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The report of the first meeting of the new informal Basel Convention partnership on household waste, held in Montevideo, Uruguay, from 2 to 4 August 2016, is now available online.

Report now online from Montevideo meeting on household waste

Report now online from Montevideo meeting on household waste
 

A list of concept notes for voluntary financial contributions for the biennium 2016/17 is now available on the BRS websites

Concept notes for voluntary financial contributions 2016-17 now available

Concept notes for voluntary financial contributions 2016-17 now available

 

 

The Secretariat hands over the signed BRS Geneva Gender Parity Pledge to Mr. Michael Moller, UNOG Director General.

Geneva Gender Parity Pledge

Geneva Gender Parity Pledge

On 2 December 2015, during the United Nations Oath of Office ceremony at the Palais des Nation, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat (BRS) handed over to Mr. Michael Moller, UNOG Director General, the signed BRS Geneva Gender Parity Pledge. 

The Geneva Gender Parity Pledge aims to strive for gender parity in all discussions in International Geneva and in panels where BRS staff is involved. Further, the Secretariat commits to provide gender training sessions for its staff members to enable them to liaise with other United Nations colleagues and to beacon gender aspects; to include gender related sessions in the agenda of workshops organized by the BRS Secretariat to further strengthen the mainstreaming of gender equality in projects and programmes under the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions; and to update the BRS Gender Action Plan on a yearly basis.

Contact: Matthias Kern at matthias.kern@brsmeas.org and Tatiana Terekhovap at tatiana.terekhovap@brsmeas.org

The Secretariat has been made aware that emails were recently sent using abusively for instance the name of the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions or other staff as its author, a misleading sender’s name, or a misleading email address. Please read the Secretariat’s communication about this issue.

Abusive emails

The Secretariat has been made aware that emails were recently sent using abusively for instance the name of the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions or other staff as its author, a misleading sender’s name, or a misleading email address. Please read the Secretariat’s communication about this issue.

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

The outcomes of the recent Rotterdam Convention CRC-12 and Stockholm Convention POPRC-12 meetings are now available online, featuring proposed new chemicals listings at the COPs in Geneva in 2017.

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

Press Release: UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

PRESS RELEASE : For a FUTURE DETOXIFIED

UN chemical experts pave way for more sustainable management of chemicals

Geneva & Rome: 26 September 2016 - Experts and observers joined members of the Rotterdam (RC) and Stockholm (SC) Conventions’ Review Committees in Rome in recent days to consider available scientific evidence concerning a number of hazardous chemicals for inclusion in annexes of the two Conventions, both of which aim to protect human health and the environment.

The Rotterdam Convention – which currently has 155 Parties – provides an early warning on the trade of certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides, through the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure, a mechanism for disseminating the decisions of importing Parties. The Stockholm Convention – with currently 180 parties – aims to eliminate the use of certain toxic chemicals, specifically those referred to as “Persistent Organic Pollutants” (POPS). The latter obliges governments to regulate the production, use and trade of specific chemicals throughout their life cycles.

The 12th meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC) of the Rotterdam Convention, which concluded on 16 September, agreed to recommend the listing of carbofuran suspension concentrate 330 g/L as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation in Annex III of the Convention, following a proposal from Colombia.  The meeting also finalized draft decision guidance documents on two highly toxic pesticides – carbofuran and carbosulfan – used to control insects in a wide variety of crops.

The next step will be for the Conference of the Parties at its meeting in 2017 to decide whether to list these two pesticides in Annex III of the Convention and subject them to the PIC procedure. 47 chemicals are currently listed in the Annex, including pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or restricted by two or more Parties.

“It is important to note that the basis for the consideration of these pesticides by the CRC were decisions taken by developing countries. Decisions that are leading to action at the global level,” said William Murray, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (RC) for the FAO.

According to the latest FAO data, international pesticide sales are valued at up to USD 480 billion a year. UNEP estimates that as many as three percent of those working in agriculture worldwide suffer from acute pesticide poisoning, with adolescents facing a higher risk.

When used appropriately, pesticides can help to protect food and other crops from excessive damage by pests and diseases. They can also protect humans and livestock from diseases. Misuse of pesticides however, is not only a threat to those earning a living through farming but also to the environment and the economy.

The Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) then staged its 12th meeting, back-to-back with the CRC, and concluded its work on 23 September by agreeing to propose two new industrial chemicals for inclusion in the Convention’s annexes.

Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) are mostly used in manufacturing of products such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, and used in metalworking fluids. These highly persistent and toxic compounds have been found in breastmilk of Inuit women in the Arctic, demonstrating their persistence and long-range environmental transport. Listing in Annex A for elimination by the COP is proposed.

The Committee considered and adopted additional information for decabromodiphenyl ether (commercial mixture, c-decaBDE), widely used as flame retardants, defining necessary specific exemptions related to automotive industry, for this chemical’s listing in Annex A of the Convention by the COP.

The Committee evaluated the new information on hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) and concluded that there are unintentional releases of HCBD from the certain chemical production processes and incineration processes. In 2013, the Committee recommended listing of HCBD in Annexes A and C and in 2015, the COP listed it in Annex A. Annex C lists chemicals subjects to the measures to reduce or eliminate releases from unintentional production.

Progress was also made on pentadecafluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, and dicofol, for which the Committee adopted the respective Draft Risk Profiles, moving them to the next review stage, requiring a risk management evaluation that includes an analysis of possible control measures. Finally, the Committee endorsed the guidance on alternatives to perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and its related chemicals to assist countries in phasing-out of those chemicals listed under the Convention.

“Both the CRC and POPRC meetings were effective and productive and have paved the way for important decisions to be taken at our triple COPs in April next year,” said Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions for UNEP. “These decisions will further protect human health and environment from hazardous chemicals and will guide the international community towards not just a future detoxified, but also towards implementing the SDGs through the sound management of chemicals and waste” he added.

The next meetings of the Conferences of Parties (COPs) for both conventions, together with that of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, will be held in Geneva from 24 April to 5 May 2017 under the title “A Future Detoxified: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”.

Note for editors:

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade creates legally binding obligations for its currently 155 parties. It currently covers 47 chemicals,  pesticides and pesticide formulations.

The Chemical Review Committee consists of thirty-one scientific experts appointed by the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention charged with undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing. 

Carbofuran is a WHO class Ib pesticide and used to control insects in a wide variety of field crops, including potatoes, corn and soybeans. It is extremely toxic via the oral route and by inhalation (LD50 2 mg/kg in mice[1]) . It is also highly toxic to freshwater invertebrates and extremely toxic to birds.

Carbosulfan is a broad-spectrum carbamate insecticide used to control various insects, including locusts and different types of grasshoppers, mites and nematodes mainly on potatoes, sugar beet, rice, maize and citrus. It is highly toxic to birds, aquatic invertebrates and bees[3]

For more information, please contact:

For CRC/Rotterdam Convention: www.pic.int 

Christine FUELL, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome: + 39-06-5705-3765, christine.fuell@fao.org

Erwin NORTHOFF, Chief of Corporate Communications (FAO), Rome: + 39-06-5705-3105, erwin.northoff@fao.org

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs, creates legally binding obligations for its 180 parties and currently includes 26 chemicals listed within its annexes.

The POPs Review Committee consists of thirty-one scientific experts appointed by the Conference of the Parties charged with undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing. 

More information on all the chemicals currently listed, or proposed and/or under review for listing, can be found on the Stockholm Convention homepages at: www. chm.pops.int

Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-2333218, +41-22-917-78201, kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org 

Charlie AVIS, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-730-4495, charles.avis@brsmeas.org

Joint meeting of the bureaux of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions to discuss COPs

Joint meeting of the bureaux of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions to discuss COPs

The bureaux will meet from 3 to 4 November 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss preparations for the 2017 triple COPs.

Joint meeting of the bureaux of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions to discuss COPs

Joint meeting of the bureaux of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions to discuss COPs
 
Regional focus switches to Kuwait

Regional focus switches to Kuwait

This month we highlight the work of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre for Kuwait.

Regional focus switches to Kuwait

Regional focus switches to Kuwait
 
Linkages between children, human rights, and chemicals and wastes

Linkages between children, human rights, and chemicals and wastes

BRS contributed to the UN Human Rights Day of General Discussion on chemicals and the rights of the child, held in Geneva on 23 September 2016. Read Rolph Payet’s speech here.

Linkages between children, human rights, and chemicals and wastes

Linkages between children, human rights, and chemicals and wastes

2016 Day of General Discussion 23rd September 2016 on Children’s Rights and the Environment

Speech given by Amelie Taoufiq, Legal Officer, on behalf of Dr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions (UNEP)

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, dear colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen:

First, on behalf of Dr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the BRS Conventions on hazardous chemicals and wastes, three Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) administered by UNEP, please allow me to thank the Committee on the Rights of the Child, OHCHR and other partners, for organising this Day of General Discussion on the environment and children’s rights, including the side-event on the “Unsound Management of Chemicals and the Rights of the Child”, as well as panellists for their very interesting presentations. Today discussion, we believe, is of major importance so that we may all brainstorm, identify and analyse gaps, think forward and look ahead in terms of concrete course of actions on these key issues.

Indeed, children are the future... They are and should be at the core of our preoccupations and work. They are among the most affected by harmful effects on health and the environment caused by hazardous chemicals wastes; but as children can be great agents of change, they are also part of the solution for a ‘detoxified future’....

Also, on this occasion, I would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Mr. Tuncak, for his excellent work, which we support, and for the report presented last week at the Human Rights Council, pointing out the “silent pandemic” of disease and disability affecting millions of children, to the point that paediatricians now begun to sadly refer to children born “pre-polluted”....

In this regard, within the BRS/UNEP perspective, I would like to quickly highlight 3 (three) angles, as follows:

1. Some positive achievements and examples under BRS Conventions/UNEP with respect to the protection of children from exposure to hazardous chemicals and wastes:

  • It is important to recall that, through their common objectives, i.e. the protection of human health and the environment, the BRS Conventions are committed, in their provisions implementation, to protect children from hazardous chemicals and wastes, thereby contributing to protect fundamental children’s rights such as the rights: to life, to health, to a healthy environment, to development, to food security , to clean water and sanitation and to an adequate standard of leaving;
  • The specific conditions of vulnerable groups, including children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, and indigenous communities, including children therefrom, are explicitly and implicitly recognized in some convention provisions or taken into account in specific programmes implementing the BRS Conventions; also in this respect, the BRS Secretariat has been active, even before adoption of SDG No5 on gender, on promoting gender equality, between men and women, as well as boys and girls, which is closely linked to protecting children (e.g. development of the BRS-Gender Action Plan/GAP).
  • To prevent and remedy harmful exposure of human beings, mostly children, to hazardous chemicals and wastes, it is essential to monitor this exposure e.g.:  the Global Monitoring Programme (GMP) on POPS and breast milk in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO);
  • BRS S-Y-N-E-R-G-I-E-S……at all levels;
  • Among the most recent positive UNEP achievements: adoption of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, to enter into force the soonest hopefully, and perhaps to be synergized with the BRS Conventions, following the life-cycle approach of sound management of chemicals and wastes;
  • Etc..
2. The gaps, i.e. where additional guidance and developments are needed, most essentially would be:
  • Compliance mechanisms and procedures to still be adopted under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions;
  • Financing, mobilizing funds;
  • Prevention from exposure…;
  • Involvement of not all relevant stakeholders;
  • Limited number of chemicals listed;
  • Awareness, communication, education, information;
  • Capacity;
  • Etc..

3. Some ideas of good practices and recommendations, could be for instance:

  • More synergies, i.e. to enhance cooperation and coordination, between all relevant stakeholders, and at all levels, national, regional and international levels. So,
  • “Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships”….recalling the recent words of the newly appointed UNEP Executive Director, Mr. Erik Solheim;
  • More chemicals listed under the Conventions - through the CRC and POPRC,  the technical and scientific bodies under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions - and ultimately by the Conference of the Parties;
  • More awareness raising, education, communication;
  • More funding…;
  • More technical assistance in order to build better capacity on these issues;
  • Environmental treaties to refer more explicitly to vulnerable groups, including children;
  • Etc..

Finally, I would like to recall and encourage you to participate in the forthcoming 2017 meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COP) of the BRS Conventions, to be held in May; the meetings will include a high-level segment. The theme of the meetings and the high-level segment will be “A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and wastes”. Thus, these may be a good momentum and an opportunity to seize so as to continue addressing the important issues mentioned above and these discussed at today DGD, in order to eventually help ‘detoxify the future’...

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Preparations intensify for 2017 triple conferences of the parties (COPs): Geneva, Switzerland

Parties have been officially informed of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions COPs, featuring a high-level segment, to be held in Geneva from 24 April to 5 May 2017.

Preparations intensify for 2017 triple conferences of the parties (COPs): Geneva, Switzerland

Preparations intensify for 2017 triple conferences of the parties (COPs): Geneva, Switzerland
 
 “The Silent Pandemic” - UN Human Rights Council discusses hazardous substances and wastes

The Human Rights Council has considered the latest Report by the Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances & wastes.

“The Silent Pandemic” - UN Human Rights Council discusses hazardous substances and wastes

 “The Silent Pandemic” - UN Human Rights Council discusses hazardous substances and wastes

The 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, recently considered the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, which this year focuses especially on children’s rights.

On 15 September 2016, on the occasion of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, the latest Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Mr. Baskut Tuncak, was presented and discussed in Geneva, Switzerland. (See A/HRC/33/41).

The Report is the result of a broad consultative process with States, international organizations, civil society, national human rights institutions, and other stakeholders.

This year, the Report focuses particularly on children’s rights with respect to hazardous chemicals and wastes since, it comments, there is now what doctors refer to as a “silent pandemic” of disease and disability affecting millions during childhood and later in life. According to the Report, childhood exposure is a systemic problem everywhere, and not just limited to poisoning, as all around the world, children are born with sometimes huge quantities of hazardous substances in their bodies; pediatricians have now begun referring to some children as being born “pre-polluted.”  The World Health Organization estimated that over 1.5 million children under five died prematurely from toxics, pollution and other exposures; also, numerous health impacts are linked to childhood exposure to toxics, such as cancer, developmental disorders, learning disabilities and respiratory illnesses. 

The Report further states that, to remedy the situation:

  • Prevention of exposure is the best remedy.
  • The best interests of the child must be a primary consideration of States in protecting children’s rights. Which rights?
    • the right to life, to survival and development,
    • the right to physical and mental integrity,
    • the right to health,
    • the right to a healthy environment,
    • the right to be free from the worst forms of child labour,
    • the right to an adequate standard of leaving, including safe food, water and housing,
    • the right to non-discrimination, and
    • other rights implicated by toxics and pollution embodied in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • States have an obligation and businesses have a corresponding responsibility to prevent childhood exposure to toxic chemicals and pollution.

Finally, the Report ended on the Special Rapporteur offering recommendations to the various stakeholders to protect the rights of the child from toxic chemicals.

The presentation was followed by quite a few interventions by States, IGOs such as UNICEF, and NGOs: accountability and responsibility by businesses were often put forward. In his response further to the interventions, the Special Rapporteur stated that UNEP's chemicals work was largely driven by the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions as well as the – yet to enter into force - Minamata Convention, which together cover only 26 hazardous substances throughout their lifecycle, out of the thousands out there that would need regulation, and that this was a big gap. He further noted that SAICM, which he called an ambitious and broad mandate, has regrettably received insufficient financial resources. He also referred to the notable absence of compliance mechanisms under some of the previously mentioned Conventions. He also expressed his hope that Ministries of Health would be more involved in the topic of hazardous substances, and noted relative underfunding of the WHO Environment and Health Programme.

For more information on the above, consult:

Click here to read the entire report, in the 6 official UN languages.

Updated BRS Gender Action Plan now online

Reflecting the Secretariat’s commitment to taking action to reduce gender inequalities, the updated BRS Gender Action Plan is now available.

Updated BRS Gender Action Plan now online

Updated BRS Gender Action Plan now online
 
Science in action: the work of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Brazil

Our popular series continues with an interview with Otavio Okano and Lady Virginia from CETESB in Sao Paolo, Brazil

Science in action: the work of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Brazil

Science in action: the work of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Brazil

Interview between Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer for the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, Mr. Otavio Okano and Ms. Lady Virginia Traldi Meneses, Director and Technical Coordinator respectively, of the Stockholm Regional Centre for Latin America, located in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning Mr. Otavio Okano and Ms. Lady Virginia, thank you for time in sharing the work of the SCRC Brazil.

Mr. Otavio Okano: Thank you, Charlie, for this kind invitation and congratulations on this important initiative to disseminate information on the Regional Centres.

CA: Firstly, please tell us a little bit about the Regional Centre (RC) itself. Where are you housed, institutionally and geographically, how many staff do you have, and when was the RC established: basically how did the Centre come about?

Mr. Otavio Okano: The RC is located in the São Paulo city in São Paulo State, one of the most industrialized states in Brazil and very important economically, with a population of 44 million inhabitants in an area of 248,000 sq. km. A large number of agricultural and industrial activities that use a variety of chemical products are concentrated here. 

RC is housed in the Environmental Company of Sao Paulo State (CETESB) which was created in 1968 and its mission is to improve and to assure environmental quality of Sao Paulo State in order to achieve sustainable development. To accomplish this task CETESB has 46 offices scattered in the state with around 2,000 employees, highly qualified, most of them graduated in technical areas, such as engineering, biology, chemistry, geology and other professional specialties.

CETESB performs its action in many different fields such as: environmental permits; environmental quality contro;, enforcement of regulations; environmental monitoring and pollution charges on sources of pollution. Set up with modern facilities, equipped with analytical instruments based on leading-edge technology, our laboratories accredited by ISO/IEC 17025:2005, perform more than 350,000 analyses per year, encompassing a wide variety of physical-chemical, biological and toxicological tests on the most different matrices.

CETESB currently has the largest and most comprehensive network of environmental quality monitoring in the country. Air, water, sediment, groundwater, soil and vegetation are systematically studied; researched  resulting to a state policy on control actions and preservation for the benefit of society.

Besides that, CETESB works for the prevention, preparedness and response to chemical emergencies; provides technical support and intervention if such emergencies occurred on roads, railroads and maritime transports, hazardous substance discard, industries, gasoline stations, pipelines, and provides supports to the Emergency Preparedness in Cases of Disasters with Chemical Products in Latin America.

CETESB works with waste treatment and final disposal facilities, which includes environmental assessment and evaluation of technological feasibility as well. Since the 90’s it has a multidisciplinary team dealing with the management of contaminated sites that includes environmental drilling, soil sampling, monitoring well installation, ground-water sampling, and non-invasive site investigation with geophysical equipment.

The centre also participates and/or coordinates some of  the Latin American and the Caribbean networks, such as Chemical Emergency Network (REQUILAC), Prevention and Management of Contaminated Sites Network (RELASC) and Pan American Network of Information in Environment (REPIDISCA). 

In short, CETESB is actively engaged in the National Environmental Council (CONAMA) regulatory activities. In its capacity as environmental agency and RC it usually collaborates with discussions addressing national and subnational legislation on pollution control, chemicals and waste management and licensing in Brazil. It also shares experiences on enforcement and inspection in order to support GRULAC countries aiming at strengthening their regulatory capacity in these fields.

All this expertise led the Company to become an international certification agency and reference agency for environmental issues in Latin America for regional centers in the world and for United Nation.Due to its recognized and relevant technical expertise, CETESB was nominated, in 2007, by the Brazilian Government to become a Stockholm Convention Regional Centre on POPs for Latin America and the Caribbean Region and since then, has been rated with the maximum evaluation score.

CA: Do you serve all of the countries of the region, how many Parties are there, and how do you manage with languages: do you communicate solely in Spanish, or Portuguese, or English, or how?

Mr. Otavio Okano: We serve all parties of the Convention in the GRULAC countries that speak Spanish and English as well the Portuguese speaking African countries. Although Brazil is the unique country of GRULAC that speaks Portuguese, there have been no difficulties in conducting technical assistance and training programs for them. For Spanish speaking countries, the total technical class materials and the slide presentations are translated from Portuguese into Spanish language. Besides, the majority of CETESB’s trainers speak Spanish and only a few classes are simultaneously translated from Portuguese into Spanish. The same applies for English speaking countries, where the trainings are given by professionals who speak English and, occasionally, a simultaneous translation is performed. On the other hand, legislations, guidelines, analytical methods i.e., documents etc available in Portuguese  from Brazilian institutions that could be useful to the GRULAC countries are translated as needed.

CA: What are the main technical issues or focus areas covered by the RC?

Mr. Otavio Okano: Charlie, in order to define the technical issues to be offered, our strategy is to analyze the NIPs of the GRULAC parties that are already submitted and then, we identify their main priorities to be addressed. Based on CETESB’s expertise mentioned before, linked to  the NIPs priorities,  we focus on several environmental technical and legal issues, related to chemical and waste, especially POPs and Hg, comprising: toxicology; urban and health care solid waste management; PCBs and obsolete pesticide wastes management; BATs and BEPs measures for the Unintentional POPs; chemical emergency responses; soil and groundwater pollution prevention; identification, management and evaluation of contaminated sites with POPs and Hg; POPs and heavy metals environmental monitoring in the following matrixes: air, soil,  sediments, groundwater and biological samples (aquatic organisms, milk and human blood); laboratory analysis to monitor POPs (PCBs, chlorinated organic pesticides and dioxin and furans) and Hg; and regulatory frameworks and management guidance.

CA: So I understand one specific area of focus for the Centres is on POPs and on the Stockholm Convention’s Global Monitoring Plan in particular. What would you say is the level of awareness amongst policymakers and decision-makers in the region concerning POPs? And amongst the general public?

Ms. Lady Virginia: Charlie, as mentioned before, CETESB has recognized strength in the scientific, technological and legal areas. Our Centre has been working in strengthening the capacity of the GRULAC countries for the implementation of NIPs and transferring of technology through training programs. . The main targets of these activities are the policymakers and decision-makers and the technical staff. In this way, we provide them with the tools for improving the environment and to protect human health from POPs in the region.

In order to increase the broader awareness amongst the public in general we had developed an e-learning course on the Stockholm Convention on POPs having various  aspects of its implementation for the Brazilian stakeholders. From this experience, our RC has been developing an e-learning program on POPs in general to be extended to the Region. CETESB has a website with wide range of information on chemical management and we keep updating the RC webpage.

Regarding the Global Monitoring Plan, I would say that LAC has made a lot of efforts in training laboratories to perform POPs and Hg analysis, to improve the availability of  inventories and monitoring data base of these compounds in the Region. CETESB plays a crucial role in providing training to many laboratories of the GRULAC region including national laboratories.  However, much more needs to be done to improve GMP in GRULAC region. The establishment of a laboratory network for analysis of these compounds is challenging but crucial to overcome the lack of capacity at country level and to obtain reliable data base. Another way might be to build on other initiatives such as the Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling network (GAPS) that covers the Region. Mechanism to promote coordination and facilitation would be necessary in order to synergize the efforts.

CA: How would you like the RC to evolve, in the next say 5 to 10 years?

Ms. Lady Virginia: Charlie, what we have been noticing is that developing and economies in transition country Parties have complied with the SC obligations for the first dozen POPs better than the new POPs. We therefore understand that for the management of new POPs a broader knowledge of the chemicals management is necessary in general, comprising, among others, applicable chemical and environmental legislations, integrated institutional arrangement with scientific support and control of chemical in product, in order to transpose the SC obligations to the national level.

In this context, I would say that in the next 5-10 years, our RC intends to provide capacity building  of these countries and to assist them technically and administratively  paving the way to the post 2020 chemical agenda.

CA: RC, we often highlight the fact that the world of sustainable management of chemicals and waste features quite a large number of prominent and successful, high-profile women, yourself included. Could you perhaps say a few words about how it was for you as a woman making a career in science, in the environmental sector, in chemicals and waste? And any advice for any budding female scientists out there who might read this interview? 

Ms. Lady Virginia: I would say that the persistent historical and global context of discrimination against women has made most of them believe they are not competent enough and, therefore unable to reach higher levels inside an organization at a professional level, especially at the technical level.

In Brazil, despite the difficulties faced by many women due to gender discrimination, especially in the poorest sections of the population, women constitute the majority of the labor force in the market. In my case, fortunately I was born in a family where I was able to study and  had the freedom to choose what career to follow and develop myself professionally, both in technical area such as management. I was lucky to have parents who always encouraged me and promoted my education. So I could be graduated in Chemical Engineering, specialized in Environmental Engineering and Industrial Administration, completed my PhD in the subject “Institutional, Legal, Political and Technical Aspects on Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants Implementation: Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers”. In addition, CETESB, as a company dedicated to environmental issues, has always been open to new ideas and ideals and therefore has a large number of graduates and highly qualified women in its staff. Furthermore, I had   the opportunity to take part in several activities concerning chemicals and wastes.

What can I tell to women is that we cannot underestimate our power to carry out, because, among many qualities, we have the ability to conciliate professional activities with other areas of life. Also, women are the symbol of life, so they must  engage themselves in all technical or political spheres to leave it a better place for future generation in this wonderful Planet, where, regardless of gender, we are all human beings. 

CA: The theme of the 2015 Triple COPs was “Science to Action”. What does “Science to Action” mean to you and how might it guide the work of the RC?

Ms. Lady Virginia: In the 2015 Triple COPs our RC participated as a Scientific Fair exhibitor demonstrating our achievements in this subject. In fact, the theme itself was a great motivation for us since we needed to convert the results of scientific researches into concrete actions and therefore, to strengthen guidelines and science‐policy interface for the effectiveness of the Conventions. Let me highlight on the activities of CETESB that are routinely enforced, which have been shared with the countries by our RC. 

CA: Thank you, for your time and for your answers. Good luck with your important work!

Mr. Otavio Okano: Thank you, Charlie, and if you need any further information on our centre and its activities, please go to our websitewww.pops.CETESB.sp.gov.br and we look forward to working with you!

Brazil in the spotlight as we continue to focus on regional centres

Find out about the work of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Brazil in the spotlight as we continue to focus on regional centres

Brazil in the spotlight as we continue to focus on regional centres
 
Your views sought on how to move “From Science to Action”

Secretariat launches online consultation process for enhanced science-policy mainstreaming.

Your views sought on how to move “From Science to Action”

Your views sought on how to move “From Science to Action”

Secretariat launches online consultation process for enhanced science-policy mainstreaming.

At the 2015 COPs, the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions adopted decisions BC-12/22, RC-7/12 and SC-7/30 on “From science to action” by which they recognized the importance of the science-policy interface for the effectiveness of the conventions and the need for greater access to scientific understanding in developing countries to enhance informed decision-making on the implementation of the conventions.

The Secretariat was requested to prepare a road map for further engaging parties and other stakeholders in informed dialogue for enhanced science-based action in the implementation of the conventions at the national and regional levels.

For this purpose, the Secretariat is carrying out an online survey to collect information on the challenges and opportunities of parties and stakeholders in bringing science and policy together.

We kindly invite responses to this survey. It should take about 10 minutes to respond to the questions. The information will then be used in the development of the draft road map.

The link to the online questionnaire is the following:
http://fs.pops.int/fs-ScienceToAction.aspx

For technical support and questions, please contact Ms. Kei Ohno Woodall at the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions by:
E-mail: kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org or tel.: +41 22 917 82 01.

Synergies Decisions document now online

The latest BRS publication charts the Synergies process from 2006 to the present day through decisions adopted by parties to protect human health and environment.

Synergies Decisions document now online

Synergies Decisions document now online
 
Dr. Kateřina Šebková on how more science is needed in policy-making

Our latest interviewee highlights the rapidly developing CEE region and also reflects on women in science.

Dr. Kateřina Šebková on how more science is needed in policy-making

Dr. Kateřina Šebková on how more science is needed in policy-making

Interview between Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer for the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, and Dr. Kateřina Šebková, Director of the Stockholm Regional Centre for Central and Eastern Europe, located in Brno, Czech Republic.

Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning Katka and thank you for your time to answer our questions: your Regional Centre is the next in a new series whereby we put one Centre per month “in the spotlight” in order to highlight all the many ways the Regional Centres contribute to the implementation of the conventions.

Dr. Kateřina Šebková (KS): Thank you, Charlie, for this great opportunity to share our work with a wider audience!

CA: Firstly, please tell us a little bit about the Regional Centre (RC) itself. Where are you housed, institutionally and geographically, how many staff do you have, and when was the RC established: basically how did the Centre come about?

KS: Charlie, the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Czech Republic (SCRC) is hosted by the Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX), which is an independent research centre operating within the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic since 2007. City of Brno is conveniently located 190 km southeast of Prague, the capital of the country, some 130 km north of Vienna (capital of Austria) and at about the same distance from another capital, Bratislava (Slovakia). It is in a region experiencing steady technological and economic growth over last 25 years, a hub of large life science projects and home to new growing business and technology incubators, and a city with more than 50,000 university students.

The RC was established on the basis of the Czech experience in working on implementation of the Stockholm Convention nationally in 2003, on the identified knowledge gaps and data needs through an European research project enhancing laboratory expertise in countries of the central and Southern Europe in 2004-5 (EU FP5 APOPSBAL), and on understanding that we have ability providing such technical assistance and capacity building when felt the urgent need for it among other countries.

And our team - you would be surprised - there are only two permanent staff of the SCRC, however we closely cooperate with and draw on resources available at the whole RECETOX having more than 200 staff, 4000 m2 of modern research space, 70 laboratories, two lecture rooms, and a more than 30 year-long expertise in dealing with environmental issues, interdisciplinary research as well as providing practical solutions for environmental decontamination and remediation. In addition, we maintain a large international network of experts who cooperate with us, thus our teams vary according to a project. We can have a team of five up to 50, depending on a task, challenges and money.

CA: Do you serve all of the countries of the region, how many Parties are there, and how do you manage with all the very many languages: do you communicate solely in English, in German, in Russian or how?

KS: We are able to communicate in several languages, but the Centre`s main languages are Czech and English. Moreover, we can and have run courses and provided consultations in Russian, Slovak and French as well. In addition, other Central and Eastern European languages are also spoken at RECETOX, so we are quite well set in this regard.

The RC serves all 23 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and supports over 30 other countries in other regions (Africa, Central Asia, and in Latin America) as a strategic scientific partner. In addition, we also work as a project partner with UNEP, UNIDO and UNDP and organize conferences, global or regional workshops, and summer schools.

When looking at the monitoring activities, we have so far supported almost 60 countries worldwide and while looking at our training, there are about 80 countries that benefited from our expertise and services.

CA: It must be very challenging, yet very rewarding. What are the main technical issues or focus areas covered by the RC and what activities does the RC have in order to overcome these challenges?

KS: I fully agree. When looking at the monitoring activities, we have so far supported almost 60 countries worldwide since 2005 and while looking at our training, there are about 80 countries that benefited from our expertise and services. This is about 50-200 people that visit us each year.

Our 2016-2019 work plan as SCRC concentrates on strengthening global capacities in chemical analyses of toxic chemicals, on support in implementation of the Global Monitoring Plan to the Stockholm Convention by operating monitoring networks (MONET) in Europe,  Africa and in the Czech Republic and by training experts in sampling, monitoring, and data mining and management. In addition, we will strive to support decision making by communicating science based advances in the research, presentation of environmental and human data in relation to toxic chemicals through electronic tools, by enlarging capacities in the management of PCB, new POPs, and by contributing to a greater understanding of linkages between environment and health. We also need to enhance visibility of our activities among our stakeholders, so we have a quarterly newsletter and a website and we try to attend many global meetings to meet our constituency. There are too many parallel issues, and I would say that main challenge for us is time.

CA: So I understand one specific area of focus for the Centre is on POPs, and on the Stockholm Convention’s Global Monitoring Plan in particular. What would you say is the level of awareness amongst the general public in the region concerning POPs? And amongst policymakers and decision-makers?

KS: Charlie, on awareness raising among general public in our region, there is more to be done apart from a website and a quarterly newsletter that we release. On the other hand, we developed and operate publicly available instruments that enhance understanding of anyone interested in POP occurrence - our environmental data repository and portal is available since 2010 displaying POPs monitoring information generated by us and our partners (www.genasis.cz). Similar instrument was developed for global purposes to serve the effectiveness evaluation and Global Monitoring Plan. And this talk certainly is a good opportunity to spread the news further.

Decision makers in this region are quite aware of chemicals problem, namely in relation to environmental burdens and hotspots in our region, as the political and economic transition since 1990s revealed many unwanted or untreated inheritance of obsolete stocks and wastes that needs to be dealt with. Unfortunately, there are other issues related to changes in the region that can outweigh the importance of environmental protection. On the other hand, we need to raise their awareness on the strong link between chemicals and health and perhaps that could get POPs and other chemicals back to the spotlight. We emphasize this in each talk we do.

CA: The RC has clearly achieved a lot, but what is the single achievement of which you are most proud?

KS: We are really proud of the GMP data warehouse, a joint achievement of the BRS Scientific Branch and RECETOX. It is the first global electronic tool that is publicly available and brings under one roof validated global data on levels of POPs in core matrices (air, breast milk and water), allows to evaluate effectiveness of eliminating or minimizing POP releases into the environment. Its data browser generates maps, charts, evaluates trends, and is publicly available online, so I believe it has a very strong awareness raising as well as decision making potential (http://www.pops-gmp.org/visualization-2014/app.php/).

CA: How would you like the RC to evolve, in the next say 5 to 10 years?

KS: We started with environmental chemistry and a handful of chemicals under one Convention at the outset, nowadays our range of studied chemicals and expertise spans to more global instruments including SAICM and Minamata Convention on Mercury. Currently, we have a capacity to support others with expertise in relation to POPs, emerging chemicals, endocrine disrupters, non-EDCs, as well as heavy metals. We are working hard on enhancing our understanding of links between health and environment as well as improving the speed of the transfer of knowledge from science to policy by being involved in larger population studies and working on harmonization of data collection, processing, visualization and data mining in order to be prepared and being able to capture all aspects of human exposure as well as holding solid data to support decision making worldwide.

CA: Katerina, can we switch to a topic slightly more personal? How did you come to lead this RC, how did your career lead you this in your direction, and what advice would you have for other women, hoping or striving for a career in science per se, or in international development more generally?

KS: Sure, I am happy to share this with others. I have a degree and a PhD in chemistry from both the Czech Republic and France and I started working in a family business as specialist for food commodities. Since 2003, I worked as chemical specialist and negotiator for the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic on chemicals management, and represented the Czech Republic in negotiations on new global legal agreements or EU legislation in relation to mercury and persistent organic pollutants for eight years. I was also representing the CEE region in the bureau of the Stockholm Convention from 2007 to 2009 and in the bureau of Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Mercury between 2010 and 2013. I joined RECETOX in 2012 to run the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre and to establish and maintain a more solid bridge from science to policy and back and thus employ my previous work and life experience.

I would say to other ladies - science is exciting, very demanding and not everyone can be an excellent scientist, so pressure is on. On the other hand, scientific background has certainly helped me greatly in finding my niche in working at the ministry and speaking several languages. And lastly, I would add that there continues to be a dire need for people with a scientific background at the policy level to push environmental issues to a more prominent position (where they should be) and increase understanding among decision makers on the subject matter that affects us as well as future generations.

CA: And lastly, please, what do you think are the most pressing, emerging issues will be for sustainable management of chemicals and wastes in central and Eastern Europe, in the next years, and how well is the region equipped to meet those challenges?

KS: In two words - complex mixtures - is the future pressing topic for all of us. So far, we have globally mostly generated information on impacts and effects of individual chemicals in the environment and for a limited pool of chemicals, but there is much more to be done, quite urgently. We have a little or no knowledge on synergistic effects of chemical mixtures that can enhance negative impacts of individual toxic compounds and such mixtures are all around us - in our personal care products, consumer goods, food and many other items.

The region will be better off in near future as mentioned above on where we would like to evolve. Our weakness is that a longitudinal studies have not been carried out more broadly in this region, but we are working on it. We gradually strengthened capacities and span of our research infrastructure, we established a new cohort (longitudinal) study in 2015, building on expertise available through WHO ELSPAC study since 1991, and we are also launching an exposome study that would generate important information for countries in the region as well as for global community and work of international organizations such as WHO and UNEP.

CA: Thank you, for your time and for your answers. Good luck with your important work!

KS: Thank you, Charlie, and if you need any further information on our centre and its activities, please go to our website http://www.recetox.muni.cz/rc/ and we look forward to working with you!

Synergies review: e-surveys launched

E-surveys are now available online to gather data and feedback on the synergies process.

Synergies review: e-surveys launched

Synergies review: e-surveys launched

At the ordinary meeting held in 2015, the respective conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) conventions decided to review the synergies arrangements at their meetings in 2017 (BC-12/20, RC-7/10 and SC-7/28). With the objective to gather data to inform this review process, e-surveys have been dispatched to all stakeholders. The e-surveys can also be accessed via the hyperlinks below.

Parties
Please click here to access the e-survey for parties. The submission deadline is 5 August 2016.

BCRCs and SCRCs
Please click here to access the e-survey for BCRCs and SCRCs. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.

FAO country offices
Please click here to access the e-survey for FAO country offices. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.

Partners
Please click here to access the e-survey for partners. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.

Secretariat staff
Please click here to access the e-survey for Secretariat staff. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.

Synergies workshop in Geneva marks 10 years of cooperation on chemicals and waste

With support from the Government of Switzerland, Geneva hosted a global workshop to further enhance cooperation between the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, 21-23 June 2016.

Synergies workshop in Geneva marks 10 years of cooperation on chemicals and waste

Synergies workshop in Geneva marks 10 years of cooperation on chemicals and waste
 
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