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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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