The third Conference of the Parties to the Bamako Convention, held in Brazzaville from February 12 to 13, 2020, expressed the wish for a more efficient organisation of waste management. The challenge is to systematically prevent the import of toxic waste into Africa.
The Bamako Convention is not really applied in Africa, even 22 years after its entry into force. This treaty of African nations prohibiting the import into Africa of any type of hazardous waste (including radioactive waste), still remains an illusion for most countries on the continent.
“Chemicals are now everywhere and necessary for our daily lives. They are used in the majority of productive sectors and are exploited to solve several problems related to improving the quality of our lives. Of the 5 to 7 million known chemical substances, more than 80,000 are used by companies in their production processes and operations,” said Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Republic of Congo and new current president of the Bamako Convention, whose third conference of the parties was held from the 12th to the 13th of February 2020 in Brazzaville, on the theme: “Working for Africa with a safe future for chemicals and waste”.
Targets, indicators and milestones are a key component of the new "Beyond 2020" chemical safety agreement because they provide an important measure of what the new agreement will accomplish. IPEN has prepared a thought starter that proposes targets, indicators and milestones that reflect tangible outcomes to reduce harms in the real world and links these results to the achievement of defined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Prime Minister’s announcement and COAG support for a ban on waste exports should be cautiously welcomed and is long overdue following the embarrassing revelations of Australian illegal waste dumping in South East Asia. However, it seems certain that the announcement is designed to distract from a major government push to burn Australia’s waste in polluting incinerators: an industry it quietly supports. As noted by some media reports on the announcement, the government “was exploring using waste in energy plants to power Australian homes.”
The waste and pollution watch group EcoWaste Coalition exhorted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to take President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement against waste importation to heart and bring the Philippines in alliance with other countries that have taken action to ban foreign waste imports.
Last Monday, May 6, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a verbal directive against waste importation amid the country’s long-running garbage feud with Canada.
In Cameroon, plastic bottles, plastic bags, old rubber tyres, end of lives energy saving bulbs, and glass thermometers are frequently and carelessly dumped either on unused land or in water ways, with the risk of transportation to other waterbodies such as lakes or rivers. To eliminate this visual pollution, people living near these spontaneous dumping sites often turn to open burning of waste, with consequences for both ecosystems and human health.