Summary report, 19–23 October 2015
11th Meeting of the Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC-11)
The eleventh meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC-11) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) took place from 19-23 October 2015 in Rome, Italy. In total, over 100 participants attended the meeting, including 29 of 31 Committee members, 50 government observers and 27 representatives of non-governmental organizations.
POPRC-11 adopted eight decisions, including on: decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE); dicofol; short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs); pentadecafluorooctanoic acid (PFOA); alternatives to perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride (PFOSF); hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD); and effective participation.
POPRC-11 established six intersessional working groups on: decaBDE; dicofol; SCCPs; PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds; alternatives to PFOS, its salts and PFOSF; and HCBD.
POPRC-11 exemplified the challenges and successes that come from working at the interface of science and policy.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE STOCKHOLM CONVENTION AND THE POPS REVIEW COMMITTEE
During the 1960s and 1970s, the use of chemicals and pesticides in industry and agriculture increased dramatically. In particular, a category of chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) attracted international attention due to a growing body of scientific evidence indicating that exposure to very low doses of POPs can lead to cancer, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, diseases of the immune system, reproductive disorders and interference with normal infant and child development. POPs are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate in living organisms, and can have adverse effects on human health and the environment. With further evidence of the long-range environmental transport (LRET) of these substances to regions where they have never been used or produced, and the consequent threats they pose to the global environment, the international community called for urgent global action to reduce and eliminate their release into the environment.
The negotiations for the Stockholm Convention were launched by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Governing Council in February 1997. The Stockholm Convention entered into force on 17 May 2004 and currently has 179 parties.
Key elements of the treaty include the provision of new and additional financial resources by developed countries and obligations for all parties to eliminate production and use of intentionally produced POPs, eliminate unintentionally produced POPs where feasible, and manage and dispose of POPs wastes in an environmentally-sound manner. Precaution is cited throughout the Convention, with specific references in the preamble, the objective and the provisions on identifying new POPs. The Convention can list chemicals in three annexes: Annex A contains chemicals to be eliminated; Annex B contains chemicals to be restricted; and Annex C calls for the minimization of unintentional releases of listed chemicals. When adopted in 2001, 12 POPs were listed in these annexes. These POPs include 1) pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex and toxaphene; 2) industrial chemicals: hexachlorobenzene and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and 3) unintentionally produced POPs: dioxins and furans.
The Stockholm Convention includes the provisions for a procedure to identify and list additional POPs. At the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-1), held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, from 2-6 May 2005, the POPs Review Committee (POPRC) was established to consider additional candidates nominated for listing under the Convention.
The Committee is comprised of 31 experts nominated by parties from the five United Nations regional groups and reviews nominated chemicals in three stages. The Committee first determines whether the substance fulfills the screening criteria detailed in Annex D of the Convention, relating to the chemical’s persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for LRET, and adverse effects on human health or the environment. If a substance is deemed to fulfill these requirements, the Committee then drafts a risk profile according to Annex E to evaluate whether the substance is likely, as a result of LRET, to lead to significant adverse human health and/or environmental effects and therefore warrants global action. Finally, if the POPRC finds that global action is warranted, it develops a risk management evaluation according to Annex F, reflecting socio-economic considerations associated with possible control measures. Based on this, the POPRC decides whether to recommend that the COP list the substance under Annex A, B and/or C to the Convention. The POPRC has met annually since its establishment. The first eight meetings of the POPRC were held in Geneva, Switzerland.
POPRC-1 to POPRC-3: The first through third meetings of the POPRC met 2005-2007. During this time, the POPRC approved risk profiles and risk management evaluations, and recommended that COP-4 consider listing under Annexes A, B, and/or C for: lindane; chlordecone; hexabromobiphenyl (HBB); commercial pentabromodiphenyl ether (c-pentaBDE); and PFOS, its salts, and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride (PFOSF). At POPRC-2, the Committee agreed to draft a draft risk profile for short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs). At POPRC-3, risk profiles were approved for: c-pentaBDE; pentachlorobenzene (PeCB); alpha hexachlorocyclohexane (alphaHCH); and beta hexachlorocyclohexane (betaHCH). The Committee decided that a proposal by the European Community to consider endosulfan for inclusion in Annexes A, B, and/or C would be considered at POPRC-4.
POPRC-4: This meeting convened from 13-17 October 2008. POPRC-4 considered several operational issues, including: conflict-of-interest procedures; toxic interactions between POPs; and activities undertaken for effective participation of parties in the POPRC’s work. The Committee approved the risk management evaluations for four chemicals, and recommended that COP-4 consider listing under Annexes A, B, and/or C: commercial octabromodiphenyl ether (c-octaBDE), PeCB, alphaHCH and betaHCH. A draft risk profile for SCCPs was discussed and the Committee agreed to forward it to POPRC-5. POPRC-4 also evaluated a proposal to list endosulfan under the Convention and agreed, by vote, that it met the Annex D criteria for listing and that a draft risk profile should be prepared for consideration by POPRC-5. POPRC-4 also began an exchange of views on a proposal to list hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).
COP-4: This meeting was held from 4-8 May 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland. Parties adopted 33 decisions on a variety of topics, the listing of nine new substances under Annexes A, B, and/or C of the Convention, namely: c-pentaBDE; chlordecone; HBB; alphaHCH; betaHCH; lindane; c-octaBDE; PeCB; and PFOS, its salts and PFOSF.
POPRC-5: This meeting convened from 12-16 October 2009 and addressed operational issues, including: work programmes on new POPs; substitutions and alternatives; toxicological interactions; and activities undertaken for effective participation in the POPRC’s work. POPRC-5 agreed that HBCD met the Annex D criteria for listing and that a draft risk profile should be prepared. Draft risk profiles for endosulfan and SCCPs were considered. SCCPs were kept in the Annex E phase for further consideration at POPRC-6 and the Committee, through a vote, decided to move endosulfan to the Annex F phase, while inviting parties to submit additional information on adverse effects on human health.
POPRC-6: This meeting was held from 11-15 October 2010 and addressed operational issues, including: support for effective participation in the POPRC’s work; work programmes on new POPs; and intersessional work on toxic interactions. POPRC-6 adopted the risk profile for HBCD and established an intersessional working group to prepare a draft risk management evaluation. The POPRC also agreed, by a vote, to adopt the risk management evaluation for endosulfan and recommended listing endosulfan in Annex A with exemptions. The Committee considered a revised draft risk profile on SCCPs, and agreed to convene an intersessional working group to revise the draft risk profile on the basis of an intersessional discussion of the application of the Annex E criteria to SCCPs and of information arising from a proposed study on chlorinated paraffins by the intersessional working group on toxic interactions. The Committee agreed to consider the revised draft risk profile at POPRC-8.
COP-5: This meeting convened from 25-29 April 2011, and parties adopted over 30 decisions on, inter alia: listing technical endosulfan and its isomers in Annex A of the Convention with exemptions for specified crop-pest complexes. COP-5 also requested the POPRC to: assess alternatives to endosulfan; develop terms of reference for a technical paper on the identification and assessment of alternatives to the use of PFOS in open applications; and assess alternatives to DDT.
POPRC-7: POPRC-7 met from 10-14 October 2011 and addressed several issues, including: advancing chlorinated naphthalenes (CNs) and hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) to the risk profile stage; recommending that parties consider listing HBCD in Annexes A, B, and/or C of the Convention; effective participation in the Committee’s work; assessment of alternatives to PFOS in open applications, DDT, and endosulfan; and the impact of climate change on POPs.
POPRC-8: This meeting convened from 15-19 October 2012 and adopted 12 decisions, including on: advancing PCP, its salts and esters to the risk profile stage; advancing CNs and HCBD to the risk management evaluation stage; and amending POPRC-7’s decision on HBCD to recommend that parties consider listing it in Annex A with specific exemptions. POPRC-8 established six intersessional working groups to address: CNs; HCBD; PCP, its salts and esters; the impact of climate change on the POPRC’s work; issues and common practices in the application of Annex E criteria; and the guidance on alternatives to PFOS, its salts and PFOSF.
COP-6: This meeting convened from 28 April-10 May 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, in a joint meeting with COP-11 of the Basel Convention, COP-6 of the Rotterdam Convention, and the second simultaneous extraordinary meetings of the COPs to the three conventions (ExCOPs-2). The COP, inter alia: decided to list HBCD in Annex A with specific exemptions for production and use in expanded and extruded polystyrene in buildings.
POPRC-9: Convening from 14-18 October 2013 in Rome, Italy, POPRC-9 adopted nine decisions, including on: the commercial mixture of decabromodiphenyl ether (c-decaBDE); PCP, its salts and esters; CNs; HCBD; the approach to the evaluation of chemicals in accordance with Annex E; guidance on alternatives to PFOS, its salts, PFOSF and their related chemicals; and the process for evaluation of PFOS, its salts and PFOSF for acceptable uses.
POPRC-10: This meeting was held from 27-31 October 2014 in Rome, Italy. The Committee adopted decisions, inter alia: that dicofol met the Annex D criteria; that c-decaBDE should move to the risk management evaluation stage; that a recommendation should be made to COP-7 for PCP, its salts and esters to be listed in Annex A to the Convention with specific exemptions for the production and use of PCP for utility poles and cross-arms. The Committee also adopted a decision on alternatives to PFOS, its salts and PFOSF.
COP-7: Convened as part of a back-to-back meeting with COP-7 of the Rotterdam Convention and COP-12 of the Basel Convention, COP-7 agreed to list HCBD in Annex A and requested the POPRC to further evaluate HCBD on the basis of the newly available information in relation to its listing in Annex C and to make a recommendation to COP-8. COP-7 agreed to list polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) in Annex A, with a specific exemption for production of those chemicals used as intermediates in production of polyfluorinated naphthalenes, and in Annex C. COP-7 also agreed, by a vote, to list PCP and its salts and esters in Annex A with specific exemptions for the production and use of PCP for utility poles and crossarms.
On Monday afternoon, POPRC Chair Estefânia Gastaldello Moreira, Brazil, opened the meeting. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, welcomed participants, underscored that POPRC’s science-based approach allows for systematic review of chemicals nominated for listing under the Stockholm Convention, and highlighted the relevance of the POPRC’s work to achievement of the newly-adopted Sustainable Development Goals.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira invited POPRC members to adopt the meeting’s agenda (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/1 and Add.1). India underscored the importance of maintaining transparency and respecting the principle of equality and noted that Rule 11 of the POPRC’s Rules of Procedure had not been fulfilled, as four information documents (INF/7, INF/10, INF/11, and INF/12) were not provided six weeks in advance in all UN languages.
The Secretariat’s Legal Officer clarified that, to date, Rule 11 had not been applied to INF documents. India underscored that INF documents are inseparable from working documents, saying both have to be read for continuity. Chair Gastaldello Moreira noted that INF/7, 11 and 12 reflect comments on the working documents, and explained that information in INF/10 would not be addressed during POPRC-11. India suggested that discussions could take place but decisions could not be taken on related agenda items because Rule 11 was not observed.
The Committee then engaged in a lengthy discussion about what constitutes a supporting document in general POPRC practice. The Netherlands, Sweden and Sudan all observed that historic and current practice distinguishes between INF and working documents. India emphasized that “each and every document loaded on the website is a supporting document.”
Chair Gastaldello Moreira invited participants to adopt the agenda. India said the agenda could be adopted with the exception of those agenda items associated with the INF documents that were provided less than six weeks before the meeting. He suggested addressing these issues six weeks after the date of the provision of those documents.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira proposed that the POPRC adopt the agenda, taking note of the points raised by India, and said he had the right not to accept the decisions on those agenda items, and with no further comments, the agenda was adopted.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira introduced the organization of work (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/INF/1 and INF/2) and the rotation of membership (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/INF/3), which were adopted without amendment.
The current members of the POPRC are: Australia, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden and Venezuela. The members from Macedonia and Oman were absent.
On Friday, the Committee agreed that Zaigham Abbas (Pakistan) would serve as Vice Chair for POPRC-12.
The Committee met in plenary throughout the week. Contact groups, open to observers, and drafting groups, limited to POPRC members, convened throughout the week. The summary of this meeting is organized according to the order of the agenda.
REVIEW OF COP-7 OUTCOMES RELEVANT TO THE COMMITTEE
The Secretariat introduced the document on the outcomes of COP-7 relevant to the work of the POPRC (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/INF/4). She highlighted that the COP agreed to list HCBD, polychlorinated naphthalenes and PCP and its salts and esters in the Convention. She also highlighted decisions on alternatives to PFOS, its salts and PFOSF.
The Secretariat also reported on the “From Science to Action” decision (SC-7/30), said that the COP requested that the Secretariat develop a road map to further engage parties and other stakeholders in informed dialogue for enhanced science-based action in the implementation of the Convention. He underscored that the POPRC can be a key partner in the development of this road map.
India said that at POPRC-10 a party asked for an exemption related to sodium pentachlorophenol, which was not taken up in the POPRC recommendation, and raised a point of order asking if POPRC had the authority to deny a party that is seeking an exemption. Chair Gastaldello Moreira said that the Secretariat would speak with the member from India to clarify his concerns.
Gabon asked whether it is possible to make proposals regarding the development of the road map. Sweden suggested including information from the UNEP Global Chemicals Outlook report.
On Friday, a small group met to provide the Secretariat with suggestions regarding the roadmap and the Secretariat said that these suggestions would be incorporated.
Draft risk management evaluation (RME) on decabromodiphenyl ether (commercial mixture, c-decaBDE): On Monday, the Secretariat introduced the RME (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/2) and supporting information, and comments and responses related to the draft RME (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/INF/6 and INF/7).
India raised a point of order, saying that the Secretariat referred to the INF documents as “supporting documents,” and called for clarification on whether INF documents are supporting documents as outlined in Rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure. The Secretariat clarified that the title of INF/6 is “supporting information” related to the draft RME for decaBDE. India reiterated his point of order and the Secretariat said that India’s comment was noted. Chair Gastaldello Moreira ruled on the point of order, saying that the information in the INF document would be considered.
Jack Holland (Australia), Chair of the intersessional working group, presented the draft RME, underlining that the one million tons of decaBDE produced indicates the scale of the risk management challenge. He noted national actions in the European Union (EU), US, Canada, China and South Korea. On waste management, he reported three options: landfill, incineration and energy recovery, and recycling. He reported that alternatives are available and in use, but that different uses require different substitution strategies. Noting that the draft RME concludes that decaBDE should be listed in Annex A without exemption, he outlined three exemptions requested for vehicles, aerospace and recycling.
Pakistan asked what: percentage of plastics containing c-decaBDE were recycled; alternatives existed for use in textiles; and monitoring data are available. Indonesia also noted the absence of information on the status of monitoring and control capacity, and said that some alternatives may have POP-like characteristics.
Gabon observed that many developing countries import second-hand textiles and computers and queried how this was considered in the RME.
France stated that the EU recently received a recommendation from its scientific committees that exemptions for use in vehicles and aviation were necessary, but not for recycling. He clarified that a decision at the EU level is not expected until 2016. He, with Norway and the Netherlands, asked for legal advice regarding a note in Annexes A and B stating that quantities of a chemical occurring in articles manufactured or already in use before or on the date of entry into force of the obligations for a chemical should not be considered as listed in Annex A or B. He observed a potential link between this note and the need to specify an exemption for recycling.
The Legal Officer noted that while the Stockholm Convention does not define waste, the preamble refers to the provisions of other relevant conventions, including the Basel Convention, which defines waste and can help determine which convention would apply and when.
Responding to questions, Norway, one of the drafters in the intersessional working group, clarified that some information was either not available or not submitted by parties. She said that some alternatives may have hazardous properties, but none have been verified to be a POP.
The Netherlands supported recommending listing decaBDE in Annex A but said he could not support the current draft RME due to, inter alia: omission of data, information about experiences of countries that have phased out decaBDE, and comments submitted intersessionally; contradictory information; and a theoretical approach that does not include practical measures.
Norway noted that the RME: is balanced; addresses issues including production, use, and alternatives as well as waste; and already exceeds the 20-page limit.
Indonesia called for inclusion of comprehensive information on alternatives. Belarus called for indicating current volumes of production and possible regulatory measures, as well as more detailed rationales for exemption requests. India called for consideration of data from multiple regions.
Norway recalled that the intention of the negotiators of the Stockholm Convention was to ban compounds, not articles containing POPs.
Bromine Science and Environment Forum (BSEF) underscored that production and use of decaBDE are declining and noted that, when moving to substitutes, the technical performance, cost and combinations of compounds must be considered.
An observer from Japan emphasized that a ban on recycling products containing decaBDE would be expensive and difficult and called for a grace period for development of new sorting technologies. An observer from the Netherlands emphasized that while stopping production of decaBDE would be a major achievement, dealing with articles containing decaBDE will be technically difficult due to lack of capacity to incinerate waste in both developed and developing countries.
The International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) emphasized that recycling decaBDE is not consistent with the Stockholm Convention’s objective and would contaminate products such as children’s toys.
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association underlined that they requested an exemption for spare parts not for vehicles and said that the routes of recycling of these parts would not lead to contamination of children’s toys.
An observer from China supported the need for exemptions and said that developing countries could not phase out production and introduce alternatives with the same speed as developed countries.
Norway responded that the RME needs to consider the costs associated with action, but also the costs of inaction for human health and the environment. She underlined that the problem with recycling is a loss of control over articles containing POPs.
The Netherlands noted legislation in the EU and elsewhere that prohibits the incorporation of hazardous chemicals in toys or food contact materials produced using recycled materials, saying that he does not promote recycling in every case, but asks for a “realistic view.” Austria and Norway reported that a small amount of flame retardant plastics are recycled, with Norway saying that this minimizes the cost to the industry.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira proposed establishing a contact group, to be chaired by Jack Holland (Australia), and the POPRC agreed. The contact group met Monday through Wednesday, before closing to a drafting group that met Wednesday through Friday.
On Friday evening, Holland introduced the draft RME (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.12), which recommends that the COP consider listing decaBDE in Annex A with a specific exemption for some critical legacy spare parts, to be defined, for the automotive and aerospace industries.
India reiterated his question regarding Rule 11, and asked why only the European automotive industry had been consulted. The Secretariat explained the distinction between information documents and supporting documents and Rule 11 only applies to the supporting documents.
Indonesia said he has no objection to listing, but noted his concern about control and monitoring capacity, suggesting parties fulfill the list of all information in Annex F in the next POPRC.
Cameroon said he was not against listing, but indicated that developing countries may need help to deal with end-of-life vehicles. India noted that exemptions could also be given to small- and medium-size enterprises in the textile industry, especially in developing countries.
The Netherlands emphasized that: information on criteria on, inter alia,impacts of implementing control measures and waste management remains limited; the Basel Convention COP requested information on parties’ experiences handling decaBDE wastes; and the abilities of parties to implement should be considered regarding POPs wastes. Saying he supported listing decaBDE, he asked that these concerns be reflected in the meeting report.
An observer from Japan said articles currently recycled under the recycling exemption of four other BDEs agreed at COP-4, may also contain decaBDE, and noted that this RME does not include any discussion on economic and social impact related to recycling other BDEs.
BSEF asked for a definition of “critical legacy spare parts,” and requested referencing recycling in the concluding statement since the automotive industry needs to recycle some instruments containing decaBDE to meet requirements in the EU and other regions.
An observer from the US supported an Annex A listing, and said that the US has yet to determine in domestic regulation what uses are necessary, calling for “narrow and well-defined” exemptions. IPEN concurred, and on a recycling exemption, he supported the draft RME, saying that recycling materials with decaBDE “pollutes the waste stream and legitimizes transfer of such materials to developing countries.”
Kuwait supported an Annex A listing with narrow exemptions and, with Kenya and Sudan underlined the need for support to developing countries in order for them to meet their obligations. Kenya and Sudan opposed a recycling exemption.
India reiterated the possible need for an exemption for the textile sector, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Norway responded that: the revised draft contains considerable new information on monitoring and control and possible management options, including high- and low-tech options; many alternatives are identified and in use in many of the source categories; and there is no information submitted indicating that the Asian car industry has different needs from the European industry. On a recycling exemption, she highlighted that the draft RME says that the cultural, political and economic situation in a country needs to be taken into account.
India asked whether the alternatives listed in the draft RME are POPs or exhibit POP characteristics. Norway clarified that the task in the RME stage of review is not to assess POPs characteristics of alternatives, but emphasized that there are many options, including for the textile industry.
India said an exemption for small- and medium-sized enterprises in the textile industry should not be a problem.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira suggested addressing the issue in a small group. Following consultations, the Secretariat presented proposed text to add to the concluding statement in the draft RME (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.12), which would specify that “since the information on small- and medium-sized enterprises in the textile industry in developing countries is very limited, it is not possible to conclude that exemptions are unnecessary for them.”
India suggested adding text referencing availability of non-POP alternatives, and the Chair proposed adding “and noting that non-POP alternatives are available.” The POPRC adopted the RME as orally amended.
The Secretariat then presented proposed text to amend the draft decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.11) to include an invitation for information related to the textile industry. Some members offered textual proposals.
The POPRC adopted the decision as orally amended.
Final Decision: In its final decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.11), the POPRC:
- adopts the RME for decaBDE (commercial mixture, c-decaBDE);
- decides, in accordance with paragraph 9 of Article 8 of the Convention, to recommend to the COP that it consider listing decaBDE (BDE-209) of c-decaBDE in Annex A to the Convention with specific exemptions for some critical spare parts, to be defined, for the automotive and aerospace industries;
- invites parties and observers, including from the automotive and aerospace industries, to provide information that would assist the further defining by the Committee of such critical spare parts, and also small- and medium-sized enterprises in the textile industry by 31 January 2016, and, requests the Secretariat to compile the information provided and make it available to the Committee; and
- decides to establish an intersessional working group to assess the information related to use in the automotive, aerospace and textile industries with the intention of strengthening the recommendation on the listing of the chemical for consideration at POPRC-12.
Draft risk profile on dicofol: On Tuesday morning, the Secretariat introduced the documents related to dicofol, including the draft risk profile (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/3), comments and responses to the draft (INF/8) and additional information (INF/15). Marcus Richards (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) Chair of the intersessional working group on dicofol, presented the draft risk profile, noting, inter alia,that DDT is an intermediate product of the process of manufacturing dicofol and that there are analytical challenges in measuring dicofol concentrations. Noting that monitoring data are limited but show that dicofol is persistent in the environment, he concluded that dicofol is likely, as a result of LRET, to lead to significant adverse effects on human health and the environment, which justifies global action.
Noting that dicofol is a low-cost product with specific uses, India said the substance does not meet the criteria for persistence and LRET, and that data on adverse effects are inconclusive.
Kuwait called for further consideration of the lack of trend analysis and data, and expressed concern about the pH levels of water bodies where dicofol is found to be persistent. Citing data indicating dicofol will not persist in water or sediment in neutral or alkaline conditions because of rapid hydrolysis, Iran expressed the view that dicofol does not meet the Annex E criteria.
Pakistan expressed concern about using modeling data rather than field data to demonstrate LRET.
France emphasized that this substance is found in remote areas, and, with Austria, said that dicofol exhibits LRET, and that monitoring data probably underestimates the presence of this substance in remote areas. Kenya supported moving dicofol to the Annex F stage of review.
India indicated that the conclusion regarding dicofol’s persistence has “major issues.” Belarus noted that that the revised draft risk profile includes more new information, underscoring the need to trust scientific research on persistence and effects of dicofol.
Gabon and Indonesia reported that their countries have banned dicofol, and Gabon expressed support for listing dicofol in the Convention.
India called on developed countries to provide resources to strengthen the capacity of developing countries’ laboratories to produce the relevant data before further review of dicofol.
The Inuit Circumpolar Council emphasized that the evidence presented is sufficient to show that dicofol is a POP and should advance to Annex F. Pesticide Action Network (PAN) underscored that dicofol meets the criteria and said the risk profile should be adopted.
An observer from India emphasized that the metabolites cannot be considered as part of the review of dicofol and said evidence of its presence in remote areas is insufficient. An observer from the Russian Federation called for more thorough definitions of dicofol.
Canada expressed confidence that data gathered in laboratory conditions would be “very accurate,” and said concerns about analytical issues are focused on field data, for which there might be underreporting of dicofol residues.
France said it is important to consider metabolites even if they were not identified in the initial nomination. Indonesia suggested a focused discussion on metabolites of dicofol. Sri Lanka and France proposed further discussions in a contact group. India expressed opposition to establishing a contact group at POPRC-11. Chair Gastaldello Moreira said it is “too soon” to decide whether progress can be made on the draft risk profile and suggested establishing a contact group.
Expressing opposition to a contact group, India indicated the document lacks some “basic data.” France noted that a contact group is a “golden opportunity” to provide relevant information. India noted that an observer from India submitted information at POPRC-10 and underlined that all information needs to be considered.
Kuwait suggested allowing time for countries to provide information by taking this issue up at the next meeting. Chair Gastaldello Moreira recalled that POPRC-9 agreed to provide time for one party to submit information relevant to Annex D and she further recalled that at POPRC-10 that party was not present. She noted that an observer from that country submitted information but she said that that information was not new.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira suggested establishing a contact group to: discuss the issues; solve problems that can be solved; and identify gaps that require more information.
India stressed that the contact group should only identify gaps and that the plenary could address those gaps.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira asked if there was any objection to revising the draft risk profile and, hearing none, established a contact group to be chaired by Marcus Richards (Saint Vincent and Grenadines). The contact group met Tuesday and Thursday.
On Thursday evening, Richards reported that the group had not reached agreement on a concluding statement.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira proposed to establish a drafting group on dicofol. India indicated that “serious information gaps” should be filled and suggested continuing the contact group. Recalling the Committee’s mandate to evaluate the risk profile on dicofol and take a decision, Chair Gastaldello Moreira underscored that the contact group was ready to move to the drafting group, and Indonesia agreed.
India noted that dicofol concerns agricultural practices, so bridging information gaps is crucial for developing countries. Chair Gastaldello Moreira announced the establishment of a drafting group. The drafting group, chaired by Richards, met on Thursday evening.
On Friday, Richards reported that the group had no agreement on the risk profile, highlighting the entire executive summary is bracketed, and said another intersessional period is necessary to collect further information to update the document.
France, Senegal, the Republic of Korea, Sweden and Gabon asked for clearer indication of what information was missing. India said the group had identified many information gaps and France, with Sweden, underlined that indicating precisely what information is missing aids parties and observers in providing information. Pakistan said the lacking information is mentioned in the revised draft risk profile, including on chemical identity and metabolites.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira asked whether the drafting group had a list of missing information. Richards responded that the missing information is in the comments submitted by a member only.
An observer from IPEN expressed concern over the bracketing of the executive summary, including basic information, and urged parties to clearly identify which issues require further information.
Belarus noted that she could not understand why additional information is needed.
India said there are specific issues on LRET, bioaccumulation, and characteristics of metabolites and isomers.
Lesotho emphasized that it was very difficult for the contact group to reach agreement and expressed confusion about what information is missing. Cameroon emphasized that the science speaks for itself.
Kenya questioned what value additional information would add to the POPRC’s review. India emphasized that his country would provide “valuable information.”
Chair Gastaldello Moreira clarified that if the POPRC is going to ask for an additional year for review, it needs to be clear that it is “not the majority of members that have this opinion.”
The Secretariat introduced the draft decision on dicofol (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.9), which, inter alia: decides that information currently available to the Committee on dicofol was considered insufficient to support a decision on the draft risk profile; decides to defer its decision on the draft risk profile for dicofol; decides to establish an intersessional working group to review and update the draft risk profile in accordance with Annex E of the Convention; and invites parties and observers to submit to the Secretariat additional information specified in Annex E of the Convention before 11 December 2015.
France emphasized that this text “gives a distorted picture of reality” and called for the decision to reflect the situation more specifically. India suggested that the language in the paragraph on submission of information could be more specific.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira noted a proposal to amend the decision, and the Secretariat said the POPRC could agree on text indicating that members agree to submit the missing information.
France said that this seemed acceptable, and suggested that if the POPRC decides not to follow the usual procedure, more time could be given to members who wished to submit information. India called for following the intersessional work process, to allow participants scope for making claims and counterclaims.
The Secretariat clarified that the text could be revised to specify that members are to submit information by 11 December 2015, and to establish an intersessional working group to review the information submitted and update the draft risk profile for consideration at POPRC-12.
Gabon suggested specifying that “some members” are to submit information, as quite a few of the experts do not agree with the need to wait. France requested time to review the text in writing, noting that the text on insufficiency of data reflects the position of only some members.
On Friday evening, the Secretariat introduced the revised draft decision on dicofol (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.9/Rev.1), noting, inter alia, that the first paragraph decides to defer the decision on the draft risk profile to POPRC-12 and the second agrees that “members who consider that additional information may be available” shall submit the information before 11 December 2015.
The POPRC adopted the decision with a minor editorial amendment.
Final Decision: In its final decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.9/Rev.1), the POPRC:
- decides to defer its decision on the draft risk profile for dicofol to POPRC-12;
- agrees that members who consider that additional information may be available shall submit to the Committee such additional information as specified in Annex E of the Convention by 11 December 2015;
- decides to establish an intersessional working group to review and update the draft risk profile, taking into account the additional information provided by members; and
- agrees that the draft profile be presented for consideration and adoption at POPRC-12.
Draft risk profile on SCCPs: On Tuesday morning, the Secretariat introduced the draft risk profile (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/4), comments and responses, and additional information related to the draft risk profile (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/INF/5 and INF/14). Ousmane Sow (Senegal), Co-Chair of the intersessional working group, presented the updated draft risk profile, reporting that SCCPs meet the criteria for persistence, bioaccumulation, and LRET, and are likely to have significant adverse effects on human health and the environment, thus justifying global action. He noted that the draft risk profile includes new information related to each of the criteria for listing.
France highlighted new monitoring data presented in a conference room paper, which he said should be assessed and included in the draft risk profile.
The Republic of Korea underscored that SCCPs meet the criteria of Annex E on LRET, bioaccumulation, and toxicity. Sudan supported moving SCCPs to the Annex F stage. Canada underscored a strong case for SCCPs’ effects on the environment according to the preamble of Annex E although uncertainty remains regarding health effects.
Iran asked for information on alternatives to SCCPs. India suggested that the draft risk profile should discuss long and medium-chained chlorinated paraffins (LCCPs and MCCPs), which can be considered as alternatives to SCCPs. Chair Gastaldello Moreira responded that some information on alternatives is in the additional information document, but discussions on alternatives should occur at the Annex F stage.
Gabon questioned the wording “probable and potential risks” to health and the environment and asked whether the related studies were conducted in a reliable way. Norway said scientific studies showed clear results on SCCPs’ risks, and supported moving SCCPs to the Annex F stage.
Pakistan and India noted that information on health effects of SCCPs in developing countries was missing and India requested assistance from developed countries for data collection. Chair Gastaldello Moreira responded that the draft risk profile is based on data made available by countries.
Indonesia asked how the draft risk profile incorporates new information for the definition and sources of SCCPs. Sweden supported the suggestion of including new data, especially on environmental and health effects.
The Netherlands agreed that the draft risk profile meets the criteria to move to the Annex F stage and, with Canada, said it was not necessary to include LCCPs and MCCPs in the document.
The World Chlorine Council highlighted: the report includes a collection of data with very different relevance to Annex E without evaluating these data based on their weight of evidence; the data on the substances concerned in various chlorinated paraffins is lacking; and some changes were made without new information, which he said, raises concerns about data credibility.
IPEN suggested removing “outmoded” tables that reference toxicity to breastfed babies, saying that the tables underrepresent the real impact of SCCPs on developing organisms.
An observer from Japan said the data contained in these tables is crucial for drawing conclusions.
Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) emphasized that SCCPs pose a particular hazard to the health of Indigenous Peoples who rely on traditional foods, and urged the POPRC to move SCCPs to Annex F.
An observer from the Russian Federation questioned the basis for drawing conclusions on SCCPs, saying that the methods for analyzing data are inconsistent.
An observer from China said the updated information in the draft risk profile support the Annex D, rather than Annex E, criteria, and highlighted extensive research on SCCPs in China.
Sylvain Bintein (France) one of the drafters of the draft risk profile, noted that references to chlorinated paraffins are applicable to short-, medium- and long-chained CPs, since it is sometimes impossible to know whether data such as production volumes refer to just one of these substances. He emphasized that the risk evaluation focuses on SCCPs, and that a possible future listing of SCCPs will not concern medium- or long-chained CPs. He further underscored that data presented were not “manipulated” by the drafters.
A contact group was established, chaired by Ousmane Sow (Senegal). The contact group met on Tuesday and a drafting group convened on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Sylvain Bintein (France), presented the draft risk profile of SCCPs (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.3), highlighting information gathered at this meeting. He reported, inter alia,additions on bioaccumulation, including concentrations in seabirds, and, on exposure, monitoring data from remote areas in air, soil and mammals.
Austria emphasized that the new monitoring data from remote regions close information gaps and said SCCPs should advance to the next stage of review.
Noting that production of SCCPs has increased substantially in China since 2007, the Inuit Circumpolar Council observed that the new data show that SCCPs are prevalent in the Arctic environment.
An observer from Japan questioned whether the data available is sufficient for the POPRC to take a decision.
ACAT called for explicitly acknowledging new studies showing that breastfeeding infants and young children are uniquely vulnerable to exposure to toxic chemicals.
The World Chlorine Council expressed disappointment that procedures agreed to in the contact group “were not followed,” citing examples such as the inclusion in the draft risk profile of data from an unpublished study and information that was not discussed in the group.
Two observers from China said the updated document did not include any new information that would support a conclusion on SCCPs.
An observer from the Russian Federation said SCCPs do not meet the Annex D criteria for persistence. Austria explained that the POPRC concluded in 2006 that SCCPs meet the Annex D criteria for persistence based on evidence of a very long half-life of SCCPs in sediment.
France emphasized that an enormous amount of new information had been added since 2012 and, on chemical identity, reiterated that it is “perfectly clear” that the POPRC is measuring short chains (C10-C13).
Kuwait asked whether it would be possible to create a priority rating for the different screening criteria.
Saying that the draft risk profile is a “very good example of the richness of the scientific evidence,” Sweden supported advancing SCCPs to Annex F. Highlighting increased scientific literature on toxic effects, monitoring data and exposure, Norway supported advancing SCCPs to Annex F. Canada emphasized that the amount of monitoring data for LRET and bioaccumulation are “particularly compelling.”
Gabon called for those opposed to advancing SCCPs to produce evidence that contradicts information in the draft risk profile.
India said it is important and in line with common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) to generate data from the South Pole and other regions. Norway clarified that data from the Arctic have been important because there are no nearby sources for most of the compounds under review, which indicates LRET.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira established a Friends of the Chair group of members and the observers from China and Japan, saying that these observers would be members at POPRC-12 and had expressed an interest in the issue.
The Friends of the Chair group met on Friday, and on Friday evening, Chair Gastaldello Moreira reported three agreements from the “fruitful scientific discussion.” She said that those present in the group agreed that the comparison of exposure and effect levels for biota and human exposure were not needed for decision making because POPRC-9 agreed that its evaluation should not involve a quotient-based risk assessment. She also reported that the group agreed to remove unpublished data, but she stressed that this should not set a precedent for the work of the POPRC, which benefits from presentations and information provided by invited experts. Finally, she reported that data included by the drafting group that was not considered in the contact group should be removed.
Sylvain Bintein, drafter of the draft risk profile, then introduced the specific changes that these three agreements have for the draft risk profile.
Belarus stated that, based on the clear methodologies outlined, SCCPs could move to the next stage.
India said that alternatives to SCCPs should not be POPs.
Calling this the most robust information provided in Annex E to the POPRC to date, an observer from the US supported moving SCCPs to Annex F.
An observer from the Russian Federation said the data presented for persistence is based on indirect methods of analysis and not field experiments, and said that SCCPs do not meet Annex D criteria.
Kuwait supported moving to Annex F, saying sometimes indirect measurements are necessary and are used by the POPRC.
The POPRC adopted the draft risk profile for SCCPs, as orally amended. The Secretariat then introduced the draft decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.2) which was adopted without amendment.
Final Decision: In its final decision, the POPRC adopts the risk profile for SCCPs and decides that SCCPs are likely as a result of LRET to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects such that global action is warranted. It further establishes an intersessional working group to prepare a RME that includes an analysis of possible control measures for SCCPs in accordance with Annex F to the Convention and invites parties and observers to submit information specified in Annex F before 11 December 2015.
Proposal for the inclusion of PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds in Annexes A, B and/or C to the Convention: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the proposal to list PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds in Annexes A, B and/or C to the Stockholm Convention (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/5), and verification of whether the proposal contains the information specified in Annex D (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/INF/9).
Katinka Van der Jagt (EU) presented the proposal, clarifying that it focuses on the characteristics of PFOA, but noted it is important to include related chemicals that degrade to PFOA. She reported that PFOA is used in a wide variety of products, including fire-fighting foams, wetting agents, leather, paper, textiles and apparel. On persistence, she reported that PFOA is highly persistent in soil and water and that numerous degradation tests and field monitoring show no biodegradation. On bioaccumulation, she said PFOA is “not the standard story” and observed similarities to how POPRC-3 addressed the bioaccumulation of PFOS. Because PFOA potentially binds to proteins in liver and blood, she said using the log Kow as a descriptor of bioaccumulation may not be appropriate. She pointed to high Trophic Magnification Factor (TMF) and Biomagnification Factor (BMF) values and evidence of PFOA in human blood and breastmilk. On LRET, she reported that PFOA is found in the Arctic. On adverse effects, evidence she reported included developmental effects in mice, transfer to infants through breastmilk and epidemiological data of kidney and testicular cancers. She concluded that PFOA meets the Annex D criteria.
During the discussion, several POPRC members supported the proposal. Belarus underlined the need for the provision of information to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to help carry out analysis and undertake control measures for items containing PFOA. Sweden and an observer from the US noted work being carried out under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) regarding articles containing PFOA. Norway suggested building on the work done for PFOS regarding inventories.
Gabon, Indonesia, and observers from the US and Japan highlighted the need to clearly identify the related chemicals.
IPEN lamented the long-running use of this chemical, given its known toxicity, and drew attention to thousands of pending court cases in the US to hold companies liable for communities’ and individuals’ exposure to PFOA.
Noting support to move PFOA, its salts and related chemicals to the risk profile stage, Chair Gastaldello Moreira asked the Secretariat to prepare a draft decision for consideration by the contact group, to be chaired by Michelle Kivi (Canada). The contact group met Tuesday and Wednesday and then in a drafting group on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Kivi introduced the draft decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP. 4). She reported that the draft decision, inter alia: decides that the POPRC is satisfied that the screening criteria have been fulfilled for PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds, and requests the Secretariat to make available to parties and observers a non-exhaustive list of CAS numbers for PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds.
India said that the log Kow shows that the bioaccumulation criteria were not met and said that this agenda cannot move as there is not “sufficient evidence,” in accordance with the criteria of Annex D. France referred to the Committee’s guidance from POPRC-3 on measures that POPRC has used to evaluate bioaccumulation in addition to, or instead of, log Kow.
Indonesia called for further consideration of PFOA-related compounds to evaluate which meet the criteria of Annex D. Norway underscored that sufficient information exists for the Committee to move from the Annex D screening stage to the Annex E risk profile stage, where more detailed work will be conducted.
Saying the bioaccumulation criterion c(ii) (high bioaccumulation in other species) has been met, an observer from the US suggested adding a clarification in the risk profile stage. IPEN welcomed this draft decision.
An observer from China urged nominating parties to give more information on PFOA-related compounds, underscoring the country’s difficulty identifying producers and consumers of these chemicals.
Sweden said the contact group has discussed the difference between Annex D and Annex E, and indicated that the draft decision would not exclude any PFOA-related compounds at the current stage, even though current knowledge shows some compounds may not bioaccumulate.
France asked if the Secretariat could make a list of Chemical Abstract Services (CAS) numbers available. The Secretariat noted that the workplan asks parties to provide CAS numbers to the Secretariat within one week of the close of this meeting. Canada said that a list should be available from when her country listed PFOA domestically.
India stated that the properties of chemicals within the same family can vary, and if a particular CAS number does not meet the criteria, then the proposal should not move forward. He further questioned whether the bioaccumulation criteria were met.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira clarified that at the Annex E stage, the POPRC will gather information to analyze each related chemical and if some chemicals do not meet the criteria, they will not advance past this stage. The Secretariat read the three relevant subparagraphs in Annex D, noting that they are connected with “or,” which, she said, means only one of the subparagraph’s criteria needs to be met to fulfill the bioaccumulation criterion.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira suggested that all interested members convene in a contact group to discuss the issues. That contact group met on Thursday and then closed to a drafting group.
On Friday, Kivi presented the revised draft decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.4/Rev.1). She highlighted that throughout the decision and its annex the references to “related chemicals” were removed, and that the conclusion states that members agreed that PFOA meets the Annex D criteria. She noted that the paragraph stating that information on PFOS, its salts and PFOSF is not required was retained because the group did not want to receive information for substances already listed in the Convention.
India said there are “basic issues” in the Stockholm Convention, such as focusing on the North Pole and mother’s milk. He suggested that varying concentrations observed in mother’s milk could be due to “food habits and mad cows.”
Chair Gastaldello Moreira urged parties to stay focused on the draft risk profile and decision.
Indonesia noted that it is unclear which branch molecules and polymers may exhibit Annex D criteria and supported gathering that information for consideration for the Annex E evaluation.
Pakistan requested that the reference to PFOS, its salts and PFOSF be deleted. Chair Gastaldello Moreira proposed alternative wording and members discussed ways to be clear that PFOS, its salts and PFOSF are listed in the Convention and therefore information on those chemicals does not need to be submitted.
FluoroCouncil stated that PFOS cannot degrade to PFOA, but that manufacturing PFOS does generate a small amount of PFOA. He called for the Committee to avoid duplicating work related to PFOS.
IPEN provided information related to PFOA in the Southern hemisphere, reporting that Australia has among the highest concentrations of PFOA in blood and mother’s milk. She expressed concern that if the Committee did not agree that PFOA meets the Annex D criteria, it would lose credibility in the eyes of civil society.
Noting general consensus that PFOA does meet the Annex D criteria, Chair Gastaldello Moreira outlined three changes to the draft decision, including adding to the subparagraph specifying what types of information are sought “excluding PFOS, its salts and PFOSF listed in Annex B to the Conventions.” POPRC adopted the decision as orally amended.
Final Decision: In its decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.4/Rev.1), the POPRC:
- decides that the screening criteria have been fulfilled for PFOA (CAS No: 335-67-1, PFOA, perfluorooctanoic acid);
- decides to establish an ad hoc working group to review the proposal further and to prepare a draft risk profile in accordance with Annex E to the Convention;
- decides further that issues related to the inclusion of PFOA-related compounds that potentially degrade to PFOA and PFOA salts should be dealt with in developing the draft risk profile;
- invites parties and observers to submit to the Secretariat the information specified in Annex E before 11 December 2015 for: PFOA; and substances having a perfluoroalkyl group with the formula C8F17- or C7F15-C as one of its structural elements that potentially degrade to PFOA, excluding PFOS, its salts and PFOSF listed in Annex B to the Convention; and
- requests the Secretariat, for the purpose of facilitating information collection, to make available to parties and observers a non-exhaustive list of CAS numbers for PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds when the Secretariat invites them to submit information specified in Annex E.
Consideration of information on unintentional releases of HCBD: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the consideration of information on unintentional releases of HCBD (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/6) and related information (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/INF/10 and Rev.1). Chair Gastaldello Moreira recalled that POPRC-9 recommended to the COP that HCBD be listed in Annexes A and C and that the COP, based on new information, requested further evaluation of the new information in relation to the Annex C listing. She informed members that POPRC-11 is requested to establish an intersessional working group.
Former POPRC member Jianxin Hu (China) presented the new information that was provided to the COP, explaining that carbon tetrachloride (CTC) is regulated under the Montreal Protocol, but has some allowable uses, such as for producing feedstock. He said CTC can interact with other compounds and unintentionally produce HCBD.
France and Indonesia asked what types of information should be collected and the Secretariat responded that the mandate from the COP was broad in this regard.
France suggested that the intersessional working group should ask for information on the sources of unintentional emissions and measures in place to mitigate these emissions. He also suggested information on costs and other information relevant to Annex F could be collected.
India and Gabon highlighted that developing countries do not have the capacity to monitor POPs. India said information on standard operating procedures should be collected.
Canada suggested that collecting information on the chemical equations that produce HCBD is a way to identify which manufacturing processes could unintentionally produce HCBD.
France said more information is required to determine if HCBD should be listed in Annex C or not and to identify the methods to reduce emissions. India responded that the POPRC is not a forum to promote technology. Chair Gastaldello Moreira stated that this concern would be noted in the report of the meeting for the COP to consider when taking a decision on the implementation of the Convention, and said this is not a discussion for the POPRC.
Iran observed a lack of information on, inter alia, the sources, standard operating procedures, monitoring, risk and fate of unintentionally-produced HCBD.
The Secretariat recalled that the POPRC already agreed to a recommendation to list HCBD in Annexes A and C and said that recommendation will not change.
An observer from Switzerland underlined that the COP agreed that HCBD is a POP and suggested that the POPRC develop a guidance document for use by the best available techniques (BAT) and best environmental practices (BEP) expert group.
Observing that the COP already decided to list HCBD in Annex C, IPEN highlighted that the RME contains information that the intersessional working group might find useful.
The World Chlorine Council suggested that the COP considered the quality of the RME to be insufficient on how to manage unintentional releases. He said that the current procedures to produce risk profiles and RMEs are not producing the documents of the “necessary quality.”
Chair Gastaldello Moreira suggested, and members agreed, to establish a Friends of the Chair group, chaired by Tamara Kukharchyk (Belarus), which met on Wednesday.
On Thursday morning, Kukharchyk (Belarus) introduced the draft decision on unintentional releases of HCBD (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.6).
India reiterated his concern about the number of intersessional groups working in parallel and said that “without CBDR we feel this intersessional working group has to stop.”
The Secretariat reported that in the last intersessional working period, four groups worked in parallel and noted that in the past, when the POPRC was evaluating up to 10 chemicals, 10-12 groups worked in parallel. She clarified that as long as a chemical stays in the review process, the related intersessional working group will continue. India emphasized that “without capacity building, the output of intersessional working groups may not be acceptable.”
Indonesia suggested clarifying that the information sought by the Committee related to unintentional sources only.
Kuwait noted that the POPRC should consult with the BAT/BEP expert group to obtain any missing information.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira requested the Secretariat to clarify the POPRC’s role in evaluating substances. The Secretariat clarified that the POPRC’s mandate is to make recommendations on listing chemicals with reference to the criteria in Annexes E and F, and said this work is based on the information provided by parties and observers. She further explained that the BAT/BEP Expert Group will look at technologies to reduce emissions of Annex C chemicals.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira highlighted the importance of ensuring that the POPRC follows the steps of the review process in the correct order.
India said the POPRC needs to ask how it can fill any gaps in information.
Belarus outlined the work requested of the POPRC on HCBD, emphasized that this is straightforward, and suggested closing the discussion unless there were substantive issues to be addressed.
Indonesia noted that it is difficult to distinguish intentional production from unintentional releases of HCBD in local monitoring data. France suggested deleting “local” in reference to monitoring data and Indonesia supported this amendment.
IPEN emphasized that the request for information is a “list of wishes” for information that, if available, would enable the COP to help the BAT/BEP Expert Group assemble information on what to do with a recommendation the POPRC has already made.
The Secretariat summarized the oral amendments and the POPRC adopted the decision as orally amended.
Final Decision: In its final decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.6), the POPRC:
- decides to establish an intersessional working group to undertake the activities requested in paragraphs 1 and 3 of decision SC-7/11 and agrees to work in accordance with the workplan set out in the annex to the decision;
- requests the Secretariat to collect from parties and observers any additional information that would assist the further evaluation by the Committee of the unintentional production of HCBD, in particular: sources of formation, unintentional releases and emissions of HCBD identified in the RME for the chemical as well as new sources; standard methods for sampling, monitoring, analysis and reporting of unintentional HCBD in various media; risk management measures implemented by parties and other stakeholders to reduce and eliminate unintentional emissions and releases to air, water and sludge and as a constituent in products; alternative processes for the production of halogenated chemicals to reduce and eliminate unintentional HCBD; substitution of chlorinated chemicals identified as a source of unintentional HCBD; monitoring data on unintentional releases of HCBD; and cost of measures implemented to reduce and/or eliminate unintentional releases of HCBD.
Guidance on alternatives to PFOS, its salts, PFOSF and their related chemicals: On Wednesday morning, the Secretariat introduced the guidance on alternatives to PFOS, its salts, PFOSF and their related chemicals (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/7), the proposal for revising the guidance (INF/11) and comments on and responses to the proposal (INF/12). Martien Janssen (the Netherlands), Co-Chair of the intersessional working group on this issue, presented an overview of the process for revising the guidance and the work that could be done during POPRC-11, explaining that the POPRC’s mandate is to determine how a consolidated document could contribute to the next evaluation of PFOS, scheduled for COP-9.
Noting that the POPRC must agree on a process for revising the guidance and establish an intersessional working group to prepare the revised guidance for consideration at POPRC-12, Chair Gastaldello Moreira invited comments.
India reiterated his concern about provision of INF documents six weeks in advance.
An observer from Brazil highlighted the work in his country to analyze the feasibility of alternatives to PFOS as part of an integrated approach to pest management. An observer from ABRAISCA (Leaf-Cutting Ant Baits Industries Association) emphasized that if alternatives listed for leaf-cutting ants do not meet the criteria established by the Stockholm Convention for alternatives, they should be excluded from the document.
An observer from the US expressed support for a “very streamlined consolidation” of information into a single guidance on alternatives. Highlighting an offer from industry to provide data on a range of alternatives to PFOS, IPEN noted that having a list of these substances would be helpful for assessing the alternatives.
Noting that PFOS continues to be used in many areas, Belarus emphasized that the sooner reliable information on alternatives is available, the sooner people will be able to stop using PFOS.
India requested information on how many parties have participated in the intersessional working group. The Secretariat said that 61 people participated, including representatives of 14 parties, 1 non-party, and 10 NGOs.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira proposed, and the POPRC agreed, to establish a contact group to be co-chaired by Martien Janssen (the Netherlands) and Agus Haryono (Indonesia). The contact group met on Wednesday and convened in a drafting group later in the day.
On Thursday evening, Janssen introduced the proposal for revising the guidance on alternatives to PFOS, its salts, PFOSF and their related chemicals (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.7), noting that very few changes were made to the original document.
India asked if the CAS numbers of alternatives could be included, and Chair Gastaldello Moreira confirmed that this information could be added.
The Secretariat introduced the draft decision to establish an intersessional working group to prepare the revised guidance document in accordance with the workplan. The POPRC adopted the decision without amendment.
Final Decision: In its decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.7), the POPRC:
- decides to establish an intersessional working group to prepare revised guidance on alternatives to PFOS, its salts, PFOSF and their related chemicals, based on the proposal set out in the note by the Secretariat, for consideration at POPRC-12, and agrees to work in accordance with the workplan set out in the annex to the decision;
- requests the Secretariat, subject to resources, to commission the preparation of the revised guidance for consideration by POPRC-12;
- invites parties and observers to submit information to enable the Committee to prepare a revised guidance in accordance with the workplan set out in the annex to the decision; and
- invites parties and observers in a position to do so to provide financial support for the implementation of the activities referred.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Secretariat introduced the reports on the activities for effective participation in the work of the Committee (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/8) and capacity-building and training activities organized by the Secretariat (UNEP/POP/POPRC.11/INF/13).
Gabon underlined the constraints some developing countries face in participating in webinars, such as blackouts and weak internet connections. India and Sudan noted low participation in several webinars, with Sudan observing that two face-to-face meetings attracted nearly half the number of participants of seven webinars, and called for an evaluation of the webinars.
Sweden welcomed the invitation to work with the regional centres and asked for information about the pilot projects. With Norway, she supported the idea of an evaluation of the webinars. India suggested that the webinars be organized by the regional centres.
The Secretariat responded that the pilot projects are to support countries that require assistance gathering information from stakeholders within the country in order to submit this information during the intersessional period. She noted that participation in webinars is global, while the participation for face-to-face meetings is regional. Noting that not all can participate in all webinars, she informed Committee members that participants are asked to fill out an evaluation form and that these results show a positive experience with the webinars. She reminded members that the webinars are recorded and available at any time.
IPEN suggested that companies that have proactively phased out chemicals under consideration in Annex F could be invited to present their experiences to the Committee, in order to inform the discussion of alternatives.
Kuwait asked what type of assistance UNEP provides for participation.
India called for a contact group to further discuss effective participation. Chair Gastaldello Moreira suggested that the members request the Secretariat to revise the draft decision in consultation with interested members in order to list countries’ capacity-building needs and brainstorm ideas for topics for meetings. India reiterated his call for a contact group.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira suspended discussion on this item, and said members could discuss it further on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Pakistan proposed a Friends of the Chair group to discuss and revise the decision. India requested that a contact group address this issue, underscoring the importance of coordination among the scientific subsidiary bodies of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. Chair Gastaldello Moreira proposed and POPRC members agreed to establish a contact group to revise the draft decision, chaired by Abdul Nabi Abdullah Al-Ghadban (Kuwait). The contact group met Wednesday.
On Thursday, Al-Ghadban introduced the draft decision on effective participation (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.5), noting the addition of paragraph (e) on evaluation of programme activities, with the aim of drawing on the experience of others when conducting workshops.
India suggested sharing “positive actions” that have been taken by parties to implement their obligations.
Chair Gastaldello Moreira said this would be noted in the meeting report, and the POPRC adopted the decision without amendment.
Final Decision: In its decision (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/CRP.5), the POPRC:
- invites the Secretariat to continue its activities related to supporting effective participation in the work of the Committee, subject to resources, including the: organization of webinars, training and online meetings on topics related to the work of the Committee; organization of workshops and other face-to-face activities to build the capacities of parties and of training-of-trainers activities; facilitation, in cooperation with Committee members and regional centres, of the development of pilot projects to stimulate the active involvement of different stakeholders, such as the academic community, research institutes and universities; development of tools to facilitate the sharing of information and resources to support the effective participation; and evaluation of the programme activities referred to above, to be reported to POPRC-12;
- invites regional centres to play an active role in providing assistance to facilitate the effective participation, including through the exchange of information and expert knowledge in their areas of expertise; and
- invites parties and observers in a position to do so to contribute to the work of the Committee and to provide financial support to facilitate the effective participation by parties in that work.
WORKPLAN FOR THE INTERSESSIONAL PERIOD
On Friday morning, the Secretariat proposed the draft workplan for the intersessional period between POPRC-11 and POPRC-12 (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.11/9). The Committee adopted the workplan without amendments.
VENUE AND DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING
On Friday morning, the Committee agreed that POPRC-12 would be held 19-23 September 2016 in Rome, Italy back-to-back with the twelfth meeting of the Chemicals Review Committee.
CLOSURE OF THE MEETING
On Thursday, the Committee reviewed the draft report of the meeting (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.10/L.1 and Add.1) and adopted the report with a minor amendment. Chair Gastaldello Moreira thanked the outgoing members for their many contributions to the POPRC, and gaveled the meeting to a close at 9:04 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF POPRC-11
The overriding challenge facing the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) is managing the interface between science and policy for effective work to achieve the Committee’s objectives as a science advisory body. At POPRC-11, these challenges were amplified by the difficult agenda. One observer believed “maybe one” chemical would successfully move to the next stage of review was proved wrong, as POPRC-11 successfully navigated the science-policy interface, moving three of the four chemicals in the review process to the next stage.
While managing the tension between its technical evaluations and the socio-economic implications of its decisions has long been an underlying concern for the Committee, at POPRC-11 political considerations dominated discussions as never before. This brief analysis looks at the challenges of carrying out science-based reviews with the aim of policymaking at the global level.
SCIENCE ADVICE IN THE CONTEXT OF A MULTILATERAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT
POPRC members participate on the Committee in their capacity as individuals with technical expertise in chemicals assessment or management, not as delegates who represent parties to the Stockholm Convention. Members are required to declare any potential conflicts of interest and “to perform their official duties … in such a way that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of the [POPRC] are preserved and enhanced.”
However, POPRC-11 discussions in both plenary sessions and contact groups were heavily infused with political arguments throughout the meeting. This included references to social and economic interests that were relevant neither to the stage of review, nor to the POPRC’s mandate. Many interventions reflected what appeared to be a lack of knowledge about the Convention’s history, tenets and objectives, as well as the distinct stages of the Committee’s review process. Several participants commented that, to the detriment of the Committee’s work and effective functioning, discussions were less substantive and science-based than in past years. One veteran participant lamented that politically-charged rhetoric is “ruining the constructive approach” that has characterized the work of the POPRC since its inception.
The relocation of POPRC meetings from Geneva to Rome, which resulted from the introduction of back-to-back meetings of the Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention COPs and their science advisory bodies, has also had a significant, if unanticipated, impact on the context in which the Committee conducts its work. In Geneva, the POPRC met in a large conference room in which the Committee members were seated in a rectangle, and observers were seated in a U-shape on the perimeter of the room. This arrangement facilitated the collaborative discussions that characterize committee work, as it was a relatively informal setting that allowed participants to speak directly to one another. In contrast, in the Rome location, Committee members sit in rows facing a raised dais. The Chair still calls experts by name, thus subtly reinforcing that they are participating in their individual capacity rather than as representatives of parties to the Convention. However, the set-up of the room is more formal and less conducive to the conversational style that prevailed in earlier years. The disadvantages of the new arrangement were flagged by some POPRC members on the final day of the meeting, one of whom noted that instead of seeing her colleagues’ faces, she now sees the back of their shoulders. However, some observers emphasized that they are much better served by the room in Rome, which allows them access to full-sized desks and microphones at their seats, thus facilitating their participation in discussions.
In combination, these factors resulted in atmosphere at POPRC-11 that, prior to the final plenary session on Friday evening, many participants described as tense and unproductive. One participant described participation in the contact groups as “futile,” and several reported leaving contact groups early after realizing that discussions “were going nowhere.” Notably, a wide range of participants with different backgrounds and interests expressed frustration with what they perceived to be the politicization of the Committee’s work.
EVALUATING “BORDERLINE” CASES
The challenges posed by explicitly inserting politics into the Committee’s work were exacerbated by the fact that, during POPRC-11, some members and observers made frequent reference to criteria or issues that were not pertinent to the stage of a chemical’s review. As one observer noted, “it is complicated to analyze Annex E criteria [persistence, bioaccumulation, toxicity and long-range environmental transport] with Annex F [socio-economic] issues.” Such deliberate obfuscation of the process has had a substantial impact on the Committee’s ability to work efficiently and effectively, as it confused less experienced members and took up substantial time in contact groups and plenary. The diplomatic norms that prevail in this science advisory body are an essential component of multilateral cooperation, but they also create an opportunity for members who wish to prevent a chemical from proceeding for non-scientific reasons to do so.
While the vast majority of participants in the POPRC’s work are seeking scientific bases for recommendations to list or set aside chemicals under review, conflict and frustration arises from different interpretations of the way in which the POPRC should carry out its work. While there are clear procedures and criteria in place to guide the Committee’s evaluations of substances under review, participants come from a wide range of backgrounds and may be accustomed to working with different analytical perspectives, standards and tools. In this context, the notion of “science-based” evaluation can encompass a wide variety of approaches and understandings. For example, as noted in previous years, the POPRC has shifted its focus from “dead” to “live” chemicals, and the latter substances present the Committee with new challenges. In addition, the fact that they may be widely produced and used (and therefore be of socioeconomic importance to stakeholders), the scientific literature about these substances may be limited. As such, establishing whether some of the nominated substances meet the Annex E criteria of persistence, bioaccumulation, toxicity and long-range environmental transport may require POPRC members to draw conclusions based on less information than they might prefer. This issue is explicitly addressed by the Article 8 of the Stockholm Convention, which states that “lack of full scientific certainty shall not prevent the proposal from proceeding” from Annex E to Annex F. However, data are subject to interpretation, and experts with different disciplinary backgrounds or experience working at the interface of science and policy may place more or less stock in certain methodological approaches or types of evidence. This is clearly illustrated by the frequent discussion of the relative merits of field data versus data obtained through modeling—an argument that is dismissed by many as specious, but has been raised with regard to SCCPs, endosulfan and dicofol, among other substances.
However, even with the benefit of clear criteria, thresholds and cut-off values, as well as the POPRC’s eleven years of experience in evaluating a wide range of substances, there may be scope for disagreement about what the “weight of evidence” suggests. Participants frequently cite the weight-of-evidence approach as the standard by which POPRC should draw its conclusions, yet, in practice, the concept has many different definitions and no clear methodological basis for application. While many participants have called for utilization of this approach, the ways in which they define it vary. Some see it as a means of achieving near certainty in review, and others characterize it as an approach that is intended to allow action in the absence of certainty. This was illustrated particularly clearly in discussions on both SCCPs and dicofol, for which there were contentious debates related to persistence.
PROGRESS AT POPRC-11
Despite some frustrations about the tone and pace of discussions during the week, the POPRC achieved remarkable progress at its eleventh meeting. The Committee agreed, by consensus, to advance SCCPs to Annex F, nine years after agreeing that the compound meets the Annex D screening criteria. This outcome surprised many veteran participants, particularly given the strong objections of a small but vocal minority of stakeholders. This outcome reflects the policy context in which the POPRC is working, however, as even those stakeholders who objected to advancing the substance to Annex F were willing to prioritize consistency in the review process over their preferences for further consideration of additional evidence. Stakeholders involved in these discussions agreed to the need to apply standards for evidence transparently and consistently across both issues and stages of the POPRC’s review process.
The Committee also completed its work on decaBDE, thanks to what one participant described as the “heroic” efforts of the drafting group to finalize a comprehensive risk management evaluation, and decided that PFOA meets the Annex D screening criteria. While many participants viewed the scientific rationale for advancing PFOA to Annex E as “cut and dried,” a small minority of members voiced concerns about the “breadth” of the nomination, which included its salts and related chemicals. The compromise reached in this case was to deviate from the precedent set by the Committee’s past review of PFOS, which included consideration of closely-related substances that were not identified in the initial nomination.
That POPRC overcame the challenges to advance so many chemicals on what was a difficult agenda is a testament to the institutional structure that facilitates constructive discussion and evaluation, as well as the occasional compromise that reflects the need to prioritize concerns in order to reach consensus. These practices enable this committee to carry out science-based evaluation in the context of a multilateral environmental agreement, thus fulfilling its mandate to provide the scientific and technical advice necessary for policy action.
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