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Safe management of chemicals and hazardous waste to be discussed in Geneva

From 4 to 15 May 2015, Latvia as the country holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union will represent the EU’s position at the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COPs)* to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions in Geneva, Switzerland. The theme for this year’s meetings is “From science to action, working for a safer tomorrow”.

During the meetings, the participants intend to agree on the measures needed to ensure the safe management of chemicals and to promote the environmentally sound management and transportation of hazardous waste at international level.

During the Stockholm and Rotterdam COPs, the participants hope to agree on amendments to the convention annexes to include chemicals which have been recommended by the respective expert committees of the Conventions for such listing, taking into account the chemical’s toxicity, its impact on the environment and human health, and its use. The Rotterdam Chemical Review Committee has suggested the inclusion of three new chemicals – harmful insecticides, liquid formations containing paraquat dichloride and chrysotile asbestos. The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee has prepared decisions for listing hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), chlorinated naphthalenes and pentachlorophenol. If the participants reach agreement, restrictions on the application and registration of these chemicals will be determined at international level.

A discussion will be dedicated to the establishment of compliance mechanisms for the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions, which are vital for ensuring an internationally coordinated approach to the commitments of the Parties to these Conventions.

The Basel Convention COP will consider the adoption of two key documents:
-       the manual developed by the Implementation and Compliance Committee on the hazardous waste inventory, the take-back of illegal transboundary waste shipments and the implementation of control systems;
-       technical guidelines on transboundary shipments of electrical and electronic waste and used electric and electronic equipment, and environmentally safe management of mercury and mercury waste.

The Conferences of the Parties to the Conventions take place every two years to assess progress in the implementation of the Conventions and to agree on the plan for the next two years and the necessary funding. It is a forum that also brings together representatives from the industry, NGOs and various international organisations whose daily work is related to chemicals and waste management issues.

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*The twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (BC COP-12), the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-7) and the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-7)

Kristīne Kļaveniece
Public Relations Division
Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development
Phone: +371 67026533


Additional information:
STOCKHOLM CONVENTION: The SC was adopted in May 2001 and entered into force on 17 May 2004. The Stockholm Convention, as adopted in 2001, calls for international action on 12 POPs grouped into three categories: 1) pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex and toxaphene; 2) industrial chemicals: hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and 3) unintentionally produced POPs: dioxins and furans. Governments are to promote best available techniques (BAT) and best environmental practices (BEP) for replacing existing POPs while preventing the development of new POPs. There are currently 179 parties to the Convention

BASEL CONVENTION: The BC was adopted in 1989 and entered into force on 5 May 1992. It was created to address concerns over the management, disposal and transboundary movement of the estimated 400 million tonnes of hazardous wastes that are produced worldwide each year. The guiding principles of the Convention are that transboundary movements of hazardous wastes should be: reduced to a minimum; managed in an environmentally sound manner; treated and disposed of as close as possible to their source of generation; and minimised at the source. In September 1995, at BC COP3, parties adopted the Ban Amendment, which bans the export of hazardous wastes for final disposal and recycling from Annex VII countries (EU, OECD and Liechtenstein) to non-Annex VII countries. According to Article 17, paragraph 5, entry into force of amendments takes place upon ratification by at least three-fourths of the parties “who accepted them.” There were differing interpretations over the term “who accepted them” and, therefore, over the number of ratifications required for the Ban Amendment to enter into force. Some parties suggested that the number was three-fourths of parties at the time of adoption of the Ban Amendment. Others, including the UN Office of Legal Affairs, argued that three-fourths of current parties must ratify the Ban Amendment. There are currently 183 parties to the Convention

ROTTERDAM CONVENTION: The RC was adopted in September 1998 and entered into force on 24 February 2004. The Convention creates legally binding obligations for the implementation of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure. It built on the voluntary PIC Procedure, created by the FAO and UNEP. The objectives of the Convention are: to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm; and to contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export, and by disseminating these decisions to parties. There are currently 154 parties to the Convention
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