The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal is an international treaty that was established to address the growing problem of hazardous waste disposal and its potential adverse effects on human health and the environment.
The convention was adopted on March 22, 1989, in Basel, Switzerland, and it entered into force on May 5, 1992. It was developed under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and currently has 188 parties.
The objective of the Basel Convention is to minimize the generation of hazardous wastes and ensure their environmentally sound management, both within countries and during their transboundary movements. The convention aims to achieve this through several key provisions:
- Control of Transboundary Movements: The convention establishes a system for the control of the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. It requires countries to obtain the prior informed consent (PIC) of the importing country before exporting hazardous waste to it. The exporting country must also ensure that the waste is managed in an environmentally sound manner.
- Minimization and Environmentally Sound Management: The convention promotes the minimization of hazardous waste generation through the development and implementation of waste management strategies. It also emphasizes the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes, including their treatment, disposal, and recycling.
- Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure: The convention sets out a procedure for the exchange of information between the exporting and importing countries. The exporting country must provide detailed information about the nature, characteristics, and risks of the waste, while the importing country can refuse the import if it determines that the waste is not managed in an environmentally sound manner.
- Ban on Export of Hazardous Wastes to Developing Countries: The convention prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from developed countries to developing countries, except under specific conditions where the importing country has the capacity to manage the waste in an environmentally sound manner.
- Basel Convention Regional and Coordinating Centers: The convention promotes regional cooperation and capacity building through the establishment of regional and coordinating centers. These centers provide technical assistance, training, and information exchange to support countries in implementing the convention’s provisions.
The Basel Convention has played a crucial role in raising awareness about hazardous waste management, promoting the adoption of national legislation, and facilitating international cooperation in this area. It has been supplemented by several protocols, including the Basel Ban Amendment, which strengthens the ban on hazardous waste exports from developed to developing countries.
Overall, the Basel Convention seeks to protect human health and the environment by ensuring the safe and environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes, reducing their transboundary movements, and promoting sustainable waste management practices worldwide.