COOK ISLANDS SAYS NO TO HAZARDOUS WASTES, RATIFIES WAIGANI CONVENTION

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APIA, Samoa (December 1, 2000 - SPREP/PINA Nius Online)---The Cook Islands has moved to control and manage hazardous and radioactive wastes by ratifying the Waigani Convention.

Ratification will also facilitate the Cooks' implementation of related global conventions such as the Basel Convention and the forthcoming POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) Treaty.

The move by the Cook Islands gives further impetus to calls for urgent action by South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) members who met in Guam for the 11th SPREP Meeting in October.

Officials and Ministers attending the biennial meeting of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme "recalled the importance of the Waigani Convention and strongly urged Members to become Party to the Convention enabling its entry into force at the earliest."

Pacific countries that have now ratified the convention are: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Ten countries are required for the Convention to come into force.

SPREP, which is also the Secretariat to the Apia and SPREP Conventions, will act as the Secretariat for the Waigani Convention once it comes into force.

Pacific island countries are highly dependent on agriculture, marine resources and tourism to support their economies. If not properly managed, these activities could contribute to increasing amounts of hazardous wastes.

The shortage of land area and limited resources makes the islands highly vulnerable to such wastes.

The provisions of the Waigani Convention are aimed at:

* Prohibiting the importation of hazardous wastes into Pacific island countries;

* Prohibiting the importation of all radioactive wastes into Pacific Island countries;

* Reducing transboundary movements of hazardous wastes to a minimum;

* Treating and disposing of hazardous wastes as soon as possible;

* and minimizing the generation of hazardous wastes.

The Waigani Convention is also closely linked to two global conventions: the Basel Convention and the POPs [Persistent Organic Pollutants] Treaty currently under negotiation.

To provide background information on these conventions and the links to the Waigani Convention, the SPREP and Basel Secretariats have started two key components:

* Prepare a detailed paper on collaborative arrangements between both Secretariats to implement the Waigani and Basel Conventions; and

* Coordinate an Awareness Raising Workshop in early 2001 with UNEP Chemicals. The workshop will focus on issues related to the Prior Informed Consent, to Persistent Organic Pollutants as well as to all aspects related to the Ratification/Accession of the Waigani/Basel Conventions including national requirements.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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