Delegates celebrated the successful adoption of important decisions at the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions TripleCOP. With just two days left, many were pleased and relieved that both the Basel Convention (BC) and Rotterdam Convention (RC) took important decisions, leaving just a few tricky subjects, such as finance, budget, compliance, and the other RC chemicals proposed for listing, to resolve.
All electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) will be subject to the BC’s prior informed consent (PIC) procedure. Whether it is hazardous waste or not, exporters will have to provide information to developing countries, and have their prior informed consent to import the e-waste. This decision brings the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, in its entirety, under the BC’s control mechanisms. There are “e-waste mountains” in some developing countries that represent a threat to human health and the environment. Helping developing countries manage these mountains has been a tricky task for negotiators in the past and may require future work. By the end of this meeting, countries will have to agree whether, and how, to take this work forward to complete the e-waste technical guidelines.
The RC had a couple of difficult days, with blockages to listing all seven of its chemicals in the Convention. Today, it agreed to list two of these chemicals: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and related compounds, and decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE). Both are also listed in the Stockholm Convention, which agreed to eliminate their production and use. But, for a limited time, there are some specific uses allowed. During this time, for the countries that wish to keep using these chemicals, the RC’s PIC procedure will apply. There are still five other chemicals proposed for listing, but it looks like the RC will again be unable to agree to include these in its PIC procedure at this meeting.
Side events varied widely. While some played an educational board game on chemical safety, others noted the need for intergenerational justice and including youth in the implementation work of the BRS Conventions. One event focused on a lifecycle approach to waste lead acid batteries, which can cause fires and explosions. Another looked at how the idea of a zero waste practice can become a reality.