Outcomes of the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management, featuring governments, civil society, and private sector, 28 September to 2 October in Geneva.
Geneva, Switzerland - 16 May, 2015
Significant steps were agreed upon early this morning by parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, as the 2015 Triple COPs drew to a close.
Staged under the theme “From Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow” from 4 to 15 May 2015, almost 1,200 participants from 171 countries converged on Geneva to push forward the chemicals and waste agenda at this biennial event.
A number of technical guidelines for the management of waste under the Basel Convention, four new listings (three under the Stockholm and one under the Rotterdam Conventions - polychlorinated napthalenes, hexachlorobutadiene, and pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters; and methamidophos respectively), and continued and strengthened synergies and implementation arrangements were the highlights of the decisions adopted on the final day. Meanwhile several chemicals considered were not listed, but instead deferred or made subject to special inter-sessional working group focus.
Basel Convention technical guidelines, aimed at assisting Parties to better manage crucial waste streams and move towards environmentally sound management (ESM), were adopted covering mercury waste and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) waste (one general and 6 specific waste-streams). Of high significance is the adoption on an interim basis of the technical guidelines concerning the transboundary movement of e-waste and used electronic and electrical products.
The BC technical guidelines on electronic, or e-waste provide much-needed guidance on how to identify e-waste and used equipment moving between countries, with the aim of controlling illegal traffic. Adoption came just days after UNEP released new data suggesting that as much as 90% of e-waste is dumped illegally, costing countries as much as US 18.8 $ billion annually and posing severe hazards to human health and the environment, particularly in Africa. Designed to provide a level playing field for all parties to the Convention, the guidelines will support and also encourage genuine recovery, repair, recycling and re-use of non-hazardous electronic components and equipment.
Regarding those pesticides where consensus could not be reached for listing, including paraquat and fenthion formulations, and trichlorfon, Clayton Campanhola, FAO Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, commented that “hazardous pesticides are not helping countries to produce more food with less, on the contrary: if badly managed, they cause negative impacts on natural resources and the health of rural communities and consumers.” In this respect, Parties requested additional technical assistance and support to identify alternatives to the use of hazardous pesticides which – if combined with integrated pest management (IPM) and agro-ecological approaches – form the basis for sustainable agricultural and rural development.
Whilst many Parties expressed their disappointment at the inability to reach consensus required for listing more of the chemicals proposed to be listed under the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet stressed the significance of the steps taken in noting that “our Conventions’ joint and mutually reinforcing objective is the protection of human health and the environment, and the Guidelines and additional listings decided upon by Parties during these two weeks continue to move us in this crucial direction. We have to place the sustainable management of chemicals and waste in the context of peoples’ lives, especially the more than 1 billion people on our planet who continue to live in absolute poverty and who strive to better themselves in whatever ways they can. We will never waver in our moral and political responsibilities towards the most vulnerable people in this world, and I believe strongly that the three conventions continue to offer the best framework for moving jointly towards a greener, more inclusive economy, and a safer tomorrow for all”.
Notes for editors:
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and has 183 parties.
The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade promotes shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among its 154 Parties.
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. It has 179 Parties.
Polychlorinated napthalenes, Hexachlorobutadiene, and Pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters, are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) posing serious threats to human health and the environment.
Methamidophos is an extremely toxic organophosphate insecticide, causing serious adverse effects to human health, particularly to neural, immunity and reproductive systems.
E-waste data from the UNEP report “Waste Crime – Waste Risks: Gaps in Meeting the Global Waste Challenge” UNEP and GRID-Arendhal/Nairobi (2015), 67pp, ISBN: 978-82-7701-148-6
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UNEP and FAO team up to promote synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in two-week chemicals and waste meeting.
Geneva, Switzerland, 11 May 2013 – The three conventions that govern chemicals and hazardous waste safety at the global level concluded their first ever jointly held meetings of the parties late Friday night in Geneva. The historic meeting, attended by nearly two thousand participants from 170 countries, as well as 80 Ministers, adopted 50 separate decisions aimed at strengthening protection against hazardous chemicals and waste.
The three legally autonomous conventions had convened the joint meeting of the conferences of the parties to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between the conventions, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of their activities on the ground. Each convention then continued individually over the two-week period to deal with its own specific topics of the global chemicals and waste agenda before returning in a joint session at the end of the week to finalize their outcomes.
The meeting culminated in a ministerial segment on 9 and 10 May 2013 dedicated to the theme of strengthening synergies between the conventions at national, regional and global level. The ministerial segment was joined by Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva, and Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii. The global agency leaders pledged to deepen cooperation and collaboration as part of a broader effort to raise the profile of chemicals and waste issues, promote green growth and alleviate poverty.
At its conclusion, the joint meeting acclaimed the “Geneva Statement on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”. The Geneva Statement welcomed the UNEP-led consultative process on financing options for chemicals and waste that has considered the need for heightened efforts to increase the political priority accorded to sound management of chemicals and waste.
In a press conference following the ministerial segment, Mr. Steiner called the conferences of the parties “a unique historic event coming at a time of unprecedented change and progress in the arena of global environmental governance. The strengthening of UNEP and the synergies process of chemicals and waste multilateral environmental agreements are complementary parts of the ongoing reform to fortify the environmental dimension of sustainable development.”
Ms. Ishii spoke of the challenges countries face protecting the planet's critical ecosystems from contamination by hazardous chemicals and waste and of GEF support for strategies to overcome them. “At this critical juncture, the Global Environment Facility is committed to its financial support to help countries address these important challenges in three ways,” said Ms. Ishii. “Assisting them in their efforts to mainstream sound chemicals management in national agendas, creating an integrated GEF chemicals and wastes focal area, and expanding engagement with the private sector.”
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said that in many countries intensive crop production has depleted agriculture’s natural resource base, jeopardizing future productivity. “To fight hunger and eradicate poverty, we will need to find more sustainable ways to produce 60 percent more food by 2050,” he said. However, he recognized that chemical pesticides would continue to be part of farming in many parts of the world in future.
“The challenge is to enable countries to manage pesticides safely, to use the right quantity, at the right time and in the right way and also to apply alternatives to hazardous pesticides. Because when we don’t, pesticides continue to pose a serious risk to human health and the environment and will eventually end up as waste. Today, half a million tons of obsolete pesticides are scattered around the developing world,” he said.
“Around 70 percent of the chemicals addressed by the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions are pesticides, and many are used in agriculture. It is in the best interest of all countries to ensure that the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions can work together, effectively and efficiently, to address various aspects of the chemical life cycle.”
The joint meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions also reviewed the impact of the arrangements put in place by governments in 2011 to strengthen synergies among the treaties.
The parties endorsed the organization of the Secretariat, and adopted a programme of work and budget individual and for joint activities of three conventions in 2014-2015. ”The parties have agreed to strengthen capacity building and technical assistance for countries by investing the savings realized over the past two years into an enhanced technical assistance programme that better meets the needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. “In an era of financial austerity, we have learned through synergies how to deliver more to parties while living within the economic limits faced by Governments today.”
“Much of the success of this synergies meeting is owed to the outstanding cooperation and inspired leadership of the three presidents of the conferences, Franz Perrez of Switzerland, Magdalena Balicka of Poland and Osvaldo Álvarez-Pérez of Chile,” added Mr. Willis.
The 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to list hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) to Annex A to the Convention with specific exemptions for expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings. Efforts to adopt a non-compliance mechanism, however, did not succeed in the face of continuing disagreement on how such a mechanism might function.
Basel Convention's parties, at their 11th Conference of the Parties, took decisions to strengthen compliance with the Convention. The Parties adopted a framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, and agreed, over the next two years, to develop technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electronic and electrical wastes (e-waste).
The meeting also decided terms of reference for the newly established Environmental Network for Optimizing Regulatory Compliance on Illegal Traffic (ENFORCE), which aims to prevent and combat illegal traffic in hazardous and other wastes through the better implementation and enforcement of national law.
The 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention had considered the possible addition of five chemicals and one severely hazardous pesticide formulation to Annex III of the Convention. It agreed by consensus to add the pesticide azinphos-methyl and the industrial chemicals PentaBDE, OctaBDE and PFOS to Annex III of the Convention. Listing in Annex III triggers an exchange of information between Parties and helps countries make informed decisions about future import and use of the chemicals. The addition of four substances is the highest number to be added to the Convention's prior informed consent procedure by any conference of the parties since the adoption of the Convention in 1998.
In contrast, the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention did not succeed in reaching agreement on the addition of chrysotile asbestos and a severely hazardous pesticide formulation containing paraquat to the Convention. The proposal to list chrysotile asbestos and the paraquat formulation will be considered at the next Conference of the Parties in 2015.
The joint meeting hosted a three-day Regional Fair from 1 to 3 May 2013 dedicated to the theme 'Synergies through regional delivery' and attended by 20 Stockholm Convention or Basel Convention Regional Centres and two Regional Offices of UNEP. The Fair provided the venue for the signing of bi-regional and intra-regional cooperation agreements between centres in Latin America and Caribbean, and Central and Eastern European regions in the areas of technical assistance and awareness-raising and outreach.
Note to editors:
Chemicals contribute many advantages to today's world; however their use can also pose risks to human health and the environment. To reduce this harmful global impact, three conventions have been established that regulate chemicals and hazardous waste at global level:
Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal regulates the export/import of hazardous waste and waste containing hazardous chemicals. The Convention was adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1992. It currently has 180 Parties.
Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade currently regulates information about the export/import of 47 hazardous chemicals listed in the Convention’s Annex III, 33 of which are pesticides (including 4 severely hazardous pesticide formulations) and 14 of which are industrial chemicals. The Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004. It currently has 152 Parties.
Unlike the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention does not ban or restrict trade in chemicals or pesticide formulations, but serves to strengthen protection of human health and the environment by expanding the exchange of critical safety information between exporting and importing States.
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants currently regulates 23 toxic substances that are persistent, travel long distances, bioaccumulate in organisms and are toxic. The Convention was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004. It currently has 179 Parties.
Christine Fuell, Technical Senior Officer and Coordinator, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Tel. +39 06 5705 3765, email@example.com
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PentaBDE: Pentabromodiphenyl ether (CAS No. 32534-81-9) and pentabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; OctaBDE: Octabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; PFOS: Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanesulfonates, perfluorooctanesulfonamides and perfluorooctanesulfonyls.
The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Sergey Eduardovich Tikhonov.
The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Sergey Eduardovich Tikhonov, a leader in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the field of sound chemicals and waste management. Mr. Tikhonov died in Moscow, Russian Federation, on Friday, 26 October 2012.
Mr. Tikhonov headed the Autonomous Non-Profit Organization Centre for International Projects (ANO-CIP), based in Moscow, and served as director of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre for capacity-building and transfer of environmentally sound technologies and the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Countries of the CIS.
Over a long and distinguished career, Mr. Tikhonov cooperated with the United Nations Environment Programme on awareness-raising and capacity-building initiatives in support of the chemicals and wastes conventions. He also supported a variety of public right-to-know mechanisms, including Earthwatch / International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals (IRPTC) and national Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers.
Sergey Tikhonov’s dedication and inspiring nature will long be remembered by those who were privileged to work with him.
Our Secretariat expresses its heartfelt sympathy to his family, friends and the staff of the Regional Centre in this time of sorrow.
More than 200 international waste management experts gathered last week to advance global measures to control the transboundary movement of hazardous and other wastes.
4 October 2012, Geneva – More than 200 international waste management experts gathered last week to advance global measures to control the transboundary movement of hazardous and other wastes.
The eighth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal met from 25 to 28 September 2012, in Geneva. The Working Group adopted ten separate decisions aimed at strengthening implementation of the leading global treaty governing hazardous wastes. Considerable progress was made in a number of areas, including the further development of technical guidelines on e-waste and wastes containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), said:
“The importance of having a strong, focused expert body for the Basel Convention was demonstrated once again last week, as participants grappled with a number of challenging issues on e-waste, ship dismantling, POPs-containing waste, end-of-life goods and the country-led initiative. The outstanding progress achieved is a testament to the dedication of participants to protecting human health and the environment from wastes, and to the excellent chairing skills of Jimena Nieto and Luay Al-Mukhtar.”
Work progressed on technical guidelines for environmentally sound management of wastes containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs), with agreement on covering new POPs added in 2010 to the Stockholm Convention on POPs. The guidelines will further strengthen synergies between the two global conventions. Development of technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with commercial octabromodiphenyl ether (hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether); commercial pentabromodiphenyl ether (tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether);and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride were included in the programme of work of a small intersessional working group.
Experts reviewed technical guidelines on transboundary movements of e-waste, which will be further revised and considered for adoption by the Conference of the Parties, the highest governing body of the Convention, at its eleventh meeting (COP-11) in 2013.
Proposals for new entries to the list of wastes contained in Annex IX to the Basel Convention submitted by Finland, Ireland, and the Netherlands were agreed to be forwarded to the Conference of the Parties for consideration at its eleventh meeting.
As a follow-up to the Indonesian-Swiss country-led initiative to improve the effectiveness of the Basel Convention adopted at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held in Cartagena, Colombia in October 2011, a report on the interpretation of certain terminology to provide further legal clarity was considered. The Working Group decided that a first step towards achieving this goal was the development of a glossary covering key terminology under the Convention such as waste/non-waste, hazardous/non-hazardous waste, re-use, direct re-use, refurbishment, second hand goods, used goods and end-of-life goods. The Working group also recommended that COP-11 establish an intersessional group to undertake further work on this core issue under the Convention, including possible consideration of the various legally binding or voluntary options that could be adopted to achieve greater legal clarity.
The Working Group also reviewed a study including options for dealing with the problem posed by the transboundary movement and disposal of used and end-of-life goods (“UELG”). These goods do not easily fit the paradigm of wastes to be permanently disposed of. The re-use or recycling of such goods can conserve resources and provide significant economic opportunity to both exporting and importing States. At the same time, export of used and end-of-life goods, especially when not accomplished for the purported purpose of re-use, carries risk to health and the environment, particularly in countries that lack the necessary capacity and infrastructure to manage them properly, including assuring environmentally sound management and disposal of any hazardous components. In addition, lack of clarity regarding the status of these goods under the Basel Convention, combined with divergent national approaches, has complicated efforts to effectively manage their transboundary movement.
A legal analysis of the application of the Basel Convention to hazardous wastes and other wastes generated on board ships was considered by the Working Group. It reviewed for instance the relationship between the Basel Convention and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 as further amended by the Protocol of 1997 (MARPOL) and presented conclusions aimed at clarifying the application of the Basel Convention to such wastes. This matter will be further considered during COP-11.
Other decisions taken at the meeting addressed promoting further development of the Basel Convention’s regional and coordinating centres, the progress in the implementation of the strategic framework and partnership programme. The 10-year strategic framework had been adopted at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Cartagena, Colombia, in October 2011.
The biennial meeting of the working group was held back-to-back with the second meeting of the Convention’s Technical Expert Group charged with completing development of a framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, held from 1 to 2 October 2012.
The outcomes of the two meetings 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 extra-ordinary meetings of the conferences of the parties charged with solidifying synergies among the three conventions.
Note for editors:
The Open-ended Working Group, one of the subsidiary bodies of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, assists the Conference of the Parties in developing and keeping 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 is mandated by the Conference of the Parties to advise the Conference of the Parties on issues relating to policy, technical, scientific, legal, institutional, administration, finance, budgetary and other aspects of the implementation of the Convention, including identification of the specific needs of different regions and subregions for training and technology transfer and to consider ways and means of ensuring the establishment and functioning of the Basel Convention Regional Centres for Training and Technology Transfer.
The Working Group meets once every two years.
The eighth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group was co-chaired by Ms. Jimena Nieto (Colombia) and Mr. Luay S. Al-Mukhtar (Iraq).
Kei OHNO, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva, tel. +41 (22) 917 8201, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Working Group will consider several scientific and technical, legal and strategic matters.
19 September 2012, Geneva – The eighth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention will be held from 25 to 28 September 2012 at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG), in Geneva, Switzerland.
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.
For more information, see www.basel.int.
The Open-ended Working Group, one of the subsidiary bodies of the Basel Convention, assists the Conference of the Parties in developing and keeping 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 is mandated by the Conference of the Parties to advise the Conference of the Parties on issues relating to policy, technical, scientific, legal, institutional, administration, finance, budgetary and other aspects of the implementation of the Convention, including identification of the specific needs of different regions and subregions for training and technology transfer and to consider ways and means of ensuring the establishment and functioning of the Basel Convention Regional Centres for Training and Technology Transfer.
The Open-ended Working Group is co-chaired by Ms. Jimena Nieto Carrasco (Colombia) and Mr. Luay s. Al-Mukhtar (Iraq).
Kei Ohno, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva, tel. +41 (22) 917 8201, e-mail: email@example.com
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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.
Research conducted by the Basel Convention provided the backdrop to a new directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment.
Pan-African Forum on E-Waste Underlines Green Economy Opportunities in E-Waste Sector
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.
"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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Bryan Coll, UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on Tel. +254 207623088, Mobile: +254 731666214, Email: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Kai Loeffelbein
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:
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.
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
International Telecommunication Union
Tel: +41 22 730 5046
Mobile: +41 79 249 4861
Senior Programme Officer
Secretariat of the Basel Convention
Tel: +41 22 917 8767
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.
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).
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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.
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:
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
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.
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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
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: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Web portal: www.sica.int/crcbcam
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.
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
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