Representatives of the 118 members of the Basel Convention have voted to ban the export of hazardous waste including electrical items from wealthy nations to poorer ones.
After a 15 year deadlock that has blocked the Ban Amendment to the Convention, a deal was brokered by the Swiss and Indonesian governments that has gained the packing of a majority of members meaning that hazardous waste export is banned between OECD countries and non-OECD countries.
At a meeting hosted in Columbia at Cartagena de Indias, the decision allows the Ban Amendment to come into force for those countries that wish to adhere to it and also puts forward a regime that allows for trade in other waste to ensure the minimisation of health and environmental impacts, ensures adequate social and labour conditions and creates new economic opportunities.
UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “The results of the Cartagena conference offer concrete examples of how a transformative environmental action can serve to reduce poverty and promote a healthy environment and social equity, advancing the promise of a green, sustainable economy which will be the focus of the Rio+20 conference next year.”
At the meeting, technical guidance was also adopted on co-processing of hazardous waste in cement kilns, environmentally sound management of mercury wastes and environmentally sound management of used tyres.
A Cartagena declaration was also formed that among other measures calls for the creation of a global methodology for accurate measurement of national waste generation in order to gauge national efforts to make progress in waste prevention.