Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers

Overview

The goal of UNITAR’s Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR) Programme is to assist countries in the design of national PRTRs through multi-stakeholder processes. PRTRs are inventories of pollution from industry and other sources that have proven to be an effective tool for environmental management in many countries by providing government, industry, and the public with information on releases and transfers of toxic chemicals to air, water, and land. The UNITAR PRTR Programme Area is implemented in cooperation with OECD and UNEP Chemicals.

UNITAR’s current country-based PRTR activities provide technical assistance, guidance and reference material ( Download), and support country–based activities, building on experience draw from past collaboration with Cuba, Argentina, Egypt, the Czech Republic, Mexico, the Slovak Republic, South Africa, and Ecuador. 

International PRTR Coordinating Group

As a successor to the Inter-Organizational Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) PRTR Co-ordinating Group, the International PRTR Coordinating Group provides an opportunity for cooperation between international organizations, governments, and other interested parties regarding PRTRs and related capacity-building activities. This group also ensures coordination among organizations and countries involved in PRTR development and implementation.

ICCM2 Side Event on PRTRs

An International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM2) side event on "Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers as a tool to support the implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management: Experience, challenges and opportunities" was held on 11 May 2009 in Geneva, on the opening day of the ICCM2. The side event brought together some 45 experts on chemicals and environmental management, to take stock of ongoing PRTR capacity-building activities in developing countries and countries with economy in transition and to discuss how PRTRs and PRTR capacity-building activities support the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). It was organized by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on behalf of the International PRTR Coordinating Group. The presentations delivered during the side event can be viewed online:
http://www.unece.org/env/pp/prtr.sideevent.htm.

Recent and ongoing PRTR-related Capacity Building Activities

Europe and CIS countries

Georgia is implementing a project supported by SAICM Quick Start Programme Trust Fund and UNITAR to strengthen capacities for designing a national PRTR. A stakeholder analysis report and a PRTR Infrastructure Assessment were developed in early 2010. As a following step, Georgia has developed a PRTR Key Features document and has held a PRTR Technical Meeting on 8-9 September 2010. The key features document and the results of the meeting will provide the basis to prepare a PRTR pilot trial.

Africa

Togo has prepared a PRTR Feasibility Study, which includes an action plan identifying future activities to implement a national PRTR system. This feasibility study was developed with support of the Swiss Government and UNITAR.

Asia and the Pacific

Cambodia and Thailand are two of the 7 pilot countries of the GEF-supported Global PRTR Project on POPs monitoring, reporting and information dissemination using PRTRs. The pilot countries will design a national PRTR system and use it as a tool to obtain data on POPs emissions and strengthen capacities to report to the Stockholm Convention. For more information please click here.

Latin America

In 2002 the Government of Chile, through its National Environment Commission (CONAMA) and with the support of Environment Canada and UNITAR, initiated a process to promote the establishment of a national PRTR in Chile (2002-2005). A key outcome of this process was the National PRTR Proposal that included complete specifications of the national PRTR system. In the course of the project CONAMA developed PRTR regulations, agreed on an institutional structure for the PRTR and defined its administrative role, and set the procedures for transferring information from sectoral agencies. All national activities in Chile were implemented with the active participation of civil society. Additionally, the project included a parallel initiative to strengthen NGO capacities to enable their substantial participation.

At present, Chile has implemented its PRTR system and entered into its second years of reporting in 2009. Chile’s PRTR will be strengthened through the GEF-supported Global PRTR Project on POPs monitoring, reporting and information dissemination using PRTRs. Within this project, Chile will include the necessary elements in their PRTR to ensure POPs reporting through the existing system. This project will provide lessons learned and standards for capacity-building activities on POPs reporting, which may be replicated in other countries and regions. This project also involves Ecuador and Peru, which will design a national PRTR system.

Also in the Latin American region, Ecuador, Panama and Chile have developed national strategies for the integration of the data generated by the Mercury Emission Inventory into the existing or future national PRTRs, aiming at an institutionalization of the Mercury Inventory and ensuring regular reporting of this heavy metal at national level.

In addition, Panama will soon be starting a project supported by SAICM Quick Start Programme Trust Fund to design a national PRTR system. This system will consider the strategy mentioned above in order to report mercury as one of the priority chemicals at the national level. This project will include an assessment of the national infrastructure relevant to a national PRTR, designing key features of the PRTR system, conducting a PRTR pilot reporting trial, preparing a national PRTR proposal, and organizing a national PRTR review and implementation workshop.

A Project on “Strengthening National and Regional Capacities for SAICM Implementation in Central America and the Dominican Republic” is being implemented with support of UNITAR and USEPA. As enabling activity for SAICM implementation, the project includes a component on PRTR design. For more information, please click here.

Global Level 

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.

The planning phase of the project started in early 2009. A Global Steering Committee was established, with participation of representatives of the seven partner countries, as well as representatives of OECD countries, donors, and international organizations supporting PRTR development. The Global Steering Committee will meet three times during the implementation of the project to evaluate its progress. The first meeting took place in Chile on 1-4 June 2009.

UNITAR is available to assist countries with PRTR design and implementation as part of Stockholm Convention implementation efforts. For more information please click here.

PRTR:Learn

A PRTR Virtual Classroom was originally created in 2003 as a response to the request of the Working Group on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR) of the Aarhus Convention, to have a tool which facilitates technical assistance to the implementation of the UNECE’s PRTR Protocol and to provide support to countries to design and implement PRTRs. The original development of the Virtual Classroom was a cooperative effort of the Government of the Netherlands and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). 

Interest on implementing PRTRs has grown among many countries, as well as the interest to ratify the PRTR Protocol. After its adoption in 2003, the PRTR Protocol entered into force in 2009 with 16 Parties, number that now has grown to 27 Parties. The Protocol is open for participation of any State, even not Parties of the Aarhus Convention. As a response to the increasing interest of countries and all stakeholders on PRTR implementation and the consequent need for information and knowledge exchange on specific aspects of PRTRs, UNITAR re-launches in 2011 the virtual tool as “PRTR:Learn”. This new platform is developed as a contribution of the PRTR Programme at UNITAR with the following objectives.

  • Provide a space for countries and experts to exchange information and knowledge on PRTR and its implementation.
  • To facilitate on-line training and conferences on PRTRs and its different technical considerations for countries that are willing to implement this kind of system or to become a Party of UNECE’s PRTR Protocol.
  • To ensure links to technical resources on different aspects of PRTRs.
  • To ensure coordination of PRTR implementation and capacity-building activities, in support to PRTR.net and the Aarhus Convention Clearinghouse.

Participation in Regional PRTR Workshops

Regional PRTR Workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean (21-23 April 2004)

This workshop, held in Mexico City, brought together representatives from South, Central, and North America and from the Caribbean, facilitated information exchange on PRTRs in the region, and connected interested countries with potential donors. The workshop was organized by UNEP in collaboration with UNITAR, and supported by Environment Canada. Representatives from industry, government, and NGOs had the opportunity to listen to lessons learned in countries with experience in PRTR development, and were able to obtain further information from an exhibition booth on PRTRs run by UNITAR. Several countries approached UNITAR to request support for developing a PRTR system.

Regional PRTR Workshop for ASEAN Countries (21-24 August 2004)

A Regional Workshop on PRTRS for ASEAN Countries was held in Penang, Malaysia, with the goal of exploring the feasibility of developing PRTRs in the region. A UNITAR representative attended the workshop as an observer, introduced the PRTR concept, and outlined UNITAR’s methodology for PRTR development. The meeting succeeded in raising awareness of the need for systematic data on emissions, providing an overview of the status of PRTRs in the region, and identified the main needs and challenges regarding implementation of PRTRs. The workshop was organised by UNEP and received support from University Sains Malaysia, and the Canada POPs fund.