Chemicals Controlled by International Conventions

Chemicals that are controlled by international conventions are the responsibility of various government departments. This has resulted in the formation of the National and Multi-Stakeholder Committee on Chemicals Management (MCCM).

The role of the dti

South Africa is a member of a number of international conventions, such as the Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam conventions.

The Stockholm Convention requires that each member develop and implement a National Implementation Plan (NIP) to meet its obligations. An activity in the NIP that falls within mandate of the dti is to facilitate the exchange of information by placing relevant information about conventions and NIPs on the dti website.

The NIP will require the support of various South African manufacturers (e.g. refrigeration, aerosols, foams, plastics and chemicals), government departments (such as Environment, Labour, Agriculture, Health, Transport and Economic Development) and parastatals (e.g. SABS and NMISA).

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

POPs are chemical substances that bio-accumulate through the food chain, posing a health risk and persisting in the environment, having a negative impact. POPs have a long range and are able to move to areas where they are not produced or used, thereby posing a global threat. As a result, the international community has called for action to be taken to reduce and eliminate the production of these pollutants.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants deals with the phasing out of the production and use as well as the waste management of POPs.

National Implementation plan (Stockholm Convention)

The South African NIP was developed based on Article 7 of the Stockholm Convention, which was signed on 23 May 2001 and entered into force on 17 May 2004. According to the provisions of the Convention, each party shall develop a plan for the implementation of its obligations under the Stockholm Convention. South Africa, as a party to the Convention, must put in place measures and report on its efforts to meet the objectives of the Convention. This document represents the findings of an investigation into the status of the implementation of the Convention in South Africa.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is currently in the process of compiling the first South African NIP update for the determination of the extent of manufacture, use, import and export of chemicals listed under the Stockholm convention annexes A, B, C and candidate POPs.

Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade

The Rotterdam Convention is a multilateral treaty. It promotes shared responsibilities in relation to the import of hazardous chemicals and an open exchange of information. It calls on the exporters of hazardous chemicals to make use of proper labelling, include directions on safe handling, and inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans.

Signatory nations can decide whether to allow or ban the import of chemicals listed in the treaty. Exporting countries are obliged to ensure that producers within their jurisdiction comply with their responsibilities.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal

The Basel Convention is an international treaty designed to reduce the movement of hazardous waste between nations, particularly from developed to less developed countries (LDCs).

The Convention was opened for signature on 22 March 1989 and became effective on 5 May 1992.

It also intends to minimise the amount and toxicity of waste generated and to ensure environmentally sound management at the source of generation. Assistance is provided to LDCs in the environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other waste they generate.

Technical guidelines from the United Nations Environmental Programme:

Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer is regarded as a framework convention, since it served as a framework for endeavours to protect the ozone layer. The Convention was adopted in 1985 and entered into force on 22 September 1988.

The aim of the Convention is to encourage observations, research and information exchange on the effects of human activities on the ozone layer and to adopt measures against activities that are likely to have adverse effects on the ozone layer.

Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer under the Convention

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was designed to enable specific actions to control ozone-depleting substances. The Protocol was agreed to on 16 September 1987 and entered into force on 1 January 1989.

A unique adjustment provision under the Montreal Protocol enables the parties to the Protocol to agree to accelerate the reductions required on chemicals already covered by the Protocol in response to new scientific information available. The adjustments are automatically applicable to countries that ratified the Protocol.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international treaty that addresses climate change. It entered into force on 21 March 1994 and has been ratified by 195 countries, which are known as Parties to the Convention.

The ultimate aim of the UNFCCC is to prevent interference with the climate system and limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, as well as to cope with the impact of climate change. Provisions in the convention relating to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions were inadequate and so negotiations were launched to strengthen the global response to climate change. This resulted in the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005 due to a complex ratification process. It legally binds developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is structured on the principles of the UNFCCC.

The Kyoto Protocol commits developed countries to set binding emission reduction targets to since they have been identified as largely responsible for the current high levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity.

South Africa signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC on 31 July 2002, with the aim of combating global warming.

Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)

The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is a policy framework used to promote safe chemical management and has been endorsed by governments as well as environment, labour and health organisations. SAICM was adopted by the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) in February 2006. The overall objective of SAICM is the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that they are produced and used in ways that minimise their harmful effects on human health and the environment.

South African Regulations

Regulations for the prohibition of the use, manufacturing, import and export of asbestos and asbestos containing materials under Section 24B of the Environment Conservation Act 1989 (Act No. 73 of 1989)


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