Basel Convention’s Open-ended Working Group meeting (online segment) concludes successfully

Geneva, 3 September 2020 - With the quantity of hazardous waste entering the environment very likely to be increasing due to the worldwide COVID19 pandemic, and an estimated 1000 million tonnes of plastic waste entering landfills or the environment by 2050, more than 600 participants from more than 120 countries came together online this week to discuss ways to minimise, and soundly manage, hazardous and other waste covered by the UN Basel Convention across the world.

The meeting, of a subsidiary body to the UN Basel Convention known as the Open-ended Working Group, was convened by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat) and took place online, with a follow-up face-to-face segment of the meeting also planned back-to-back with the next UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2021*.

The Basel Convention, which has almost universal coverage with 188 Parties, is the most comprehensive legally-binding multilateral environment agreement governing transboundary movements of hazardous and other waste. Waste streams included in this legal framework include electronic waste, plastic waste, and medical waste.

Key outcomes from the meeting included updates and inputs from Parties and Observers into a range of technical, strategic and legal work including the various products of the intersessional processes (draft reports, manuals, technical guidelines, guidance & recommendations). Finalised intersessional products will be considered at the face-to-face segment of the meeting mentioned above, and the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention scheduled for Geneva in July 2021.

“Despite the massive challenges society faces now not just from climate change but also from COVID-19, global environmental governance with respect to sound management of waste is alive and well. Perhaps never before has the importance of multilateral agreements and concerted, coordinated, globally agreed actions towards a healthy planet been so pressing and so visible. I’m proud of the steps the Basel Convention’s 188 Parties took this week and look forward to working with them to secure a healthier and safe environment for all” commented the Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention.

On plastic waste specifically, Payet went on to add “I applaud the efforts of countries that are tackling the challenge of plastic wastes heads on, for instance by legislating accordingly, I applaud also all stakeholders that support countries in their efforts, and I urge responsible behaviour by producers, traders and consumers alike. So I renew my call for all Parties to the Convention to uphold their commitment and continue to further strengthen efforts to reduce single use plastics, to ensure plastics enter into appropriate recycling systems and avoid dumping into the environment, in particular in developing country Parties.’

Notes editors:

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environment treaty on hazardous and other wastes and is almost universal, with 188 Parties. With an overarching objective of protecting human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes, its scope covers a wide range of wastes defined as hazardous based on their origin and/or composition and characteristics, as well as two types of waste defined as “other wastes”, namely household waste and residues arising from the incineration of household wastes ash. For more info see

The Basel Convention offers avenues for all States to take collective action towards minimising plastic waste generation at source and promoting environmentally sound management. The last meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), 29 April to 10 May 2019 in Geneva, in addition to its decision to amend the Annexes to the Convention as they relate to plastic wastes[1] which become effective on 1 January 2021; decided upon a range of further actions to better address plastic wastes,[2] including the establishment of a new Partnership on Plastic Waste. More on plastic waste here:

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS Secretariat, supports Parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See for more info and follow the @brsmeas twitter feed for daily news.

Media enquiries, interviews, more information, contact:

Charlie Avis: Public Information Officer, BRS Secretariat Tel: +41-79-7304495