The BRS Blog

Minimize

Announcements

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.

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs

The high-level segment of the next Triple COPs is scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday, 4 May and the morning of Friday, 5 May 2017.

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs

Dates agreed for high-level segment of 2017 Triple COPs
 
The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs

The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs

The bureaux met on 3 and 4 November 2016 and agreed on the organization of the 2017 COPs and discussed other organizational matters, such as the high-level segment.

The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs

The three bureaux agree on the organisation of the 2017 COPs
 
Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping

Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping

The Secretariat is proud to be climate neutral for 2015, thanks to the signature of an agreement with UNFCCC to offset its CO2 emissions.

Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping

Sustainability begins at home for BRS and its housekeeping
 
BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

E-waste and the forthcoming Triple COPs were the subject of discussions at the WTO Committee on Trade & Environment, on 14-15 November 2016, in Geneva.

BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

BRS briefs World Trade Organisation on hazardous chemicals and wastes

On 14-15 November 2016, on the occasion of the regular session of the Committee on Trade & Environment (CTE) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) - i.e. the ‘CTE regular’ - now chaired by the Ambassador of Chile to the World Trade Organization, his excellency Mr. Héctor Casanueva, WTO members and observers discussed and focused more particularly on importance issues related to the relationship between Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and the WTO Agreements.

Several Secretariats of MEAs were represented and offered briefings on recent and forthcoming meetings of their respective Conferences of the Parties (COPs), as well as presentations on technical matters. Among these MEAs, one may highlight: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions on hazardous chemicals and wastes.

The Executive Secretary of the BRS Conventions, Dr. Rolph Payet, opened the morning session of 15 November, with some introductory remarks on the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment, as formally recognized in the provisions of the BRS Conventions – e.g. the preambles of the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. He then briefed on the outcomes of the 2015 meetings of the BRS Conventions COPs, followed by a briefing on the joint and specific issues at stake at the forthcoming meetings of the COPs, including the High Level Segment, to be held back-to-back from 24 April until 5 May 2017 in Geneva. Then Mr. Matthias Kern, Senior Programme Officer, offered a presentation on e-Wastes, as there was a strong request by WTO membership on this particular topic. The presentations were followed by some questions and comments by delegations, among other things, on the listing of chemicals, intersessional work and compliance.

The BRS presentation on the conventions and on e-waste under the Basel Convention can be downloaded.

With respect to the matters covered by the BRS Conventions, some countries then shared their national experiences, including on their implementing institutional, legal and policy frameworks and other measures: Chile provided an overview on the recently adopted framework law for waste management, extended producer responsibility and promotion of recycling; Canada made a presentation on their approach to chemical management. Also, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented its work on e-waste management.  

For more information on the above, please consult the BRS Conventions’ websites, and on the WTO Trade & Environment cluster as well as the CTE, consult:

Minimize

Activities

Syndicate
Environmentally sound management of waste the focus for experts’ meeting in Belgium

Funded by Germany and Japan, and hosted by the Public Waste Agency for Flanders, this meeting focuses on pilot projects and on guidance manuals on prevention, extended producer responsibility, and financing.

Environmentally sound management of waste the focus for experts’ meeting in Belgium

Environmentally sound management of waste the focus for experts’ meeting in Belgium

Funded by Germany and Japan, and hosted by the Public Waste Agency for Flanders, this meeting focuses on pilot projects and on guidance manuals on prevention, extended producer responsibility, and financing.

Do you get the monthly BRS #Detox Newsletter?

Ahead of the Triple COPs in April 2017, get the latest in everything connected to the sound management of chemicals and waste straight to your inbox each month.

Do you get the monthly BRS #Detox Newsletter?

Do you get the monthly BRS #Detox Newsletter?
 
Listen to the POPs rap, a musical postcard from Toronto

Canadian Karen Quinto felt the sustainable management of chemicals so important, she wrote a rap to communicate it. Listen to her song and tell us if you agree.

Listen to the POPs rap, a musical postcard from Toronto

Listen to the POPs rap, a musical postcard from Toronto

Interview between Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer for the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, and Ms. Karen Yves Quinto, a scientist/musician/artist from Toronto, Canada.

Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning Karen, thank you for time in sharing with us your work and first of all can I say how much I and many of my colleagues enjoyed your rap about persistent organic pollutants, or POPs. Congratulations!

Karen Yves Quinto (KYQ): Thank you, Charlie, for the opportunity to get my work out there and it’s great to know you enjoyed the song, it was certainly fun writing it!

CA: Firstly, please tell us a little bit about yourself. From what age did you feel interested in science and in chemistry and the environment?

KYQ: Well, I went to a progressive elementary school where we had Botany and Zoology as early as grade 1 and I fell in love with microscopes in grade 4 because it was like another world for me. I kind of forgot about science during high school, because I was too busy fitting in and science was not a popular subject, so I got into art and music instead up until I decided to pursue a career in science in the end. As for chemistry and the environment, those interests developed at Ryerson University where I did my undergrad. I was really into Microbial Fuel Cells, so I studied the topic for my Directed Studies in Chemistry course in my final year. We also had a very prominent, environmentally focused science programs and I held leadership positions in many environmentally focused projects, from making vertical gardens to petitioning to save the Experimental Lakes Area here in Canada.

CA: Why rap music, why not singer/song-writer guitar, for example?

KYQ: I do sing and write songs in other music projects. In my {Mandelbrot} & {Julia}: Boundaries Dissolve album, I focused more on my jazz lounge repertoire. I chose to delve into science rap recently because first of all, it's amusing in the context of science and I like to perform during my presentations. But I think rap also has a way of communicating quite plainly and honestly about any topic. Rapping is a good medium for communicating science because scientific terms are easier to rhyme. It also has a huge "wow" factor and has been my strategic go-to for seminars and presentations at school. It makes people laugh and it's never boring, so I keep doing it. I initially wrote "Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)" for Environment Canada's "Take Our Kids to Work Day", Canada's annual initiative to bring high school students to their parent/guardian's workplace. I went to my dad's workplace when I was a teen but he was in a manufacturing setting so there were lots for students to see because it was very visual. However, at Environment Canada, it was harder to show what scientists and policy makers actually do in a concrete and tangible way. So, I volunteered to co-host the event in 2015 and I used my POPs rap as an introduction to our work at the Hazardous Air Pollution Laboratory.

CA: How did the students react to your rap?

KYQ: When I first performed the rap, they looked very embarrassed for me. And I get it, it's unusual to be rapping about science but I know they acknowledged the skill that went into that. Some of them secretly told me later that initially they thought it was going to be lame, but they found it was "actually good". After the day was over, some parents emailed me afterwards saying that their children couldn't stop talking about the science rap that they had seen. And believe me, these teens are hard to impress! So in the end, I think it was successful in reaching the younger demographic.

CA: I’m curious, do you have other science raps you’ve written before POPs? And do you have any recordings of them?

KYQ: I've rapped about Lysteria in second year undergrad for Cellular Biology, then I wrote "Microbial Fuel Cells" and "Climate Change" for my Masters of Environmental Science presentations. If anyone wants to hear my music, they can go to https://soundcloud.com/karen-quinto or https://karenquinto.com/music-projects/ where they can stream my recorded music. The other rap songs are still in the process of being recorded. I barely record, to be honest, I much prefer performing in front of an audience!

CA: I’m sure you’ll get some additional visitors, after this interview. The only “criticism” I’ve heard about your POPs rap is that it is too short, and it’d be great to be able to enjoy it for longer! Is it difficult to write and perform for longer than a minute or so?

KYQ: I wrote POPs as an intro to a presentation of our work at Environment Canada, so initially the one-minute mark was because of its original use. Rap is fast-paced, so there’s a lot of work and longevity that goes into writing and performing one. You have to be concise and find ways for all the words to fit and rhyme in your own style. Then you have to memorize the whole thing, which requires a seriously intense amount of repetition until it is recorded in the muscle memory of your mouth. I suppose I could write a few more verses!

CA: Let’s talk about environment awareness. How would you describe the awareness of young adults and teenagers, for example in your city, concerning the environment, concerning chemicals, everyday pollution, waste, recycling, themes like that?

KYQ: I can’t really speak about statistics or anything concrete like that, but from what I have observed, it really depends on many factors: their geography, their upbringing at home, their school, and other sources like the shows that they watch. Some cities like Toronto have a fairly good recycling culture, but other cities don’t. If you’re eating home cooked meals, you’re less likely to produce trash than if you were always on the go. If your school has a clean-up day, it becomes part of your habit. If you live in a condo without a recycling program, you’re not going to think about recycling as much as if you lived in a house. I think that young adults in general are becoming more aware of the “big picture” environmental issues, but practicing environmentalism is dependent upon the local community of that teen.

CA: Tell me what are your current projects, anything else POPs-related?

KYQ: Right now, I am more into the painting side of things. I perform sometimes and have collaborations on the side, really slow-burning stuff. I’m not a full-time musician, so everything is happening on a different timescale. Nothing POPs-related, although I’m sure something interesting is bound to come along and help me continue that path. I have been bouncing around ideas and thinking about ways to communicate that area of science. I’m very much project-driven when it comes to my art. I like finding opportunities to create something for both science and art’s sake.

CA: Last question from me: the international community has its two-yearly “COPs” - or meetings of the conference of parties – coming up in Geneva next April, when new chemicals will be added to the Stockholm Convention and other decisions will be taken through the Basel and Rotterdam Conventions to protect human health and the environment. Do you think you could write a song about that?

KYQ: Is that an offer? Yeah for sure, I’d welcome any invitation to write and even perform; the sky’s the limit. Why not? That’s a very exciting proposition. When I wrote POPs, I was having lunch in the cafeteria of Environment Canada and planning what to do for an education event. That’s how my ideas thrive and come to fruition.

CA: Not an offer, no, but maybe the germ of an idea! Let’s see. Karen, thank you so much for your time, for your answers, and especially for your music. Good luck with your inspiring work, please let’s keep in touch!

ANAG: Thanks Charlie, we definitely will! And let me just add that if anyone wants to connect with me about science, art, and/or music, they can add me on www.linkedin.com/in/karenquinto or email me at k.quinto@mail.utoronto.ca

 

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

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’...

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

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!

Minimize

Upcoming meetings

Minimize

Recent meetings