Letter from the Executive Board
The Executive Board of UNEP in this edition of ---- 2022 welcomes each one of you.
For many it may be the first ever MUN conference in your educational experience, and we strongly encourage you to go through the study guide that has been prepared for you as a part of the conference in order to get an in depth understanding of the issue that will be discussed in the committee.
However, there is lot of content available beyond the study guides too. You are expected to research, collate, list down possible points of discussions, questions and plausible responses and be prepared to enjoy the intellectual energy in the group. At the same time, it is not only about speaking and presenting, but very importantly it is also about the ability to listen, understand view points and learn from each one’s perspectives.
The following pages intend to guide you with the nuances of the agenda as well as the Committee. The Guide chronologically touches upon all the different aspects that are relevant and will lead to fruitful debate in the Committee. It will provide you with a bird’s eye view of the gist of the issue. However, it has to be noted that the background guide only contains certain basic information which may form the basis for the debate and your research.
You are the representative of your allotted country and it is our hope that you put in wholehearted efforts to research and comprehensively grasp all important facets of the diverse agenda. All the delegates should be prepared well in order to make the committee’s direction and debate productive. After all, only then will you truly be able to represent your country in the best possible way.
We encourage you to go beyond this background guide and delve into the extremities of the agenda to further enhance your knowledge of a burning global issue.
Goodluck and Godspeed
Discussion on the effective management of chemical waste.
1. About the committee
Since its inception in 1972, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been the global authority that sets the environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.
UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
UNEP works on delivering transformational change for people and nature by drilling down on the root causes of the three planetary crises of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. UNEP employs seven interlinked subprogrammes for action: Climate Action, Chemicals and Pollutions Action, Nature Action, Science Policy, Environmental Governance, Finance and Economic Transformations and Digital Transformations.
Through its campaigns, particularly World Environment Day, UNEP raises awareness and advocates for effective environmental action.
(i) Mandate of the UNEP
According to its mandate UNEP is to be the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda. The organisation is to promote the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serve as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. The directions of its operations include:
– analysing the state of the global environment and global and regional trends, providing policy advice and early warning information on environmental threats and catalysing and promoting international cooperation;
– furthering the development of international environmental law aiming at sustainable development;
– strengthening the coordination of environmental activities in the United Nations system, as well as its role as an implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility (GEF);
– providing policy and advisory services in key areas of institution-building to governments and other relevant institutions. Under UNEP’s Medium-term Strategy for 2010– 2013, which has already begun to be implemented
UNEP is to focus in the next few years on the following thematic priorities: climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, harmful substances and hazardous waste, and resource efficiency – sustainable consumption and production.
(ii) Introduction to the agenda
Chemicals are inextricably linked to our lives, as they are used or produced in almost every industry and sector of society, including health, energy, transport, agriculture, construction, textiles and consumer products. While they contribute significantly to the well-being of society, however, they also pose a threat to human health, the environment and sustainable development if they are not managed in a sound manner. In view of the diversity and potential consequences of their adverse impacts, combined with the limited capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to manage those impacts, the sound management of chemicals and wastes is a key cross-cutting issue.
The global community attaches great importance to the sound management of chemicals and wastes for the protection of human health and the environment. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, Governments agreed to the goal of ensuring that, by 2020, chemicals were used and produced in ways that led to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.
The 2020 goal was further recognized in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, entitled “The future we want”, and reaffirmed by the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, when the 2006 Dubai Declaration on International Chemicals Management, which established the Strategic Approach, recognized the sound management of chemicals to be crucial to achieving sustainable development.
(iii) Important conventions on chemical wate management
• Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
• Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention)
• Convention on the Ban on the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa (Bamako Convention)
• Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention)
• Convention on the Prevention of Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention)
• Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Countries of Hazardous Waste and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the Pacific Region (Waigani Convention)
• International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-Operation (OPRC Convention)
• Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
• Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
• Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
(iv) Case study
In Africa, the safe and sound management of chemicals and hazardous waste is a major challenge that has persisted for many years. That is largely because countries lack the technical capacity to develop national environmental governance frameworks that respond effectively to the environmental threats caused by chemicals and waste.
To achieve a safe chemical and waste future for Africa, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) supported the organization of the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Bamako Convention, which focused on the management of hazardous waste in Africa. The conference took place from 12 to 14 February 2020 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The meeting further advanced the objective of minimizing the impact of harmful substances and hazardous waste on the environment and human health.
UNEP’s capacity building programme for multilateral environmental agreements in African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries, known as the ACP MEAs programme, works with the Bamako Convention to improve national legislation related to chemicals and waste while promoting knowledge sharing. Through the support of the programme, during its COP3 meeting, the convention brought together over 150 participants, including national ministers, diplomats, experts, business people and civil society representatives, to discuss the ratification of the Bamako Convention. The gathering culminated in the adoption of nine decisions, including:
• Decision CB.3/1: Proposed new list of hazardous substances to be considered hazardous wastes under article 2 of the Bamako Convention;
• Decision CB.3/5: Status of ratification, accession to and implementation of the Bamako Convention;
• Decision CB.3/7: Ratification and incorporation into national law of mutually beneficial waste trade instruments of the Bamako and Basel Conventions;
• Decision CB.3/8: Action to prevent plastic waste pollution and its trade, in and surrounding the continent of Africa;
• Decision CB.3/9: Prevention of electronic hazardous waste and the import and dumping of end-of-life waste electrical and electronic equipment in Africa.
These decisions are critical for Africa’s future as they reaffirm the parties’ commitment to implementing the Bamako Convention and banning the importation of hazardous chemicals and wastes into Africa while promoting the sound management of locally produced chemicals and waste.
(v) Questions a resolution must answer (QARMA)
• Addressing the challenges in identifying chemicals
• Improving the quality of material safety data sheets (MSDS)
• Revisiting the penalties for improper dumping and disposal of chemical waste
• Possibility of new technologies for safe disposal
• Addressing the financial hurdles to efficient disposal of waste
Introduction to Chairperson
Keerthana is currently in her fourth year pursuing law in VIT chennai. She has expressed her keen interest towards MUNs since her school days. As an avid speaker she has been a part of many debates conducted around the city such as The bait and Battleon to name a few.
An ardent fan of the science fiction genre she identifies dan brown as her favourite author. As an advocate for change, she realises that debates and MUNs provide a platform to voice out strong opinions. She has been a part of over 50 muns in the capacity of a delegate, Executive board member and an OC member.