News Features

 

Connecting the sound management of chemicals and waste, children’s rights, and the environment
The BRS Secretariat contributed to the recent consultation on human rights and the environment, organised alongside the June session of the Human Rights Council.

Connecting the sound management of chemicals and waste, children’s rights, and the environment

Connecting the sound management of chemicals and waste, children’s rights, and the environment

On 22nd -23rd June 2017, in parallel to the June session of the Human Rights Council, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Prof. John Knox, held consultations on children’s rights and the environment, in view of his next report to the Human Rights Council, at which the BRS Secretariat contributed. These consultations were co-organised by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), UNICEF and Terre des Hommes.

Whereas human rights law imposes specific duties on States with respect to those particularly vulnerable to environmental harm, children being among the most vulnerable; the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions aim at “protecting human health and the environment” against harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and wastes. These objectives are crucial as the World Health Organization estimates, in its recent 2017 reports, that of the 5.9 million deaths of children under five each year, 26% are attributable to environmental causes, including due to unsound management of hazardous chemicals and wastes. Air pollution alone kills 570,000 children under five every year. Unhealthy environments interfere with the enjoyment of many fundamental rights enshrined in essential long-standing UN legal instruments – e.g. the UN Charter, the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the 1966 Covenants on civil and political rights and on economic and social rights, the 1992 Convention on the Rights of the Child, etc.: these rights include right to life, health and development, as well as many other rights, such as rights to housing, food, and clean water, etc. Climate change, as well as the unsound management of hazardous chemicals and wastes, poses a threat to the realization of many if not all of the rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Negotiated well after the rise of the environmental movement, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, now with 191 Parties, is one of the few human rights instruments that explicitly require States to take steps to protect the environment for children. The threat of environmental harm indeed affects children today and future generations.

For more information:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/SREnvironment/Pages/SRenvironmentIndex.aspx

Info on Minamata and SAICM meetings now accessible through BRS clearing house mechanism
The joint clearing house mechanism’s searchable calendar now features key dates from the Minamata and SAICM processes

Info on Minamata and SAICM meetings now accessible through BRS clearing house mechanism

Info on Minamata and SAICM meetings now accessible through BRS clearing house mechanism

 

11 individuals honoured recently as #Detox Gender Pioneers
Ten women and one man were honoured at the recent 2017 Triple COPs, recognising their outstanding contributions towards mainstreaming gender into the sound management of chemicals and wastes

11 individuals honoured recently as #Detox Gender Pioneers

11 individuals honoured recently as #Detox Gender Pioneers

 

BRS Secretariat contributes to system-wide approach on e-waste
Part of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) process, the recent Geneva meeting highlighted challenges to data collection on electronic waste, a key focus area of the Basel Convention

BRS Secretariat contributes to system-wide approach on e-waste

BRS Secretariat contributes to system-wide approach on e-waste

As part of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2017 The thematic workshop “Addressing the global e-waste challenge. The Global e-Waste Statistics Partnership” was held on 16 June 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. Moderated by the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Rolph Payet, the event was organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations University (UNU) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) to highlight current challenges in the area of e-waste and introduce the global e-waste statistics partnership. It was emphasized that we are facing a lack of data on e-waste since only about 40 countries in the world collect national e-waste statistics and there is an urgent need to build statistical capacities in the developing countries.  In this regard coordination at the national level for establishing policy frameworks and data on e-waste is critical and it communication and ICT ministries should work with ministries of environment at the national level to produce better e-waste policies and data.

For more information on WSIS and e-waste, please click here.

Now online: all photos of the 2017 Triple COPs
Browse and download the BRS photos of the chemical conventions Triple COPs, including side events, plenary, and high-level segment

Now online: all photos of the 2017 Triple COPs

Now online: all photos of the 2017 Triple COPs

 

Human rights, agriculture, environment emphasised at COPs High-Level Segment
Speeches from UNHCHR, UN FAO, and the GEF are now online

Human rights, agriculture, environment emphasised at COPs High-Level Segment

Human rights, agriculture, environment emphasised at COPs High-Level Segment

 

New members of bureaux and subsidiary bodies elected at Triple COPs
At their 2017 meetings, the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions elected new members of bureaux and subsidiary bodies under the conventions.

New members of bureaux and subsidiary bodies elected at Triple COPs

New members of bureaux and subsidiary bodies elected at Triple COPs
 
The 2017 Triple COPs have begun. Read the opening day speeches here
Opening day speeches from BRS’ Rolph Payet and Bill Murray, and UN Environment’s Ibrahim Thiaw are now available online.

The 2017 Triple COPs have begun. Read the opening day speeches here

The 2017 Triple COPs have begun. Read the opening day speeches here

 

New BRS COPs app now available for download
Don't miss a thing from the 2017 Triple COPs: Get the new, improved, BRS mobile application.

New BRS COPs app now available for download

New BRS COPs app now available for download

BRS App iconBRS App provides a window to information about the meetings of the global chemicals and wastes conventions. It gives quick and easy access to essential information about the 2015 COPs as well as other information about the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

BRS App is available on App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android devices.

For more information about the BRS App, please contact Julien Hortoneda at Julien.Hortoneda@brsmeas.org.

Media background notes on the COPs now online
All you need to know about the 2017 Triple COPs in one place: download your copy now!

Media background notes on the COPs now online

Media background notes on the COPs now online

All you need to know about the 2017 Triple COPs in one place: download your copy now!

New BRS infographic explains all about Basel Convention work on ESM
An online interactive infographic describes the Guidelines, Expert Working Group, Manuals, Pilot Projects and Toolbox which support the parties’ work on environmentally sound management (ESM)

New BRS infographic explains all about Basel Convention work on ESM

New BRS infographic explains all about Basel Convention work on ESM

 

Field interviews confirm ongoing exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides amongst island rural families
A new Rotterdam Convention study in small island developing states (SIDs) found that whilst the use of organic alternatives is increasing, threats posed by the misues of toxic chemicals still persist.

Field interviews confirm ongoing exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides amongst island rural families

Field interviews confirm ongoing exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides amongst island rural families
 
The sound management of chemicals and waste as a human right
Ahead of the 2017 Triple COPs, recent meetings in Geneva have emphasised that freedom from a polluted environment is a human right

The sound management of chemicals and waste as a human right

The sound management of chemicals and waste as a human right

(This article is an expanded version of the BRS Blog by Malika Amelie Taoufiq-Cailliau, Legal Officer, which appeared on www.brsmeas.org during March 2017)

Ahead of the meetings of the BRS Conferences of the Parties (COPs), to be held 24 April to 5 May 2017 in Geneva, discussions on a human rights-based approach for better protection of the environment and of human health, the common objectives of the BRS Conventions, and thus for the sound management of chemicals and wastes, were ‘effervescing’ recently under various fora, such as at the 34th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council which took place 27 February to 24 March, and the annual International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) from 10 to 19 March.

According to reports recently published by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2017)[1][2], 1.7 million children die each year due to a polluted environment; of which 570,000 deaths occur each year among children under five years old, due the main pollutant, the air. The reports emphasise electronic and electrical wastes as one of the emerging environmental threats to children; and that harmful chemicals work themselves through the food chain thus contributing to this alarming situation.

On the occasion of one of the numerous discussions that took place during the recent Geneva meetings on environment and human rights at the Human Rights Council, at a side-event organised on 6 March WHO’s Ms. Maria Neira stressed that “human health is a human right” and even more a child’s right. Thus, “investing in the removal of environmental risks to health, such as improving water quality or using cleaner fuels, will result in massive health benefits”. Much work is still needed to turn this into protection on the ground, building on the human rights commitment as embodied through the ‘Geneva Pledge’ (for Human Rights in Climate Action) and later the Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015 in Paris by 195 Parties and entered into force in November 2016, which marked the first times that a Multilateral Environmental Agreement strongly advocated for a human rights-based approach of environment protection in its preamble[3]

This watershed took place shortly after the adoption in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is itself strongly grounded in human rights and provides further opportunities to advocate integration of human rights within the framework of international efforts to promote sustainable development to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this context, UN Environment stressed the importance of respecting, protecting and promoting human rights and gender equality in “Delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, through the adoption of Resolution L.6 at the Second Session of the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2), convened on 23-27 May 2016, in order to ensure that no one is “left behind”, in particular the most vulnerable, such as children, who need special attention and actions. 

The latest Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Mr. Baskut Tuncak, as presented to the Human Rights Council, at its 33rd session in September 2016, moved towards this by focusing on children’s rights[4]  and by pointing out the “silent pandemic” of disease and disability affecting millions of children, to the point that paediatricians have now sadly begun to refer to children born “pre-polluted.”

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.

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’. This is why on 13 March 2017, for instance, the BRS Secretariat participated in a panel at the FIFDH[5]  and presented on the BRS Conventions to a youth audience and the wider public, explaining the roles of these international treaties in protecting human health and the environment.

What comes next? The meetings of the ‘BRS Triple COPs’, from 24 April to 5 May 2017, in Geneva, will provide Parties and other stakeholders with an opportunity to address these issues, whether at a side-event on “Human rights, Children’s Rights, and Hazardous Substances & Wastes” or at the High-Level Segment, to be attended by Environment Ministers from upwards of 80 countries.

Decisions taken at the COPs, whether for the listing of additional chemicals in the annexes to the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, or for new partnerships to solve problems of waste management under the Basel Convention, will therefore play a role in protecting children from exposure, and ultimately in saving young lives. Only in this way can we detoxify the future.

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[1] See: http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/don-t-pollute-my-future/en/

[2] See: http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/inheriting-a-sustainable-world/en/

[3] The Preamble of the Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change makes it clear that all States “should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights”.

[4] To read the entire report, in the 6 official UN languages, click on the following link: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/33/41

[5] For more information on the 2017 edition of the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH), and its full programme, see: http://www.fifdh.org/site/en/2017-edition/programme

Latest information on the 2017 Triple COPs
All the latest information, including the schedule for Bureaux and Regional meetings for Sunday 23rd April, for the 2017 Triple COPs is available online

Latest information on the 2017 Triple COPs

Latest information on the 2017 Triple COPs

 

How does technical assistance support implementation of the three chemicals conventions?
Capacity building is an integral part of the support to parties provided by the BRS Secretariat, read about it here ahead of the Triple COPs.

How does technical assistance support implementation of the three chemicals conventions?

How does technical assistance support implementation of the three chemicals conventions?

The current technical assistance and capacity-building programme has four main components: needs assessment and the development of supporting tools and methodologies; capacity-development; partnerships; and regional delivery. It was developed and presented to the Parties for the first time at the meetings of the conferences of the Parties held in 2013. Since then the Secretariat has been implementing its technical assistance activities based on the programme.

Based on past experience in implementation, lessons learned and the needs expressed by Parties, the Secretariat has developed a draft four-year technical assistance plan for 2018-2021 replacing the current biennial programme approach with a view to better addressing the needs of Parties. The activities are now planned in such a way as to allow for improved impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation.

The plan is based on objectives and guiding principles that together set a strategic direction for the technical assistance activities to support Parties in implementing the conventions. In the light of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it also seeks to support Parties in integrating chemicals and wastes management into national strategies for sustainable development.

The plan includes activities that Parties, non-Party States, regional centres and other organizations can implement at the national, regional and international levels that are in line with the directions and priorities set by Parties through their respective decisions and programmes of work.

While using the harmonized approach across the three conventions, specific characteristics of technical assistance for each convention are taken into account. Capacity development to support Parties in the implementation of the three conventions and cross-cutting issues focuses on the following thematic areas:

    1. Basel Convention: national strategies for the environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes, control procedures for transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes, the take-back procedure, the Ban Amendment, the disposal of hazardous wastes and waste prevention and minimization;

    2. Rotterdam Convention: national action plans, information exchange obligations, effective participation in the work of the Chemical Review Committee, submission of import responses for pesticides and industrial chemicals listed in Annex III to the Convention, alternatives to Annex III chemicals, monitoring, data collection, reporting of pesticide poisoning incidents related to severely hazardous pesticide formulations, national decision-making process related to banning or restricting chemicals and submission of notifications of final regulatory action, and the establishment of systems and procedures for sending export notifications with regard to banned or severely restricted chemicals not listed in Annex III to the Convention;

    3. Stockholm Convention: guidance for the development and updating of national implementation plans, including on inventories, effective participation in the work of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee, elimination or restriction of the production and use of intentionally produced persistent organic pollutants, alternatives to persistent organic pollutants, reduction or elimination of releases of unintentionally produced persistent organic pollutants, persistent organic pollutants in articles, stockpiles, and the environmentally sound management and disposal of persistent organic pollutant wastes;

    4. Cross-cutting areas pertinent to two or all three of the conventions: legal and institutional frameworks, national coordination, the exchange of information on chemicals and wastes, the provision of support to customs officers, illegal traffic and trade of hazardous chemicals and wastes, inventories, national reporting under the Basel and Stockholm conventions, gender and social dimensions, the mainstreaming of chemicals and wastes into national sustainable development strategies in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, accident prevention and preparedness for hazardous waste and chemicals emergencies, the strengthening of the legal-science-policy-business interface, regional cooperation among entities responsible for the implementation of the conventions, and the enhancement of skills for chairing meetings of convention bodies.

The technical assistance plan for the period 2018–2021 is submitted for consideration to the upcoming Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions which will be held in Geneva from 24 April - 5 May 2017. In order to provide sufficient time for planning and implementation of projects and activities, which includes the mobilization of resources, the plan lays down the foundation for the next four years, describing the overall goal and objectives, as well as expected outputs and outcomes, with the understanding that the plan will be reviewed and adjusted, as needed, by the Conferences of the Parties in 2019.

Matthias Kern
Technical Assistance Branch
Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

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