This week marks the start of the Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COP) to the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS). The event takes place in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 1 to 12, 2023, with various stakeholders convening to discuss the multilateral environmental treaties to uphold the key objectives of safeguarding human health and the environment against hazardous chemicals and wastes.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal aims to protect people and the environment from the negative effects of the improper management of hazardous wastes worldwide. The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for certain hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides, on the other hand, allows countries to decide on the importation of hazardous chemicals and pesticides based on the Convention. Finally, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) aims to restrict and ultimately eliminate the production, use, trade, release, and storage of highly dangerous and long-lasting chemicals.
In time for the COPs, BAN Toxics continues to call for the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment in the country. In 1989, the Philippines became a signatory to the Basel Convention. However, the country has not yet ratified the amendment which prohibits member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union (EU), and Liechtenstein from exporting hazardous wastes to developing countries, whether for recycling or not.
The exportation of hazardous wastes is an especially important issue in the Philippines. In 2014, 103 shipping container vans containing more than 2,400 tons of waste materials were illegally shipped from Canada to the Philippines, making it the most well-known case of foreign waste dumping in the country. Since then, similar waste shipments from South Korea, Hong Kong, and Australia have also been discovered.
“BAN Toxics calls on the Philippine administration to fast-track the ratification of the Ban Amendment to protect our shores from hazardous wastes. We envision a country that is proactively protecting its citizens and its environment from the improper management of these wastes. More than this, we call on Parties to promote the transparency of the chemical composition of materials, to ensure that countries and the public are equipped with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions on product and chemicals management,” says Jam Lorenzo from the Policy Development and Research Unit of BAN Toxics.
“The BRS process is especially relevant to developing countries such as the Philippines, and we call on our delegates to actively participate in the process to ensure that the interest of those affected by chemicals and wastes issues are protected.” BAN Toxics added.
Since its inception, BAN Toxics has been an active participant in the BRS process. In 2015, founder Atty. Richard Gutierrez delivered a speech at the BRS COPs about the illegal toxic waste shipments from Canada. The organization also published a report titled “Demystifying the Impacts of a Basel Ban Amendment Ratification in the Philippines” in 2016. More recently in 2021, BAN Toxics released the document titled “Mainstreaming Children’s Rights in Environmental Law,” highlighting the various impacts of chemicals and wastes on children.