Nathaniel T. Blama, Sr., executive director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has told a gathering of environmentalists in Geneva, Switzerland, that the advancement in science, technology and industrialization is causing irreparable damage to human health worldwide, especially in Africa, a release has said.
Blama spoke at the start of the 11th meeting of the Basel Convention Open Ended Working Group in Geneva on Monday, September 3.
He added, “The global progression in science, technology and industrialization has resulted in the rise of activities which are hazardous and continue to cause harmful, sometimes irreparable damage to human health, marine life and the ecosystem.”
The Basel Convention is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous wastes from developed to less developed countries, while the Open-ended Working Group is a subsidiary body of the Convention.
According to the release, the 11th meeting of the Open-ended Working Group, which started on September 3, will be climaxed on September 6, 2018.
Mr. Blama, who chairs the African Group, said that illegal trafficking and trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes from industrialized countries to developing countries in Africa continues unabated.
He described the movement of hazardous waste to Africa as “toxic colonialism.” Blama said that the practice, which is greatly hurting Africa, is of great concern to the African Group.
“The theme of the third United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-3), held in December 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, was ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet.’”
In addition to its #BeatPollution Campaign, UNEA has firmly positioned itself as the world’s voice on environment and pollution in particular. This goes to strengthen the environmental pillar of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Mr. Blama informed delegates that the time is ripe for states parties to the Bamako Convention on the ban of the import into Africa, and the Control of Trans-boundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa to review progress made in its implementation, its effectiveness, the challenges it has faced, and its readiness to address emerging and more complex hazardous wastes.
The review process, Blama said, is necessary to ensure that the spirit of the Convention is sustained, providing parties the necessary tools to enforce the ban on the import of hazardous waste into Africa. According to him, it observed that although the Bamako Convention has organic links to the Basel Convention, it is quite obvious that a synergy process between the two should use the approach of “Transcriptive Synergy.”
Mr. Blama said that the COP-2 of the Bamako Convention, therefore, resolved to leverage the Convention as a platform for a pollution free-Africa in line with the objectives of the African Union Agenda 2063, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the resolutions adopted at the UNEA-3.
He lauded the president of the Open-Ended Working Group and the secretariat as well as members of the bureaux for organizing the meeting, and also thanked the Switzerland Government for hosting the meeting, which is expected to last for the next three days.