New Delhi, May 17
The joint meetings of three conventions on chemicals and waste that is the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (COP 14) was held along with the ninth meeting of the COP to Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and the ninth meeting of the COP to Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The theme of the meetings this year was “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”.
An Indian delegation of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and comprising other ministries such as Agriculture, Chemicals, and Electronics and Information Technology participated in the meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 29 April to 10 May 2019.
In Basel Convention, two important issues were discussed and decided, i.e. technical guidelines on e-waste and inclusion of plastic waste in the PIC procedure. The draft technical guidelines stipulated the conditions when used electrical and electronic equipment destined for direct reuse, repair, refurbishment or failure analysis should be considered as non-waste. India had major reservations regarding these provisions as in the name of re-use, repair, refurbishment and failure analysis there was a possibility of dumping from the developed world to the developing countries including India in view of the growing consumption of electronic equipment and waste across the world. The Indian delegation strongly objected the proposed decision on these guidelines during plenary and did not allow it to be passed by the conference of the parties (COP).
Many rounds of multilateral and bilateral negotiations happened under the aegis of the Convention Secretariat in order to address India’s concerns which were supported by a large number of other developing countries. On the final day of the COP, a modified decision was adopted in which all the concerns raised by India were incorporated.
These were: dumping of e-waste in developing countries; recognition that the interim guideline has issues and further work is required specially on the provision on distinguishing waste from non-waste; the guidelines were adopted on an interim basis only; the tenure of the expert working group was extended to address the concerns raised by India; and the usage of interim guidelines to be done only on a pilot basis.
Due to the strong intervention by the Indian delegation, it was possible to defend the country’s interest against the potential dumping of e-waste by developed countries and thereby opened a window for further negotiations and corrections in the interim technical guidelines on e-waste.
Under the Basel Convention, another major achievement of COP 14 was the decision to amend the convention to include unsorted, mixed and contaminated plastic waste under PIC (Prior Informed Consent) procedure and improve the regulation of its transboundary movement. This is a significant step taken towards addressing plastic pollution which has become a major environmental concern across the globe.
Further, Basel Convention has also adopted partnership on plastic which was welcomed by the Indian delegation. These steps will help prevent the illegal dumping of plastic wastes in developing countries. India has already imposed a complete prohibition of import of solid plastic waste into the country. India has also made an international commitment to phase-out single-use plastic. India fully supported this exercise and one of the members of the Indian delegation was co-chair in the contact group which negotiated this agreement for amendment in the annexes of Basel Convention to bring plastic waste under PIC procedure.
Under the Stockholm Convention the COP decided to list “Dicofol” in Annex A without any exemption. The “PFOA” was also listed with some exemptions in the Annex A of the Stockholm Convention. Under the Rotterdam Convention, two new chemicals (Phorate and HBCD) were added in the list for mandatory PIC procedure in international trade.