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UNEP Launches Global Campaign To Strengthen
Synergies In Chemicals And Waste Management

By Marianne de Nazareth

24 February, 2010

Bali, Indonesia: Over one hundred thirty governments from the world have attended the “11th Special Session of the Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Forums and the Simultaneous Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties of Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions” over six days from 22nd to 26th in Bali, Indonesia in order to strengthen ties between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, the world's three leading treaties promoting the sound management of hazardous chemicals and wastes.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said that in an effort to further synergies between the three treaties and better target resources for chemicals and waste management on regional and national level, the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions have convened their conferences of the parties simultaneously to consider restructuring the way they do business.

The UNEP’s Executive Director Steiner stated holding simultaneous meetings of individual conferences of the parties represented a historic departure from past practice in the sphere of international environmental governance.

"The synergies proposals build on a high level of cooperation between the three conventions and allow countries to focus their resources on actions needed to ensure the health of people and the planet. These extraordinary meetings will find the solutions in reaching out to a public affected by the impact of chemicals on human health and the environment and deliver to local, national and regional actors that can make a difference on the ground,” he said during opening remarks delivered to the launching global campaign at the “11th Special Session of the Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Forums and the Simultaneous Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties of Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions” in Bali, Indonesia starting from February 22.

He said that the simultaneous extraordinary meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions were joined by international organizations, major stakeholder groups and individual experts from around the globe.

"These extraordinary meetings give everyone a chance to step back and look at how we can deliver on the promise of the conventions more effectively, by working "in sync" for a coherent and comprehensive 'life-cycle' approach to chemicals and wastes. The work of our conventions on sound management of chemicals and wastes continues uninterrupted year-round," said Katharina Kummer Peiry, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention.

She said that the synergic decisions build on decisions taken by the three conventions' Conferences of the Parties in 2008 and 2009, which called for increased cooperation among the Convention's Parties through such measures as integrating national focal points serving the conventions and, at a regional level, designating regional centers of excellence.

She continued to say that synergic decisions also call for creation of joint convention services within the convention secretariats in the areas of administration, information technology, legal services, public awareness, outreach, and resource mobilization. Budget cycles and auditing of the conventions operations are also to be aligned.
She added that the synergic process undertaken by the three global chemicals and wastes conventions is seen as a demonstration of how the United Nations objective of "Delivering as One" can be furthered in the area of chemicals and waste management.

“Among the actions aimed at strengthening environmental governance, UNEP has sought to increase coherence in decision-making processes at international, regional and national level. The reform of the international system of environmental governance will be taken up by the Governing Council/Global Forum during its deliberations,” she said.
Angela Cropper, UNEP Deputy Executive Director, used an empirical example saying that researchers suspect that the frog must secrete special inhibitory substances that protect baby frogs from harm.

She said that the research on the gastric brooding frogs could have led to new insights into preventing and treating human peptic ulcers which affect some 25 million people in the United States alone. But these studies could not be continued because the species became extinct, and the valuable medical secrets they held are now gone forever.
“It will become increasingly so unless we stop the erosion and loss of the very living organisms and life-support systems that sustain humanity in the first place,” she said.
She said that the southern gastric brooding frog is part of a trail of extinct species that is getting ever longer with losses occurring ever faster threatening the lives, livelihoods and future opportunities for human-beings.

“If the 20th century was an industrial age; the 21st century will increasingly need to be a biological one. One generating enterprises and economies based on new products, processes and ways of doing business inspired and based on biodiversity, nature-based resources and the treasure-trove that is their gene pool,” she said.

Marianne de Nazareth

Media Fellow with UNEP reporting from Bali.