29 April 2019: The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is addressing environmentally sound management (ESM) of wastes through the development of technical guidelines on waste from electronics, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), lead acid batteries and mercury, as well as certain hazardous waste treatment methods.

COP 14 is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 29 April to 10 May 2019. It is held jointly and back-to-back with Rotterdam Convention COP 9 and Stockholm Convention on COP 9. The “Triple COPs” convene under the theme, ‘Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste.’ The COPs include joint sessions covering matters of relevance to at least two Conventions as well as separate sessions under each of the three COPs.

COP 14 is taking up various matters related to implementation of the Convention, including the strategic framework, entry into force of the Ban Amendment, and the Cartagena Declaration on the Prevention, Minimization and Recovery of Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes.

Parties are also discussing, inter alia, classification and hazard characterization of wastes, national reporting, electronic approaches to the notification and movement documents, marine plastic litter and microplastics, waste containing nanomaterials, and legal, compliance and governance matters. Mainstreaming gender and synergies in preventing and combating illegal traffic and trade in hazardous chemicals and waste are also among the issues under discussion by the COP.

Based on the 11th meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG11) of the Basel Convention, held from 3-6 September 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland, the main outcomes for consideration by COP 14 include: a proposal to set up a new partnership on plastic wastes; possible amendments to the Convention’s annexes in relation to solid plastic wastes; further development of technical guidelines on e-waste; incineration on land and specially engineered landfills; additions to the Convention’s Toolkit on Environmentally Sound Management of Wastes; consultations on four draft guidance documents; and enhanced cooperation with the World Customs Organization (WCO).

According to David Ogden, Chief of the Governance Branch, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions Secretariat, “work continues on tools for the ESM Toolkit including guidance on recycling and recovery and on how to address ESM in the informal sector.” Efforts to provide further legal clarity, Ogden notes in a BRS blog, include ongoing review of the annexes to the Convention “with a view to making proposals for amendment to better address today’s reality,” which includes emerging issues such as waste containing nanomaterials.

The Basel Convention was adopted in 1989, and entered into force on 5 May 1992. It was created to address concerns over the management, disposal and transboundary movement of the estimated 400 million tonnes of hazardous wastes that are produced worldwide each year. The guiding principles of the Convention are that transboundary movements of hazardous wastes should be: reduced to a minimum; managed in an environmentally sound manner; treated and disposed of as close as possible to their source of generation; and minimized at the source. There are currently 187 Parties and 53 signatories to the Convention. [Basel Convention Website] [COP 14 Documents] [BRS Blog] [BRS Press Release] [GEF News Article] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on 2017 COPs] [IISD RS Coverage of 2019 Triple COPs] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Stockholm Convention COP 9] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Rotterdam Convention COP 9]