News Features

 

Sign up now for Wastes, PIC and POPs webinars
Our offer of online training has been expanded to address a variety of new issues relevant to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. Find more by consulting the schedule of webinars for this year.

Sign up now for Wastes, PIC and POPs webinars

Sign up now for Wastes, PIC and POPs webinars

Our offer of online training has been expanded to address a variety of new issues relevant to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions.

Find more by consulting the schedule of webinars for this year.

A breakthrough year of synergies for the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions
In 2011, the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions embarked on a new, innovative and tangible phase the synergies process.  

A breakthrough year of synergies for the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

A breakthrough year of synergies for the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

In 2011, the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions embarked on a new, innovative and tangible phase the synergies process.

At the three meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel conventions held in April, June and October2011, respectively, parties reached consensus on a path forward on synergies, as well as a number of significant technical and policy matters.

The Stockholm and Rotterdam meetings in Geneva resulted in new listings for control of hazardous chemicals and pesticides and new initiatives to strengthen the scientific underpinnings of chemicals management. The Basel and Stockholm COPs also agreed to new synergistic relations between an expanded number of designated Regional Centres serving to bolster implementation on the ground.

Meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, Parties at Basel COP10 agreed on a way forward on the amendment banning transboundary movements of hazardous wastes from OECD countries to developing countries. For a number of reasons, the Ban Amendment has not yet entered into force, while trade in hazardous waste for resource recovery has grown significantly in the intervening decades, including between developing countries.

Basel COP10 recognized this shift and in a historic decision agreed to an approach that will allow the Ban Amendment to enter into force for those countries who wish to adhere to it. At the same time, Parties agreed to a framework to build a regime for countries who may wish to trade in waste to ensure the minimization of health and environmental impacts.

In launching the synergies process, Parties established the goal of strengthening implementation of each convention while delivering services in an efficient, cost effective manner. Improving the delivery of service to parties is the sine qua non of the Secretariat.

Among the most visible benefits to Parties has been the integration of conference services and meeting support, which contributed to successfully holding our first three paperless COPs. The recent conferences drew praises or being among the smoothest and most productive meetings in the entire history of the conventions the “miracle of Cartagena”.

The COPs approved the proposed cross-cutting and joint activities for inclusion in the programmes of work of the three Secretariats for 2012–2013 and authorized the Executive Secretary to determine the staffing levels, numbers and structure of the Secretariat in a flexible manner within the ceiling established by the decision on financing and budget for the biennium 2012–2013.

Working in consultation with Parties through the bureaux, I have submitted a proposal for the organization of the Secretariats, including staffing levels, numbers and structure, to be implemented by 31 December 2012. The proposed future structure would establish a single integrated secretariat dedicated to serving all three conventions equally, and would consist of four branches covering administrative services, convention operations, technical assistance and scientific support.

The proposed future structure would also considerably simplify the organization of the secretariat, and ultimately reduce the number of senior managers.

Eliminating redundancies, identifying resource savings, building upon best practices, and strengthening the focus on delivery of services to Parties are key considerations that should translate into increased support to Parties.  A secretariat better able to deliver services related to all three MEAs simultaneously would be better able to influence synergies externally, for example through supporting synergistic projects delivered through regional centres or by IGO partners.

The synergies process of the chemicals and waste MEAs is part of a larger effort aimed at overcoming fragmentation within the global system of environmental governance. Our experience shows that it is indeed possible to break away from “business as usual” and do much more through cooperation and collaboration in ways that were once hardly considered possible.

Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions 

 

Synergies among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions
Since 2005, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions have undergone a unique development within the world of MEAs, known as “the synergies process”. The synergies process represents the establishment of an unprecedented mechanism for the achievement of coordination and cooperation ...

Synergies among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

Synergies among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

Since 2005, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions have undergone a unique development within the world of MEAs, known as “the synergies process”. The synergies process represents the establishment of an unprecedented mechanism for the achievement of coordination and cooperation at all levels; providing Parties, the Secretariats and key partner organizations with a groundbreaking framework that will strengthen the impact of the work of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions at global, regional and national levels.

In launching the synergies process, Parties to the three conventions established the goal of strengthening implementation of each convention while delivering services in an efficient, cost-effective manner. 

Parties accelerated the process in 2010 with the establishment of a joint head for the secretariats of the Basel, Stockholm and UNEP part of the Rotterdam Convention. With a new single Executive Secretary for the parts of the secretariats provided by UNEP, a single, clear point of leadership and responsibility has been created to implement synergies.

A further step was taken in 2011, when Parties invited the newly appointed Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions to submit a proposal for organizing the joint management functions of the secretariats.

A proposal to restructure the secretariats to create a single, integrated secretariat was submitted to the bureaux of the three conventions and posted on the conventions’ webpages in December 2011. Several Parties provided comments on the proposal, and a new structure was implemented by the secretariat in February 2012 ad interim.

Welcome to the matrix

The new organizational structure of the secretariat is what is traditionally referred to as a matrix organization.  This means that reporting lines run vertically through the organization, with staff members of broadly similar skills or job functions pooled into the respective branches. Projects, on the other hand, generally are performed by teams, with a team leader, which function horizontally across the organization.

Under the new structure, four branches have been established covering administrative services, convention operations, technical assistance and scientific support. The matrix management approach generally conforms to UNEP’s management structure.

The primary intent of this proposal is to build a structure to better support synergies – in the case of the secretariat this means primarily identifying and implementing efficiencies that translate into increased support to Parties. As such, eliminating redundancies, identifying resource savings, building upon best practices, and strengthening the focus on delivery of services to Parties are key considerations.

The proposal also reflects a preference for a simpler, less hierarchical structure. Such a structure can significantly reduce the number of review and decision-making steps and better empower staff to manage their own work.  This can greatly facilitate teamwork horizontally across the organization, which is essential to a matrix structure.

Building a sustainable secretariat

Of almost equal importance is building a sustainable secretariat. It is intended that new treaties could be added to the structure if that is the wish of governments. Its structure will be buttressed by appropriate management controls to ensure the work is completed on time, is of high quality, and is appropriately budgeted and accounted for.

A sustainable secretariat will also be one having a well trained and regionally and gender balanced staff and management.

The proposal addresses only the UNEP part of the secretariat.  A full proposal to the 2013 COPs may be broader and include the FAO part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat and enhancing technical cooperation with FAO in the area of pesticides covered under the three Conventions. Changes to the final proposal would be made, if necessary, and build upon lessons learned from implementing restructuring during 2012.

Clearly the primary goal of this restructuring should be to support the relevant synergies decisions and activities approved by the COPs, as well as to be forward-looking in identifying and implementing additional synergies consistent with Party decisions.  A number of areas where this should occur include:

  • Resource saving through the consolidation and integration of like functions, e.g. reduced space and equipment requirements will result in reduced rental and leasing costs;
  • Increased efficiency by reducing redundancies, e.g. by eliminating the need for a separate technical assistance or conference management service for each of the three MEAs;
  • Improved delivery through the ability to establish coherent teams able to operate in greater depth to serve the needs of Parties;
  • Better integration enabling staff to be better able to deliver services related to all three MEAs simultaneously, and consequently better able to influence synergies externally, for example through supporting synergistic projects delivered through regional centres or by IGO partners. 

Farewell to fragmentation

The synergies process of the chemicals and waste MEAs is part of a larger effort aimed at overcoming fragmentation within the global system of environmental governances. It constitutes a unique development in the world of MEAs, as it reflects a strong collective commitment to evolve towards a common vision for change: capitalizing on commonalities, while fully respecting the legal autonomy of each Convention; strengthening existing mechanisms, while at the same time making them more efficient; fostering a regional approach towards the implementation of activities as well as enhancing national and regional capacities required for Parties to develop a more sustainable approach towards the full implementation of the three conventions.

The synergies experience of our conventions may provide a model of how to help defragment the sound management of hazardous chemicals and wastes to benefit human health and the environment.

Progress made by the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions on synergies has made a substantial contribution to the ongoing debate on governance of sustainable development.

How to catalyze synergies at the regional and global levels needs to be considered next.

 

“Synergies” is your window to the synergies process, an unprecedented effort to enhance coordination and cooperation among the three multilateral environmental agreements addressing hazardous chemicals and wastes. The newest member of the conventions’ clearing-house family of webs...

Welcome to "Synergies among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions"

“Synergies” is your window to the synergies process, an unprecedented effort to enhance coordination and cooperation among the three multilateral environmental agreements addressing hazardous chemicals and wastes.

The newest member of the conventions’ clearing-house family of websites, “Synergies” provides an overview and history of the synergies process and serves as a single point of entry for the synergies-related decisions, joint programme of work and joint activities of the conventions.

 “Synergies” also serves as the home of information related to the joint bureaux and extraordinary meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the conventions. 

The website features success stories drawn from national, regional and global level and highlights increased cooperation between the regional centres.

It provides a gateway to the conventions’ growing presence among, and use of, social media, including POPsSocial, PICSocial, Safe Planet and the expanding series of Webinars on synergies.

The secretariat’s new matrix management structure and cross-cutting activities, including joint publications, are introduced on the website.

“Synergies” builds off of the successful launch in 2011 of the conventions’ interlinked websites. The new website is fully integrated into the clearing-house mechanism and shares its unique information exchange capabilities.

Enhancing synergies among the three conventions in the chemicals and waste cluster has been spotlighted during debates on mending the fragmentation of the global system of environmental governance.  By increasing the transparency of the synergies process, “Synergies among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions” hopes to contribute to this international dialogue.

Most importantly, “Synergies” aims to inform and inspire Parties to the conventions, and support cooperation, coordination and communication at all levels, to the benefit of human health and the environment.

 

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