Global Waste Initiative Condemned as Undemocratic and for Promoting Waste Trade
BAN Press Release
7 March 2006 (Tokyo) –
For 3 days this week, senior officials from at least 20 nations will be in Tokyo to attend the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the G8 programme on waste called the “3R Initiative” to discuss the far-ranging implementation plans of the global waste management initiative. Yet despite statements that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are central to the program, the Basel Action Network (BAN), a global network of public health and environmental groups focused on preventing trade in hazardous wastes and upholding international environmental justice, has condemned the lack of democracy and transparency in process, as well as the goal of the 3R initiative to lift restrictions on the international trade in wastes.
While the Chairman’s summary of the first Ministerial Conference held in April of 2005 declared that, “The participants agreed that it is important to create partnerships utilizing the strengths of all stakeholders, namely central and local governments, the private sector, academia, NGOs, and consumers, to promote the 3Rs and waste management,” BAN and other NGOs have been prevented from participating in any of the working groups of the Japanese hosted 3-day meeting and from showing a film on global electronic waste dumping to the participants in spite of its great relevance to the agenda of the meeting.
Other meeting delegates also voiced their concerns over the transparency of the 3R Initiative process when it was learned that representatives of industry were well represented in the working group meetings in which NGOs were denied access to. Mrs. Fatma Salah D El-Mallah of the League of Arab States in her presentation on the first day of the meeting asserted that “the meeting should look into modalities and means to make the process of decision-making concerning the 3Rs Initiative be more transparent and participatory through the involvement of representatives from all countries especially the developing countries in the process.”
“The 3R Initiative is presenting itself to be extremely hypocritical as it holds out the welcome sign to civil society while barring the door,” said Yuka Takamiya, the 4Rs Program coordinator of BAN. “We fear that this two-faced approach is calculated to allow the hidden agenda of undermining the prohibitions on waste trade embodied in the Basel Convention which countries like Japan and the United States want to avoid.”
BAN has in the past signaled their concerns about the 3R Initiative’s stated goal of “eliminating trade barriers to waste and second-hand goods,” when it is known that the primary trade barrier that exists is the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, a United Nations treaty, and the prime supporters of the 3R initiative are the United States and Japan - two countries that oppose the Basel Convention’s ban on export of hazardous waste from rich to poorer countries.
“Civil society groups are in the front-lines of the global waste crisis, representing marginalized communities and a well-source of valuable expertise,” explains Ms. Takamiya. “If the 3R Initiative has any hope of legitimacy, it must immediately open its door to the civil society, as well as assert the 4th R of ‘responsibility’ and assure that the effort will not allow developing countries to become global dumping grounds for the effluent of the affluent.”
For more information:
Yuka Takamiya, at the Conference.
Jim Puckett, Coordinator BAN, Seattle, +1 (206) 652.5555, email@example.com
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