Working for "a future detoxified"

In Geneva this week, representatives from Cook Islands, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa and Tonga, joined staff from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) at the joint Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

Known as the BRS Triple-COPs, the two-week long meeting comprises the back-to-back running of the three Conventions which, together, provide international guidance on the sound management of chemicals and hazardous waste.

Samoa
Pictured above: Samoan delegation Mr Lameko Tesimale, Ms Olive Jay-To and Ms Fuatino Matatumua-Leota at the BRS Triple-COPs in Geneva. Photo: A.Carvan/SPREP

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director, UN Environment, made strong reference to the theme of the 2017 BRS Triple-COPs - a future detoxified:

"From 36,000 feet down in the Mariana Trench - the deepest part of the ocean - to 36,000 feet up in busy air traffic corridors and most places in between, humans are polluting everything we need to eat, drink or breathe. When did we slip from marvelling at this amazing planet to casually destroying it?"

Mr Thiaw concluded his remarks with a call to action for participants to redress the situation:

"The pollution on this planet has never been worse. The impact on our people has never been more deadly. But the time to fix it has never been better."

Tonga
Pictured above: Tongan delegation Ms Mafile'o Masi and Ms Lupe Matoto at the BRS Triple-COPs in Geneva. Photo: A.Carvan/SPREP

The joint BRS gathering, which runs from 24 April – 5 May, 2017 - is the largest to date, with more than 1,600 participants registered from 180 countries.

At the meeting, Pacific island representatives have the opportunity to make interventions on behalf of the region, thus helping to guide the sound management of toxic chemicals and waste.

RMI
Pictured above: RMI EPA General Manager, Ms Moriana Phillip, at the BRS Triple-COPs in Geneva. Photo: A.Carvan/SPREP

Under the Rotterdam Convention, to which Cook Islands, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa and Tonga are parties, the meeting will consider the listing of eight substances to the Annex III 'watchlist', meaning that they cannot be imported without Prior Informed Consent. Of the eight substances being considered, two – paraquat and chrysotile asbestos - are of particular relevance to the Pacific island region.

Cook Islands
Pictured above: Mr Vavia Tangatataia and Mr William Wigmore representing Cook Islands. Photo: A.Carvan/SPREP

Other issues slated for discussion at the BRS Triple-COPs include the prevention and minimisation of the generation of waste under the Basel Convention, and the listing of chemicals for 'elimination' and 'eventual elimination' under the Stockholm Convention.

SPREP acts as the Pacific regional coordinating centre (PRC) for the Basel and Waigani Conventions and provides assistance and capacity development for the region in the areas of chemical management and toxic waste.

Dr Frank Griffin, SPREP's Hazardous Waste Management Adviser, believes that the attendance of these meetings by the Pacific Island countries is very important:

"The BRS Triple COPs provide Pacific island representatives with the opportunity to see what other countries are doing, how they can learn from all these and improve their own operations at the national level. The meetings and side events also provide an opportunity to participate and inform the rest of the world what they are doing at the national level."

For more information please contact Amber Carvan (amberc@sprep.org) or visit the website of the 2017 Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions at http://www.brsmeas.org/2017COPs

 

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