Daily report for 17 June 2002
6th Session of the INC for an International Legally Binding Instrument for Implementing International Action on Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
On the first day of INC-6, delegates met in morning and afternoon Plenary sessions. In the morning, delegates: heard an opening address by Philippe Roch, Director of the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests, and Landscape; discussed organizational matters, including expansion of the Bureau; and heard statements regarding ongoing international activities relating to the work of the Committee. In the afternoon, delegates continued the morning’s discussions, and initiated deliberations on extrabudgetary funds.
INC Chair John Buccini (Canada) opened INC-6 and introduced Philippe Roch, Director of the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests, and Landscape. In his opening remarks, Roch welcomed delegates to Geneva noting that INC-6 marks a shift from negotiation to implementation of the Convention. In this regard, he stressed: the importance of technical and financial assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition; the need to collaborate with other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and international organizations on implementation and burden-sharing; and industry’s responsibility to develop new chemicals in light of the Stockholm Convention. He urged the US to pledge an additional $100 million to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) at the upcoming G-8 Summit and offered to host INC-7 in Geneva should it be required. Jim Willis, UNEP Chemicals, delivering a message from Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Director, underscored the Stockholm Convention Secretariat’s budgetary shortfall, congratulated the 151 signatories and 11 country ratifications and wished INC-6 a successful meeting.
Delegates adopted the agenda, with the US requesting that discussion on draft rules of procedure and best available techniques and best environmental practices be given higher priority on the agenda.
Jim Willis reported on intersessional work requested by the INC and required by the resolutions in the Final Act of the Convention, and emphasized the transition of the Secretariat from supporting negotiations to its role as the interim Convention Secretariat. Chair Buccini then recalled a G-77/China proposal to expand the Bureau from five to ten members, including two members from each regional group. ALGERIA, the BAHAMAS, CANADA, COLOMBIA, the CZECH REPUBLIC, EGYPT, KAZAKHSTAN, NIGERIA, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, SAMOA, URUGUAY, and PANAMA, on behalf of GRULAC, supported this proposal. After initial hesitation, Spain, for the EU, AUSTRALIA, JAPAN and the US supported expanding the Bureau on the condition that this not set a precedent for the Bureaux of other conventions. The INC agreed to expand the Bureau by consensus and amend the rules of procedure accordingly.
REVIEW OF ONGOING INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES RELATING TO THE WORK OF THE COMMITTEE
On the review of ongoing activities (UNEP/POPS/INC.6/INF/ 17), Willis listed several implementation activities undertaken last year including: workshops in conjunction with the Basel Convention, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on PCB management; the dioxin tool kit; workshops on best practices; and a US-supported initiative to develop information exchange databases throughout Africa. Willis thanked all donors for their financial and in-kind contributions. The UN INSTITUTE FOR TRAINING AND RESEARCH (UNITAR) summarized its efforts to provide training to countries with a view to building national implementation plans (NIPs) (UNEP/POPS/INC.6/INF/27). The UN INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (UNIDO) outlined its ongoing activities on promoting enabling mechanisms and best available technologies as supported by the GEF. The BASEL CONVENTION said its implementation experience would be useful to POPs and encouraged continued collaboration with the POPs Secretariat.
The UN ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR EUROPE (UNECE), representing the Secretariat of the Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) Convention, said he expected that the POPs Protocol to the LRTAP Convention would enter into force by the end of the year, and expressed interest in UNECE collaboration with the POPs Secretariat. The WHO described POPs-related activities (UNEP/POPS/INC.6/INF/26), and highlighted a guidance document produced in collaboration with the FAO and UNEP on alternative strategies for sustainable pest and vector management, to be launched at INC-6.
The FAO provided an overview of its activities related to POPs pesticides (UNEP/POPS/INC.6/INF/24), and highlighted, inter alia, the application of integrated pest management, including the search for alternative management approaches against pest and diseases. The ROTTERDAM CONVENTION highlighted the successful operation of the Chemical Review Committee and noted four workshops aimed at facilitating practical training on operational elements of the Convention. GERMANY provided a brief update on the Information Exchange Network on Capacity Building for the Sound Management of Chemicals (INFOCAP) under the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety process (UNEP/POPS/INC.6/INF/21). The WORLD BANK said it lacked a portfolio on POPs and that its work on POPs is linked to sectors in which it is working, such as industry and agriculture. He noted work with countries made possible under a trust fund established by the Canadian government.
Finland, on behalf of the ARCTIC COUNCIL, highlighted, inter alia, the importance of implementing the POPs Convention to ensure Indigenous Peoples' food security, and ongoing research on pentabromodiphenyl ether (pentaBDE), a potential addition to the Convention. The EU: reconfirmed its commitment to provide technical and financial assistance; said the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) will highlight the need for an international policy on chemicals management; stressed the importance of developing substitute products and related processes to replace DDT and unintentional by-products; and emphasized national implementation as a priority.
GERMANY provided examples of its strong political commitment through technical and financial support. He reported on an information workshop held in Namibia on technical implementation aspects common to international conventions related to chemicals management.GUINEA, KENYA, MAURITANIA, NIGERIA, VENEZUELA and YEMEN announced their intentions to ratify the Convention. JAPAN underscored the importance of effective implementation and announced its intention to sign the Convention prior to the WSSD.
Panama, on behalf of the LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN GROUP (GRULAC), stressed the importance of capacity-building networks, and proposed that GRULAC host the first COP. Samoa, on behalf of PACIFIC ISLAND STATES, highlighted work in the region on drafting NIPs and addressing POPs stockpiles. THE GAMBIA noted that it has been selected to receive GEF funding for POPs and appealed to the GEF to facilitate access to those funds. NIGERIA said that the Basel Convention Regional Center could be useful for addressing POPs. KENYA announced plans to monitor POPs in ecologically sensitive areas and noted that it has formally banned six Annex A POPs. YEMEN emphasized that, with financial help from UNEP, it has reduced DDT use to a minimum. INDIA said it hopes to receive GEF funding for enabling activities. MAURITANIA highlighted its awareness-enhancing efforts.
The INTERNATIONAL POPS ELIMINATION NETWORK encouraged governments to consider involving NGOs in their enabling activities and NIP preparations. The WORLDWIDE FUND FOR NATURE (WWF) said it is encouraged by the number of ratifications and expressions of interest in ratifying the Stockholm Convention. The CZECH REPUBLIC announced that its ratification of the Stockholm Convention should be completed by August 2002, and lauded GEF for its promptness in allotting financial support. CANADA expressed hope that the Stockholm Convention will enter into force by the WSSD in August 2002. ARGENTINA and URUGUAY supported synergies among chemicals-related conventions so as to avoid duplication of efforts. THAILAND highlighted national implementation activities, such as the creation of an inventory of dioxin and furan emissions.
ACTIVITIES OF THE SECRETARIAT AND REVIEW OF THE SITUATION AS REGARDS EXTRABUDGETARY FUNDS
Jim Willis presented the draft programme of work and budget (UNEP/POPS/INC.6/3) and a paper on contributions to the POPs Club (UNEP/POPS/INC.6/INF/25). Regarding the draft programme of work and budget, he described the budgets for 2001 and 2002, as well as the projected budget for 2003-2004. He emphasized that if the funding needed to cover 2002 expenditures and repay money owed to the UNEP Environment Fund does not come in before end-2002, the Secretariat will face a serious financial crisis that will severely restrict its operations.
NEW ZEALAND: with CANADA and the EU, inquired about the budgetary consequences of proposed activities; with AUSTRALIA and JAPAN, requested additional detail regarding activities indicated in the budget; and called for identification of areas where activities will not be undertaken if funding is not available. FINLAND announced its contribution of 20,000 Euros for the current fiscal year. On the POPs club: SWITZERLAND supported its continuation; JAPAN announced that it would be contributing US $100,000; and GERMANY observed that the Club was initially intended to obtain funds from industry as well as governments. The US suggested approving only the 2003 budget rather than a biannual budget.
Jim Willis explained that the budget for the Stockholm Convention is less than that of any other global MEA except for the Rotterdam Convention. He said the Secretariat could, if requested, prepare a more detailed budget for later this week, but emphasized the complexity of the task. ALGERIA, ARGENTINA, CHINA, COLOMBIA, SENEGAL and THE GAMBIA appealed to donor countries and NGOs to contribute to the budget. ZAMBIA emphasized industry contributions to support implementation of the Stockholm Convention. IRAN inquired about GEF financing for the interim Secretariat.
In response, Willis said that the Secretariat is not eligible for GEF funds, and explained the relationship between UNEP Chemicals and the interim Secretariat, regarding financing. He advised against detailed elements of the budget, to allow for fungibility, if necessary, in financial matters. He also cautioned against relying on secondments to address staffing issues, stating that they tend to come from certain groups, which could change the demographics of the staff.
IN THE CORRIDORS
At the end of the first day of INC-6, delegates left the Conference Center with mixed feelings. Many see the "surprisingly easily" reached agreement to expand the Bureau as a promising sign of success, and feel motivated for productive work in potential contact groups on the POPs review committee, DDT and Articles 12-14. However, others expressed alarm after bleak discussions on the lack of POPs Convention financing, and are preparing for a difficult course in resolving future budgetary complications.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: Plenary will meet at 10:00 am in the Plenary Hall to begin discussing Article 7 (Implementation Plans), Article 12 (Technical Assistance), Article 13 (Financial Resources and Mechanisms) and Article 14 (Interim Financial Arrangements).