Stockholm Convention



    • The 18th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) Review Committee (POPRC-18) to the Stockholm Convention  is being held in Rome.

    Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) 

    • POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs circulate globally and can cause damage wherever they travel.

    The Stockholm Convention

    • It  is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). 
    • Over 152 countries ratified the Convention and it entered into force in  2004.
    • It focuses on eliminating or reducing releases of POPs. It sets up a system for tackling additional chemicals identified as unacceptably hazardous. 
    • Global Environmental Facility (GEF)  is the designated interim financial mechanism for the Stockholm Convention.
    • UNIDO is also responsible for supporting developing countries and countries with economies in transition to implement the Stockholm Convention
    • Aims 
      • Eliminate dangerous POPs, starting with the 12 worst
      • Support the transition to safer alternatives
      • Target additional POPs for action
      • Cleanup old stockpiles and equipment containing POPs
      • Work together for a POPs-free future

    Ratification by India 

    • India had ratified the Stockholm Convention in  2006 as per Article 25(4), which enabled it to keep itself in a default “opt-out” position such that amendments in various Annexes of the convention cannot be enforced on it unless an instrument of ratification/ acceptance/ approval or accession is explicitly deposited with UN depositary.
    • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had notified the ‘Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants Rules in 2018 under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
      •  The regulation inter alia prohibited the manufacture, trade, use, import and export seven chemicals namely 
        •  Chlordecone, Hexabromobiphenyl,  Hexabromodiphenyl ether and Heptabromodiphenylether (Commercial octa-BDE),Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentabromodiphenyl ether (Commercial penta-BDE),  Pentachlorobenzene, Hexabromocyclododecane, and  Hexachlorobutadiene.

    Key Highlights of the recent  meeting 

    •  It has included five more chemicals in its agenda.
    • The listed 5 chemicals include a pesticide, a flame retardant and some plastic stabilising substances.
    • 3 of the listed chemicals– chlorpyrifos, chlorinated paraffin (beyond prescribed standards) and long-chain perfluoro carboxylic acids had already been nominated by the 17th meeting (POPRC-17).
    • Other 2 chemicals, dechlorane plus (a flame retardant) and UV-328 (a stabiliser used in some personal care products) which were qualified for risk management evaluation at POPRC-17. 
    • It aims to list each of these chemicals in Annex A (elimination), B (restriction) and/or C (unintended release) of the Stockholm Convention.

    India’s Stand

    • Resistance: The United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) proposal to list chlorpyrifos as POP was resisted by India. However, chlorpyrifos got nominated as Persistent organic pollutants.
      • Reasons :  Chlorpyrifos is not a carcinogen and its concentrations are low.
        • Some of the studies in the POPRC-17 proposal showing adverse effects of chlorpyrifos were not peer reviewed.
      • Anupam Verma Committee: Chlorpyrifos has been registered under the Insecticide Act of 1968  and Anupam Verma Committee had recommended its review since 1977 for continued use in 2015.

    What’s Next?

    • India’s views against the listing of chlorpyrifos may not find much acceptance by the expert committee consisting of 31 experts — from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean
    • The Stockholm Convention has listed 31 chemicals as of December 2020. 
      • This list is likely to expand further amid evidence pointing towards the health burden of hazardous chemicals and pesticides.