The sixteenth meeting Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-16), the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-11), and the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-11) took place in Geneva from 1 to 12 May 2023.
Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties
The sixteenth meeting Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-16), the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-11) and the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-11) convened in Geneva from 1 to 12 May 2023 at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG). Online participation was not provided. The theme for the 2023 triple COPs was “Accelerating action: Targets for the sound management of chemicals and waste”, stressing the importance of meeting targets and building on the results obtained in June 2022.
→ Live coverage from the IISD Earth Negotiation Bulletin Summary
Relevant Outcomes and Highlights
This section lists the outcomes of and highlights from BC COP-16, RC COP-11, and SC COP-11.
BC adopted technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of plastic waste, POPs waste, and e-waste.
The proposal to add a new annex to RC for chemicals that cannot get consensus among Parties has failed to reach the 75% majority vote threshold (92 out of 132 countries voted in favor).
SC adopted a compliance mechanism, a decision outstanding since 2006.
Countries have adopted a resource mobilization strategy to help raise resources on the scale needed.
RC agreed to list terbufos, making it subject to PIC procedure.
SC eliminated the production and use of two chemicals (with limited exemptions): UV-328, a UV filter used in plastics & Dechlorane Plus, a flame retardant.
SC agreed to new work on labeling for POPs in stockpiles, products and articles.
SC adopted technical assistance decision to help developing countries manage POPs.
UNEP releases a technical report on Chemicals in Plastics, which is also an INF document for the COPs.
SC agreed to eliminate the production and use of methoxychlor by listing it in Annex A without exemptions.
It's the last day of #BRSCOPs2023!
— GENeva Environment Network (@GENetwork) May 12, 2023
Press Conferences & Releases
Opening of BRS COPs
The Secretariat of the BRS Conventions will hold a press conference on the opening of the COPs on 1 May 2023 at the Palais des Nations and via Zoom, with:
- Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
- Rémi Nono Womdim, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention
- Carlos Martin-Novella, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
- Christine Fuell, Senior Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention
Closing of BRS COPs
Closing of the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-16), 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-11) and 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-11) to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 1 to 12 May 2023
- Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
Key Items on the Provisional Agendas of the Meetings
With ongoing negotiations to develop a global agreement on plastic pollution, to create a new science-policy panel on chemicals, waste and pollution, and to prepare for the fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5), the global management of chemicals and waste are high on the environmental negotiations agenda, impacting also the agenda of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions bodies. Chemicals and waste are also frequently making the news as landmark scientific studies and investigations continue revealing their extent and impacts across multiple sectors.
Basel Convention COP-16 main issues
At the 13th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention, held in Geneva from 21- 23 February 2023, strategic, legal and technical matters to be addressed at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) were decided. → IISD Earth Negotiation Bulletin Summary
BC COP-16 main issues
- Strategic framework, process related discussion for the next 10 year-framework
- Enhancing the PIC procedure, to ensure efficiency and compliance
Scientific and technical matters
- Technical guidelines:
- Plastic wastes (should be ready for negotiation)
- POPs wastes, waste lead-acid batteries, other batteries
- e-waste, based on new amendments
- Further consideration of plastic waste
- Follow-up to e-waste amendments: Assessment of the need to update existing guidance
Basel Convention Partnership Programme
- Plastic Waste Partnership
- Partnership for Action on Challenges relating to E-waste
- Household waste partnership
Legal, governance and enforcement matters
- Implementation and Compliance Committee (specific submissions; general review, including national reporting, illegal traffic, national legislation, programme of work)
- Further legal clarity:
- EU amendment proposals on Annex IV
- Recommendations of the expert working group on annexes I and III
- Proposal by the Russian Federation to amend paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention
Rotterdam Convention COP-11 main issues
The main issues to be discussed by the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention include compliance; listing of chemicals in Annex III to the Convention; and enhancing the effectiveness of the Rotterdam Convention through proposed amendments.
RC COP-11 main issues
- Work programme of the Committee
Listing of chemicals in Annex III to the Convention
- 2 new chemicals: iprodione and terbufos,
- 5 old ones: acetochlor, carbosulfan, chrysotile asbestos, fenthion formulations and paraquat formulations
Enhancing the effectiveness of the Rotterdam Convention
- Proposal by Switzerland, Australia, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali to amend Articles 7, 10, 11 and 22 of the Rotterdam Convention and to add a new Annex VIII
- Proposal by African countries to amend Article 16 of the Rotterdam Convention
Proposal by Switzerland, Australia, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali to amend Articles 7, 10, 11 and 22 of the Rotterdam Convention and to add a new Annex VIII
The Amendment proposed by Switzerland, Australia, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali aims to increase the effectiveness of the Rotterdam Convention through a new instrument (Annex VIII), which allows chemicals-importing countries to benefit from the prior informed consent process and information provided in the decision guidance document, pending consideration of a chemical listing in Annex 3.
More information on the Amendment Proposal
The Rotterdam Convention promotes a shared responsibility for managing the trade of certain hazardous chemicals and allows countries to choose whether to accept a chemical import based on the information provided. The major provisions of the Convention are triggered when chemicals are listed in Annex 3. When this multiple-step process is triggered, the COPs are asked to decide whether to include chemicals in Annex 3 based on the assessment and recommendation of the Chemical Review Committee of the Convention.
The Aim of the Amendment is to address those chemicals that have not been agreed upon at the COP, despite assessment and recommendation from the Chemical Review Committee. When a COP cannot agree to list a chemical, that undermines the Convention by eroding confidence in the process, limiting information-sharing and the ability of parties to control imports of hazardous substances.
- Countries sponsoring the Amendment believe there is a need for an Annex 8 to the Convention. That means that if the COP cannot agree to list a chemical in Annex 3, despite recommendations of the CRC, parties to the amended convention may propose its listing in Annex 8.
- For that process to be established, this year’s COP should amend articles 7, 10, 11 and 22 and also establish Annex 8.
- This new Annex is a means for importing parties to benefit from the prior informed consent process and information provided in the decision guidance document, pending consideration of a chemical listing in Annex 3.
Functioning of the amendment | The process for listing chemicals in Annex 3 will remain the same. However, if the COP cannot agree to list a chemical in Annex 3, then the parties to the amended convention can consider listing the chemical in Annex 8.
- Chemicals listed in Annex 8 will still be considered for listing in Annex 3 and remain before the COPs for potential future inclusion.
- The procedures for chemicals already listed in Annex 3 remain unchanged as well as the work of the CRC.
Benefits of the amendment proposal | The amendment provides an additional tool for countries that face difficulties with managing unwanted shipments of hazardous chemicals.
- It serves as an early warning system in addition to the one the Rotterdam convention already has a place to help countries manage hazardous chemicals, in particular, whether or not to allow the import of a chemical.
- It retains the concept of sharing the responsibility for the sound management of chemical waste and the existing Convention’s processes and mechanisms as the basis, becoming an additional tool for the time when a chemical is not yet listed in Annex 3.
The sponsors of this Amendment invite support to this important proposal and questions or offers to become co-sponsor are more than welcome. All material is available and can be accessed here.
To learn more about the proposed amendment, the Rotterdam Convention held a series of regional webinars in March.
Stockholm Convention COP-11 main issues
Parties to the Stockholm Convention will address the reduction or elimination of release from intentional production and use; listing of chemicals in Annex A, B or C; compliance; National Implementation Plans (NIPs); and reporting.
SC COP-11 main issues
Reduce or eliminate release from intentional production and use
- DDT (evaluate the continued need)
- Assessment of the progress towards elimination of PCB
- Strategy to meet the 2025 and 2028 goals
- PFOS, its salts and PFOSF (POPRC recommendations)
Listing of chemicals in Annex A, B or C
- Dechlorane Plus
- For possible adoption based on the draft texts in the annex of document SC-11/21
National Implementation Plans (NIPs)
- Revised guidance on developing and updating NIPs; draft global approach to the review and updating of NIPs
- Updated electronic reporting system
The Meetings of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions will also address joint issues to the three Conventions, including technical assistance; financial resources; international cooperation and coordination; enhancing cooperation and coordination among the BRS conventions; programmes of work and budgets; and Memorandums of Understanding between UNEP and the COPs (and FAO in the case of RC).
Joint main issues
- Review of regional centers
- Implementation of the MoU between the GEF Council and the Stockholm Convention COP
- Special Programme on institutional strengthening
International cooperation and coordination
- With the Minamata Convention on Mercury
- With other organizations
Enhancing cooperation and coordination among the BRS conventions
- Synergies in preventing and combating illegal traffic and trade
Programmes of work and budgets
- Consider full budget for 2024-2025
Memorandums of Understanding between UNEP and the COPs (and FAO in the case of RC)
- Proposal for amendments to the three convention-specific MOUs for possible adoption by the COPs
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin has published a video on What to Expect at the BRS Triple COP (Video), which breaks down what each Convention has on its agenda and the global context of increasing awareness of chemicals, wastes, and plastics.
All pre-session meeting and information documents are available for consultation on the BRS Secretariat website.
Schedule of the Meetings
On Sunday, 30 April 2023, preparatory meetings, including regional groups and bureaux meetings, will be held. Information on the preparatory meetings is announced on the meetings’ website. The meetings were opened on Monday, 1 May 2023, at 10:00 CEST.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Fair
As part of the Meetings, from 3 to 5 May 2023 a Fair on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) will take place. In line with the theme “Accelerating action: Targets for the sound management of chemicals and waste”, the objective of the PCBs Fair is to raise attention on the importance of accelerating action to meet the upcoming 2025 and 2028 PCB deadlines under the Stockholm Convention and on other deadlines under the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.
- The PCBs Fair will open with a ceremony and a reception at lunch time on 3 May 2023 and will be closed with a reception in the evening of 5 May 2023.
- Interactive activites and side-events pertinent to the Fair’s theme will take place from 13:00 to 15:00 and after the afternoon plenary session between 18:00 and 20:00.
- Interactive Panel discussions can be on inherent topics can be scheduled for a maximum duration of 45 minutes.
- Competitions, like the awarding the best booth, and others will be proposed throughout the three days.
Geneva Canton Truck on PCBs, Asbestos and Lead
La Fédération Genevoise des Métiers du Bâtiment (FMB), the Gelbert Foundation and the State of Geneva developed an information center on the risks linked with construction materials in order to limit exposure to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), asbestos and lead during renovation, transformation or demolition works. An information campaign was initiated in September 2013 by the SABRA (Department of Air, Noise and Non-ionising Radiation for the State of Geneva), with the financial backing of the Gelbert Foundation in the Canton of Geneva.
As part of their mission to increase awareness on the topic, the actors set up a mobile unit for people to learn about dangers and how to avoid them. The asbestos, PCB and lead mobile unit will be parked outside the 2023 BRS COPs venue (CICG) as part of the PCB Fair. → Learn more about the unit and the information campaign on the official website.
Side events to the 2023 meetings of the conferences of the Parties (COPs) will take place during lunch breaks and in the evenings on major issues covered under the conventions. A draft schedule of side-events dated 4 April 2023 can be consulted here.
Geneva Environment Network @ BRS COPs
The Geneva Environment Network co-organized three side events, and supported various other side events.
Side Events co-organized by the Geneva Environment Network
Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution Prevention: Building the Linkages from Science to Action | BRS COPs 2023 Side Event / SPP CWP Series
2 May 2023, 13:15–14:45 CEST | Room B | SPP CWP, GEN
Advancing a human rights-based approach to pollution for people and the planet | BRS COPs 2023 Side Event
10 May 2023, 13:15–14:45 CEST | Room C | OHCHR, UNEP, UNDP, ILO, UNECE, FAO, Minamata Convention on Mercury, UN EMG, GEN
Unlocking MEAs’ Potential: Supporting Parties’ Environmental Action through Data and Knowledge Management | BRS COPs 2023 Side Event
10 May 2023, 18:15–19:45 CEST | Room 11-12 | BRS Conventions, Minamata Convention on Mercury, CITES, InforMEA, GEN
Side Events organized with the Support of the Geneva Environment Network
1 May 2023, 19:15–19:45 CEST | Room 3 | IPEN
Plastics and chemicals under the Stockholm convention: Impact on the ground and potential synergies and gaps in relation to a future plastics treaty | BRS COPs 2023 Side Event
4 May 2023, 18:15–19:45 CEST | Room 11-12 | IPEN
PCB elimination by 2028: Potential of the non-combustion destruction technologies | BRS COPs 2023 Side Event
5 May 2023, 13:15–14:45 CEST | Room B | IPEN
8 May 2023 | 18:15 – 19:45 CEST | Room 14 | BAN and IPEN
9 May 2023, 18:15–19:45 CEST | Room 3 | IPEN, AKO Foundation, Africa Youth Alliance for chemicals and Waste
Greening the Meeting
In the effort of reducing the environmental impact of the Meetings, the BRS Secretariat has put in place the following measures:
- Climate neutrality | The impact of air travel for in person participation will be compensated through the purchase of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).
- Reducing wastes | The use of plastics for food and for drinking at the venue will be reduced and substituted with Polylactic Acid and other biodegradable/compostable materials. Water fountains are available in different spots and thus the use of refillable containers is welcome.
- Paperless meetings | Documents will be made available online and no hard copies will be provided.
Ahead the Conferences of the Parties, the BRS Secretariats hosted various regional preparatory meetings, information briefings and webinars.
Geneva Environment Network Briefing
On 7 March 2023, a briefing was organized within the framework of the Geneva Environment Network and provided updates on the preparations for the upcoming 2023 Meetings, including on the tentative schedule, main issuess, budget, proposed amendments. The documents presented during the event, as well as the video and the summary of the event are available online.
Regional preparatory meetings for the 2023 COPs
Regional preparatory meetings were organized to give participants a confrontation opportunity, to consult meeting documents, discuss substantive matters, identify regional priorities and challenges, and facilitate the preparation of regional positions.
- Latin America and the Caribbean region (GRULAC): from 28 to 30 March 2023 in Panama City, Panama.
- Eastern Europe region: from 28 to 30 March 2023 in Zagreb, Croatia.
- Africa region: from 21 to 23 March 2023 in Dakar, Senegal.
- Asia-Pacific region: from 14 to 16 March 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The BRS Secretariats organized various online briefings presenting an overview of the issues that will be considered as wells as practical information to Party representatives, observers and other stakeholders. Briefings will be available in English, French and Spanish.
- Tuesday, 18 April 2023 from 10:00 to 11:00 (session in English)
- Tuesday, 18 April 2023 from 16:00 to 17:00 (session in Spanish)
- Wednesday, 19 April 2023 from 16:00 to 17:00 (session in English)
- Thursday, 20 April 2023 from 10:00 to 11:00 (session in French)
IPCP Webinar Series: POPs in plastics and monitoring approaches
The International Panel on Chemical Pollution, in collaboration with UNEP and GEF, is hosting a two-day IPCP Webinar Series: POPs in plastic and monitoring approaches in preparation for the upcoming BRS COPs on 25 April 2023 at 12:00 CEST.
Stockholm Convention Webinar
- Webinar on Dechlorane Plus and UV-328 proposed for listing in Annex A to the Stockholm Convention | Wednesday, 26 April 2023 | 14:00 – 15:30 CEST
Links and Relevant Resources
- Meetings of the conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in 2023
- IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin
- Briefing on the 2023 Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions | GEN Event
- Quick views for the Conferences of the parties of the Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions, 2023 | IPEN | April 2023
- IPEN Urges BRS COPs Delegates to Follow the Science, Ban Dangerous Chemicals Without Exemptions | 26 April 2023 | IPEN
Who to Follow on Twitter
- The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions | @brsmeas
- IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin | @IISD_ENB
- IPEN | @ToxicsFree
- Center for International Environmental Law | @ciel_tweets
- Rolph Payet | @rolphpayet
- Giulia Carlini | @giuliacrln
- David Azoulay | @Davzoul
- Andrés Del Castillo | @andresdelcas
Photos here are taken by the Geneva Environment Network. Other photos can be found on the BRS Flickr account.