Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements
Wastes (i.e., the movement of hazardous wastes across
international frontiers) and their Disposal was negotiated under
the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) beginning in 1988. After
the twentieth country ratified the Basel Convention on February
5, 1992, the Convention became effective for those twenty countries
on May 5, 1992. The Convention's main goal is to protect
human health and the environment from hazards posed by transboundary
movements of hazardous waste. The negotiators of the Convention
wanted to promote environmentally sound management of exported
and imported waste, especially in developing countries.
its first Decade (1989-1999), the Convention was principally
to setting up a framework for controlling the transboundary movements
of hazardous wastes. It also developed the criteria for environmentally
sound management. A Control System, based on prior written notification,
was also put into place. Since 2000, the Convention has built
on this framework by emphasizing full implementation and enforcement
of treaty commitments. The other area of focus is the minimization
of hazardous waste generation.
Convention requires that the exporting country notify the receiving
and any transit countries of the proposed shipment. The
waste shipment may occur only after the transit and receiving
countries have given consent for the shipment. The Convention
requires that a tracking document, or movement document, accompany
the waste shipment from its point of origin until its ultimate
disposal. In addition, shipments of waste must be packaged,
labeled, and transported in accordance with international rules. In
the event that an accident occurs during the shipment of the
waste, Basel requires that the responsible parties inform the
potentially affected countries of the accident. Finally, parties
to the Convention must submit an annual report to the Basel Secretariat
summarizing the amounts and types of hazardous waste exported
and the destination and disposal methods.
Additional Resources for the Basel Convention:
Secretariat of the Basel Convention. Official
web site of the Basil Convention.
Convention. EPA web site. Provides information
about the Basel Convention. including a Collection of Materials
on Import / Export Regulatory Requirements (Chapter V) and
International Waste Activities.
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), first signed
in 1972, provides a regional mechanism to protect and improve
the management of the Great Lakes ecosystem by supporting:
- enforcement action
- program planning.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the agreement.
One continuing problem in the Lakes has been the high levels
of certain toxic substances. In early 1997, a new strategy was
released to address these concerns. The strategy proposes to
reduce and virtually eliminate identified persistent toxic substances,
especially those which bioaccumulate, from the Great Lakes basin.
in the strategy include: an emphasis on pollution prevention
and "cleaner, cheaper, smarter" ways to
reduce toxic substances, and a framework for actions to achieve
quantifiable goals within a ten-year time frame. It builds on
existing Canadian and U.S. regulatory programs, as well as on
successful toxic reduction programs underway in the States.
The strategy sets milestones to be achieved from 1997 to 2006.
Among them, the strategy calls for a 50 percent reduction in
mercury uses nationally, a 90 percent reduction of high level
PCBs used in electrical equipment; and agreement that there will
be no releases of five bioacculmulative pesticides--chlordane,
aldrin/dieldrin, DDT, mirex, and toxaphene.
Additional Resources for the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement:
Lakes Water Quality Agreement. EPA website. Provides
information about the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
including links to biennial reports and the full text of
Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Environment
Canada website. Provides history, facts, updates, reports,
and other information relating to the Agreement.
Great Lakes Water Quality
Agreement. Contains documents pertaining to the
agreement between the US and Canada to maintain water quality
in the Great Lakes.
La Paz Agreement
The 1983 La Paz Agreement between the United States and Mexico
is a pact to protect, conserve, and improve the environment of
the border region of both countries. The agreement defined the
region as the 62 mi (100 km) to the north and south of the international
border. This area includes maritime (sea) boundaries and land
in four American states and six Mexican border states.
Representatives from the two countries signed the agreement
on Aug. 14, 1983, in La Paz, Mexico. The agreement took effect
on Feb. 16, 1984. It established six workgroups, with each group
concentrating on an environmental concern. Representatives from
both countries serve on the workgroups that focus on water, air,
hazardous and solid waste, pollution prevention,
contingency planning and emergency response, and cooperative
enforcement and compliance.
In February of 1992, environmental officials from the two countries
released the Integrated Environmental Plan for the Mexican-U.S.
Border Area. The Border
XXI Program created nine additional workgroups. These groups
focus on environmental information resources, natural resources,
and environmental health.
Border XXI involves federal, state, and local governments on
both sides of the border. Residents also participate through
activities such as public hearings.
EPA US-Mexico Border 2020 Program
Additional Resources for the La Paz Agreement:
La Paz Agreement. EPA
website. Provides full text of the Agreement.
Border Center. Information
for transporting cargo from Mexico into the United States, with
special attention to solid and hazardous wastes. Includes resources
such as U.S and Mexican regulations, port of entry information,
London Convention of 1972 (formally known as the "Convention
on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and
Other Matter") is an international treaty that limits the
discharge of wastes that are generated on land and disposed of
at sea. Currently there are 81 Parties to the Convention (i.e.,
states that have signed, ratified, and otherwise acceded to it).
The 1996 Protocol is a separate agreement that modernized and
updated the London Convention, following a detailed review that
began in 1993. Upon its entry into force, the 1996 Protocol will
replace the London Convention. As of July 2006, 22 states
have acceded to the 1996 Protocol. Four more parties are needed
before the Protocol will enter into force.
States can be a Party to either the London Convention 1972,
or the 1996 Protocol, or both.
Additional Resources for the London Convention:
London Convention EPA
website. Provides full text of the Convention.
73/78 (the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution
from Ships) is the international treaty regulating disposal of
wastes generated by normal operation of vessels
73/78 is implemented in the U.S. by the Act to Prevent Pollution
from Ships, under the lead of the U.S. Coast Guard
countries are parties as of December 2001.
Maritime Organization (IMO) in London performs Secretariat functions.
IMO, environmental issues are responsibility of Marine Environment
Protection Committee (MEPC)
Additional Resources for the Marpol Agreement
-- EPA website
The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone
Layer is an international agreement designed to protect
the stratospheric ozone layer. The treaty was originally signed
in 1987 and substantially amended in 1990 and 1992. The Montreal
Protocol stipulates that the production and consumption of
compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere--chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform--are
to be phased out by 2000 (2005 for methyl chloroform).
Additional Resources for the Montreal Protocol
Montreal Protocol Amendments
-- EPA website.
U.S. History Office:
Montreal Protocol. Links to documents and other
resources related to the Montreal Protocol.
North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC)
In 1993, the United States, Mexico and Canada negotiated the
North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC),
the environmental side agreement to NAFTA, to promote sustainable
development through mutually supportive environmental and economic
policies. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)
was created under the NAAEC to protect, conserve, and improve
the environment through increased cooperation among the three
signatories and through increased public participation. The three
Parties each contribute U.S. $3 million per year to the CEC.
Additional Resources for NAACE:
American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC).
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
The North American Free Trade Agreement, known usually
as NAFTA, is a free trade agreement among Canada, the
United States, and Mexico. NAFTA went into effect on January
1, 1994. NAFTA is also used to refer to the tripartite trading
bloc of North American countries.
NAFTA called for immediately eliminating duties on half of all
U.S. goods shipped to Mexico and Canada, and gradually phasing
out other tariffs over a period of about 14 years. Restrictions
were to be removed from many categories, including, but not limited
to, motor vehicles and automotive parts, computers, textiles,
and agriculture. The treaty also protected intellectual property
rights (patents, copyrights, and trademarks) and outlined the
removal of restrictions on investment among the three countries.
Provisions regarding worker and environmental protection were
added later as a result of supplemental agreements signed in
Unlike other Free Trade Agreements in the world, NAFTA is more
comprehensive in its scope and was complemented by the North
American Agreement for Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) and
the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC).
Additional Resources for NAFTA:
Technical Working Group on Pesticides. Cooperative
US / Canada bilateral efforts on pesticides regulatory harmonization
were expanded in 1996 to include Mexico.
US-Japan Agreement on Cooperation in Environmental Protection
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enjoys
broad-ranging relationships with a number of Japanese government
and quasi-government organizations involved in the protection
of the environment.
The principal focus of activity with Japan related to the U.S.
EPA's domestic responsibilities and programs falls under the
1975 U.S. - Japan Agreement on Cooperation in Environmental Protection.
Since the implementation of the Agreement, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency has been the Executive Agency on the U.S. side,
and the Environment Agency of Japan is EPA's counterpart. The
Agreement provides for a Joint Planning and Coordination Committee
which meets to exchange views on policy matters, to review existing
cooperation, and to provide direction for future work.
Additional Resources for the US-Japan Agreement on Cooperation
in Environmental Protection
Agreement on Cooperation in Environmental Protection -- EPA
US-Taiwan Bilateral Agreement In the Field of Environmental
The agreement between the United States Environmental Protection
Agency (USEPA) and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) for
technical cooperation in the field of environmental protection
was signed in 1993 by Administrator Carol Browner and the Director
of AIT. AIT is an office established by the State Department
under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, 22 U.S.C. section 3301-3316.
Under the agreement, USEPA and AIT develop a new workplan every
two years. The workplan describes the responsibility of each
party and the projects to be implemented in a two-year segment.
The parties hold annual planning and review meeting to assess
the accomplishments and to lay the groundwork for future projects.
Additional Resources for US-Taiwan Bilateral Agreement In
the Field of Environmental Protection
Bilateral Agreement - Collaboration to Improve the Environment in Taiwan
-- EPA website.
US-Thailand Agreement in the Area of Environmental Protection
In 1999, the United States and Thailand signed a memorandum
of understanding (MOU) regarding environmental cooperation between
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry
of Science, Technology and Environment (MOSTE). The MOU lays
the foundation for a five-year framework for cooperation that
takes a view towards long-term institution-building. U.S. EPA
Assistant Administrator William Nitze and MOSTE Minister Dr.
Arthit Ourairat signed the MOU at the Ministry of Science, Technology
Under the MOU, each year a program plan will be developed to
meet the priority needs of MOSTE. The plan will include training,
information sharing and joint-research activities that will cover
such important areas as air pollution, water quality management,
chemical and waste management, environmental impact assessment
and environmental enforcement activities.