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The Executive Director of Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Nathaniel T. Blama, Sr. has told a gathering of environmentalists in Geneva, Switzerland that the advancement in science, technology and industrialization is causing irreparable damage to human health worldwide, especially in Africa.

Addressing the 11th meeting of the Basel Convention Open Ended Working Group in Geneva on Monday, September 3, Blama says “The global progression in science, technology and industrialization has resulted in the rise of activities which are hazardous and continue to cause harmful and sometimes irreparable damage on human health, marine life and the ecosystem.”

The Basel Convention is an international treaty designed to reduce movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs) while the Open-ended Working Group OEWG is a subsidiary body of the Convention.

The eleventh meeting of the Open-ended Working Group will climax 6 September at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG).The EPA boss, who is also Chairman of the African Group notes that illegal trafficking and trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes from industrialized countries to developing countries in Africa continue unabated.

Describing the movement of hazardous waste to Africa as ‘toxic colonialism’, he says the practice, which is greatly hurting Africa, is of great concern to the African Group.

“The theme of the third United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) held in December 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, was ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet’. In addition to its #BeatPollution campaign, UNEA has firmly positioned itself as the world’s voice on the environment, and pollution in particular. This goes to strengthen the environmental pillar of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Director Blama informs delegates at the conference the time is ripe for states parties to the Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and the Control of Trans-boundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa to review progress made in its implementation, its effectiveness, challenges it has faced, and its readiness to address emerging and more complex hazardous wastes.

The review process, he notes, is necessary to ensure that the spirit of the Convention is sustained and provide to its parties the necessary tools to enforce the ban on the import of hazardous waste into Africa.“Again, Co-Chairs, the Second Conference of the Parties to the Bamako Convention (COP-2), noted that since entry into force of the Bamako Convention, other chemicals-related conventions such as the Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions have evolved into operational convergence through the synergy process.”

According to him, it observed that although the Bamako Convention has organic links to the Basel Convention, it is quite obvious that a synergy process between the two should use the approach of ‘Transcriptase Synergy’.
He indicates that the COP-2 of the Bamako Convention therefore resolved to leverage the Convention as a platform for a pollution free-Africa, in line with the objectives of the African Union Agenda 2063, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the resolutions adopted at the UNEA-3.

“From the forgoing, Co-chairs, it is crystal clear that Africa is more than ready to foster partnerships with the rest of the world in dealing with the waste menace including stringent definition of low POPs content levels. The African Group note with satisfaction the agenda issues of OEWG-11,” he concludes.


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