Hazardous Waste and Pollution

There are three multilateral environmental agreements, which share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes: 


Considered the common major goal that these conventions are seeking, the respective Secretariats have choosen to enhance cooperation and coordination among them. Look here for more information: Synergies 
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Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal

The Convention
The Basel Convention on the control of trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal  is an international treaty adopted on 22 March 1989 and entered into force the  5 May 1992.

The Convention was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous wastes from developed to less developed countries.
The Convention is also intended to minimize the amount and toxicity of wastes generated, to ensure their environmentally sound management as closely as possible to the source of generation, and to assist Less Developed Countries in environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate.

The Convention is an annex-driven agreement: it contains two Annexes that list different kind of substances and activities in order to define the hazardous wastes covered by the obligations.
A waste falls under the scope of the Convention if:
- it is within the category of wastes listed in Annex I of the Convention and it exhibits one of the hazardous characteristics contained in Annex III;  
- it is defined as or considered to be a hazardous waste under the laws of either: the exporting country, the importing country, or any of the countries of transit.
The Basel Convention specifically lists waste asbestos (dust and fibres) as a substance to be controlled under Annex I; Y36.

Obligations of the parties:
a)     The Convention recognizes the right of the Parties to prohibit the import of hazardous wastes or other wastes on condition that they inform in advance the other Parties about their decision;
b)    The Basel Convention calls for an overall reduction and environmental sound management of waste and encourages countries to keep wastes within their boundaries and as close as possible to its source of generation;
c)     The parties shall require and ensure the respect of some procedural obligations: notice, consent and tracking for movement of wastes moving across national boundaries.
d)    The Convention places a general prohibition on the exportation or importation of wastes between Parties and non-Parties. The exception to this rule is where the waste is subject to another treaty that does not take away from the Basel Convention.

Protocol on liability
The Convention states that illegal hazardous waste traffic is criminal but contains no enforcement provisions. In order to comply with this provision in behalf of the Convention has been adopted a Protocol on liability and compensation for damage resulting from trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. The protocol is not yet in force. For more info: here

The Convention in the Pacific
Seven Pacific countries are Party to the Basel Convention. List of Parties: here.

The Convention has been implemented at a regional level by the adoption of a regional agreement that represents the Pacif mirror of the Basel Convention: Waigani Convention.
In 2003, through a MoU between the Basel Convention Secretariat and SPREP, the Pacific Regional Centre for the Waigani and Basel Conventions has been established. The purpose of these entity is to garantee the mainstreaming of activities at a regional and international level and to provide training and technology transfer in the Pacific Region. More info: here

Furthermore, in order to comply with the provisions of the Convention and in order to promote an environmental sound management of hazardous wastes, different management strategies have been adopted in the Pacific Region with the support of SPREP:

Asbestos Management Strategy
E-waste Strategy
Pacific Health Care Waste

For more information about the issues related to hazardous waste in the Pacific and the activities carried on by SPREP on hazardous waste management click:

Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, 1998

The Convention
The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is a multilateral treaty to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals.
The convention promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans. Parties can decide whether to allow or ban the importation of chemicals listed in the treaty, and exporting countries are obligated to make sure that producers within their jurisdiction comply.

Obligations and provisions
To achieve its objectives the Convention includes two key provisions and related obligations, namely the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure and Information Exchange:

The Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure:The PIC procedure is a mechanism for formally obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing Parties as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of those chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention and for ensuring compliance with these decisions by exporting Parties. For each of the chemicals listed in Annex III and subject to the PIC procedure a decision guidance document (DGD) is prepared and sent to all Parties. The DGD is intended to help governments assess the risks connected 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. 
a)     All Parties are required to take a decision as to whether or not they will allow future import of each of the chemicals in Annex III of the Convention.
b)    All exporting Parties are required to ensure that exports of chemicals subject to the PIC procedure do not occur contrary to the decision of each importing Party.

Information Exchange:The Convention facilitates information exchange among Parties for a very broad range of potentially hazardous chemicals.
a) The Convention requires each Party to notify the Secretariat when taking a domestic regulatory action to ban or severely restrict a chemical.
b) A developing country Party or a Party with an economy in transition that is experiencing problems caused by a severely hazardous pesticide formulation may report such problems to the Secretariat.
c) When a chemical that is banned or severely restricted by a Party is exported from its territory, that Party must notify each individual importing Party before the first shipment and annually thereafter.
d) Exports of banned or severely restricted chemicals, as well as chemicals subject to the PIC procedure, are to be appropriately labeled and accompanied by basic health and safety information in the form of a safety data sheet.

Each Party must designate one or more national authorities, which are the primary contact points for matters related to the operation of the Convention and are authorized to perform the administrative functions required by the Convention.

The Pacific Region

Six Pacific countries are parties to this convention. Parties: here
For information about the PICs Parties implementation, PICs designated National Authorities and responses given by these on importing chemicals: Rotterdam country profiles.

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 2001 (POPs)

The Convention
The Stockholm Convention on Persist Organic Pollutants a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have adverse effects to human health or to the environment. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and even diminished intelligence. Given their long range transport, no one government acting alone can protect is citizens or its environment from POPs. In response to this global problem, the Stockholm Convention, which was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004, requires Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment.

For a precise definition of POP, please click: here.

Main provisions
The  Convention require each party to:
  • Prohibit and/or eliminate the production and use, as well as the import and export, of the intentionally produced POPs that are listed in Annex A to the Convention
  • Restrict the production and use, as well as the import and export, of the intentionally produced POPs that are listed in Annex B to the Convention
  • Reduce or eliminate releases from unintentionally produced POPs that are listed in Annex C to the Convention
  • Ensure that stockpiles and wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with POPs are managed safely and in an environmentally sound manner
  • Prepare a plan on how they are going to implement the obligations under the Convention and make efforts to put such plan into operation (National Implementation Plan - NIP). The National Implementation Plan (NIP) is not a standalone plan for the management of POPs but is a part of a national sustainable development strategy.

The Convention promotes the use of best available techniques and best environmental practices for preventing releases of POPs into the environment, and provides for detailed procedures for the listing of new POPs in Annexes A, B and/or C.

Stockholm Convention in the Pacific:
All the PICs have signed the Convention.

The implementation of the agreement in the Region is in process.
In order to offer support to the countries and capacity building for the achievement of the Stockholm objectives SPREP is implementing a GEF-UNEP project on POPs Release Reduction. The project will focus on technical assistance and capacity building for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention National Implementation Plans (NIP) and the demonstration of feasible, innovative technologies for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) reduction. For more information: here.
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