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Parties to the Basel Convention on the shipment and disposal of hazardous wastes meet in Nairobi

Publication date 27.11.2006 7.45
Press release -

The eighth Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (COP8) is being held in Nairobi this week (27.11-1.12.2006). Important issues on the agenda include illegal waste shipments, the dismantling of ships, electronic wastes, the current financial state and future sustainable financing of the convention, and co-operation with two other global conventions: the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and the Rotterdam Convention on the international trade in hazardous chemicals.

During the final days of the meeting (30.11-1.12) high-level delegates are expected to approve a strategy covering electronic wastes. The Finnish EU Presidency will be represented by Secretary of State Stefan Wallin, and Finland's official delegation will be chaired by Counsellor Jukka Uosukainen from the Ministry of the Environment.

The most challenging political issue facing the meeting concerns the dismantling and recycling of ships. Agreement is being sought for a decision that would help to ensure that a related international agreement currently being drafted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is compatible with the objectives of the Basel Convention. The aim is to encourage improvements in ship recycling practices already before the IMO agreement is expected to come into force in 2015.
Tragic reminder of potential risks

The implications of this summer's disaster in the Ivory Coast caused by the dumping of hazardous wastes from the ship Probo Koala will also be examined. This tragic event has given added impetus to efforts to prevent the irresponsible exporting of hazardous wastes to developing countries, and to provide more support for improvements in waste management facilities in such countries.

The meeting will also consider raising the fees charged for membership of the Basel Convention. In spite of planned savings, contributions will have to be raised to ensure that the Convention?s activities are not weakened. Agreement must be reached on the identification of new funding sources required to build up regional activities.

Cooperation with the Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions will be enhanced, with representatives of the Basel Convention participating in a joint working group set up for this purpose.

The high-level meeting is expected to issue a declaration or an action plan on electronic wastes, particularly aiming to improve the collection of electronic wastes in developing countries and prevent illegal shipments of electronic wastes to developing countries. Finnish Secretary of State Stefan Wallin will present the EU's position on these issues at the meeting.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which came into force in 1992 and has so far been ratified by 168 countries, is the most extensive and important international agreement on waste issues. Its controls over waste shipments aim to minimise the generation and international movements of hazardous wastes. The convention also aims to help developing countries improve their waste management practices and facilities.

For more information: Jukka Uosukainen, Counsellor, Ministry of the Environment, Tel. +358 50 582 9685. Tuomas Aarnio, Legal Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, Tel. +358 50 363 4413