During the event, representatives from the two secretariats, along with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and CISCO Systems, discussed how the WTO and BRS Conventions secretariats have worked together closely to ensure that trade, WTO rules and the sound management of chemicals and waste reinforce each other and help countries to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns.

According to the participants, the harmonious co-existence between WTO rules and BRS Conventions owed much to their shared principles and a common focus on fostering transparency and policy dialogue, promoting coherence in national and global policymaking, and helping developing and least-developed countries through joint technical assistance and capacity building activities.

Participants agreed to continue working together to help strengthen the synergies between trade and the sound management of chemicals and waste. They underscored the opportunities for growth and employment arising from turning waste into a resource and emphasized the role of trade in supporting business models that rely on repairs, reuse, re-manufacturing and recycling. Particular reference was made to the work undertaken by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UNCTAD, which took India as an example to illustrate the specific opportunities for developing countries in terms of materials savings, investment promotion, and economic diversification, among others. Participants also highlighted how trade can facilitate the rapid diffusion of waste management technologies across borders, noting that this was a win-win opportunity for economic growth and environmental protection.

Aik Hoe Lim, Director of the WTO's Trade and Environment Division, said: "Cooperation between WTO and BRS Convention secretariats can help us better understand the linkages, interactions and synergies between trade and efforts to manage hazardous chemicals and waste.  There are opportunities for each organization in its own areas of competence and expertise to ensure that trade and the sound management of chemical and wastes are mutually supportive, and help deliver on the world's aspiration of sustainable development."

Karsten Steinfatt, Counsellor in the WTO's Trade and Environment Division, said: "Efforts to manage hazardous chemicals and waste take place against the backdrop of a globally interconnected world where production is organized into complex value chains that span multiple countries. Continued cooperation between the WTO and the BRS Conventions secretariats and other stakeholders is therefore critically important to ensure that trade plays its full part in promoting a better economy, a better environment and better health, in line with the SDGs."

The BRS Conventions comprise the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. They all share the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes at all stages of their life cycle, from production to disposal. All three Conventions provide for the control of the international trade or transboundary movements of the substances and wastes covered.




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