Delivering on the environmental dimension of the SDGs requires achieving the sustainable management of chemicals and waste, that is one key message which UNEA-2 is expected to underline and re-affirm. It is also the message brought by the BRS Secretariat staff travelling to UNEA-2 in Nairobi, 23-27 May 2016. Through participation in a series of side events, panel discussions, and civil society green room events the BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet, and Deputy Executive Secretary Kerstin Stendahl, will promote the implementation of the BRS Conventions as part of the efforts to integrate chemicals and wastes into national implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.
The UNEA-2 Committee of the Whole (CoW) will meet throughout the week to prepare decisions for adoption. Important for chemicals and wastes will be the negotiations on the Omnibus Decision on Chemicals and Waste as a renewed commitment to strengthened implementation at national level. Sustainable consumption and production, marine plastic debris and microplastics, and air quality as well as many cross-cutting issues will also be of relevance as pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of SDGs implementation, themes which may well be developed in more detail (further explored?) at the 2017 Triple COPs.
On the first day, Monday 23 May at 1300, Rolph Payet will provide the Opening Remarks to UNEA-2’s first Side Event (#1), on “Advancing Sustainable Chemistry in a Sustainable Development Context”, organised by the Government of Germany, Federal Ministry of the Environment. On Wednesday 25 May at 1300, the Rotterdam Convention President, Franz Perrez from Switzerland, and Rolph Payet will act as Panellists to the UNEP-facilitated Side Event (#19) on “The mutually supportive role and benefits of MEAs and the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development”.
On Thursday 26 May at 1300, Rolph Payet contributes as Panellist to the Norwegian Government’s Side Event (#24) on “Marine Litter and Microplastics”, whilst at the same time Kerstin Stendahl will moderate the Side Event (#26) on “The Impact of Childhood Exposure to Toxic Chemicals on Children’s Rights”, organised by the UN Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Wastes, co-sponsored by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNICEF. That evening at 1700, Rolph Payet will then feature as Panellist on the Global Universites Partnership/UNEP Green Room Event (#22)on “Innovation and Solutions: Environmental Education for Sustainable Development Goals”.
In addition, the BRS secretariat will have an information Booth at UNEA-2 where interested delegates will be able to access, electronically, a range of important documents and publications and where BRS staff will be asking questions of delegates concerning the SDGs and chemicals and waste. The Secretariat will also be communicating latest news and updates live and direct from Nairobi through live-tweeting on @brsmeas. Follow us on twitter in order to stay up-to-date with what is happening at this important event, which has become known as “the global parliament for the environment”.
For more information on UNEA-2 please consult the UNEP website http://web.unep.org/unea/.
Following the rotation of membership in May 2016, about half of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC) members will serve for the first time as experts on this scientific body. In view of the upcoming twelfths meeting of the CRC in September 2016 and of the substantial contribution required of members towards the intersessional work, it is important to enable new members doing so and to provide them with respective tools.
Hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, 24 members of the CRC participated in the 3-day orientation workshop in Rome, Italy. The workshop intended to familiarize new members with the role and mandate of the CRC, as well as its operational procedures and policy guidance. It also provided a platform to exchange experience and transfer knowledge among the members.
Besides the presentations in plenary, a series of group exercises were undertaken using case studies, which allowed for active participation by the members and stimulated in-depth discussions .
Some members noted that the programme was very comprehensive, the discussions and case studies helped a lot for better understanding the work of the Committee. One member stressed that the policy guidance and working procedure collected in the Handbook is a treasure for the Committee that ensures the consistency and transparency. Another member said that the knowledge gained during the workshop would also be relevant to her day-to-day work and she would share it with her colleagues.
Yun Zhou, from the FAO part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, noted that “participants were extremely interested and motivated. The workshop also helped fostering efficient working relationships among the members. We got great feedback from them. The new members feel that the workshop enabled them to effectively participate in the work of the CRC and they are “ready to go”.
For more information, please contact: Ms. Yun Zhou at Yun.Zhou@fao.org or Mr. Gamini Manuweera at email@example.com.
The Special Programme aims to strengthen national institutions and to promote the mainstreaming of the sound management of chemicals and waste. Key activities supported by the programme provide countries to advance institutional capacity for the implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the Minamata Convention and SAICM. Activities supported by the programme intend to strengthen national capacities, monitor implementation and enforcement of legislation and regulatory frameworks, and this includes developing national plans, budgets, policies, legislation and implementation frameworks for the sound management of chemicals and wastes throughout their life-cycle and at all levels.
Fundamentally linking chemicals and waste management with the economic, environmental and social development agenda is essential to sustainable development. It creates new impetus for the implementation of international chemicals and waste agreements, as well as other relevant international commitments and policy frameworks, including the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). The integration of sound management of chemicals and waste in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a major achievement.
Project proposals should include a timeline for completion within three years. In some cases, project allocations may be increased up to a maximum of US$500,000, where adequate justification and evidence is given for a comprehensive approach to institutional strengthening at the national level and taking into account as well, the amounts of funds available in the Trust Fund.
More information on www.unep.org/chemicalsandwaste/SpecialProgramme/SpecialProgrammeCallsforProposals/tabid/1061027/Default.aspx
The Environmental Assessment and Control Department of the Supreme Council for the Environment in the Kingdom of Bahrain, has submitted 30 remaining import responses meeting its obligation under article 10 of the Rotterdam Convention.
The Department of Standards and Control of the Ministry of the Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development, has submitted 23 import responses meeting its obligation under article 10 of the Rotterdam Convention.
Hosted by the Pollution Control Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, this 4-day workshop intended to facilitate a dialogue between relevant stakeholders and identify key elements of a national plan for implementing the Convention.
Altogether 32 participants took part including officials from ten line ministries and specialist agencies of government, the academic sector, and representatives from civil society.
Discussions highlighted the difficulties in regulating and enforcing legislation aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the possible impacts of pesticides within a context where an estimated 95% of pesticide products currently available do not have labelling in the national language, and where capacity constraints - financial and human - are severe.
Christine Fuell, from the FAO part of the Rotterdam Convention, noted that “participants were extremely motivated and established a functioning communication channel across Ministries and Conventions, including also the spectrum of chemicals and wastes issues together with the Basel Convention and Stockholm Convention focal points. Lao PDR aims at becoming an excellent example for addressing synergies on a national level.”
Concrete outputs from the workshop included:
Next steps will include the administrative support for the nomination of the two new designated national authorities, the Secretariat’s support in the submission of notifications of final regulatory action (FRA) for the 55 pesticides recently banned in Lao PDR as well as the planning for a pilot project on severely hazardous pesticide formulations.
For more information, please contact: Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org, Yun.Zhou@fao.org.
Tunisia has ratified the Rotterdam Convention, depositing its instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 9 February 2016. The Convention will enter into force for Tunisia on 9 May 2016 in accordance with article 26 (2).
Tunisia’s action increases the total number of Parties to the Rotterdam Convention to 155.
More information is available from Status of ratifications.
Interview between Charlie Avis, BRS Public Information Officer, Yun Zhou, Technical Officer of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat based at FAO Rome.
Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning, Yun, you must be very busy right now following up on the recent CRC meeting, thanks for joining me and first question please: what exact role does this scientific subsidiary body play in the workings of the Convention?
Yun Zhou (YZ): Good morning, Charlie and thank you! Yes indeed we are all very busy building on the highly successful meeting. The CRC – or Chemicals Review Committee to give it its full title – is made up of 31 experts in chemicals management appointed by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Rotterdam Convention and is responsible for undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing. Based on the Committee’s recommendations the COP takes a final decision on the listing of a chemical into Annex III of the Convention
CA: So actually the Committee prepares the way for decisions to be taken by parties at the COP, at which point they become binding. So, please tell me, what decisions have been taken by the Committee so far?
YZ: At its tenth meeting, CRC took decisions to recommend listing short-chained chlorinated paraffins and tributyltin compounds in Annex III to the Convention as industrial chemicals. The Committee then prepared draft decision guidance documents on those chemicals and adopted them at the eleventh meeting. The Committee also concluded that at least two notifications of final regulatory action from two PIC regions for carbofuran and carbosulfan met the criteria in Annex II to the Convention, and thereby recommended listing of those chemicals in Annex III to the Convention as pesticides. The Committee will prepare draft decision guidance documents for consideration at its next meeting in September 2016.
CA: The two pesticides you mention, carbosulfan and carbofuran: can you please give me an idea of what uses they have had, and in which parts of the world?
YZ: Indeed. Carbofuran and carbosulfan are used to control pests in a wide variety of field crops. Just to give some examples, in the EU carbofuran was used to control soil insects where maize, sugar beet or sunflowers are grown. In Canada, it was applied to sunflower, corn, sugar beet, potato, raspberry, and strawberry. In the Sahelian countries it was used in various vegetables, fruits and other crops as well as in forests. With regard to carbosulfan it was used on maize, sugar beet, citrus and cotton. The review of the two pesticides by the CRC is triggered by the notifications submitted by the EU, seven Sahelian countries and in the case of carbofuran also by Canada. These countries concluded that the risks to human health and environment caused by the two pesticides were unacceptable and consequently banned them.
CA: And if those two chemicals are then listed, what would that mean for the parties in terms of obligations?
YZ: The chemicals listed in Annex III to the Convention are subject to the Prior Informed Consent - or PIC - Procedure. The PIC procedure is a mechanism for obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing Parties on the import of the chemicals listed in Annex III and for ensuring compliance with those decisions by exporting Parties.
Each chemical listed in Annex III has a decision guidance document (DGD) made available to all Parties. The decision guidance documents are intended to help governments assess the risks associated with the handling and use of the chemical and make more informed decisions about future import and use of the chemical, taking into account local conditions.
For each chemical listed in Annex III, all Parties need to take a decision on whether or not they will allow future import of the chemical, and send such a decision (import response) to the Secretariat. The Secretariat circulates the import responses every six months through the PIC circular. Exporting Parties need to ensure that exports of chemicals in Annex III do not occur contrary to the decision of each importing Party. Exporting Parties ensure that import responses published in the PIC Circular are immediately communicated to their exporters, industry and other relevant authorities.
CA: Good! Back to the CRC, is there another “chance” between now and the COP to propose additional decisions?
YZ: Yes, the CRC will meet again in September 2016 to review candidate chemicals and propose additional decisions on listing if they meet the criteria set out by the Convention. In order for them to do so parties of the Convention need to submit notifications of final regulatory actions for banned or severely restricted chemicals. Further, developing countries and countries with an economy in transition are encouraged to submit proposal on pesticide formulations that cause human health or environment problems under the use conditions in their countries. The CRC counts on timely submission by parties.
CA: And what work is ongoing between now and then?
YZ: A lot of work is going on between now and then. For each of the chemicals listed in Annex III a DGD is prepared by the CRC to help governments making informed decisions about future imports of these chemicals. As decided at the current meeting, the CRC immediately started with the preparation of the DGD for carbofuran and carbosulfan, which will be finalized at its next meeting and submitted to the COP together with CRC’s recommendations to list the pesticides in Annex III. In order to enhance the efficiency of its work, about two months before the actual meeting the CRC will start to preliminary review the information submitted by parties, which is often voluminous. The members serve the Committee for four year in each term. In May 2016 about half of the current committee members will be replaced by new members. In view of the upcoming meeting of the CRC in September 2016 and of the substantial contribution required of members towards the intersessional work, it is important to enable new members and to provide them with appropriate tools. An orientation workshop will be organized in April 2016 to familiarize new members with the role and mandate of the CRC, as well as its operational procedures and policy guidance. The workshop will provide a platform to exchange experience, transfer knowledge and will help fostering efficient working relationships among members of the Committee. The secretariat supports the CRC in carrying out all these activities. It is indeed rewording to work with such a highly competent and dedicated Committee.
CA: Finally, the Convention is jointly administered by FAO in Rome and UNEP in Geneva. Can you say something about this shared responsibility, and how does it work in practice?
YZ: Indeed, the team supporting the CRC consists of staff from both parts of the Secretariats and works closely together. A workplan is jointly developed, which clarifies the responsibilities of each team member and helps us to communicate and monitor the progress. With regard to the technical support to the Committee the FAO colleagues are taking care of the pesticides while UNEP colleagues deal with the industrial chemicals. As the meeting was held at the FAO headquarters we also receive logistic support from the relevant divisions of the organization.
CA: Thank you very much for your time, good luck with this important work
YZ: Thank you !