News Features


Interview with FAO’s Christine Fuell
Find out all about Rotterdam Convention implementation and the role of FAO in the latest of our interview series marking the Countdown to the Triple COPs.

Interview with FAO’s Christine Fuell

Interview with FAO’s Christine Fuell


Register now for the COPs Excursion on Lake Geneva
The Government of Switzerland invites delegates of the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to join a boat cruise on Lake Geneva on Sunday, 10 May 2015. Registration is required.

Register now for the COPs Excursion on Lake Geneva

Register now for the COPs Excursion on Lake Geneva


Protecting children from pesticides: new visual tool now available
Raising awareness about child labour and harmful exposure to pesticides, a new visual facilitator’s guide covers issues and preventative steps, and is available in different languages and adapted to different contexts.

Protecting children from pesticides: new visual tool now available

Protecting children from pesticides: new visual tool now available
First ever, interactive, online Synergies publication now available
Aiming to help Customs Authorities meet their responsibilities for protecting against the adverse impacts of hazardous chemicals and wastes, this is the first ever interactive BRS publication.

First ever, interactive, online Synergies publication now available

First ever, interactive, online Synergies publication now available
Countdown to the Triple COPs – Update on Stockholm listings
Ask Kei Ohno all you need to know about chemicals proposed to be newly listed at this year’s Conference of the Parties

Countdown to the Triple COPs – Update on Stockholm listings

Countdown to the Triple COPs – Update on Stockholm listings
Country-Led Initiative the focus for your questions
Ask Susan Wingfield how the CLI helps countries capture the benefits of improved waste management

Country-Led Initiative the focus for your questions

Country-Led Initiative the focus for your questions
An African perspective: capacities and partnerships in focus
Join Professor Oladele Osibanjo as he describes the main capacity constraints, and partnership opportunities, for solving waste and chemicals issues in Africa

An African perspective: capacities and partnerships in focus

An African perspective: capacities and partnerships in focus

Regional Capacity, and Innovative Partnerships for the Sustainable Management of Waste: An African Perspective

Interview between Professor Oladele Osibanjo, Executive Director of the Basel Convention Coordinating Centre For Training & Technology Transfer for the African Region (Ibadan, Nigeria) and Charlie Avis, BRS Secretariat Public Information Officer

Charlie Avis: Good morning, Professor Osibanjo, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. Please tell me, what is the role of your Centre, and why is it important?

Professor Oladele Osibanjo:  Thank you. The Centre aims to strengthen the capacity of the parties in Africa in complying with the provisions of the Basel Convention in legal, technical and institutional arrangements; strengthen the framework for environmentally sound management (ESM) of hazardous and other wastes across the Africa region. It also assists them to effectively implement their obligations on trans-boundary movements of hazardous and other wastes. This is done very much in partnership with the Basel Convention Regional Centres (BCRCs) in Egypt for Arabic-speaking countries; in Senegal for Francophone; and South Africa (Africa Institute) for Anglophone African countries respectively.

One important role of the Centre is to facilitate interaction and exchange of information between the BRS Secretariat and Regional Centres, and among the Regional Centres, Parties and other related institutions. The centre convenes regional consultations to identify  priorities and formulate strategies, and helps define and execute regional programmes. These contribute to synergies and mechanisms of cooperation among the Regional Centres and other stakeholders in environmentally sound management (ESM) and minimization of the generation of hazardous wastes and technological transfer in and outside the region. The Centre also maintains a regional information system accessible to stakeholders.

CA:  What are the main capacity constraints facing African governments striving to implement the Basel Convention?

OO:   The infrastructure for sound management of hazardous wastes varies from no action, to little or weak action,  among the parties in the African region. The parties are at different stages of development with different approaches to hazardous waste management. Hence the importance of a regional approach as this helps parties in the region to adopt a common template for addressing ESM of hazardous waste. It also allows parties lagging behind to catch up faster with the rest of the region. It further helps to promote the implementation of the environmentally sound management of hazardous and other wastes as an essential contribution to the attainment of sustainable livelihood, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the protection of human health and the environment in the region.

The capacity challenges are multidimensional and complex. In general, waste disposal is practised more than waste management (collection, storage, sorting, transportation, recycling, processing and disposal) often due to a lack of or weak infrastructure for hazardous waste management with limited knowledge and understanding of the operational and managerial/maintenance aspects of hazardous waste management. This can also be a function of missing and/or inadequate legal and institutional/administrative frameworks for hazardous waste ESM and the control of transboundary movements. Insufficient financial resources result in poor funding leading to low standards of  hazardous waste management.  Also, a prevailing low level of awareness at all levels of governance of the adverse environmental and human health impacts of hazardous waste can lead to  a  lack of political will. Not least, the non-domestication of the Basel Convention after ratification into national laws weakens the control of transboundary movement of hazardous waste at the national level.

CA:  In terms of sector, what is the fastest growing waste stream in Africa?

OO:  The fastest growing waste stream in Africa in terms of sector is electronic waste, also known as e-waste, or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Africa generates about 2 million metric tons of e-waste annually. This stems from the fact that Africa is one of the major destinations of e-waste exports from developed countries under the guise of exporting used or second-hand functional electronic products to assist Africa bridge the so-called digital divide. Less than 20% of African population can afford to purchase new electronic products hence the high demand for used electronic products which could be near end of life or are already end-of-life on arrival in Africa.

CA:  How can partnerships contribute to solving these issues?

OO:  The issue of e-waste is a globalized problem requiring global solutions. The Basel Convention Parties recognized the importance of public-private partnerships in the development of innovative, appropriate, and effective strategies for achieving the ESM of hazardous waste. Thus the Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE) was launched at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9)in Bali, Indonesia in June 2008. PACE is a multi-stakeholder partnership forum with representatives of Governments, private sector (both producers and recyclers), international organizations, academia, the Basel Convention Regional Centres/Basel Convention Coordinating Centres – and environmental public-interest non-governmental organizations. They come together to tackle issues related to the ESM, repair, refurbishment, recycling and disposal of used and end-of-life computing equipment. PACE has developed international guidelines for ESM of end-of-life computing equipment and has begun to test the implementation of these guidelines in pilot activities in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.  

Other international partnerships include the United Nations University initiative StEP (Solving the E waste Problem (StEP) which also focuses on providing solutions to the e-waste problem, through the application of scientific research based on the life-cycle approach.  There is also the UNEP Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) which is carried out with the Information Communication Sector (ICT) since 2001.

CA:  What do you consider to be the three main successes of PACE, for the African region?

OO:   PACE provided a unique forum for representatives of personal computer manufacturers, recyclers, international organizations, academia, BCRCs/BCCCs, environmental NGOs, and governments to tackle environmentally sound refurbishment, repair, material recovery, recycling and disposal of used and end-of-life computing equipment in an environmentally sound manner. It raised awareness, particularly through the participation of government officials and Directors of BCRCs/BCCC from Africa, all gaining exposure, knowledge and experience in the process.  At the country level, Africa also benefitted from PACE, for example the E-waste inventory in Burkina Faso, and a pilot project on collection and management of used and end-of-life computing equipment from informal sector which is on-going in the same country.

CA:  How would you like to see the platform established by MPPI and PACE taken forward?

OO:   The legacies of these two global partnerships should be sustained, strengthened and taken forward in a variety of ways. It is important that the knowledge and experiences gained in MPPI and PACE in promoting ESM on used and end-of-life mobile phones and computing equipment is not lost, and that their multi-stakeholder platform should continue to provide a platform for advancing ESM in a wider spectrum of WEEE issues and products beyond consumer electronics and cover other categories of E-waste in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, at the regional and national levels beyond December 2015.

In practical terms, establishing an ‘’Ad hoc follow-up group‘’ on PACE at the end of COP 12, would continue already initiated activities that are ongoing, finalize pilot projects,  and enable reporting of lessons learned. It is also important to undertake revision of section 3 of the Guidance Document on the Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of Used and End-of-Life Computing Equipment.

lt is also important that a New PACE or PACE after PACE be established after December 2015, that would provide a global coordination role towards facilitating the strengthening of information and experience sharing and discussion on emerging issues within the wider WEEE agenda. An expanded mandate (TOR) and governance structure envisioned for the NEW PACE  under a proposed 2-tier coordination arrangement would give greater responsibility to the BCRCs/BCCCs in regional and national coordination; while the Basel Convention Secretariat retains the primary role for global coordination, which model would require consideration and approval by COP 13 and follow-up implementation strategy.

CA:  Finally, will you be travelling to the triple COPs in Geneva in May, and if so, what are your expectations?

OO:   Yes l will be traveling to the triple COP. My expectations are many and will share a few with you. I would love to see more active participation and greater involvement of delegates from developing and economic in transition countries in contact groups’ activities. This, together with improved and more predictable and sustainable funding mechanisms for implementing Chemicals and Waste MEAs in developing countries, would do much for tackling the waste issues in Africa.

New progammes on enhanced advocacy, awareness-raising and education on the global chemicals and waste issues would be welcome, with connectivities and implications for sustainable development, poverty alleviation and the creation of green jobs, for developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

CA:  Thank you very much for your time.

OO:   It is my pleasure. Thank you.

Focus on regional issues - Your chance to ask-an-expert
Suman Sharma answers your questions on How does Technical Assistance assist Parties implement the Chemicals and Waste Conventions?

Focus on regional issues - Your chance to ask-an-expert

Focus on regional issues - Your chance to ask-an-expert
The role of partnerships and stakeholders in the sustainable management of chemicals and waste
Countdown to the Triple COPs: BRS’ Matthias Kern answers your questions on concerning implementing the Conventions through partnerships.

The role of partnerships and stakeholders in the sustainable management of chemicals and waste

The role of partnerships and stakeholders in the sustainable management of chemicals and waste
BRS’ Tatiana Terekhova answers your question on Gender
Second in the popular Countdown to the Triple COPs series of UNEP “Expert-of-the-Day”, Tatiana explains the importance of gender for the sustainable management of chemicals and waste

BRS’ Tatiana Terekhova answers your question on Gender

BRS’ Tatiana Terekhova answers your question on Gender
BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on
As part of the “Countdown to the Triple COPs” on UNEP’s Ask-an-Expert interactive portal, ask BRS Programme Officer Mario Yarto all you need to know about how the chemical listings processes work.

BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on

BRS’ Mario Yarto explains how new chemicals get listed on
International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties
By journalist Bryce Baschuk from Bloomberg Key Development: The new executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions is seeking to increase awareness about the negative impacts of e-waste, mercury and other pollutants. What's Next: The BRS conference of parties will con...

International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

By journalist Bryce Baschuk from Bloomberg
Source: Daily Report for Executives: News Archive > 2015 > February > 02/06/2015 > Regulation & Law > Hazardous Substances: International Chemicals Chief Eyes Ambitious Agenda for 2015 Conference of Parties

Feb. 5 — The United Nations' climate change negotiations in Paris may be 2015's environmental cause celebre, but Rolph Payet wants the world to remember that toxic chemicals should be a front-burner topic in Geneva.

“Chemicals and waste are also very important,” said Payet, the new executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions. “If we don't manage them properly, they can affect the environment in more or less greater ways than climate change,” he told Bloomberg BNA during a recent interview in Geneva.

During Payet's first four months in office, the former Seychelles minister for environment and energy has been hard at work preparing chemical stakeholders for what he hopes will be a momentous year.

Specifically, he is seeking to establish firm guidelines for the management of electronic waste and mercury, adopt a new chemicals and waste compliance mechanism and list several toxins at the May 4–15 BRS conference of parties (COPs) in Geneva.

Compliance Mechanism

The issue most at stake at the 2015 BRS COPs is the successful adoption of a compliance mechanism to increase transparency and enforcement of international chemicals and waste management, Payet said.

In May, parties to the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions will consider rules to ensure that countries are applying the relevant management and customs procedures for chemicals that are listed as harmful to human health and the environment.

“We do need certain minimum levels of practice so that this international system will work,” he said. “A compliance mechanism for those two conventions is therefore a priority for the COPs.”

The Rotterdam Convention requires countries that export restricted chemicals to adequately notify the receiving country. The Stockholm Convention requires parties to prohibit the production, use and trade of certain persistent organic pollutants.

E-Waste Awareness

Payet said he hopes parties to the Basel Convention—which defines limits on the cross-border movement of hazardous waste and its disposal—will adopt clear guidelines on how to deal with the hazardous and costly effects of electronic waste, or e-waste.

E-waste from discarded mobile devices and computer equipment is considered hazardous due to the presence of toxic materials such as mercury, cadmium, asbestos and lead.

“Televisions, computers and mobile devices contain a range of hazardous substances,” Payet said. “When they end up as e-waste—for example in the landfill—they will leach out into the environment and create problems.

“Ten years from now we don't want to look back and say we wish we could have done something more about it,” he said.

Draft Technical Guidelines

Last year, the United Nations issued its latest draft technical guidelines on the transboundary movements of e-waste.

The guidelines seek to establish the difference between hazardous and non-hazardous e-waste, provide guidance on the transboundary movements of e-waste and offer inspection guidelines for enforcement officials to control the transportation of e-waste.

“Parties are sending signals that say: ‘Look, let's have particular guidelines because the problem is growing and we need to work on it,’ ” Payet said. “I am committed to supporting parties by all means to adopt those guidelines.”

Members of the Basel Convention COP will consider the e-waste debate May 8–12. “I hope the guidelines will be adopted by this COP,” he said. “You have to be ambitious.”

Mercury Poisoning

Payet said he is equally optimistic that parties will adopt the draft technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of mercury waste in 2016.

“Mercury is a toxic chemical and we need to take actions to reduce and eliminate anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury,” he said. “On the policy side, I believe it will come into force by next year. The trend I've seen is certainly encouraging.”

He added, “There is a lot of work to be done in the dentistry sector, for example, because a lot of us are walking around with amalgam in our teeth. As for mercury thermometers, there are many alternatives.”

New Chemical Listings

Payet said he plans to work closely with members of the chemicals industry to help prepare them for the listing of new chemicals.

“I encourage industry to monitor closely which chemicals are being discussed, and which chemicals the science is showing are toxic, with a view to developing a strategy for slowly phasing out harmful chemicals and addressing some of the challenges,” he said.

Payet said he's optimistic the Rotterdam Convention COP will list paraquat dichloride formulation, an herbicide considered toxic to humans and animals, during its May meetings.

“Listing a chemical in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention does not constitute a ban on its use,” he said. “Parties that considered it safe to do so could still use the chemical, but the exchange of information required for chemicals listed in Annex III would enable them to use the chemical in a more informed manner with information received from exporting countries.”

Payet said he hopes parties will support alternatives to the use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in countries that depend on it for controlling the spread of malaria. In May, the Stockholm Convention COP will review measures to reduce or eliminate releases from intentional production and use of DDT.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at

For More Information

The UN's draft technical guidelines on the transboundary movements of e-waste are available at

Draft technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of mercury waste are available at

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs
For three days on the margins of the COPs, the BRS Secretariat and its partners will present the scientific basis for sustainable management of chemicals and waste, at the Science Fair, 7-9 May 2015.

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs

Science-based decision-making key to the COPs
Focus on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building
Why is Capacity-Building crucial for implementing the Conventions? An Interview with the Chief of the BRS Technical Assistance Branch, Maria Cristina Cardenas, tells us why.

Focus on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

Focus on Technical Assistance and Capacity-Building

Central to the Quest for Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Waste

Interview with Maria Cristina Cardenas, Chief of the BRS Technical Assistance Branch by Charlie Avis, BRS Public Information Officer

Charlie Avis: Maria Cristina, you are Chief of the BRS Technical Assistance Branch, please tell us what “capacity-building” means to the Secretariat, and why is it important? 

Maria Cristina Cardenas: Thank you. The capacity building programme aims to assist parties to create the enabling environment necessary for enhanced or strengthened efforts to implement their obligations under the conventions. It is important because only by implementing the conventions will we achieve the objectives set out, namely to protect the environment and human health from the effects of chemicals and hazardous wastes.

CA: What are the main capacity gaps at national level, and where are the gaps (geographically) most acute?

MCC: According to the recent needs assessment that was undertaken by the Secretariat, the main needs are in the fields of the environmentally-sound management of priority waste streams, in particular on e-wastes, used lead-acid batteries, persistent organic pollutants wastes and mercury wastes; the collection of data for undertaking inventories for POPs and for reporting ; the monitoring of human health or environmental incidents at the national level, in order to prepare proposals for listing severely hazardous pesticide formulations; the identification of alternative substances or methods to substitute for newly-listed chemicals, and the collection of information for updating NIPs and for reporting.

In terms of the geographical scope the needs vary between and among regions as well as between the conventions themselves.

CA: The webinar series seems to have been especially effective, with more than 1,100 participants benefitting last year alone. How long has the BRS Secretariat been staging webinars?

MCC: The webinar programme was officially launched by the Stockholm Convention Secretariat in February 2011, and one year later it was expanded to include the Basel and Rotterdam Conventions (when the 3 Secretariats were officially merged into one).

CA: Can you please give me a concrete example of a webinar (title, scope, length, speakers, number and origin of participants)?  

MCC: Webinars are training or information sessions with a duration of maximum 60 minutes. They are generally organized twice a week on Tuesdays (10-11am) and Thursdays (4-5pm Geneva time) in order to provide an opportunity for participants from different time zones to connect.  The sessions are hosted and chaired by Secretariat staff, who introduces the presenter for the session. He or she is usually an invited expert on a specific topic or a Secretariat staff member who responsible for a particular programme. Presentations take about 30 minutes, leaving ample time for participants to ask questions and engage with the presenter.  Typically there are 20 to 30 participants attending each webinar session.  Of course there are always exceptions and for instance the up-coming webinar sessions on briefings for the COPs are scheduled for 90 minutes. This is to allow for the presenter to provide the full overview of the COPs as well for the participants to be able to ask questions.  The majority of our webinar sessions are recorded and thus if you miss one you can always view the recording of the presentations and download the questions asked.

CA: How do you deal with the language needs of participants? 

MCC: Sessions are offered in the official UN languages depending on the interest of the topic. Generally we schedule sessions mainly in English, French and Spanish, however we have also run them in Arabic and in Russian. We hope to soon offer webinars with simultaneous interpretation into a second language, after we have overcome some technical obstacles.

CA: What kind of feedback have you received – from participants, from parties, for your colleagues?

MCC: Overall the feedback that we receive from parties and participants is very positive. Stakeholders around the globe are happy to be able to join the webinars and be in touch with experts and the Secretariat in real time without having to move away from their desks.  Many find it to be a very useful training tool in addition to the face-to-face activities that the Secretariat organizes.

CA: You mention face-to-face training: In addition to webinars, what else is the BRS Secretariat doing to fill these capacity needs?

MCC: The  Secretariat’s technical assistance programme builds upon the strengths and best practices of the individual programmes for the delivery of capacity-building support under each of the 3 conventions.  We have four main components:  Needs assessment; Development of supporting tools and methodologies; Capacity-building and training activities; Partnerships and regional centres . The idea is to provide a full suite or awareness-raising and technical support across the spectrum of themes and issues of relevance to the conventions, globally.

CA: What plans do you have for the future, for BRS capacity-building?

MCC:  We are currently exploring the different avenues offered by technology, in particular we are looking into expanding the use of virtual, electronic, platforms. We will soon be launching online training modules, and we are also working with academia to developing some massive open online courses (MOOCs). In addition we will continue to strengthen our face-to-face training programme by promoting the use of hands-on training methodologies and information exchange during practical training activities and workshops.

CA: And the “flagship” webinar programme will undoubtedly continue. Last question, will capacity issues be prominent at the triple COPs, and if so, where, and what kind of decisions/commitment can we expect?

MCC:  Yes indeed, the Webinar programme will continue to run and be strengthened.  As for the COPs, capacity issues will be quite prominent, and technical assistance is an agenda item under each of the three COPs. It will be introduced during the joint session of the triple COPs on the first day, and is expected to be discussed in a contact group which will be operating during the 3 COPs. Parties will be provided with an overview of what the secretariat has undertaken since the last COPs as well as a proposed programme on technical assistance for the three conventions. This programme is basically a continuation of the programme which was set up in 2012 after the re-organization of the 3 secretariats into one.  It also takes into account the needs assessments that were carried out for each of the conventions in 2014. In addition the Basel and Stockholm COPs will evaluate the performance and sustainability of the 23 regional centres serving the Conventions.

CAA: So, all-in-all, it is expected the COPs will recognise the importance of capacity-building for fulfilling the conventions’ objectives, leading to a renewed mandate for the next two years. Maria Cristina, thank you very much for your time.

Human Rights and the Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Wastes
At a side event held in December 2014, the Executive Secretary led a debate on the linkages between human rights and hazardous chemicals and wastes

Human Rights and the Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Wastes

Human Rights and the Sustainable Management of Chemicals and Wastes

The link between human rights and the quality of the human environment in all its dimensions was first acknowledged at the United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Declaration) in 1972. Over the past several decades, this linkage has been sustained through various international declarations and international legal instruments.

In a world where inequality is increasing, poor people are disproportionately more exposed to the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste. As the international community discusses the post-2015 policy agenda, including the formulation of meaningful and integrated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide policies and interventions into the next decade, the relevance of a rights-based approach to development, including sustainable chemicals and waste management, is of greater relevance than ever before.

On 17 December 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, moderated a side-event on “A Rights-Based Approach to Sound Chemicals Management”. This was co-organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and held during the second meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

The purpose of this event was to bring together the expertise of various stakeholders dealing with human rights and the environment, in order to share their experiences and discuss a human-rights based approach to sound chemicals management, hence contributing to achieve the overarching goal of sustainable development.

In this regard, the Executive Secretary underlined that the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are strongly committed to protecting both the environment and human beings, thus addressing human rights such as the right to live in a healthy environment among others.

More specifically, the discussions focused on sharing lessons learned as well as identifying challenges and opportunities in the efforts of interlinking such priorities. The panel of speakers and participants, representing a wide range of stakeholders - including the UN OHCHR Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, national ministries, and civil society - considered the following: why and how human rights may be integrated in the achievement of the sound management of hazardous chemicals and, vice versa; and why and how managing chemicals in a sound manner may better contribute in promoting human rights. The debates analysed what has been achieved so far and shed light on actions required by 2020.

For more information, please see:

SAICM OEWG webpage:

OHCHR webpage:

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