Chemicals Triple-COP Advances Synergies, Plans Intersessional Work
Photo by IISD/ENB
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The third joint and back-to-back meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions failed to reach consensus on compliance and other long-standing issues, but advanced their synergies and took steps towards the coming two years of intersessional work.

The next joint COP will take place from 29 April-10 May 2019, in Geneva.

5 May 2017: While consensus on compliance and other long-standing issues continued to elude governments at the third joint and back-to-back meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the COPs did result in agreement on over 60 decisions, and on convening the next round of chemicals and wastes COPs jointly and back-to-back in 2019.

The three COPs – the 13th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (BC COP13), the eighth meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (RC COP8), and the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (SC COP8) – convened from 24 April-5 May 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland. Over 1,600 participants attended the meetings.

The meeting on hazardous chemicals and pesticides listed four new chemicals, but failed to reach agreement on “legacy” chemicals.

Basel Convention COP13 took incremental steps forward, setting up intersessional processes to reinvigorate work on the provisional e-waste technical guidelines and to continue work to “modernize” the annexes of the Convention. The Stockholm Convention COP listed three new chemicals, albeit with exemptions. The Rotterdam Convention COP listed four new chemicals, but failed to reach agreement on “legacy” chemicals. The SC and RC failed to agree on compliance mechanisms.

According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin’s (ENB) analysis of the meetings, the “institutionalization of synergies among the three Conventions was clearer than ever before,” but the three bodies “seem to be facing distinct challenges and achieving varied levels of success in fulfilling their objectives to protect human health and the environment.” Following these joint meetings, the BRS Conventions will follow largely separate intersessional paths, primarily devoted to technical and legal work to bring recommendations to the next COPs. The next joint COP will take place from 29 April-10 May 2019, in Geneva.

In the two intersessional years, work will be carried out to review additional chemicals that could be listed in the SC and/or RC, guidelines will be developed and refined, and the principal text that defines the Basel Convention will be reviewed to improve legal clarity and ensure that the Convention continues to evolve to address new and emerging problems.

The ENB analysis argues that in order to secure needed resources for action, engagement with other processes, “perhaps most notably the GEF replenishment cycle,” will be necessary. This will require political will by both developing and developed countries, the analysis concludes, to “prioritize chemicals and wastes management vis-à-vis other environmental processes to effectively capitalize on the movement created at the Triple COPs.” [ENB Meeting Coverage]


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