A discussion on the sidelines of the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention addressed ways that promoting synergies between the biodiversity and chemicals and waste multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) clusters could help deliver the 2030 Agenda.

Speakers at the event, which took place on the first day of the Minamata COP in Geneva, Switzerland, on 25 November 2019, highlighted that the biodiversity and chemicals and waste-related MEAs cut across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and address a number of interlinkages. Given that there are ongoing processes to develop both a post-2020 framework for the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and a post-2020 global biodiversity framework, speakers highlighted that there are opportunities to enhance policy coherence and cooperation for both processes.

Moderator Jacqueline Alvarez, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Chemicals, introduced the event.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP, highlighted that 2020 will bring, among other activities, the delivery of updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement on climate change, key events addressing global policy for biodiversity, chemicals management and oceans, and the IUCN World Conservation Congress. She highlighted the importance of recognizing interlinkages among all of the 2020 activities, and illustrated the possibilities for thinking about synergies in terms of operational and programmatic linkages such as combining customs training related to mercury and international trade in endangered species.

Rossana Silva Repetto, Executive Secretary, Minamata Convention on Mercury, noted that there are cases in which mercury issues negatively interlink with other topics, such as when waste is not properly managed or released into water bodies and the ocean. She suggested that a way forward could include: working at the national level through intersectoral processes, with the 2030 Agenda providing a framework for such coordination; highlighting specific pollutants and adding related targets to the post-2020 biodiversity goals; strengthening national action plans for the Minamata Convention that also support biodiversity plans; and addressing illegal trade in environmentally sensitive commodities. She also said the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) is a platform for collaboration, and suggested stronger MEA participation in UNEA preparations, during UNEA and in implementing relevant UNEA resolutions.  

Martha Rojas Urrego, Executive Secretary, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, emphasized that the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services indicates pollution is one of five drivers of biodiversity loss, which has implications for mercury management. She said areas in which collaboration could take place include plastics, water and water-related ecosystems, and land pollution. She noted that wetlands are filters, citing one area in which biodiversity can contribute to the solution. She suggested adopting common indicators for the biodiversity and chemicals conventions as a way to promote collaboration.

Felix Wertli, Head of Section, Global Affairs, Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland, said shared indicators can help facilitate discussions among government departments and ministries.

Carlos Martin-Novella, Deputy Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, encouraged giving attention to the structure of the interlinkages among the post-2020 Aichi targets and post-2020 chemicals agendas.

The event was organized by the UNEP with the objective of showcasing the interlinkages between clusters and facilitating and interactive dialogue on way forward. Participants were informed that the Chemicals and Waste Branch of UNEP in consultation with Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC), among others, is drafting an Assessment paper that seeks to assess the linkages between chemicals and waste management and other international policy agendas and to identify opportunities for coordination and cooperation. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]