The parties to three global conventions on hazardous chemicals and wastes convened online to make time-sensitive decisions to enable the conventions’ secretariats and committees to continue to operate until a face-to-face meeting is possible. Remaining items will be discussed at resumed sessions in June 2022, which are expected to convene in person.

The 2021 meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions met from 26-30 June 2021. Key outcomes from the meetings included:

  • adopting the 2022 interim budgets;
  • electing members of the Stockholm Convention’s Effectiveness Evaluation Committee, which will conduct an effectiveness evaluation of the Convention;
  • extending the terms of office for members of the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Review Committee (POPRC);
  • electing the inaugural members of the Rotterdam Convention’s Compliance Committee, which was recently established to support countries in implementing their obligations under the Convention; 
  • extending the terms of office for members of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC), scientific experts who support the COP in determining which substances should be subject to the convention’s prior informed consent procedure; and 
  • agreement to forward two reports to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to inform its eighth replenishment.

The GEF serves as the financial mechanism for the Stockholm Convention. According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, this discussion was particularly important for many developing countries who have had long-standing frustrations with the difficulty of accessing GEF funding to support the implementation of their obligations under the Convention.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin notes that in addition to the key policy achievements resulting from this meeting, two central challenges endure: financial support for the sustainable management of chemicals and waste, and the meaning—and operationalization—of universal access and participation.

ENB notes growing awareness of certain threats to human health and the environment posed by chemical pollution and hazardous wastes, such as plastic pollution and personal protective equipment waste. Public recognition is also increasing, ENB suggests, of the links among pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change. This may present “an opportunity for momentum in setting public policy that addresses the complexity and systemic nature of these interconnected problems.”

A two-week face-to-face meeting for the three COPs is tentatively scheduled for June 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of 2021 BRS COPs]

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