Hazardous waste conference opens in Bali

June 23rd, 2008 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bali (Indonesia), June 23 (DPA) Representatives from 170 countries kicked off their five-day informal meeting on the Indonesian resort island of Bali Monday, to discuss how to manage the trans-boundary traffic of hazardous waste. Indonesia’s Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar opened the conference, which will focus on the impacts of hazardous waste on human health and livelihoods in terms of the UN’s millennium development goals, conference organisers said.

“The fact that there are cases whereby hazardous waste and its trans-boundary movement brings serious risks toward human health and the environment will emphasise the strong and mutually dependent relationship between environmentally sound waste management and sustainable development,” Witoelar said.

Witoelar said Indonesia’s long coastline - the second longest in the world - made it particular vulnerable to the illegal dumping of toxic waste under the Basel Convention.

“The Basel Convention meant to arrest the risks of environmental degradation caused by trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste,” he said, adding that the Basel Convention is “not only a matter of controlling trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste but it is a part of larger framework for ensuring environmental sustainability.”

The conference will discuss legal aspects of waste import bans, regional cooperation in strengthening the Basel Convention’s position, and holding a world forum on waste management related to human health.

The more than 1,000 participants would also discuss the disposal of massive amounts of electronic waste such as old mobile phones.

The Basel Convention was adopted in the late 1980s and entered into force in 1992. It requires the export and import of all hazardous waste to be banned to protect human health and the environment against their adverse effects.

However, only 62 member countries have so far ratified the amendment, including Indonesia.

International activist groups, including Greenpeace and the Basel Action Network, have repeatedly called on the Basel parties to enforce the ban amendment immediately to prevent further environmental damage.

The conference is expected to issue a “Bali Declaration” aimed at highlighting the importance of health and waste management for global development strategies such as reducing poverty.

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