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Third session of the Meeting of the Parties to Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs)

 

Daily Summary
Friday, 15 September 2017

The Chair of the MOP, Ms. Tina Skårman, opened the session expressing her gratitude to the Government of Montenegro for hosting the Meeting of the Parties. She announced the agenda of the session, which was adopted by the MOP.

The secretariat then informed the delegates about the status of ratification of the Protocol, stating that since the last MOP, the number of Parties increased to thirty-five, with ratifications by Ukraine and Malta. Mr. Milos Sekulovic, Montenegro, informed that the parliamentary procedures for ratification of the Protocol had been completed a month ago and that further steps would be taken soon for the formal submission of the instrument of ratification. The European Union (EU) and its Member States encouraged the remaining signatories and other interested States to become Party to the Protocol.

Turning to the Protocol’s promotion and capacity-building, and specifically, the coordination mechanisms and synergies, the Chair of the International PRTRs Coordinating Group, Mr. Iñigo De Vicente-Mingarro (Spain) reminded the role of the registers in the promotion of good governance, and in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He suggested ways to promote them, and encouraged the organization of the joint Global Round Tables in the future. Mr. Robert Diderich, OECD, elaborated on the two resource compendia of release estimation techniques recently published by the OECD, as well as on the "Guidance Document on Elements of a PRTR”, which the Parties were invited to use, so that the PRTRs data was comparable between countries. Mr. Andrea Cararo presented, on behalf of UNITAR and UNEP, their global project aiming to improve access and accuracy of environmental data on Persistent Organic Pollutants, among other priority chemicals, and to enhance awareness and public participation on environmental matters through the implementation of national PRTRs in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Republic of Moldova, Cambodia, Ecuador and Peru.

The MOP then considered the report on the second Global Round Table on PRTRs. Further to interventions by Switzerland and the EU, the MOP mandated the Bureau and the secretariat to organise a third global event in the next intersessional period.

Moving to technical resources and sub-regional and national activities, the MOP discussed the outcomes of the workshop “Get Your Right to a Healthy Community” hosted by Belarus in 2016. Its purpose was to promote the implementation and ratification of the Protocol, also through explaining the synergies with the Air Convention on data collecting and reporting. A delegate from Belarus, Mr. Ivan Narkevitch, presented some of the workshop’s highlights. He underscored the commitment of Belarus in developing the PRTRs further. Croatia then reported that the country now achieved a higher data quality, e.g. through the use of so-called ‘cross-pollutants’ checks, and  through the use of information technology tools for calculation of emissions to air. Ms. Magdolna Tothne Nagy, from the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) reported on the activities undertaken, notably a stakeholder event, whose purpose was to discuss the status of development and the initiatives to implement PRTRs, as well as the preparation of elements that support the establishment of a  PRTR web portal. Speaking on behalf of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the European ECO Forum, Mr. Christian Schaible presented possible good practice approaches with some concrete recommendations on how existing industrial pollution web portals could be improved, based on the research the EEB had carried out on various EU online portals on industrial activities. Finally, the European Union expressed its support for future opportunities for capacity building and encouraged the use and the development of electronic tools.

After the Chair brought to the attention of the Parties the information on the use of electronic tools at the country level, the secretariat presented the global portal on PRTRs available from: https://prtr.unece.org/. Mr. Andrea Cararo presented, on behalf of UNITAR and the OECD, the new platform prtrt.unitar.org, which aims to gather a variety of resources, and to allow different stakeholders to engage through a forum. He also mentioned the IOMC Toolbox, a problem-solving tool that enables countries to identify the most appropriate, efficient and cost-effective solutions to national chemicals management issues. 

Moving to the reporting mechanism, Mr. Alistair McGlone, Chair of the Protocol’s Compliance Committee (CC), informed the Parties on the status of implementation of the Protocol, evoking such elements as data availability, protection of whistle-blowers, confidentiality and public participation in the development of PRTRs, as well as challenges to be addressed to improve the registers. The European ECO Forum then suggested to shorten the deadlines for publishing information in national PRTRs, given the technological progress observed. In response, the Swiss delegate, Mr. Roland Ritter, informed that the existing deadlines were necessary to the State given its federal system, which implies contacting many stakeholders before having the final information. The European Union thanked for the CC report and recognized the importance of having a clear guidance on reporting requirements. The Meeting of the Parties then adopted the decision on reporting requirements as amended at the meeting.

As to the compliance mechanism, Mr. Alistair McGlone noted that there were no submissions by Parties, referrals by the secretariat nor communications from the public since the previous session of the Meeting of the Parties. He then moved to present the guidance for reporting and the document on systemic issues concerning implementation. He concluded by reminding the availability of the Committee to provide support to the Parties at various levels. Commenting on the presentation of Mr. McGlone, the European Union encouraged Parties to pursue the implementation of the Protocol. After endorsing the two documents, the MOP turned to the next item.

The MOP addressed the election of members of the Compliance Committee. It re-elected the CC members: Mr. Gor Movsisyan (nominated by Belgium), Mr. Fritz Kroiss (nominated by Austria) and Ms. Nataša Kačić-Bartulović (nominated by Croatia); and elected the following new members: Mr. Nicolas Encausse (nominated by France), Ms. Azemine Shakiri (nominated by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), and Mr. Juan Luis Martín Ortega (nominated by Spain). The Chair also thanked the outgoing members of the Committee Mr. McGlone and Ms. Rathmer for their professional service.

The delegates turned to the implementation of the work programme for 2015–2017, starting with a report on contributions and expenditures. The secretariat thanked Parties for their generous contributions and support to help implement the Protocol on PRTRs. In response, Switzerland made a pledge as to its future contribution. The European ECO Forum expressed its regrets over the fact that not many countries - and none from outside the ECE region - had ratified the Protocol. The representative expressed the Forum’s support to the Budva Declaration hoping that countries will take it seriously into account, along with updating and extending the list of pollutants.

Reviewing the strategic plan for 2015–2020, Mr. Alistair McGlone concluded that Parties had more work done regarding the implementation of the Protocol (focal area I of the strategic plan for 2015-2020) than in terms of lifting barriers to ratification and expansion beyond the ECE region (focal area II) and the development of the Protocol (focal area III), and that Parties set priorities differently. He added there were currently no concrete indicators allowing to evaluate the success of the Protocol. In response to the proposal by the Chair of the Compliance Committee, the MOP decided to ask the Bureau to consider the added value and resource implications of a possible evaluation of the success of the Protocol and the development of relevant indicators referred to in the report of the Compliance Committee on its fifth meeting. It also requested the secretariat to organize a survey among Parties to collect information not provided through the NIRs; and to take it into account when determining the focal areas that would need further action and when developing a possible future strategic plan. 

Turning to the future work programme, the Parties adopted the draft decision on the work programme for 2018–2021.

As for financial arrangements, the MOP discussed the two alternative financial schemes, as well as the minimum amount of financial contributions. The European Union, Norway and Switzerland expressed their gratitude to the secretariat for its work, especially given the unpredictability of the financial resources. Following discussion, the MOP decided for the next intersessional period to keep the interim voluntary contribution scheme with the minimum contribution set to 500 $ and adopted the draft decision on financial arrangements.

Regarding the election of officers and other members of the Bureau, the Meeting of the Parties thanked the outgoing members for their work, and elected by consensus Ms. Tina Skårman (nominated by Sweden) as Chair; Ms. Ulrike Schüler (nominated by Germany) and Ms. Marie-Rose Van den Hende (nominated by Belgium) as Vice-Chairs. It also elected by consensus Mr. Alex Radway (nominated by the EU), Mr. Nebosja Redzic (nominated by Serbia), Mr. Roland Ritter (nominated by Switzerland) and Ms. Lesya Karnaukh (nominated by Ukraine) as members of the Bureau. It took note of appointment by the European ECO Forum of Mara Silina to attend the meetings of the Bureau as an NGO observer.

As for the date and venue of the fourth ordinary session to take place in 2021, the MOP mandated the Working Group of the Parties to consider this matter at its next meeting.

The MOP then adopted the list of major outcomes and decisions. In a closing statement by the EU, its delegate thanked the Government of Montenegro for hosting the MOP 6 and MOPP 3, and the organizers, for their great work, and congratulated the Parties on the adoption of the Budva Declaration along with other important decision, urging them to further promote PRTRs at a global level. Finally, the Chair thanked the Government of Montenegro for hosting the sessions, and closed the meeting.

Two side events complemented the programme of the day, addressing the advancement of PRTRs in the Western Balkans and in Republic of Moldova, and the capacity to make the pollution data understandable to the citizens.