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Ministers Call for Cleaner Production Methods as they Set Priorities for Next Decade of Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes

Nairobi/Basel, 14 December 1999 - Last week on 10 December, the 10th Anniversary of the Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes, government ministers assembled in Basel, Switzerland, adopted a declaration on the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes.

In their official Declaration, the ministers emphasized the universality of the Basel Convention by calling for broadening access to the means of managing hazardous wastes in an environmentally sound way to every sector of society. They emphasized the urgent need to minimize the generation of such wastes as well as the need to strengthen the capacity worldwide to handle these wastes properly.

The adoption of the Declaration is an historic event that represents a major shift toward cleaner production, capacity building in developing countries and a desire to move away from the throw- away philosophy that is all too common, especially in the developing world,? said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Declaration, which will guide the activities of the Convention, outlines the main areas of focus during the next decade:


  1. the prevention, minimization, recycling, recovery and disposal of hazardous and other wastes subject to the Basel Convention
  2. (2) active promotion and use of cleaner technologies and production
  3. (3) further reduction of transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes,
  4. (4) prevention and monitoring of illegal traffic,
  5. (5) improvement of institutional and technical capacity-building, as well as the development and transfer of environmentally sound echnologies, especially for developing countries and countries with economies in transition,
  6. (6) further development of regional and subregional centres for training and technology transfer,
  7. (7) enhanced information exchange, education and public awareness in all sectors of society,
  8. (8) greater cooperation at all levels between countries, public authorities, international organizations, industry, NGOs and academia,
  9. (9) the development of mechanisms for assuring implementation of the Convention (and amendments) and monitoring compliance.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal entered into force in 1992. 132 countries and the European Union are Parties to the Convention, which is concerned with the annual world-wide production of hundreds of millions of metric tonnes of hazardous wastes. The Convention regulates the movement of these wastes and obliges its members to ensure that such wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Governments are expected to minimize the quantities that are transported, to treat and dispose of wastes as close as possible to where they were generated, and to minimize the generation of hazardous waste at source.


Note to journalists:
For more information please contact Mr. Michael Williams
on (+41-22) 917 8242/44, fax: (+41-22) 797 3464,

Official documents and other information on the Basel Convention are available on the Internet at

In Nairobi, contact:
Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Spokesman
on tel: +254- 2-623292,
Robert Bisset
on tel: +254-2-623084, fax: 623692,

UNEP News Release 1999/143

Tuesday 14 Dec 1999
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