WORKSHOPS ON CHEMICALS CLASSIFICATION AND LABELING HELD
A meeting on the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals has taken place in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Global Thematic Workshop on Strengthening Capacities to Implement the GHS was held from 15-18 November 2005. It was organized by UNITAR in collaboration with ILO, the Government of South Africa and the University of Cape Town (UCT), with financial support from the Government of Switzerland and the OPCW. During the four day event, participants exchanged experiences with GHS capacity building and implementation, took stock of current activities and needs, and undertook a review of guidance materials and methodology. In particular, participants highlighted that: GHS implementation and sound chemical hazard communication is essential for sustainable development, including implementation of the MDGs; countries should include GHS implementation within the context of national industrial and sustainable development strategies; and donor governments are encouraged to increase their level of support for developing national GHS implementation strategies.
The event followed an earlier regional workshop on chemical hazard communication and GHS implementation for countries of the ASEAN region, which was held from 17-20 October 2005, in Manila, the Philippines. The draft reports of these workshops will be made available on the UNITAR website during December 2005. For further information, e-mail: Jonathan Krueger
, Programme Officer, UNITAR.
Link to further information
UNITAR web site
FIRST STOCKHOLM CONVENTION REVIEW COMMITTEE MEETING HELD
The first meeting of the Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) has taken place in Geneva.
The Committee, which met from 7-11 November, considered five chemicals proposed for inclusion in the Convention: Pentabromodiphenyl ether (proposed by Norway); Chlordecone (proposed by the EU); Hexabromobiphenyl (proposed by the EU); Lindane (proposed by Mexico); and PFOS (proposed by Sweden).
The Committee's main task at this meeting was to evaluate whether the screening criteria in the Annex D of the Stockholm Convention were fulfilled. After evaluating each of the chemicals against the criteria on persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport and adverse effects, the Committee decided that all five chemicals fulfilled these criteria. The next stage of the process is to develop risk profiles in accordance with Article 8 and Annex E of the Convention. An invitation to Parties and observers to submit the information specified in Annex E of the Convention to inform the risk profiles, will be circulated shortly with a deadline towards end of January 2006 for providing the information. Intersessional working groups will be developing the draft profiles in advance of the second meeting of the Committee, which is scheduled to take place on 6-10 November 2006. Participants at the Committee's first meeting also took decisions on several operational issues, including procedures for handling confidential information, work plans for intersessional activities, and criteria and procedures for inviting additional experts. The Committee elected Jacqueline Alvarez (Uruguay) as its Vice-Chair. A meeting report will be available online shortly (IISD sources).
Link to further information
ROTTERDAM CONVENTION DISCUSSES COMPLIANCE, OPERATIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
The second meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (PIC COP-2) met from 27-30 September 2005, in Rome, Italy.
At COP-2, delegates discussed and adopted 15 decisions on, inter alia
: the programme of work and the budget for 2006; operational procedures of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC); the finalization of the arrangements between the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the provision of the secretariat to the Rotterdam Convention; pilot projects on the delivery of regional technical assistance; and cooperation and synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention secretariats. Delegates agreed to forward a bracketed text on a compliance mechanism to COP-3 and to task the Secretariat with a study on financial mechanisms. More information
STRATEGIC APPROACH PREPARATORY COMMITTEE ENDS WITHOUT AGREEMENT
The third session of the Preparatory Committee for the Development of a Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM PrepCom-3) was held from 19-24 September 2005 in Vienna, Austria.
During the week, delegates discussed the SAICM high-level declaration, overarching policy strategy, and global plan of action. The primary objective of PrepCom-3 was to produce final text to be forwarded to the “International Conference on Chemicals Management,” to be held from 4-6 February 2006, in Dubai. However, delegates did not reach agreement on many elements in the three documents under consideration. Areas of disagreement remained in all three documents, including: principles and approaches; description of the SAICM as “voluntary”; financial considerations; and the timing and frequency of International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) meetings. PrepCom-3 did make significant progress in the GPA, including in some sections of the executive summary and a number of work areas, and in sections of the OPS, including international illegal traffic, governance, and key parts of the implementation section. However, there are still many politically sensitive issues that remain unresolved, and will have to be taken up by the ICCM in Dubai. More information
BASEL CONVENTION GROUP DISCUSSES GUIDELINES, SHIPS, PHONES
Guidelines for the environmentally sound management of wastes, mobile phones and obsolete ships were on the agenda at a recent meeting of the Basel Convention on hazardous wastes.
The Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal met in Geneva from 4-8 July 2005, to prepare for the next biannual ministerial conference in late 2006. Parties to the Convention also witnessed the signing of an agreement establishing a Basel Convention Regional Center for Training and Technology Transfer, in Argentina. More information
FIRST STOCKHOLM CONVENTION COP SETS IMPLEMENTATION IN MOTION
The first Conference of the Parties (COP-1) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) has taken place in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
In spite of a heavy agenda, delegates succeeded in adopting a broad range of decisions required to set the Convention's implementation in motion.
Decisions adopted related to: providing for the evaluation of the continued need for DDT use for disease vector control; establishing a review process for entries in the register of specific exemptions; adopting guidance for the financial mechanism; establishing a schedule for reporting; establishing arrangements for monitoring data on POPs; adopting rules of procedure and financial rules; adopting the budget for the Secretariat; and establishing the POPs Review Committee. Other matters scheduled for discussion included: the format for the DDT Register and the Register of specific exemptions; the process for developing guidelines to assist Parties in preventing the formation and release of unintentionally produced POPs; and guidelines on best available techniques and best environmental practices.
The meeting, which was held from 2-6 May 2005, attracted over 650 participants representing more than 132 governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and UN agencies. More information
23rd Session of the UNEP Governing Council/GMEF
February 2005: The 23rd session of the UNEP Governing Council/ Global Environment Ministerial Forum concluded with key decisions on chemicals management, UNEP's water policy and strategy, and international environmental governance (IEG).
During the week, delegates convened in plenary sessions, a Committee of the Whole, a drafting group and two open-ended contact groups to consider draft decisions. A three-day ministerial consultation considered the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration, with a focus on environment and poverty, environmental sustainability, and gender and the environment.
The Governing Council/GMEF concluded its work by adopting decisions on issues relating to small island developing States, chemicals management, UNEP's water policy and strategy, international environmental governance, gender equality and the environment, keeping the world environment situation under review, Programme of Work and Budget, administrative and other budgetary matters, poverty and the environment, environmental and equity considerations in the procurement practices of UNEP, and strengthening environmental emergency response and developing disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and early warning systems in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.
International environmental governance:
The GC's decision on IEG focused on six topics: the Bali Strategic Plan, strengthening the scientific base of UNEP, universal membership of the GC, strengthening UNEP's financial base, MEAs, and enhancing coordination across the UN system and the Environmental Management Group (EMG).
Governments supported the development and implementation of partnerships to reduce risks to human health and the environment from mercury. They also asked UNEP to prepare a report summarizing supply, trade and demand information on mercury. While some countries, including those belonging to the European Union, advocated a legally-binding instrument to address the mercury problem, others, such as the United States, Australia and Japan, expressed reservations on the subject. However, delegates agreed to assess the possibility of a legally-binding instrument and other actions at the 24th session of the UNEP Governing Council.
On other chemicals management issues, the Governing Council discussed cooperation between UNEP, relevant multilateral environmental agreements and other organizations; the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM); lead and cadmium; and the mercury programme. On SAICM, the Council requested that funding be provided to support SAICM development. On lead and cadmium, the Council asked UNEP to conduct an assessment of scientific information available on long-range environmental transport in order to inform future discussions on the need for global action.
UNEP's water policy and strategy:
The GC/GMEF decided to adopt UNEP's updated policy and strategy as a general framework/guidance for its activities in the field of water and sanitation, and noted governments' reservations on substantive and procedural issues in developing the strategy. The GC/GMEF recommended that the Executive Director, in his review of the water policy, take into account several concepts (including ecosystem approaches to IWRM, and others) and ensure that it contributes to the achievement of internationally agreed goals contained in the Millennium Declaration and the JPOI. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin report of the meeting
, 28 February 2005] [Action on Heavy Metals among Key GC Decisions
, UNEP press release, 25 February 2005]
ROTTERDAM CONVENTION'S CHEMICAL REVIEW COMMITTEE HOLDS FIRST SESSION
The Chemical Review Committee (CRC) of the Rotterdam Convention has met for its first session.
The meeting, which took place in Geneva from 11-18 February 2005, was attended by 26 government-appointed experts, in addition to observers from other countries, IGOs, and NGOs. The session addressed working procedures for the CRC, including drafting Decision Guidance Documents and preparing proposals, as well as policy guidance. Participants reviewed notifications of final regulatory actions to ban or severely restrict the following chemicals: Chlordecone, Endosulfan, Endrin, Methamidophos, Methyl Bromide, Methyl Parathion, Phosphamidon, 2-naphthylamine, 4-aminobiphenyl, Benzidine, Bis(chloromethyl)ether, Carbon tetrachloride, Chrysotile asbestos, and Tributyltin compounds. The Committee concluded that the notifications on chrysotile asbestos met the information requirements of the Convention and recommended its inclusion in Annex III. For the other notifications, none was judged to meet all the criteria. The Committee also established a work plan for preparing a decision guidance document for chrysotile asbestos. Report of the meeting
Meeting Concludes 10-year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action, Adopts Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation
January 2005: Following a year of negotiations, which began in the Bahamas in January 2004, the BPOA review process concluded in January 2005 in Mauritius, with the adoption of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Climate change, trade and transport of hazardous wastes proved to be among the most contentious issues during the process, which culminated at the International Meeting (IM) to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS. The IM convened from 10-14 January 2005, at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Center in Port Louis, Mauritius, where almost 2000 participants were in attendance, including 18 presidents, vice-presidents and prime ministers, some 60 ministers, and representatives of UN agencies, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
From the perspective of moving forward on implementation, the IM raised the profile of SIDS issues, brought the BPOA more in line with current development funding priorities, and forged links with the review of the Millennium Declaration and with the Doha round of trade negotiations. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin