Chemicals COPs Conclude with Call for Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste
After two weeks of intense deliberations, the sessions of the Conferences of the Parties of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions concluded in Geneva on May 15. Stage under the theme “From Science to Action: Working for a Safer Tomorrow”, representatives from 171 countries debated issues specific to each of the agreements, such as the listings of chemicals and the adoption of technical guidelines, joint concerns in areas such as operations, compliance, technical and financial support, and the implementation of the conventions.
Decisions adopted by the COPs included strengthened synergies among the three agreements and specific issues for their operations. In the case of the Basel Convention, the COP decided to support environmentally sound management (ESM) of waste streams, covering also mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) waste. State parties also decided on interim technical guidelines for the transboundary movement of e-waste. According to UNEP, as much as 90% of e-waste is dumped illegally, which causes financial costs and also severe environmental and health hazards.
Parties also requested additional technical assistance to manage hazardous pesticides under pest management and agro-ecological approaches, in order to establish sustainable practices for agricultural and rural development.
Regarding the listings of more chemicals for the regulations under the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, even though state parties expressed concern about the inability to reach consensus, the BRS Executive Secretariat highlighted the importance of taking crucial steps in that direction. Executive Secretary Rolph Payet invited countries 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.”
State parties also requested the Executive Secretariat to follow up the consultations on the Post-2015 development agenda under the UN General Assembly in order to understand and determine the contribution that the conventions can make to the implementation of this agenda, specifically around the definition of indicators on the sound management of chemicals and waste. Request were also defined for the Executive Secretariat to cooperate with UNEP Executive director in the continued and coordinated strengthening of the sound management of chemicals and wastes in the long term, and with the Minamata Convention Interim Secretariat to enhance cooperation and coordination in areas of mutual interest with a view to fostering policy coherence, where appropriate, and maximizing the effective and efficient use of resources at all levels.
The synergies process is expected to continue with enhanced cooperation and coordination among the three conventions to faciliate activities at regional and country levels to support implementation in areas of mutual interest. It will also include other international bodies and organizations in the chemicals & waste cluster.
The next meeting of the COPs will convene in Geneva from April 23 to May 5 2017. Regional meetings will be defined for the preparatory process
The Basel and the Stockholm Conventions are part of the Environmental Conventions Initiative developed by the Center for Governance and Sustainability at UMass Boston. This research project aims to assess the implementation of global environmental agreements and to create a policy space that supports the improvement of countries’ performance towards the fulfillment of their environmental goals.
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