End in sight to e-waste dumping in Africa
In what has been hailed as a major breakthrough, 178 countries have agreed to accelerate a ban on the export and dumping of hazardous waste in developing countries. Several African countries have reportedly become dumping grounds for obsolete electronics.
The Basel Action Network (BAN) announced that at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention, 178 parties agreed to allow an early entry into force of law of the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits all exports of hazardous wastes, including electronic wastes and old obsolete ships from developed to developing countries.
The deal was brokered by Indonesia and Switzerland and was strongly promoted by the developing countries, China, the European Union and Non-Governmental Organizations including Greenpeace, the Center for International Environmental Law, the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking and the Basel Action Network.
The Basel Ban Amendment was originally adopted in 1995 as a proposed amendment to the Basel Convention but has recently been stalled due to uncertainty as to how to interpret the Convention.
Now following a diplomatic working group known as the Country Led Initiative, it has been decided that the Ban Amendment will go into force when 68 of the 90 countries that were Parties to the Convention in 1995, ratify the agreement. Already 51 of these have ratified the amendment, leaving just 17 more needed. It is expected that this can be achieved in 2-3 years. Currently there are 178 Parties to the Convention.
“Finally, the blockade has been lifted and the Basel Ban that has been held hostage now for many years is liberated,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network. “The Ban Amendment ensures that developing countries are not convenient dumping grounds for toxic factory waste, obsolete ships containing asbestos, or old computers coming from affluent countries. It enforces the Basel Convention obligation that all countries manage their own hazardous waste.”
Already 33 of the 41 developed countries to which the export ban applies have implemented it nationally, but the latest decision means that more countries will feel diplomatic pressure to ratify, and countries such as the United States, which has never ratified the Convention, will have to accept the ban as an integral part of the Convention once it comes into force, BAN said.