastern Europe.  The Convention established a framework based on “prior informed consent,” for controlling movements of hazardous wastes across international frontiers. The Convention mandates Parties to reduce the hazardous wastes generated and promote environmentally sound management (ESM); restrict transboundary movements of wastes except where these agree with ESM principles and ensure ESM of wastes as close as possible to where they were generated. 

Organized under the theme “Prevention, minimization and recovery of wastes”, the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Basel Convention is being held at the invitation of the Government of Colombia in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, from 17 to 21 October 2011. Eight hundred delegates and observers from over 150 countries are attending the meeting.

The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that persist in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, bioaccumulate in humans or wildlife, and have adverse effects to human health or to the environment. The Convention requires Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment.

The Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol protects the Earth against harmful ultra violet radiation by phasing out the production and consumption of nearly 100 ODS once used in over 250 industrial, military and consumer sectors.  ODS were once widely used for health (medicine & sterilization), fire protection (food processing, weapons), electronics and aerospace (solvents), energy efficiency (insulating foam), food preservation (refrigeration and food freezing), comfort (air conditioning), convenience (aerosol deodorant and hairspray), and more.

Contact

Mr. Miguel Araujo, Director, Centro Regional del Convenio de Basilea para Centroamérica y México (CRCB-CAM)/Basel Convention Regional Center for Central America and Mexico (BCRC-CAM), La Libertad, El Salvador
Tel: +503 2248 8990 / Mobile: +503 7701 1681 / Fax: +503 2248 8894
Email: maraujo@sica.int, maraujo@marn.gob.sv
Web portal: www.sica.int/crcbcam

 

Launch of new publication (executive summary) "Where are WEEE in Africa"
This publication is an element of the E-waste Africa programme, which aims at enhancing the environmental governance of e-wastes and creating favourable social and economic conditions in the recycling sector in Africa.

Launch of new publication (executive summary) "Where are WEEE in Africa"

Launch of new publication (executive summary) "Where are WEEE in Africa"

A new publication related to e-waste has been launched at the side-event “Experiences in environmentally sound management of e-waste in Africa and Asia-Pacific” which take place on 20 October 2011 during the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, 17 - 21 October 2011 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

The results and findings presented in this publication have been generated in the framework of the Basel Convention E-waste Africa programme, which aims at enhancing the environmental governance of e-wastes and creating favourable social and economic conditions for partnerships and small businesses in the recycling sector in Africa. The initial phase of the programme consists of the E-waste Africa project and complementary activities triggered by the project and implemented by partner organizations. Following completion of the E-waste Africa project, follow-up activities are expected to be carried out supporting countries in the region to tackle e-waste issues.

The overarching goal of the E-waste Africa project is to enhance the capacity of West Africa and other African countries to tackle the growing problem of e-waste and thereby protect the health of citizens, particularly children, while providing economic opportunities. Specifically, the project aims to improve the level of information available on flows of EEE and e-waste imported into West African countries; assess the baseline situation in terms of amounts of EEE imports, EEE in use and e-waste in partner countries, as well as environmental impacts of the e-waste sector; study the social-economic aspects of the increasing volumes of used EEE and e-waste; and strengthen national capacities to monitor and control transboundary movements of e-waste and to prevent illegal traffic.

The publication serves to share knowledge generated through the several studies and activities of the E-waste Africa project primarily with stakeholders in the project partner countries, but also with stakeholders in other African countries and those who are concerned with the e-waste issue and are interested in seeking sustainable solutions: imports, collection and recycling, policy and legislation, and enforcement.

You can download the executive summary of the publication

For more information, you can visit the E-waste Africa Project page.

 

Remarks of UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner at the Basel COP 10 meeting
This week, there are a number of items on your agenda that will be crucial for determining the strategic future of this convention - in particular the New Strategic Framework and the Swiss-Indonesian Country-Led Initiative (CLI).

Remarks of UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner at the Basel COP 10 meeting

Remarks of UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner at the Basel COP 10 meeting

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to start by warmly thanking the Government of Colombia for hosting and supporting the preparations of this meeting in this beautiful city of Cartagena de Indias.

This week, there are a number of items on your agenda that will be crucial for determining the strategic future of this convention - in particular the New Strategic Framework and the Swiss-Indonesian Country-Led Initiative (CLI). 

These two agenda items can be mutually supportive and offer a unique opportunity to find a path forward on the Ban Amendment.  Together with a path forward on the entry into force of the Ban Amendment, there is a need to strengthen the regime to balance obligations and commitments for generators and exporters as well as for importers and waste processers.

Upstream, there must be a commitment to minimizing and preventing the generation of waste, in keeping with the Convention, while downstream there is a need for rigorous environmentally and socially responsible waste management.

It is my sincere hope that this week you can find a compromise that would allow the Ban Amendment to come into force for those countries who wish to adhere to it, but also moves forward in establishing a regime for countries who wish to trade in waste to ensure the minimization of health and environmental impacts, ensuring adequate social and labor conditions and creating new economic opportunities.

Another important area of work is that of activities linked to legal, compliance and governance matters. The pursuit of the Basel Convention activities in the areas of national legislation, national reporting, enforcement to mitigate illegal trafficking, technical assistance or international cooperation and coordination with Basel partners, remains fundamental.

All of these activities will not be possible without the necessary training on waste management and disposal at national level. In this view, synergistic and regional capacity building activities through projects and programs are critical.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Delegates,

In reflecting about the theme of the COP on ‘waste prevention, minimization, and recovery’, I would like to note that next year we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Rio Conference on Environment and Development and the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

As we approach the landmark year of 2012 and take a look at what we have achieved in the area of waste management, it is clear that there is still a lot of work ahead of us, especially with regards to strengthening the links between waste management and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and human health and livelihood.

These links are crucial for increasing the global recognition and interconnectivity of waste-related issues.

Consideration of waste management issues as an integral part of the life-cycle of chemicals as a result of the ongoing synergies process across the three conventions has no doubt contributed to strengthening their visibility by including waste-related issues in a much larger multi-sectoral context.

This interconnectivity still needs to be strengthened by Parties, the Secretariat and partners on the following fronts:

  1. Delivering as one: through effective coordination of activities with relevant partners.
  2. Substantive coordination: through the fruitful collaboration on mutually supportive programmatic issues;
  3. Delivery at all levels: through the effective delivery of activities at the global, regional and national levels.

Over a year ago in Bali Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions adopted a ground breaking framework for the achievement of enhanced coordination and cooperation among the conventions.

Proposals on how to enhance cooperation and coordination among the three conventions as they relate to support to implementation, managerial functions, services, synchronization of budget cycles, audits and review arrangements have been put on the table.

Your commitment to these issues will make it possible to review actions and complete a cycle of synergies-related actions that will facilitate the way forward for further cooperation and coordination on the sound management of chemicals.

The results of the synergies process are coming into fruition and we are seeing a gradual transformation of the way the international community and the three convention secretariats are managing their response to the challenges and the opportunities presented by hazardous chemicals and wastes, while fully respecting the legal autonomy of each convention.

The courageous steps taken by Parties in Bali need now to be followed by a continued solid and stable dedication to the process and its implementation. Only then can the full benefits be achieved.

But how do we make this happen without a financial mechanism?

UNEP is supporting a country-led consultative process on financing options for chemicals and wastes.

The purpose of this process is to review the current situation with regard to financing for chemicals and hazardous waste management at all levels and to identify synergistic proposals for improving it. The last meeting on this process has just come to a conclusion in Bangkok two weeks ago. You will have the opportunity to be informed about the outcomes of this process during this week during one of the side-events that UNEP is organizing. 

In relation to the latter, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Governments, private sector, civil society and intergovernmental organizations that have participated in the consultative process, with a great sense of engagement which demonstrated the importance they attach to identifying tracks on how to work towards an integrated approach to financing chemicals and wastes management.

I am hopeful that the outcome of this process will help you in the coming days when discussing implementation, legal, compliance and governance matters under item 3 of the agenda. 

UNEP, through its Evaluation and Oversight Unit, has engaged in an evaluation of the synergies process among the three chemicals and wastes conventions. This assessment, combined with the recommendations of the consultative process on financing options for chemicals and wastes, and the recent mandate of the UNEP Governing Council to continue exploring synergies in the larger chemicals and wastes cluster come at a critical time in the history of the chemicals agreements.

All these encouraging results of the reforms in the chemicals and waste cluster come a few months before governments meet in Rio to start negotiating on the issues of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development. It is my hope that this week’s deliberations will contribute in many ways to the World Conference next year in Rio.

The disintegrated and fractured nature of the environmental governance landscape has undermined the effectiveness of the overall sustainable development effort and led to duplication and a less than efficient use of scarce financial resources. With your actions this week, we can contribute a working example of ‘Delivering as One’ in international environmental governance.

UNEP is committed to supporting you, the Parties to the Basel Convention, to face the many challenges you have in front of you.

Under the capable guidance of your COP President, I am sure that you will have a successful meeting with long-lasting impacts and results.

I wish you a very successful meeting.

I look forward to joining the meeting this Friday.

Thank you!

 

International conference promotes hazardous waste prevention, minimization and recovery
Government representatives in Cartagena will investigate ways in which the Convention could help turn wastes into valuable resources...

International conference promotes hazardous waste prevention, minimization and recovery

International conference promotes hazardous waste prevention, minimization and recovery

Geneva (5 October 2011) – The member-Governments of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal will meet at the Cartagena de Indias Convention Centre, Cartagena, Colombia, from 17 to 21 October 2011 for the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, hosted by the Government of Colombia.

The Conference is dedicated to the theme “Prevention, minimization and recovery of wastes”.

The Basel Convention is the most comprehensive global environmental treaty dealing with hazardous and other wastes. It has 178 members (Parties) and aims to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of the generation, management, transboundary movements and disposal of hazardous and other wastes.

Government representatives in Cartagena will investigate ways in which the Convention could help turn wastes into valuable resources, so as to create business and job opportunities, while protecting human health, livelihood and the environment.

Turning wastes into valuable resources is currently one of the largest unaddressed challenges facing the international waste agenda.

Electronic wastes offer a particularly striking example, as they often contain valuable metals which are currently neither collected for recycling nor entering those recycling streams that are capable of recycling them efficiently. End-of-life recycling rates for precious metals from electronics are estimated to be at or below 15% (UNEP, 2011). Yet 30 obsolete mobile phones contain the same amount of gold as one ton of mined ore, in addition to other valuable metals, including cobalt (in Li-Ion batteries), copper, palladium and silver.

Smelting processes, which separate metals from other materials, may release metal fume and metal oxide particulate, dioxins and furans, exposing workers and downwind communities unless the emissions are controlled. These releases can be controlled through properly engineered processes and emission control systems, but require environmentally sound management, a key pillar of the Basel Convention.

Uncontrolled incineration or land filling of end-of life mobile phones therefore makes neither environmental nor economic sense. Properly managed recovery can extract these metals in ways that protect the environment and human health, while promoting sustainable livelihoods for workers engaged in recovery operations.

The Conference will also look at ways to prevent and minimize wastes, considering it as part of the life cycle of materials, as an essential component of the concept of sustainable production and consumption.

The Conference in Cartagena will consider a new strategic framework to steer development of the Convention during the next decade.

Parties will examine proposals tabled by the Governments of Indonesia and Switzerland for a way forward on the Ban Amendment, which would ban trade in hazardous wastes between Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and developing countries which are party to the Amendment. The proposals are the product of a country-led process that was transparent and invited input from all interested parties and stakeholders.

Trade in hazardous wastes has grown significantly between developing countries, a trend unforeseen when the Convention was adopted more than two decades ago. Such trade is not addressed by the Ban Amendment, which was adopted in 1995 and has 70 Parties. Due to a long-standing dispute over how to calculate the requisite number of ratifications needed which has defied resolution by consensus, the Amendment has yet to enter into force.

In the intervening decades, the quantity of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes has increased. Experts estimate that by 2018 the quantity of e-waste generated in developing countries will exceed the amount generated in OECD countries. A growing share of the international trade in hazardous waste is believed to lie outside of the framework of environmentally sound management.

“Today, the protection of vulnerable countries remains as important as ever. Yet, the picture of trade in wastes has moved on, with transboundary movements of waste between developing countries having become a major factor,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

Mr. Willis continued, “This conference presents a unique opportunity to position waste management in all countries, and especially in developing ones, as a model area for achieving an environmentally and socially sound economy.”

Note to editors:

The 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal has two pillars. First, it regulates the transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes. Second, the Convention obliges its Parties to ensure that such wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. To this end, Parties are required to prevent or minimize the generation of wastes at source, to treat and dispose of wastes as close as possible to their place of generation and to minimize the quantities that are moved across borders. Strong controls have to be applied from the generation of a hazardous waste to its storage, transport, treatment, reuse, recycling, recovery and final disposal.

The Conference of the Parties is the supreme decision-making organ of the Basel Convention. It meets every other year to discuss programmatic and budgetary issues for the next biennium.

The Basel Convention has 14 Regional and Coordinating Centres, with one or more operating on every continent. The Centres develop and undertake regional projects, and deliver training and technology transfer for the implementation of the Convention under the direction of the Conference of the Parties and of the Secretariat of the Convention.

Recent years have seen efforts under the Basel Convention to develop a global strategy for environmentally sound waste management. This included support to the launch of the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE), the first of several strategic partnerships in different areas of waste management.

For further information on the recovery of valuable metals from end-of-live electronic products, see Recycling Rates of Metals – A Status Report, Appendix E. Review of Precious Metals Recycling Statistics (UNEP, International Resource Panel, 2011).

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Katharina Kummer Peiry, Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the Basel Convention, +41-22-917 5488, e-mail: Katharina.Kummer@unep.org

Mr. Michael Stanley-Jones, Press Officer, Joint Services of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, UNEP, +41 (0)79 730 4495, e-mail: SafePlanet@unep.org

Please also consult the web site of the Basel Convention: http://www.basel.int/

Download this press advisory in English

Download this press advisory in Spanish.

 

The new Strategic Framework for 2012-2021 should enable the Basel Convention to highlight the links between waste management and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The draft strategy sets out a vision, guiding principles, strategic goals and objectives, as well as means of implementation and indicators of achievement.  

New Strategic Framework and Indonesian-Swiss Country Led Initiative aim to improve the effectiveness of the Convention

The new Strategic Framework for 2012-2021 should enable the Basel Convention to highlight the links between waste management and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The draft strategy sets out a vision, guiding principles, strategic goals and objectives, as well as means of implementation and indicators of achievement.

Linked in substance with the Strategic Framework is the outcome of the Country-Led Initiative (CLI) by Indonesia and Switzerland. Launched in response to the call of the President of COP9 to find a way out of the controversy surrounding the Ban Amendment, the CLI proposes a set of measures to break through the deadlock holding up entry into force of the Amendment. Their adoption could constitute a historic step towards a solution after over 15 years of blockage.

The New Strategic Framework will be considered for adoption at COP10 in Cartagena, Colombia on 17–21 October 2011.

 

Basel Convention website advances synergies
The promise of “synergies” between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions took another supple step forward this month with the opening of the new Basel Convention website.

Basel Convention website advances synergies

Basel Convention website advances synergies

The promise of “synergies” between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions took another supple step forward this month with the opening of the new Basel Convention website, the third “leg” of the conventions’ joint clearing-house family of websites. 

The Basel website will be officially launched during COP10 in Cartagena, Colombia, 17–21 October 2011. The new Stockholm and Rotterdam websites were launched at their respective COPs held earlier this year.

The launch of the new Basel website completes the integration of the Basel Convention’s web information into the joint clearing house.  The entrance to each of the conventions’ websites is through a common gateway page, expressing a harmonized design while sporting an individual ‘look and feel’.

The Basel website is framed in a shamrock green, setting it off from Rotterdam’s navy blue and Stockholm’s striking orange pages.  The Basel web address familiar to long-time users of the website –www.basel.int –has been kept.

Basel now shares a common architecture with its sister sites, starting with quick links to frequently requested ‘Meetings’, ‘Documents’, ‘Networks’, ‘Projects’ and ‘Publications’ which are found at the top of the page of each home page. 

A comprehensive drop down menu guides users to implementation and country-specific chapters organized by activity or topic.  

Information about the ‘Convention’, the ‘COP’ and subsidiary bodies, ‘Compliance’ and ‘Media’ are also collected under a single heading, with additional chapters introducing the ‘Secretariat’ and major ‘Partners’.

As the centrepiece, the website presents four featured articles. Further sections offer ‘ In the spotlight’ , ‘Announcements’, ‘Activities’, ‘Upcoming Meetings’ and ‘Webinars’.

One test of synergies is how the newly designed communication tools impact work on the ground. The goal is to support implementation of the conventions at the national level by bringing improved coherence in information exchange and to the organization of information resources that ease the burden on Parties and the public to find what they need. 

With the opening of the Basel clearing-house website, we hope to bring the Basel community a step closer to realizing this goal.

 

Launch of InforMEA - the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)
The Multilateral Environmental Agreements Information and Knowledge Management Initiative (MEA IKM), launched today develops harmonized MEA information systems to assist Parties and the environment community at large access information from multiple agreements from one location. Supported by UNEP the initiative currently includes 17 MEAs from 12 Secretariats hosted by three UN organizations and IUCN.

Launch of InforMEA - the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

Launch of InforMEA - the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

Geneva, 14 June 2011 - The Multilateral Environmental Agreements Information and Knowledge Management Initiative (MEA IKM), launched today develops harmonized MEA information systems to assist Parties and the environment community at large access information from multiple agreements from one location. Supported by UNEP the initiative currently includes 17 MEAs from 12 Secretariats hosted by three UN organizations and IUCN. It is open to observers involved in MEA information and data management.

The first project – InforMEA, the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements – is/was launched on 14 June at the occasion of the initiative’s 2nd Steering Committee Meeting, attended by Ms. Maria Louisa Silva, Executive Secretary of the Barcelona Convention, Mr. John Scanlon, Secretary General of Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and Mr. Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

“With the launch of InforMEA the global environmental community has taken a major stride forward in making access to information more transparent and easier to apply in solving the complex challenges we face in the Information Age”, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The InforMEA Portal presents Conference of the Parties decisions and resolutions, news, calendars, events, country specific MEA Membership, national focal points, as well as in the near future national reports and implementation plans organized against a set of 200 hierarchical terms taken from MEA Conference of the Parties (COP) Agendas.

In contrast to similar endeavors this project harvests and displays information directly from MEA Secretariats websites and data bases, who remain the custodians of their data. This allows for accurate and timely data availability in a cost effective manner. MEA secretariats individually implement the technical solution identified.

Harmonization of information standards and formats will facilitate the development of many other knowledge tools among conventions. For example, the Convention on Migratory Species and CITES could display the species listed on their respective appendices or the Stockholm Convention may feature decisions related to endangered migratory species threatened by POPs. Once such an application is developed, the tool is maintained at minimal cost.

www.informea.org - Making key MEA information “speak to one another”

For further information please contact: Marcos Silva (CITES) [marcos.silva@cites.org] and Eva Duer (UNEP) [eva.duer@unep.org], (respective MEA representative)

Appointment of the new Executive Secretary
Mr. Jim Willis, a US national, took up his position as Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Basel Convention, Stockholm Convention Secretariat and UNEP-part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat on 18 April 2011.

Appointment of the new Executive Secretary

Appointment of the new Executive Secretary

Mr. Jim Willis, a US national, took up his position as Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Basel Convention, Stockholm Convention Secretariat and UNEP-part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat on 18 April 2011.

Mr. Willis has throughout his distinguished career worked in the field of environment with particular focus on policy issues related to chemicals and wastes. Mr. Willis worked as the Director of the Chemical Control Division with the US Environmental Protection Agency (2004-2011) and previously as the Director of the UNEP Chemicals Branch (1995-2004), which included serving as Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions' secretariats.

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