Persistent Organic Pollutants

Overview

The overall goal of UNITAR's Persistent Organic Pollutants activities is to provide support to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. The POPs Programme Area, which is located within and draws upon methodologies developed through UNITAR's Chemicals and Waste Management Programme, aims to assist countries to strengthen the fundamentals of chemicals management in a number of areas; to provide technical assistance in specialised areas of POPs management; and to encourage integrated approaches involving all relevant ministries and stakeholders.

UNITAR delivers POPs-related assistance to countries in close cooperation with IOMC Participating Organisations, UNDP and countries, with technical expertise and financial resources dedicated to addressing challenges posed by POPs. UNITAR also executes projects (in whole or in part) on behalf of GEF implementing agencies; and co-executes enabling activities at the national level in direct partnership with governments. The POPs Programme Area could be viewed in terms of "planning" and "implementation" activities.

Planning Activities

UNITAR provides a variety of services in support of planning for Stockholm Convention implementation, such as skills building for action plan development; assistance to countries in developing National Implementation Plans; support for National Profile development/updating; and building capacity within countries to undertake a systematic process for risk management decision making for priority chemicals.

Implementation Activities

UNITAR also supports a wide range of Stockholm Convention implementation projects, including PCB elimination, legislative development and infrastructure building, and other institutional strengthening efforts (such as the design and implementation of Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals as part of Stockholm Convention implementation).

More About the POPs-related Activities

To view various POPs-related guidance material, please click here.

UNITAR recognises and appreciates the financial contributions of the Global Environment Facility, Government of Switzerland, UNDP, UNEP, and UNIDO to UNITAR's Persistent Organic Pollutants activities.

What are POPs?

POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs circulate globally and can cause damage wherever they travel. In implementing the Stockholm Convention, governments will take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. (1)

UNITAR at the International Level

UNITAR is very active in policy-level coordination and deliberations related to POPs, including participation in the IOMC Coordinating Group on Persistent Organic Pollutants; and representation at previous meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Stockholm Convention and Stockholm Convention Conferences of the Parties. In addition, UNITAR is a partner in the African Stockpiles Programme.

Development of the Guidelines for updating of National Implementation Plans (NIPs) under the Stockholm Convention taking into account the new POPs added to the Convention

At its fourth meeting, the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention agreed to amend the Stockholm Convention to list nine new POPs in Annex A, B, and C of the Convention. One of the immediate actions that Parties need to take is to review and update their National Implementation Plans (NIPs) in light of inclusion of these nine new POPs in accordance with paragraph 1 (c) of Article 7 of the Convention.  The updated NIPs should be transmitted to the COP within two years of the date of the entry into force of the amendments which is August 2012 for the nine new POPs.

In coordination with UNIDO and the Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention, UNITAR executed key components of the GEF MSP Development of the Guidelines for updating of National Implementation Plans (NIPs) under the Stockholm Convention taking into account the new POPs added to the Convention. The guidance developed or updated under this project is available on the Stockholm Convention Secretariat's website. For more information, please click here

PRTR Design and Implementation under the Stockholm Convention

UNITAR in close collaboration with UNEP has launched a GEF-supported Global PRTR Project on POPs monitoring, reporting and information dissemination using PRTRs. The project will have duration of two years (2009–2010). Stakeholder involvement will be a critical project component.

This global pilot project will demonstrate the value of using PRTRs as a monitoring and reporting system for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) at the country level in three countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region (Chile, Ecuador, and Peru), two countries in the Central and Eastern Europe region (Kazakhstan and Ukraine), and two countries in Asia (Cambodia and Thailand), providing a tool to address international requirements of Parties to the Stockholm Convention on POPs. The project will also include collaboration with the USEPA on the design of a regional PRTR in Central America, involving five countries: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Draft guidance on calculation of action plan costs, including incremental costs and action plans for specific persistent organic pollutants for COP4

In response to the requests below, the Secretariat, in collaboration with UNITAR, developed draft additional guidance on the calculation of action plan costs, including incremental costs, and action plans for specific persistent organic pollutants (UNEP/POPS/COP.4/INF/11).

By paragraph 5 of its decision SC-1/12, the Conference of the Parties requested the Secretariat, in collaboration with other relevant organizations and subject to resource availability, to develop additional guidance on calculation of action plan costs, including incremental and total costs and action plans for specific persistent organic pollutants, to assist countries in the preparation of national implementation plans and in doing so to take into consideration the particular circumstances of developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

By decision SC-3/8, the Conference of the Parties requested the Secretariat to complete the draft of the additional guidance called for in paragraph 5 of decision SC-1/12 for consideration by the Conference of the Parties at its fourth meeting, provided that the resources needed to do so were made available.

An interactive version of Annex 2 of the document, "Decision Trees to assist with the Implementation of the Stockholm Convention", can be downloaded at: http://www2.unitar.org/cwm/publications/pops.aspx

UNITAR Reporting to the INCs and COPs of the Stockholm Convention

UNITAR has reported on its Stockholm Convention-related activities in detail to COP-1 as well as the sixth and seventh sessions of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

  • "Information for the First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention (Punta del Este, Uruguay, 2-6 May 2005) - Relevant Activities of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)" Download: En, Fr
  • "Information for the Sixth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an International Legally Binding Instrument for Implementing International Action on Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants - Relevant UNITAR Activities (June 2002)" Download
  • To view "Information for the Seventh Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for an International Legally Binding Instrument for Implementing International Action on Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants - Progress since INC6 Regarding Relevant UNITAR Activities (July 2003)"
    Download: En, Fr

Africa Stockpiles Programme

Virtually every African country has stockpiles of obsolete pesticides and associated wastes that have accumulated over periods as long as 40 years. At least 50,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides, as well as tens of thousands of tonnes of contaminated soil, have accumulated in African countries. These pesticides pose serious threats to the health of both rural and urban populations, especially the poorest of the poor, and contribute to land and water degradation. The stockpiles consist of toxic pesticides and associated contaminated materials. Many of these chemicals and their containers are in poor condition and threaten local and regional environments through the contamination of soil, water, food and air.

The Africa Stockpiles Programme (ASP) aims to clear all obsolete pesticide stocks from Africa and put in place measures to prevent their recurrence. The concept of a continent-wide stockpiles project grew out of informal discussions between NGOs and several inter-governmental organisations. ASP's objective is to:

  • clean up stockpiled pesticides and pesticide-contaminated waste (e.g., containers and equipment) in Africa in an environmentally sound manner;
  • catalyse development of prevention measures; and
  • provide capacity building and institutional strengthening on important chemicals-related issues.

ASP brings together the skills, expertise, and resources of a diverse group of stakeholders, enabling national leadership to carry out country-led activities. This exciting, innovative project offers real on-the-ground solutions to a difficult problem. By reducing and removing long-standing toxic threats throughout Africa, ASP promotes improved public health, poverty reduction, and environmental safety--critical elements of sustainable development. (2)

UNITAR is a partner in the African Stockpiles Programme, active on the ASP Steering Committee and involved in a range of cross-cutting activities.

Fostering Active and Effective Civil Society Participation in Preparations for Implementation of the Stockholm Convention

UNITAR supported activities for the GEF Medium-Sized project Fostering Active and Effective Civil Society Participation in Preparations for Implementation of the Stockholm Convention, with financial support (provided as project matching funds) from SAEFL and SDC. UNITAR is providing direct financial support to a network of decentralised NGO “hubs” in different regions, and technical assistance that will be determined through an informal assessment of NGO needs that may be met through existing UNITAR services. UNITAR also participates in the Steering Committee for this project.

Future Directions

UNITAR's POPs Programme will continue to work with countries according to their needs in the area of POPs management. Specific plans include:

  • Providing assistance upon request, in close cooperation with GEF Implementing Agencies, for the execution of further projects aimed at Convention implementation
  • Assistance to countries to further develop projects aimed at Convention implementation
  • Opportunities to strengthen the fundamentals of chemicals management in the context of the Stockholm Convention, such as: implementation in countries of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and development of Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) in countries

Other plans include:

  • expansion of action plan training to all developing countries and countries with economies in transition that request it
  • further joint projects with GEF Implementing Agencies
  • working with governments to strengthen NGO capacities and capabilities
  • development of other tools that can assist countries (such as an online resource library and interactive learning tools)


1 www.pops.int
2 www.africastockpiles.org