April 2019: The Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) transmitted a report to the meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, highlighting UNEP’s activities related to COP decisions, including updates on programmatic collaboration between UNEP and the BRS Conventions Secretariat to achieve the sound management of chemicals and waste and improved air quality.

The report (UNEP/CHW.14/INF/37) was issued ahead of the BRS Conventions COPs, informally known as the “Triple COPs,” which are meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from 29 April to 10 May 2019.

The report discusses, inter alia, UNEP’s efforts to: strengthen implementation capacity of the updated Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Global Monitoring Plan and facilitate sustainable POPs monitoring in respective regions; with the Basel Convention Secretariat, work with industry and civil society to provide technical assistance to and capacity building on the environmentally sound management (ESM) of waste lead-acid batteries in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); and, with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office in Africa, work on a project to identify DDT alternatives for malaria control in six Southern African countries.

The report highlights a project in Southern Africa that manages over 4,000 tonnes of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated waste in an environmentally sound manner and provides training for customs and inspection services for POPs identification and control.

The report also addresses collaboration between the Global Mercury Partnership and the BRS Secretariat, and discusses a project that aims to establish joint health and environment “chemical observatories” to support policy and investment initiatives, including development of a national inventory verification of DDT in Ethiopia.

Describing efforts to address the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, the report highlights the project, ‘Chemicals and Waste in the 2030 Agenda – Building Capacity in SDG Follow-up and Review in Developing Countries to Minimize Chemicals and Waste Risks Across Sectors,’ UNEP launched in 2017. The project seeks to enhance developing country capacity to collect data, monitor trends and identify needs and action to support national decision making and reporting under chemicals and waste agreements and the SDG global indicator framework. An international expert group was established to develop and agree on metadata for SDG indicators related to chemicals and waste, the report notes. Three project pilot countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon and Costa Rica – are developing national action plans on indicators, monitoring and reporting of statistics relevant for chemicals and waste management.

Other projects discussed in the report aim to, inter alia, accelerate progress and measure the adoption of national activities on emerging policy issues to achieve the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management’s (SAICM) 2020 goal and support planning for chemicals management in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The report also discusses, among other initiatives:

  • the Joint Task Force on Programmatic Cooperation on Chemicals and Waste, which explores linkages with broader environment and sustainable development agendas, such as the pollution agenda, sustainable lifestyles, circularity and cities;
  • the Ad Hoc Open-ended Experts Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics;
  • UNEP’s International Environmental Technology Center, which, among other things, provides expertise and knowledge on the ESM of wastes;
  • the UN Information Portal on multilateral environmental agreements (InforMEA),which has benefited from the Clearing House Mechanism of the BRS Conventions; and
  • regional cooperation through, inter alia, the MEAs Regional Enforcement Network, which covers substances and goods controlled by the MEAs concerning harmful substances and hazardous waste.

The report flags a Joint UNEP/Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Environment Unit workshop with the BRS Conventions, which aimed to, inter alia: provide information on best practices for preventing, preparing and responding to chemical emergencies; and raise awareness around emergency assistance available to countries in case of an incident caused by transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes.

The document also provides updates on relevant administrative actions taken by UNEP, including standardized guidelines and procedures for financial matters to improve internal processes to make them more efficient, streamlined and transparent. [Report of the UNEP Executive Director to Meetings of BRS Conventions COPs]