Press Releases

     27 October 2004

    Secretary-General, in Message to Basel Convention Talks, Calls for Partnerships, Innovative Thinking to Meet Challenge of Waste Generation

    (Delayed in transmission.)

    NEW YORK, 26 October (UN Headquarters) -- The following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the Seventh Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, as delivered in Geneva, yesterday, 25 October by Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva:

    The Basel Convention, adopted 15 years ago, establishes an international regime regulating transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes. That regime is operating successfully worldwide, reinforced by a unique compliance mechanism and a protocol on liability and compensation. I commend all Parties to the Convention for their efforts to make it a truly effective instrument.

    While regulating waste movement is vital, our world must also tackle the production of hazardous and other wastes at their source.  Parties to the Convention report that over 150 million tons are generated each year.  The actual global total is probably much higher.  Our world is generating more and more hazardous and other waste each year, and it is increasingly intermingled with municipal and household wastes.  Waste generation has therefore become a global challenge.

    We can only address that challenge through partnerships, innovative thinking and cooperation at all levels.  We must shift from “end-of-pipe” solutions to an “integrated life-cycle approach” -- one that encompasses generation, storage, transport, treatment, recycling, recovery and final disposal.  The 1999 Basel Ministerial Declaration on environmentally sound management and the 2002 Strategic Plan for the Implementation of the Basel Convention provide a global platform for such an approach.  All should make full use of it.

    If the world is to ensure environmental sustainability, as envisaged in the Millennium Development Goals, multilateral environmental agreements such as the Basel Convention must be implemented. I therefore call on all States to work together, and to provide the necessary resources, to strengthen the capacity of developing countries and those with economies in transition, and to support the 13 Basel Convention Regional Centres.  And I assure you that the United Nations will continue to play its part in meeting the global waste challenge.

    In that spirit, I wish you a very successful conference.

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