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UN chemical body set to review three new chemicals for global action
Stockholm Convention POPs Review Committee will also consider risk management options for flame retardant HBCD.

UN chemical body set to review three new chemicals for global action

UN chemical body set to review three new chemicals for global action

Geneva (Switzerland), 7 October 2011 – The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee, a scientific body to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, will meet next week to review three new chemicals proposed for listing under the global chemicals treaty. The Committee will have before it new proposals for listing chlorinated naphthalenes, hexachlorobutadiene, and pentachlorophenol, its salts and esters in Annexes A, B and/or C to the Stockholm Convention.  

Chlorinated naphthalenes (CNs) were used for decades for wood preservation, as additive to paints and engine oils, and for cable insulation and in capacitors. Until the 1970s CNs were high volume chemicals. Hexachlorobutadiene was a widely used fumigant used to control pests. Pentachlorophenol (PCP) is an organochlorine compound used as a pesticide and a disinfectant. All three chemicals were proposed by the European Union for consideration for listing under the Convention.

The committee will also evaluate possible control measures for the chemical hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), the last step on the road to considering whether to phase the chemical off the global marketplace.  HBCD is a flame retardant used mainly in polystyrene. It is also used in textile coatings and in high impact polystyrene for electrical and electronic equipment.  HBCD was proposed by Norway for listing under the Convention.

The committee will consider information requirements for the risk profile of short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCP). SCCP are a group of industrial chemicals used in metalworking, and the formulation and manufacturing of products such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics and metalworking fluids. They are of concern because they are persistent, have been found in remote areas such as the Arctic, and could accumulate to levels that are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms.

The seventh meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC7) will be held from 10 to 14 October 2011 at the Conference Centre Varembé in Geneva (Website: www.cicg.ch; Address: 9-11 Rue de Varembé, Geneva).

A provisional agenda of the meeting is set out in document UNEP/POPS/POPRC.7/1.

Note to Editors

The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) is composed of 31 members appointed by the Conference of the Parties– who are all highly placed scientists representing their regions around the globe. The meetings of the committee are also open to observers from the NGO community, industry, research organizations and governments. Its mandate is to review proposals to add new chemicals to the Stockholm Convention.

A chemical can be listed in the Stockholm Convention as a persistent organic pollutant when it shows that it persists in the environment, bioaccumulates in organisms (increases in concentration up the food chain), travels through the environment over long distances from the region of its release to other regions of the globe, and is toxic to the environment and human health.

Currently, there are twenty-two chemicals listed in the convention including DDT, lindane, PCBs and dioxins and furans and some brominated flame retardants. The objective of the convention, which has 175 Parties as of 19 September 2011, is to restrict and eliminate these chemicals from production and use in order to protect human health and the environment.

Since the beginning of its operations, the POPRC has recommended ten chemicals for listing and all ten were accepted by the Conference of the Parties of the Convention. Amendments incorporating the first nine of these chemicals into the annexes of the Convention entered into force on 26 August 2010. The tenth amendment, which will add endosulfan to Annex A, is pending entry into force in accordance with the procedure provided in Article 22 of the Convention.

Further information is available at www.pops.int and http://chm.pops.int/tabid/221/Default.aspx or by emailing ssc@pops.int.

Contact

Kei Ohno, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention, Geneva, +41 (22) 917 8201, e-mail: kohno@pops.int

Michael Stanley-Jones, Press Focal Point/Public Information Officer, Joint Services of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, UNEP Geneva, + 41-22-917-8668; (m) + 41-79-730-4495, e-mail: msjones@pic.int or SafePlanet@unep.org

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Launch of InforMEA – the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)
Geneva, 14 June 2011 - The Multilateral Environmental Agreements Information and Knowledge Management Initiative (MEA IKM), launched today develops harmonized MEA information systems to assist Parties and the environment community at large access information from multiple agreements from one location. Supported by UNEP the initiative currently includes 17 MEAs from 12 Secretariats hosted by three UN organizations and IUCN.

Launch of InforMEA – the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

Launch of InforMEA – the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

Geneva, 14 June 2011 - The Multilateral Environmental Agreements Information and Knowledge Management Initiative (MEA IKM), launched today develops harmonized MEA information systems to assist Parties and the environment community at large access information from multiple agreements from one location. Supported by UNEP the initiative currently includes 17 MEAs from 12 Secretariats hosted by three UN organizations and IUCN. It is open to observers involved in MEA information and data management.

The first project– InforMEA, the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements – was launched on 14 June at the occasion of the initiative’s 2nd Steering Committee Meeting, attended by Ms. Maria Louisa Silva, Executive Secretary of the Barcelona Convention, Mr. John Scanlon, Secretary General of Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and Mr. Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

“With the launch of InforMEA the global environmental community has taken a major stride forward in making access to information more transparent and easier to apply in solving the complex challenges we face in the Information Age”, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 

The InforMEA Portal presents Conference of the Parties decisions and resolutions, news, calendars, events, country specific MEA Membership, national focal points, as well as in the near future national reports and implementation plans organized against a set of 200 hierarchical terms taken from MEA Conference of the Parties (COP) Agendas.

In contrast to similar endeavors this project harvests and displays information directly from MEA Secretariats websites and data bases, who remain the custodians of their data. This allows for accurate and timely data availability in a cost effective manner. MEA secretariats individually implement the technical solution identified.

Harmonization of information standards and formats will facilitate the development of many other knowledge tools among conventions. For example, the Convention on Migratory Species and CITES could display the species listed on their respective appendices or the Stockholm Convention may feature decisions related to endangered migratory species threatened by POPs. Once such an application is developed, the tool is maintained at minimal cost.

www.informea.org - Making key MEA information “speak to one another”

For further information please contact: Marcos Silva (CITES) and marcos.silva@cites.org, and Eva Duer (UNEP) eva.duer@unep.org, (respective MEA representative)

 

COP5: Endosulfan included under the Stockholm Convention
Representatives from 127 Governments meeting in Geneva last week at the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties agreed to add endosulfan to the list of POPs to be eliminated worldwide.

COP5: Endosulfan included under the Stockholm Convention

COP5: Endosulfan included under the Stockholm Convention

Geneva, Switzerland, 3 May 2011 - Representatives from 127 Governments meeting in Geneva last week agreed to add endosulfan to the United Nations’ list of persistent organic pollutants to be eliminated worldwide. The action puts the widely-used pesticide on course for elimination from the global market by 2012.

The decision was among more than 30 measures taken by Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to boost global action against POPs.

The Parties agreed to list endosulfan in Annex A to the Convention, with specific exemptions. When the amendment to the Annex A enters into force in one year, endosulfan will become the 22nd POP to be listed under the Convention.

A Party may extend the phase out period of the pesticide by five years but only for a small number of uses.

"The conference recognized that financial and technical support is required to facilitate the replacement of the use of endosulfan in developing countries and countries with economies in transition," said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"In establishing a consultative process on finance for the chemicals and waste conventions, UNEP has responded to the need of those countries by seeking to make the sound management of hazardous chemicals a development priority of the green economy in which all countries can fully and fairly participate," he added.

"New POPs present new challenges, as we are usually dealing with chemicals that are still widely used commercially," said Jim Willis, the newly appointed Executive Secretary of the Basel, Stockholm, and UNEP-part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariats. "Parties have demonstrated that they can find creative solutions to speed the elimination of POPs and protect environment and human health from these dangerous chemicals."

The conference evaluated the continued need for DDT for disease vector control to combat mosquitoes carrying the deadly malaria parasite. On the basis of available scientific, technical, environmental and economic information, it saw a continued need to use DDT while effective alternatives were being sought and implemented by an increasing number of countries.

"Despite all efforts, malaria remains one of the world’s tragedies with almost a million fatalities every year. All means are needed to combat this vector," said Victoria Mupwaya, director of the Environmental Council of Zambia.

The first assembly of the Global Alliance for alternatives to DDT, held on the 26 April 2011, concurred with the WHO findings. Although there is no deadline for the elimination of DDT, the goal of the Alliance is to reduce reliance on DDT for disease vector control by strengthening countries capacities to deploy safer alternatives.

The conference requested UNEP to take over administration of the Global Alliance, in collaboration with the World Health Organization. UNEP was also requested to take over the PCB Elimination Network.

Monique Barbut, chief executive officer of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), speaking at the "Finance Forum for Sustainable Solutions" on the opening day of the conference, announced the GEF would provide USD 250,000 in support to countries to update their national implementation plans in response to the adoption of new POPs to the Convention. In total, the GEF had in recent years funded more than USD 1 billion to address implementation of hazardous chemicals and waste cluster agreements.

Seven new Stockholm Convention regional centres were endorsed by the conference: in Algeria, Kenya, India, Iran, Senegal, South Africa and the Russian Federation. The Russian region centre is conditional on the Russian Federation’s ratification of the Convention.

Karel Blaha (Czech Republic) was elected president of the conference on the opening day. Osvaldo Alvarez (Chile) was elected to serve as president of the 6th meeting of the conference, to be held in May 2013.

Over 700 participants took part in the conference, which was held from 25 to 29 May 2011. Under the theme, Stockholm at 10: Chemical Challenges, Sustainable Solutions, the conference marked the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention in 2001.

Contacts

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, tel: +254 20 7623084 or email: nick.nuttall@unep.org

David Ogden, Coordinator, Stockholm Convention secretariat, tel: +41 22 917 8161 or email: dogden@pops.int

Michael Stanley-Jones, Public Information Officer, mobile/text message: +41 (0)79 730 4495 or email: msjones@pops.int

 

Climate change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts
A systematic and authoritative global review of the impacts of climate change on the dynamics and toxicity of POPs has been released jointly by the Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) at the UNEP Governing Council, in February 2011. The report of the UNEP/AMAP expert group, ‘’Climate change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts’’, provides a comprehensive view of the complex inter-linkages between climate and POPs.

Climate change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts

Climate change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts

Nairobi, 21 February 2011 - Climate change increases the planet’s vulnerability to highly toxic chemicals, according to a global study released jointly by the Stockholm Secretariat and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) at the UNEP Governing Council today. 

The first systematic and authoritative review of the impact of climate change on the release of POPs into the environment, their long range transport and environmental fate, and human and environmental exposure found that climate change threatens to undermine the Stockholm Convention’s effort to reduce exposures to POPs. 

Donald Cooper, the Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention says "Robust information on processes leading to increased levels of POPs in the environment, higher exposure of ecosystems and human populations, and increased toxicity of chemicals is essential to allow appropriate policy responses through the Stockholm Convention and regional and national strategies to address the complex challenge posed by POPs and global environmental change."  

Increased POPs emissions triggered by global warming increases the availability of POPs to enter the food chain, threatening the health of humans and animals. 

Higher temperatures can make wildlife more sensitive to exposure of certain pollutants. In the Arctic region, climate change can alter the exposure levels of marine mammals, such as seals or the polar bears, through a variety of means including changes in long-range atmospheric and oceanographic transport along with the melting of the ice caps. 

The study suggests that the expected increase in the incidence of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, associated with climate change may increase demand for and release of DDT in some regions. 

The study, “Climate Change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts”, was conducted by climate and chemical experts from 12 countries. The study was jointly published by the Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention and Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). The full study will be presented to the 5th meeting of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention in April 2011. The objective of the Stockholm Convention is to protect human health and the environment from POPs.

 

 

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