From April 29 to May 10, the Romanian delegation participated in the meetings of the fourteenth Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, of the ninth Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and of the ninth Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
The three conferences were attended by the State Parties, by countries that wish to accede to the Conventions, international organisations such as UNEP, UNIDO and international NGOs.
In the context of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, Romania ensured the coordination of the joint position of the 28 Member States. The Romanian delegation, headed by Róbert Szép, Deputy Chief Commissioner within the National Environmental Guard, was made up of experts working in the institutions mandated to enforce the Conventions and in Romania’s Permanent Mission to Geneva.
The main theme of the meetings was “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”. The meetings included joint sessions covering matters of relevance to at least two conventions and separate sessions of the meetings of each of the three COPs.
The Basel Convention governs the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. The item on the COP14 Basel agenda that raised the highest interest was marine pollution with plastics litter and microplastics. Over 80 delegations took the floor in the plenary session dealing with that topic in order to highlight the importance of the issue. To address it, the participants to COP14 set the goal of identifying and adopting solutions agreed by the 187 State Parties to the Convention on the environmentally sound management of plastic waste and on stronger control of transboundary movements thereof.
In connection to the management and control of the plastic waste, Romania expressed the view that it was necessary to consider the Circular Economy principles in order to encourage waste recycling and thus save natural resources.
COP14 Basel adopted technical guidelines on: the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, the management of wastes containing or contaminated with persistent organic pollutants and mercury, and the management of household waste, as well as measures to improve the implementation of the Basel Convention.
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is an international treaty mainly aimed at protecting human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically and accumulate in the food chain.
The Stockholm Convention was ratified by Romania, a Party to the Convention, through Law 261 of 2004 for the ratification of the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants adopted in Stockholm on May 22, 2001.
The ninth Conference of the Stockholm Convention took place from April 29 to May 2.
The COP approved the decisions to include DICOFOL and PFOA in Annex A and the decision to include PFOS in Annex B, with specific exemptions for use or production. The developing countries requested technical and financial assistance in order to build their capacity for the ecologically sound management of the above-mentioned chemicals as well as for the identification and use of the alternatives. The Secretariat of the Convention also reported on the Convention’s implementation state.
The decisions were discussed and adopted in the Plenary session, following the discussions carried out in the contact groups (Group on listing chemicals; Group on the compliance mechanism; Group on technical assistance/financial resources).
According to the working agenda of the 2019 Conference of the Parties (COP9), the debates around the themes of the Rotterdam Convention took place towards the end of the period, on May 7-9, 2019.
After 15 years of attempts at reaching consensus across the Parties, a historical decision was made on May 8, 2019 (the ninth day of the COP9 debates), with the first COP vote in the 20-year long history of the Rotterdam Convention, whereby the Parties adopted the new Annex VII on the compliance mechanism and procedure.
It was also decided to list hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) and phorate in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention. These chemicals will not be banned but subjected to a prior informed consent procedure, which enables countries to be aware of the import levels of these chemicals on their territories and at the same time allows them to implement adequate risk management measures in order to ultimately ensure the sustainable use of these chemicals.
With regard to the listing of chemicals, the Rotterdam Convention has marked remarkable progress since its ratification on September 10, 1998, with so far 161 signatory countries, which increases the protection of human health and the environment.
The Decisions on the common aspects pertaining to the three Conventions were subjected to adoption on May 10, 2019, the last day of the meetings.