Chemical and waste hazards conference held online

chemical waste

Photo: Ivan Radic / Flickr


From its physical premises in Geneva, the permanent secretariats of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions jointly organized the first ever online segment of the United Nations Conference of the Parties to the chemicals and waste conventions. These three treaties together protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste. Over 160 states parties and 1,300 participants attended the meetings online.

Side events on various topics were organized and attended by numerous participants, including one on plastic waste pollution, co-organised by Norway, pursuant to the 2019 adoption of the Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendments and the establishment of the Plastic Waste Partnership. Microplastics have been found in every corner of the globe. Indeed, it has been estimated that humans ingest a credit card worth of plastics per week on average. Plastic waste can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose, and even then, it never fully disappears, it just gets smaller and smaller.

The outcomes of this online segment of the 2021 meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam, & Stockholm Conventions (Triple COPs) included the adoption of an interim budget for 2022 and a decision to resume discussions during a face-to-face segment of the meetings in Geneva, from June 6 to June 17, 2022.

At a press conference, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the three conventions, declared: “I’m proud that this week, parties to the three Conventions have reached agreement on all agenda items prioritized for this online segment. This means that despite the financial, human resource, and operational constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the crucial work of the three conventions can move forward seamlessly, enabling governments and other stakeholders around the world to better protect people and environment.”

The three conventions constitute a coordinated, life-cycle approach to the environmentally sound management of chemicals and waste across the world. The legally binding BRS conventions share a common goal of protecting human health and the environment from the hazards of chemicals and waste, and have almost universal coverage with 188, 164, and 184 States Parties respectively.

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Marit Fosse

Marit Fosse trained as an economist from Norwegian school of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen (Norges Handelshøyskole NHH) and then earned a doctorate in social sciences. She is the author of several books. Nansen: Explorer and Humanitarian, co-authored with John Fox, was translated into Russian/Armenian/French. In addition, Fosse is the editor of International Diplomat/Diva International in Geneva, a magazine set up 20 years ago for diplomats and persons working in the international organizations in Geneva but also elsewhere. In her free time, Fosse is an accomplished painter.