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STATUS OF THE BASEL CONVENTION REGIONAL CENTRES (September 1999)

 

The Goals and Location of the Regional Centres

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal stipulates in Article 14: "The Parties agree that, according to the specific needs of different regions and sub-regions, regional or sub-regional centres for training and technology transfer the management of hazardous wastes and other wastes and the minimization of their generation should be established. The Parties shall decide on the establishment of appropriate funding mechanisms of a voluntary nature."

Each Conference of the Parties has considered and taken decisions on the Regional Centres (Decisions I/13, II/19, III/19 and IV/4). Decision III/19 of the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties in September 1995 selected sites for the establishment of the regional and sub-regional centres in different regions of the world (Ref. covering page).

As of September 1999, 12 regional or sub-regional centres have been established. For Latin America and the Caribbean Uruguay was selected as coordinating centre with three sub-regional centres: Argentina for South America; El Salvador for Central America including Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago for the Caribbean. For Africa Nigeria was selected as coordinating centre with three sub-regional centres: Egypt for Arabic-speaking countries, South Africa for English-speaking countries and third centre for French-speaking countries. For Central and Eastern Europe: Slovak Republic was selected for Central Europe sub-region, the Russian Federation for Eastern Europe sub-region and possibly a third sub-regional centre in Estonia. For Asia and the Pacific China and Indonesia were selected as regional centres.

In December 1996 India informed the Secretariat that the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at New Delhi was designated as sub-regional centre. In a regional workshop for the establishment of the sub-regional centre for training and technology transfer for French-speaking Africa in July 1997 in Dakar, Senegal was designated as the host country for the centre. The coordinating centre in Nigeria and the sub-regional centre in India have not yet initiated activities pending identification of funding sources. Estonia has informed the Secretariat that it is not yet ready to initiate the activities.

The third meeting of the Conference of the Parties, by Decision III/19 invited also the Technical Working Group established under the Basel Convention to collaborate on the establishment of the regional centres for training and technology transfer as a major component in capacity building activities particularly in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The Conference approved at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, a work programme for 1998-2000 for the Technical Working Group which included the provision of technical input or guidance to the Regional Training Centres.


Establishment

Taking into account the provision in Article 14 of the Basel Convention as well as in Decision I/5 of the First Session of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Committee, feasibility studies were undertaken in all regions as a preliminary step to the establishment of the centres.

These studies were funded by Parties (Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany and Switzerland) and by UNEP under the Swedish Technical Cooperation Trust Fund. The recommendations of the studies provided the basis for the selection of countries to host the centres.

In follow up to the studies, regional/sub-regional meetings were organized in order to enable Parties and non-Parties in the respective regions to consider and express their views on the recommendations of the feasibility studies and in particular to agree on organizational arrangements and priority activities to be undertaken by the respective centres.

In addition to Government officials, representatives from international organizations and institutions, development banks, industry, academia, NGOs, bilateral agencies and local communities were invited to participate at these meetings in order to exchange information on ongoing or planned activities in the field of hazardous wastes and to suggest how their respective organizations could contribute to the work of the centres. It should be noted that the centres are built on already existing institutions in the respective countries in order to avoid creating any new infrastructure and maximize the use of available resources.

The feasibility studies also identified available resources including expertise, infrastructures, training activities, etc. in the countries of the region, which could be drawn upon for the work of the centres; it was recognized that the work of the centres should be the result of action taken by all countries in the regions rather than being limited to that of the host countries.

In follow up to the regional and/or sub-regional meetings, the respective host countries were to prepare project documents for the establishment and operation of the centres based on recommendations of these meetings. The preparation of these documents has also been a joint effort giving Parties in the respective regions the opportunity to comment on the draft proposals for such documents.

When a final project document was agreed upon, the Secretariat of the Basel Convention, in collaboration with the respective host centres, assisted in bringing these project proposals to the attention of the donor agencies, both within Parties and non-parties, as well as outside, i.e., UN Organizations, development banks, the private sector, etc.


Financing

It is expected that the first years of operation of the centres will require external financial support through the Parties and/or other donors, although a financial mechanism for the long-term sustainability of the centre would have to be identified by the Parties in collaboration with the Centres.

The Governments of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay and the United States have provided financial contribution to the work of the centres including for preparatory work, either directly or by supporting specific activities to be undertaken at the centres. The Government of Denmark is presently considering to support the centre in South Africa for a four year period. Argentina, China, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic have been providing substantial counterpart contribution to the respective centres in their countries. The Governments of Egypt, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa as well as CARIRI hosting the Caribbean Centre have also expressed their readiness to do so for their respective centres.


Staffing

For the centres located in China, Indonesia, the Slovak Republic and Uruguay the respective governments are providing the staff, who are government employees and have been designated to work part time on activities to be undertaken through the centres.

In the case of the Sub-regional centre for South America located in Buenos Aires the Government of Argentina has provided a total amount of US$ 200000 for one year of activities at that centre and a director, who was selected through international competition, has recently taken up his position at the centre.

The centres in El Salvador and in Trinidad and Tobago (CARIRI) have already undertaken regional activities at the centres in Central America and in the Caribbean respectively through the institutions designated to host the centres without having formally designated specific staff for the long term running of the centres. Presently concrete project proposals are being elaborated by these institutions for activities being funded by the USA and it is likely that such proposals would also include funding of staff at the centres. The same is also valid for the centre in Senegal for French speaking African countries, which is also receiving support from the USA.

Funding of the centre in South Africa for English speaking countries in Africa is presently being negotiated with the Government fo Denmark and the staffing situation is therefore pending.

Searching for funds for the sub-regional centres in Egypt for Arabic speaking countries in Africa and West Asia and in India for Asia is being undertaken and staffing situation has therefore not been defined yet.


Technical Guidance

The role and responsibility of regional/ sub-regional centres is to provide advice and guidance on technical and technological issues in particular to encourage the introduction of cleaner production processes or technologies and the use of environmentally sound waste management practices, including advice on the avoidance of inappropriate technology transfer. The experience of Governmental experts represents a valuable source of knowledge and know-how that could contribute in assisting the regional/sub-regional centres in discharging their functions. Governmental experts could for instance participate as resource persons at training courses or be involved in pilot projects on the subject.

The Technical Working Group has started work on the selection of hazardous wastes susceptible to cleaner production and the regional centres could in the future undertake projects related to cleaner production approaches for specific waste streams.

Case studies on recovery of hazardous wastes and assessment of recovery facilities as initiated by the Technical Working Group could be carried out. Such activity could be linked with the activities of regional centres since some case studies and technological projects are included as priority activities in the work programme of most regional centres.

 

Where are the Centres Located and What Has Been Done So Far?

Africa and West Asia

Egypt

A regional meeting on the implementation of the Basel Convention and the establishment of a sub-regional centre for training and technology transfer for Arabic speaking countries in Africa and West Asia was held in Bahrain on 15-17 June 1998. In order to fulfill Decision IV/4 of the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, the meeting recommended and considered the need for the ROPME/ROWA region to establish a sub-regional centre in collaboration with the centre in Egypt.

Egypt nominated the Cairo University Center for Environmental Hazard Mitigation to host the sub-regional centre for Arabic-speaking countries in June 1998. The SBC is collaborating with the Government of Egypt regarding the organization of a first training course on hazardous waste management and the implementation of the Basel Convention to take place in Egypt later this year, subject to availability of funds. The identification of funding sources for the long-term funding of the centre is also pending.

Senegal

In spring of 1998 the Government of Senegal designated as a host organization for the centre for French speaking African countries the African Institute for Urban Management (IAGU) based in Dakar. The Secretariat of the Basel Convention is in the process of finalizing a project proposal in collaboration with the Government for the first three years of operation of the centre, which includes six training courses and several technical projects for the sub-region. The Secretariat is in consultation with the Government of Senegal regarding the organization of the first training course on inventories of hazardous wastes at the centre to be held in November 1999. The Government of the United States of America is providing US$ 100 000,- for activities of the Senegal centre.

South Africa

The Government of South Africa has nominated Vista University in Pretoria to host the Sub-regional Centre for English speaking countries, which will be financially supported by the Danish Government over a period of four years. A workshop was organized for English-speaking African countries on 10-12 June 1999 in Pretoria to discuss priority needs and organizational arrangements for a centre based on the hazardous waste situation in the countries in the region.

Asia and the Pacific

The Government of Japan is now providing financial support of US$ 350 000 for both centres in China and Indonesia.

China

The first regional meeting concerning the establishment of Regional Centres for Training and Technology Transfer in China was held in Beijing in July 1996. Its main objective was to discuss the arrangements and priority activities for the centre in Beijing.

The first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Asia-Pacific Regional Centre for Hazardous Waste Management, Training and Technology Transfer was held in Beijing, China, from 11 to 14 November 1997. One of the items discussed was the establishment of a Steering Committee which will serve as a Co-ordinating body for two centres in the Asia-Pacific Region: China and Indonesia. The meeting also considered the mission objectives and strategies for both centres and agreed on an outline of these elements as part of a basic framework. The work plans of the two centres were discussed and it was agreed that at the beginning of the operation of the centres, each centre could develop activities in accordance with their respective experience in hazardous-waste-related issues. At this meeting the Regional Centre hosted by Tsinghua University was inaugurated.

First training course, Beijing, 8-12 March 1999 Theme: Hazardous waste management and practice

Experts from the United States, Australia, Japan and China lectured to delegates from 14 countries on the following themes: hazardous waste management in China, the USA, Australia and Japan as well as control system for transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, landfill disposal, incineration, recycling and recovery technique of hazardous wastes. The participants had one day site visit to Yanshan Petrol Chemical Company to get practical knowledge of chemical waste water and incineration facilities.

Indonesia

The Second Asia-Pacific meeting on the establishment of Regional Centres for Training and Technology Transfer was convened in Jakarta, Indonesia from 29 July to 1 August 1997. The meeting was organized by the Environmental Impact Management Agency of the Republic of Indonesia (BAPEDAL) in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Basel Convention. The main objective of the meeting was the establishment of a Regional Centre in Indonesia as a follow up of the first regional meeting and so point out the relation of this centre with that of the Regional Centre in China.

The principal hazardous waste streams generated in the region for which treatment methods and waste minimization efforts were required were identified. The infrastructure and institutional capabilities for the implementation of the Convention as well as technical aspects of hazardous waste management are issues that still need to be addressed.

Indonesia proposed as a site for the Regional Centre the existing Environmental Management Centre at Serpong, in the vicinity of Jakarta, which was established through cooperation between the Governments of Indonesia and Japan.

India

The Government of India has prepared a project proposal which has been sent to donors for support to the activities of the sub-regional centre. The centre will cover the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region comprising the following countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.



Central and Eastern Europe


Slovak Republic

The Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for Central and Eastern Europe in Bratislava was established in 1996 with funding from the Swiss Government for two years operation.

The centre started up its activities in February 1997 and has since then held eight training courses on both legal/institutional and technical aspects of implementing the Convention. Many training courses were accompanied by on-site study tours. The training courses have been attended by participants from about 18 countries as an average and evaluation of the courses proclaim that very useful knowledge and exchange of information was obtained by the participants, which was disseminated in different ways on return to their respective countries. The centre has also undertaken case studies and issued Newsletters, which have been disseminated to all countries in the region, made available at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties and in other SBC meetings.

  • First Training Course, Bratislava, 2 to 6 June 1997 Theme: Implementation of the Basel Convention
    Agenda included issues on waste management strategy, legislation, regulations, classification and hazard characteristics, illegal traffic.
  • Second Training Course, Bratislava, 20 to 24 October 1997 Theme: Identification of Hazardous Wastes
    Discussions centered around the waste classification system, definition of hazardous wastes, institutional guarantee of supervision over the waste classification under current legislation. The work of the Technical Working Group was also considered. This training course also had a study tour of the centre of hazardous waste treatment and a visit to laboratories to test the hazardous characteristics of the wastes.
  • Third Training Course, Bratislava, 1 to 5 December 1997 Theme: Information Management Systems on Hazardous Wastes
    The course considered all aspects of Information Management Systems on Hazardous Wastes, taking into account the experiences of other countries in this field. A study tour to a rubber and belt factory in Puchov was organised to observe an environmental programme of responsible care in practice.
  • Fourth Training Course, Bratislava, 23 to 27 March 1998 Theme: Enforcement of the Basel Convention Principles
    This training course dealt, in the main, with the outcome of the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-4), prevention of hazardous wastes illegal shipments and management of accidents in relation to hazardous wastes. A one day study visit was made to the Slovak Gas Production State Company and to the Danube Hydropower Complex Gabcikovo.
  • Fifth Training Course, Bratislava, 1 to 5 June 1998 Theme: Public Awareness Programmes
    The lectures handled among other things, the social aspects of hazardous waste handling, eco-cities projects, participation of population in decision-making, the roles of NGOs, cooperation of public administration at national, regional and local levels in the area of waste management, accident prevention, public awareness programmes and the role of media. A study tour was made to an aluminium plant and a municipal waste landfill. The participants also visited the event "Envirofilm 1998" which promoted environmental awareness in Slovakia such as films, exhibitions, seminars and discussions between citizens and administration.
  • Sixth Training Course, Bratislava, 21 to 25 September 1998 Theme: Cleaner Production and Waste Minimization
    The training course included among other themes introduction to cleaner production as well as product life cycle analysis. Simulation workshop-game was organized on cleaner production methods and assessment. A study tour demonstrated cleaner production of a cellulose-paper plant.
  • Seventh Training Course, Bratislava, 23 to 27 November 1998 Theme: Methods of Waste Disposal with Focus on Incineration
    The participants had the opportunity to increase their knowledge in waste minimization, recycling, incineration, biotechnologies and landfilling. It was decided that the Regional Training Centre in Bratislava will collaborate with other regional centres in the exchange of information. A site visit was made to waste treatment plant and to a modern hazardous waste incineration plant.
  • Eighth Training Course, Bratislava, 24 to 26 May 1999 Theme: Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes
    The course focused on the following items: international regulations of hazardous waste shipment; implementation of the Basel obligations in national regulations; different modes of transport of dangerous goods and Basel Convention; OECD and Basel Waste lists; insurance of hazardous waste shipment; empirical transportation models; Danish Project on compliance with the Basel Convention; Custom's border check point. A visit to the Slovak-Austrian border demonstrated customs procedures in relation to control of vehicles crossing the border.


Board meetings

There have already been three meetings of Advisory Board of Directors for the Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for Central and Eastern Europe. The Board reviewed the progress of activities, considered the work programmes and funding options.


General Assembly

The first General Assembly was organized at the centre from 27-28 May 1999. The participants discussed the evaluation of the activities of the centre as well as the financial aspects of its operation including the long-term sustainability of the centre. The general discussions during the second day focused on priorities and plans for future activities, of which partnerships with industry and NGOs were stressed as well as finding solutions for concrete problems related to management of hazardous wastes.


Russian Federation

  • Regional seminar
    A regional seminar was held from 30 March to 1 April 1998 in Minsk, Belarus on Implementation of the Basel Convention in the CIS. The main objective of the seminar was to increase knowledge and awareness among participants in order to encourage the acceleration of the ratification procedure. Some Central Asian CIS countries expressed interest in setting up a regional centre in Central Asia. The need was also expressed to train enforcement personnel.
  • First Training Course, Moscow, 4 to 8 May 1998 Theme: Institutional and Technical Aspects on the Implementation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and on their Disposal in CIS and Eastern European countries
    The main issues addressed at the meeting were problems related to the establishment of the centre. There was also lectures given about the implementation of the legal and technical provisions of the Convention as well as decisions taken by COP4. Participants explained about hazardous wastes situation in their own countries. A revised project proposal for the establishment and operation of the centre is being prepared based on the discussions and will be submitted to donors for funding. The Moscow centre offered to organize training courses in CIS countries of the Central Asia. A study visit to a landfill site managed by GEOPOLIS Company was organized and explanations were given in relation to technologies for management of domestic wastes and recovery and utilization of gas from landfill.

 

Latin America and the Caribbean

One sub-regional meeting was held in El Salvador and a regional meeting in Uruguay, which led to the preparation of a so-called framework document for the network of Regional Centres in Latin America and the Caribbean. This framework document was endorsed by the Ministers of Environment at their Xth Meeting held in Buenos Aires in November 1996.

In follow up to a meeting organized by the Government of Uruguay funded by Canada in 1997 with representatives of the respective host countries in the LAC region, SBC and IDRC, a comprehensive project document was prepared for the LAC region including both activities of the Coordinating Centre in Uruguay and at the three sub-regional centres. This was subsequently sent for funding to Parties and non-Parties as well as to bilateral aid agencies and to development banks.

The second regional meeting for the implementation of the Basel Convention in Latin America and the Caribbean took place in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil from 15-19 September 1997. Experts from countries in the region discussed various issues in relation to the implementation of the Convention, including the possibility of having a regional agreement for this purpose. This meeting also served as a forum for regional technical discussion before the COP4 as well as progress analysis of establishment of regional centres and their financial support.

A regional seminar for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes was convened in St. Lucia, in October 1996, with financial support from the European Commission. One of the main results of this seminar was the agreement on an action programme in this field, which will be implemented through the sub-regional centres.

Uruguay

The Government of Uruguay and the SBC have signed an Agreement for collaboration on activities at the Coordinating Centre in Uruguay. SBC will also provide funding in support of activities in relation to information management systems in order to facilitate access to legal, technical and scientific information related to the implementation of the Basel Convention including the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes.

  • First regional workshop, Montevideo, 22 to 26 March 1999 Theme: Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes
    The meeting provided a forum for discussion between government experts from the environment sector and customs authorities. The experts recommended strengthening cooperation between the Customs and Basel Convention authorities in the following aspects: identification of the main waste streams; identify the most frequently used international routes of these movements (illegal traffic); improvement of the administrative collaboration procedures; foster training programmes for customs officers. The experts recommended that the centres should promote the scope for the exchange of experiences among countries and subregions and establish an information system for this purpose.


Argentina

The Secretariat has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Argentina for the starting-up of activities at the South American Centre with a financial contribution from Argentina of an amount of US$ 200 000. The Argentinean Government has recently recruited the Director for the centre in Buenos Aires who took up his duties on 1 September 1999 and is now preparing for the first training course to be held later this year.


El Salvador

A national workshop in El Salvador was held from 5 to 9 July 1999 in collaboration with the Sub-regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for Central America including Mexico, located in El Salvador and with financial support from the Government of Switzerland. Some of the items in the agenda included a general presentation of the Basel Convention, environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes, prevention of illegal traffic as well as activities of national NGOs, academy and industry. Subsequently a similar workshop was organized for Nicaragua between 11-16 July 1999. Both seminars included participants from neighbouring countries.

The USA has recently pledged financial support for activities to be undertaken by the Sub-regional centre in El Salvador and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention is now in consultation with the Government of El Salvador for the preparation of a suitable programme on priority issues for the subregion.


Trinidad and Tobago

The first training course on management of asbestos containing material took place from 16-25 November 1998 and was followed by Caribbean Asbestos Forum from 26-27 November 1998 at the CARIRI in Trinidad and Tobago, which is hosting the Sub-regional Centre for the Caribbean. These activities were carried out under the financial support of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the context of implementation of the Programme of Action for the Caribbean region. Preparations are underway for assistance to countries in the Caribbean region in order to strengthen their capacity to participate in information exchange and preparing inventories on hazardous wastes. The Government of USA has recently pledged financial support for activities at this centre.

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