Chemicals and Waste Briefing
28 Apr 2022
Venue: International Environment House II & Online | Webex
Organization: Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Minamata Convention on Mercury, UNEP Chemicals and Health Branch, Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, Geneva Environment Network
This briefing, organized within the framework of the Geneva Environment Network, provided an overview of the status of the negotiations related to chemicals and waste and upcoming important conferences.
About this Session
This Chemicals and Waste briefing, organized within the framework of the Geneva Environment Network, provided an overview of the work and key activities to advance the sound chemicals and waste management globally. It also presented the latest information on the important conferences scheduled in 2022.
- High-level segment and face-to-face segment of the 15th meeting of the COP to the Basel Convention, the 10th meeting of the COP to the Rotterdam Convention and the 10th Meeting of the COP to the Stockholm Convention (BRS COPs) | Stockholm and Geneva, June 2022
- 12th Meeting of the Open-Ended working Group under the Basel Convention on the on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal | Nairobi, Kenya, 4-6 April 2022 – Outcomes
- 4th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury | Bali, Indonesia, 21-25 March 2022 – Outcomes and intersessional work
- 4th Meeting of the intersessional process considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 (SAICM IP4) | Bucharest, Romania, 29 August – 2 September 2022
By order of intervention.
Executive Secretary, Minamata Convention on Mercury
Carlos MARTIN NOVELLA
Deputy Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
Chief, Governance Branch, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
Claudia TEN HAVE
Senior Policy and Coordination Officer, Minamata Convention on Mercury
Eisaku TODA, Programme Officer, Minamata Convention on Mercury
Senior Coordinator, Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management
Officer-in-Charge, Head, Knowledge and Risk Unit, Chemicals and Health Branch, UNEP
Head of the Global Affairs Section, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment
In addition to the live WebEx and Facebook transmissions, the video is available on this webpage.
Welcome and Introductions
Monika STANKIEWICZ | Executive Secretary, Minamata Convention on Mercury
I would like to brief you on the two segments of the 4th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention (COP-4), held in November last year and in March this year, and on the major decisions made at COP-4.
- Decision on international cooperation ensuring that the Minamata Convention will be an integral part of the global collective effort to address the triple planetary crisis. This includes the recognition of UNEA and its recent resolutions. The Secretariat is tasked to continue gathering knowledge, raising awareness of, and demonstrating the contribution of the Convention to other relevant international regulations and policies.
- Preparation of a report on possible contributions to the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, once adopted. There was also another decision made by the COP to continue our good collaboration with BRS Secretariat. We also received a continued mandate to collaborate based on the recognition of the good outcomes and activities carried out.
- Expansion of the list of mercury added products to be covered by Annex A of the Convention. This means that the import, export, manufacture of such products will be phased out, with an agreed deadline by 2025. Parties also agreed to continue the discussion and to consider dates for some additional entries to this Annex at the COP-5 in 2025.
- Major decision related to dental amalgam which also will facilitate how we can able to track the mercury trade in the future.
- Major outcomes are related to effectiveness evaluation and the continuation of important work on a number of technical issues such as releases of mercury, mercury threshold, and also the guidance for preparing national plans for artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
- For the first time, inclusion of gender as a standalone item on the agenda of the COP. The next Secretariat will prepare the gender action plan for the Convention, drawing from experiences of other MEAs.
The outcome [of the COP] exceeded the expectations by many. I’m grateful to Parties for taking the initiative to put forward proposals to amend the Convention and their active engagement in the negotiations which will overall ensure that the Convention remains relevant, up to date, and reflect the realities on the ground.
We can now see a successful outcome of the GEF-8 replenishment process [related: GEN event on Ambitions for the Chemicals and Waste Cluster]. I’m very grateful again to Parties and Council members for consistently prioritizing chemical and waste as a subject to GEF-8 replenishment including Minamata Convention. We now see increased allocation, increased pledges to the chemical and waste cluster. We are very hopeful and looking forward to the launch of the GEF-8 period.
Upon Indonesian initiative, there was a Bali declaration on combating illegal trade in Mercury introduced. This is a non-binding political declaration which received widespread support. Illegal trade is a challenge that parties are currently facing in many parts of the world. The declaration sheds puts some focus that the topic deserves, and hopefully as well as in the context of future COPS and activities Parties may wish to undertake.
Carlos MARTIN NOVELLA | Deputy Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
This Chemicals and Waste Briefing provides us with an opportunity to fill you with our work and connect, to review on the outcomes of the work and the key activities that have been carried out, as well as on upcoming activities planned in the field of chemicals and waste. You have already been briefed about the outcomes of UNEA-5.2. We now take the opportunity to present the work in Geneva on chemicals and waste.
The BRS Secretariat continued to work non-stop ensuring the continuity and delivery of our program of work. Among other organizing meetings in virtual format, we are making the fast transition back to face-to-face meetings. Early this month, we held in Nairobi the in-person segment of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention. On the first of June, we will be hosting the High-level Segment of the 2021-2022 meetings of the COP of the Conventions in Stockholm, Sweden in connection with the Stockholm+50. The in-person segment of the COPs will be held just one week after, the high level segment here in Geneva, 6-17 June in International Conference Centre Geneva (CICG).
I extend to all a warm invitation to actively participate in the various COPs in June and to encourage your ministers and highly representatives to attend the high-level segment of the COPs in Stockholm.
Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
David OGDEN | Chief, Governance Branch, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
Triple-COPs Meeting Highlights
- The BRS COPs are held in two segments: online session from 26-30 July 2021 and face-to-face segment from 5-17 June 2022 held at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG).
- In-person COPs will consider the items which were not considered or concluded during the online segment.
- Theme: “Global Agreements for a Healthy Planet: Sound management of chemicals and waste”.
Outcomes of the OEWG-12 of the Basel Convention
[Click photos to enlarge]
The goal behind the Open-ended Working Group is to pre-consider issues that would be considered at the COP itself. There was progress made during the meeting.
- Agreement on the adoption of the terms of reference for the follow-up partnership to the PACE (Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment).
- Recommendation to update technical guidelines under the Convention which are voluntary mechanisms but are designed to help manage waste in an environmentally sound manner. These were negotiated and the OEWG recommended a text for adoption by COP.
- Recommendation to use as a basis for its work 10 products that were revised at the meeting. They weren’t able to get to having a recommended text, but the idea is to recommend that as basis for further discussion at the COP.
As follow up, the OEWG invites Parties to submit comments for certain products, with varying deadlines.
Regional Preparatory Meetings
- Asia-Pacific region | 27-29 March 2022 | Bali, Indonesia
- Africa region | 7- 9 April 2022 | Nairobi, Kenya
- EE region | 9- 11 May 2022 | Prague, Czech Republic
- GRULAC region| 3- 5 May 2022 | Montevideo, Uruguay
The High-level Meeting of the BRS COPs will take place on 1 June 2022 in Stockholm, Sweden, in connection with the Stockholm+50 international meeting (2–3 June 2022). This will be an opportunity to raise awareness on the contributions of BRS Conventions to the 2030 Agenda and to tackling the Earth’s triple planetary crisis. With more than 100 registrations, there are now over 40 ministers attending, as of 26 April. Deadline for registration is on 30 April 2022.
Organization of Work and Tentative Schedule
[Click photos to enlarge]
- Tentative schedule will be made available through: UNEP/CHW.15/INF/2/Rev.1 – UNEP/FAO/RC/COP.10/INF/2/Rev.1 – UNEP/POPS/COP.10/INF/2/Rev.1
- 5 June 2022: Pre-meetings (e.g. bureaux, regions)
- 6-8 June 2022 (AM): Joint sessions of COPs on joint issues
- 6 June 2022: Early start of BC technical issues (technical guidelines) and legal issues (providing further legal clarity) and SC listing of chemicals
- Separate sessions in the following order: Stockholm Convention – Basel Convention – Rotterdam Convention
- 11 June 2022: Day off
- Tentative schedule and list of possible contact groups to be agreed to by the bureaux.
Effective Participation of Delegates
To ensure the effective participation of delegates, financial assistance was made possible by pledges from different countries. Participants are also requested to take into consideration that the order and timing of sessions are not yet finalized. They are also subject to COVID-19 related measures which are subject to change, as required by local authorities.
The Bureaux has also agreed on the approach for the preparation of their respective report on credentials. The deadline of submission of credentials to the Secretariat shall be no later than 24 hours after the opening of the meetings (10:00 CEST on Tuesday, 7 June 2022).
The elections of officers and members of subsidiary bodies are expected to occur during the COPs. For more information, visit the dedicated page.
Side events are an opportunity to share knowledge, build capacity, network and exchange on experience in the implementation of the BRS Conventions. For more information on all other events taking place during the COPs, you may visit the dedicated page.
Main Issues to be Tackled at the COPs
Minamata Convention on Mercury
Claudia TEN HAVE | Senior Policy and Coordination Officer & Eisaku TODA | Senior Programme Officer, Minamata Convention on Mercury
Second Segment of the Fourth Meeting of the COP to the Minamata Convention (COP4) hosted from 21 to 25 March 2022 in Bali, Indonesia
- The first COP outside of Geneva rallied a satisfying level of participation despite pandemic-related restrictions, having more than 600 people (online and in-site) taking part in most of the proceedings
- During COP4, several actions were initiated and/or taken to fulfill the obligations of the Convention, some previously discussed in previous COPs while others were developed between COP3 and COP4: [Timeline, with key COP-4 issues]
- During the online segment of COP4, held in November 2021, two decisions were taken with regards to the dates of the in-person segment and to the programme of work and the budget for 2022.
- In Bali, twelve decisions were adopted on various issues items and the Bali Declaration on Combatting Illegal Trade In Mercury. The Executive Secretary Communication, adopted on 18 April 2022, contains detailed descriptions of each decision and the required steps to follow up. The list of outcomes are available below:
Decision MC-4/3 on the Review and amendment of annexes A and B.
- Regarding Annex A on Mercury-Added Products, the COP added strain gauges, melt pressure transducers; mercury vacuum pumps; tire balancers and wheel weights; photographic film and paper; propellant for satellites and spacecraft to Part I of the Annex as materials to be phased out by 2025. As for Part II on Dental Amalgam, Parties pledged to eliminate the use of mercury in bulk form and to eliminate all uses in the cases of people minor to fifteen years old and of pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- COP4 also took decisions on the work that COP5 will have to undertake in relation to Annex A. COP5 will discuss phase out dates for batteries; switches; relays and linear fluorescent lamps.
- With Regards to Annex B on Manufacturing processes in which mercury or mercury compounds are used, COP4 decided to further discuss at COP5 the listing production of polyurethane using mercury-containing catalysts, following an analysis on the technical and economic feasibility of mercury-free alternatives.
Decision MC-4/11: The first effectiveness evaluation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury
- The undertaking of the effectiveness evaluation will allow the Minamata Convention to learn whether it is successfully achieving its mandate and the next steps to undertake to do so. Importantly, It has taken COP 1 to COP4 for Parties to have agreed before 2023 not only on the beginning of the effectiveness evaluation, but also on the establishment of a framework and of an open-ended scientific group to lay the scientific foundation for the evaluation. At COP4, decisions were taken to further refine the Terms of Reference of the Effectiveness Evaluation Group, which will be charged with writing the overall report on the effectiveness evaluation.
- Currently, five reports that will prepared for COP5 are also being instrumentally used to feed the effectiveness evaluation report. Namely:
- Article 21 Synthesis Report (plan and report)
- Trade, Supply and Demand Report (plan and report)
- Plan for Emissions and Releases Data Summary
- Plan for Monitoring Data Compilation and Summary
- Plan for Data Analysis based on the Monitoring Guidance
Highlights of Other Decisions
- On ASGM, COP4 adopted the updated guidance on national action plans (NAP) and called on parties to engage indigenous peoples, local communities and others in the NAP process.
- On the Second review of the financial mechanism, COP4 adopted the terms of reference, which sets forward performance criteria.
- On Waste Thresholds, COP4 decided that no threshold needs to be established for tailings from ASGM in which mercury is used, and that all tailings from such mining should be managed pursuant to Article 7. It also defined two-tier thresholds above which mine tailings are not excluded from the definition of mercury waste and requested further work by the group of technical experts.
- On Releases, COP4 adopted the guidance on the methodology for preparing inventories of releases and requested the expert group to develop the guidance on best available techniques and best environmental practices, with a view to its adoption at COP-5.
- On National Reporting, COP clarified the reporting format and called on Parties to provide the secretariat with copies or reports on consent forms received. Parties were requested to continue their ongoing efforts to identify stocks and sources and the Secretariat to continue working on the reporting guidance for adoption by COP-5.
- COP4 welcomed efforts and invited Parties to support Gender Mainstreaming
- COP4 requested continuation and report at COP5 on Enhanced Cooperation between Minamata and BRS
- On International cooperation and coordination, Parties were prompted to make linkages to UNEA outcomes and to contribute to post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
Chemicals and Health Branch, UNEP
Sandra AVEROUS-MONNERY | Officer-in-Charge, Head, Knowledge and Risk Unit, Chemicals and Health Branch, UNEP
This section will highlight the different UNEA 5 resolutions, highlighting the Omnibus Resolution on Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste (UNEP/EA.5/7) and Resolution on the Science-Policy Panel (UNEP/EA.5/8) to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution which are those most evidently linked to the chemicals and waste cluster. [More information on UNEA 5.]
Resolution 5/7 Omnibus Resolution on Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste contains four sections:
- The Sound Management of Chemicals and Wastes, and the International Conference on Chemical Management
- The Integrated Approach to Financing, and one-time extension of the duration of the Special Programme. The resolution re-affirmed the importance of an integrated approach to financing in sound management of chemicals and wastes by encouraging GEF and its donors to continue their support. It also extends the Special Programme on Institutional Strengthening for the Chemicals Cluster for additional five years, allowing it to receive funding until 2027 and disburse until 2030 for it to support beneficiary countries in strengthening the institutional governance of chemicals and waste.
- Issues of Concern: UNEP has launched a Report “An Assessment of the Issues of Concerns: Chemicals and Waste Issues Posing Risks to Human Health and the Environment” in September 2020. While listing Issues of Concern under SAICM and those where emerging evidence indicates risks (Global Chemical Outlook II), Resolution 5/7 urges Member States and invites other stakeholders to take further action to reduce or eliminate the risks associated with the issues discussed in the report. It also aims to seek views on priorities for further work, and on potential further international action, on the issues discussed in the assessment and to prepare a summary analysis for consideration by UNEA and other international bodies.
- Requests to the Executive Director:
- To update in cooperation with the WHO the State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012 report before UNEA 6;
- To present a full range of options for addressing asbestos contaminants in products and the environment for consideration by UNEA 6, with WHO;
- To work closely with the other members of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) and other UN entities and instruments, and with relevant multilateral environmental agreements;
- To welcome UNEP’s Green and Sustainable Chemistry: Framework Manual and its Executive Summary, which highlight the crucial importance of environmentally sound innovation, and encourage their use as appropriate.
Resolution 5/8: Science-Policy Panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution
- Resolution 5/8 requests to organize a first Open-Ended Working Group by 2022, and to complete the work by 2024. It stresses the importance of including from the beginning industries in relation to their use and waste of chemicals and to engage with academia and civil society from start.
[More information on the Science-Policy Panel]
- Three tentative OEWG meetings have been scheduled October 2022, July 2023, March 2024.
- The goals of OEWG-1: link with the first plastics INC; establish the Bureau; establish rules and procedures; push both substantive and procedurals elements of this first event; review countries’ priorities and identify opportunities for innovation; identify areas of agreement and divergent views (setting the scope)
- Kevin Helps has been appointed as Head of the Secretariat.
Resolution 5/6: Biodiversity and Health (Antimicrobial Resistance, AMR)
- UNEP has joined FAO, OIE and WHO in the alliance to implement the One-Health Approach implementing the common workplan (integrated surveillance, governance, economic case, research agenda, etc.) and roadmap.
[More information on the One Health Approach]
- This entails also being part of the AMR Multi-Partner Trust Fund Secretariat and implementing its projects; conducting multi-level awareness-raising and capacity-building initiatives.
- UNEP now participates to the One-Health High-Level Expert Panel and One-Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.
- UNEP launched in February 2022 the “Environmental dimensions of Antimicrobial Resistance” Report.
Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)
Nalini SHARMA | Senior Coordinator, Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management
SAICM Beyond 2020 Process
- Following an effectiveness evaluation, it is evident that the SAICM 2020 Target* has not been achieved, due to various factors: widening gap between developed and developing countries in terms of capacity; the need to improve sectoral and stakeholder engagement; the need to increase sharing of information and knowledge; the need to secure stable finances and resources and to improve the monitoring framework to better assess progress and addressing emerging policy issues.
- The Fourth Meeting of the Intersessional Process (IP4) and the Fifth Session of the International Conference for Chemicals Management (ICCM5), to be originally held in October 2020, were postponed due to pandemic-related restrictions.
- UNEA Resolution 5/7 spoke about the SAICM process and invited all stakeholders to put in place an ambitious and improved enabling framework to address the sound and safe management of chemicals and waste Beyond 2020.
- The postponement of these meetings provided a moment to draw and build more linkages between SAICM Agenda and other global processes. This resulted in an agreement to establish 4 Virtual Working Groups, aiming to develop proposals with tangible outcomes including notes identifying gaps, text proposals, and suggestions for new or alternate text. These Groups do replace formal face-to-face discussions, but serve as preparations to IP4 and ICCM5 for delegates.
- The outcomes of the Virtual Working Groups (Targets, indicators and milestones; Governance and mechanisms; Issues of concern; and Financing) can be seen below:
*SAICM 2020 Target: The achievement of the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health.
SAICM Overall Progress and Programme of Work 2022 -2023
- Enhanced work on EPIs (Emerging Policy Issues), broadening knowledge management, as well as expanding partnerships with technical and scientific networks as well as with downstream sectors and chemical intensive value chains. This has mainly been done through the GEF-SAICM process which will be completed by 2023.
- SAICM Secretariat intends to work with the GEF on the upcoming GEF-8 Replenishment and the Special Programme for its sixth and subsequent rounds of applications. GEF’s increase of funds for the chemicals and waste cluster resulted into substantive rises in SAICM resources (from 12 Million to 65 Million). Board discussions will be certainly held on how to maximise the benefits of these funds through allocation.
[More information on GEF-8 Replenishment.]
- As a result of the SAICM-GEF process there have commendable achievements, including 16 countries passing legislation to phase out lead in paint and 21 paint-producers in 7 countries being supported to eliminate lead in paint.
- Provision of Secretariat services to support the intersessional process considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2022 has continued.
- David Moran has stepped down from his position of IP CO-Chair. Kay Williams from the UK has been nominated to replace him.
- The mid-term evaluation produced a positive and highly satisfactory picture, which is due to the country actors active in implementation.
- To further broaden partnership and SAICM multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach, the Secretariat has also been working with the International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE), European Chemicals Agency, UNEP and UNITAR by spearheading a global pilot project in African Countries to increase implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. The project is funded by the European Union and ICCE.
- SAICM launched an E-learning course on Industrial Chemicals Databases and Information Sharing on the InforMEA platform.
- The Secretariat also launched a study on industry involvement in the integrated approach to financing the sound management of chemicals and waste. This comes as a result from the finding of the evaluation for the integrated approach to financing for the chemicals and waste cluster, indicating that industries are poorly involved. The study will soon be available on the SAICM website.
- The program Budget for SAICM approved for 2022-2023 included developing a capacity-building strategy which will supported in funding by Health Canada. Issues such as monitoring progress and support platforms for global initiatives will be part of the development of the strategy. Once developed, this strategy will put in place review mechanisms.
Towards IP4 Agenda
- Regional Activities
- 6 – 7 May 2022 | GRULAC Regional Meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay | Back-to-back with the BRS Regional Preparatory Meeting.
- 12 – 13 May 2022 | Central Eastern European Regional Meeting in Prague, Czech Republic | Vack-to-back with the BRS Regional Preparatory Meeting.
- 27 – 29 June 2022 | African Regional Meeting in Accra, Ghana
- TBC | Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting
- IP4 and ICCM5
- 29 August – 2 September | Fourth Meeting of the Intersessional Process (IP4) in Bucharest, Romania
Q: When will side-events proposals for the BRS COPs receive official approval?
David OGDEN: Official communications will be shared a month before the meeting, i.e. mid-May.
Major Negotiations in 2022: The Swiss Perspective
Felix WERTLI, Head of the Global Affairs Section, Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)
The chemicals and waste cluster is essential to many international processes, among which the historic resolution on plastic pollution approved at UNEA5. One of the most challenging aspects of plastics management regards recycling as the additives plastics contain make it impossible. The chemicals and waste cluster is therefore a key resource to tap on to for knowledge and research to overcome such issues and more.
The COP4 Minamata Convection recently held in Bali can be considered a success from many fronts. Collaboration was demonstrated by successful agreements on important agenda items, while those that could not be agreed on leave space for improvement in the future and build a momentum to make the Convention even more effective. The collaboration between the Minamata, BRS Conventions and the UNEP Chemicals and Waste Cluster has been increasingly visible in the past years and will continue being enhanced after the Resolution approved at the COP4 of the Minamata Convention.
The momentum of the chemicals and waste cluster is also evidenced by the approval to establish of the Science-Policy Panel at UNEA5. This resolution also stresses the importance of a multi-stakeholder collaboration among actors as it includes WHO and other actors. Notably, many of these actors are based in Geneva, offering to International Geneva an additional opportunity to contribute to the successful implementation of the resolution.
After the impact of the pandemic, it is very positive to see the increased financial support by the GEF to the chemicals and waste cluster, allowing it not only to recover but to magnify its results.
Looking forward to welcoming the BRS COP in Geneva with the effort to maintain safety of all participants, therefore no reception will be held to avoid excessive contacts among people. The content of the COP is highly relevant, especially with regards to the Ghana and Switzerland-sponsored IPBES proposal.
- Basel Rotterdam Stockholm Conventions Secretariat
- Minamata Convention
- UNEP Chemicals and Waste
- SAICM Secretariat
- Chemicals and Waste Special Program On Institutional Strengthening
- Update on International Environmental Negotiations Agenda | Geneva Environment Network
- Previous Chemicals and Waste Briefings : 27 May 2021 | 16 December 2020 | 4 July 2019 | 12 June 2018 | 26 February 2018 | 22 June 2017 | 5 April 2017 | 30 November 2016 | 26 April 2016 | 26 January 2016 | 26 November 2015 | 8 September 2015
- Previous Minamata Briefings: 2 March 2022 | 16 October 2021