Highlights and images for 21 February 2023

Geneva, Switzerland

A view of the plenary

A view of the plenary (photo by Jose F. Pinto-Bazurco)

The 13th meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG-13) of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes opened on Tuesday and moved quickly and efficiently through the substantive issues on the agenda, deciding which items need more detailed discussion in contact groups before recommendations to the next session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in May 2023 can be made.

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, noted the unusually short cycle between meetings of the OEWG and the Basel Convention COPs, resulting in compressed workloads for the Secretariat and intersessional working groups and a very full OEWG agenda. He highlighted that the OEWG will discuss work to improve the prior informed consent (PIC) procedures, update several technical guidelines, provide for future Convention work on e-wastes and plastic waste, and ensure further legal clarity of the Convention and its implementation.

BRS Executive Secretary Ralph Poyet addresses the plenary

BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Poyet addresses the plenary (photo by Jose F. Pinto-Bazurco)

Regional groups indicated their priority issues in opening statements. The African Group highlighted the need to establish values for low persistent organic pollutants (POPs) content in the update of the general technical guidelines on wastes consisting of, containing, or contaminated with POPs, and to update the technical guidelines on plastic wastes.

The Latin American and Caribbean Group cautioned that work on the Convention's strategic framework needs to be aligned with the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. She also underlined the importance of the update of the plastic waste technical guidelines and deciding further Convention work on plastics to support implementation of the 2019 plastic amendments to the Convention.

The European Union (EU) said momentum on the update of the plastic waste technical guidelines is a “strong signal” to the May 2023 session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on a plastics agreement. The EU also urged progress on improving the functioning of the PIC procedure and revising Annex IV (disposal operations).

The OEWG decided to subject several items to a round of comments to be submitted to the COP, including:

  • the proposed scope of work for updating the 2011 technical guidelines on environmentally sound management (ESM) of waste pneumatic tires;
  • a proposal to develop technical guidelines on ESM of rubber wastes and waste parings and rubber scrap;
  • proposals for further activities on plastic waste under the Basel Convention tabled by the Secretariat; and
  • recommendations on updates to existing Convention guidance, technical guidelines, and factsheets in order to reflect adjustments consequential to the adoption in 2022 of the e-waste amendments to Convention Annexes.
Technical Contact Group Co-Chairs Patrick McKell, UK, and Judith Torres, Uruguay

Technical Contact Group Co-Chairs Patrick McKell, UK, and Judith Torres, Uruguay (photo by Keith Ripley)

After finishing plenary work ahead of schedule, the OEWG convened the two contact groups on technical and legal matters, with both scheduled to work into the evening. The Technical Contact Group started with a general review of and comments on the draft update to the 2003 technical guidelines on ESM of waste lead-acid batteries. After a dinner break, delegates began a paragraph-by-paragraph review of the proposed update to the general technical guidelines on POPs waste.

The Legal Contact Group first debated whether to eliminate a list of waste streams to be controlled in Annex I, and proposals to add listings to Annex I for new wastes constituents. The Contact Group also discussed:

  • whether to add to Annex I constituents in relation to plastic wastes;
  • whether to change hazard classifications in Annex III; and
  • whether to add additional characteristics in relation to plastic waste in Annex III.
Legal Contact Group Co-Chairs

Legal Matters Contact Group Co-Chairs Magda Gosk, Poland, and Perine Nkosi Kasonde, Zambia (photo by Jose F. Pinto-Bazurco)

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All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For the 13th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Jose F. Pinto-Bazurco

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