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Pacific island countries improve management of pesticides and hazardous waste

SPREP hazardous waste experts are working with delegates from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, RMI, Samoa and Tonga to bring a Pacific perspective to the Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COP) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions in Geneva this week.

The meeting brings together international experts and policy makers to improve the global management of toxic chemicals including pesticides and wastes such as E-waste and asbestos.

“Managing the movements of toxic waste materials between Pacific island countries and its disposal in environmentally sustainable facilities in Australia, New Zealand and Asia is a critical waste management issue for the Pacific region” said Dr David Haynes, Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Waste Management and Pollution Management Division.

“This can be best achieved by assisting Pacific island countries meeting their obligations under the Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions”.

Over 1300 delegates from 165 countries are attending the 11 day meeting which is being run by the United Nations Chemical Conventions Secretariat and hosted by the Government of Switzerland in Geneva.

The meeting has provided the opportunity for Pacific island SPREP Members to make interventions on behalf of the region that guide how toxic chemicals and wastes such as E-waste is managed into the future, or to support a call for further initiatives to better manage the application of dangerous herbicides in the region.

“Many users of the herbicide Paraquat have limited understanding of the risks and dangers of this highly hazardous chemical” said Mr Vaitoti Tupa, Director of the National Environment Service of the Cook Islands.

“It is critical that Pacific island agricultural workers have adequate training and are supplied with protective equipment such as masks to prevent exposure to this herbicide”.

SPREP acts as the Pacific regional coordinating centre (PRC) for the Basel and Waigani Conventions. As part of this role, SPREP provides assistance and capacity development for the region for improved toxic waste management.

SPREP is coordinating major chemical management training programmes across the region over the next 18 months, as well as coordinating ongoing training in waste management for regional waste management workers in partnership with Fiji National University and the United Nations Environment Programme.

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