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 will convene their conferences of the parties simultaneously to consider restructuring the way they do business.
Holding simultaneous meetings of individual conferences of the parties represents 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," said Donald Cooper, Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention and Co-Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
"The solutions are at hand. We need to reach 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," said Peter Kenmore, Co-Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The simultaneous extraordinary meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions will be 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.
Launching global partnerships and awareness-raising campaign
The week's events will include the launch of three new initiatives. The POPs Elimination Network and the DDT Global Alliance will be launched at a press conference scheduled to be held at the Bali International Conference Centre, on Monday, 22 February 2010, at 1 p.m.
On the closing day of the extraordinary meetings of the Conferences of the Parties, UNEP and FAO representatives will launch Safe Planet: the United Nations Campaign for Responsibility on Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes. This global public awareness and outreach campaign of the Joint Services of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions will be featured at the United Nations Body Burden Forum, on Wednesday, 24 February 2010, at 2:15 p.m.
Chemical body burden on the rise
The United Nations Body Burden Forum will present announcements by well-known public figures from the Arts, Culture, Sciences and World of Sports to undergo bio-monitoring testing to reveal their chemical body burden. Human bio-monitoring is a method of assessing the toxic chemical burden increasingly borne by the life of the planet.
"The detection of 212 separate chemical substances including many persistent organic pollutants that are banned or strictly controlled by our conventions, in a survey of 2,400 randomly selected members of the American population, illustrates the threat we face," said Dr. Fatoumata Ouane, a UNEP senior scientist working for the Stockholm Convention. "Seventy-five of these chemicals were measured for the first time. Many are POPs that are travelers without passports and do not respect international borders."
"For many public interest non-governmental organizations, the challenge of effective synergistic implementation of the chemical conventions is far from simply a policy issue. The growing urgency of the chemical body burden in humans and wildlife requires us to support initiatives to improve chemical management and reduce the global chemical load," said Marianne Lloyd-Smith, Co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, an umbrella organization of civil society groups.
Celebrities speak on behalf of Safe Planet
The Safe Planet Campaign has invited high-profile individuals and international experts to help raise public awareness of the challenges of sound chemicals and waste management in every corner of the globe.
The Safe Planet Campaign will also announce its first list of "Parraines" (supporters) on Wednesday, 24 February 2010, including the American screen actor and activist Ed Begley Jr., Czech zoologist Miroslav Bobek, Director of the Prague Zoo; American actor/director Bryan Cranston; Norwegian Olympic Gold Medalist Stine Lise Hattestad Bratsberg; Russian scientist and civic activist Olga Speranskaya; and Dr. Nao Badu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Economic and Fiscal Commission, Papua New Guinea.
Dr. Badu serves as Honorary Co-Chairman of the United Nations Campaign for Responsibility on Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes.
Synergies process a test case for global environmental governance
The synergies 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 regional level, designating regional centres of excellence.
The synergies decisions also call for creation of joint convention services within the convention secretariats in the areas of administration, information technology, legal services, public awareness and outreach, and resource mobilization. Budget cycles and auditing of the conventions operations are also to be aligned.
The synergies 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.
The simultaneous extraordinary meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions will be held from 22 to 24 February 2010, on the eve of the opening of the 11th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (Governing Council/Global Forum), in Bali.
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 on 24–26 February 2010.