Persistent organic pollutants: Stockholm Convention
Official title: Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
- Subject category:
- Chemicals & Wastes
- Type of agreement / instrument:
- Legally binding treaty
- Signed by Canada May 23, 2001
- Ratified by Canada May 23, 2001
- In force in Canada May 17, 2004
- In force internationally May 17, 2004
- Lead & partner departments:
- Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Health Canada-Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Global Affairs Canada
- For further information:
- Compendium edition:
- January 2020
- Reference #:
Plain language summary
The Convention aims to reduce levels of POPs entering the environment over time; by eliminating or restricting releases of POP industrial chemicals and pesticides, unintentionally produced POP by-products and stockpiles and POP wastes. Due to the tendency of POPs to migrate long distances and accumulate in northern climates, Canada continues to be particularly impacted by POPs and inhabitants of Canada’s North are at greater risk for POPs exposure. Canada has therefore played a major leadership role in efforts to control POPs and in the development of this global treaty, and was the first country to sign and ratify the Convention in 2001.
The objective of the Stockholm Convention is to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
Effective implementation of the Stockholm Convention is of vital interest to Canada because it will reduce Canada's exposure to major foreign sources of POPs. Due to the tendency of POPs to migrate long distances and accumulate in northern climates, Canada continues to be particularly impacted by POPs and inhabitants of Canada’s North are at greater risk for POPs exposure.
Each Party is required to develop a National Implementation Plan detailing measures taken to implement obligations under the Convention. In addition, national reporting every four years is also required, where each Party provides statistical data on total quantities of production, import and export of listed chemicals, the measures taken to implement the provisions of the Convention, as well as the effectiveness of such measures in meeting the objectives of the Convention.
The Convention has a financial mechanism, operated by the Global Environment Facility, to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition to implement and meet their obligations. A regular effectiveness evaluation assesses whether the Convention is meeting its objective.
The Convention aims to reduce levels of POPs entering the environment over time; as a result of eliminating or restricting releases of POP industrial chemicals and pesticides, unintentionally produced POP by-products and stockpiles and wastes containing POPs.
The effectiveness of the Convention is evaluated on the basis of available scientific, environmental, technical and economic information, including:
Effective implementation of the Stockholm Convention is of vital interest to Canada because it will reduce Canada’s exposure to major foreign sources of POPs.
Canada takes a risk-based approach to chemical substances, using strong science, assessment, management and monitoring tools. The Chemicals Management Plan assesses chemicals used in Canada and takes action on chemicals found to be harmful, including POPs. The production, use and release of POPs are managed through a well-established regulatory and policy framework involving both federal and provincial/territorial agencies. At the federal level, key policies and legislation governing chemical substances in food, drugs, pesticides and products include the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Pest Control Products Act and the Toxic Substances Management Policy.
Results / progress
Canada played a major leadership role in early efforts to control POPs and to develop this global treaty, and was the first country to sign and ratify the Convention in 2001. Canada also championed inclusion of effectiveness evaluation provisions and provided a $20 million Canada POPs Fund to assist developing countries build their capacities to address POPs.
The National Implementation Plan (NIP) is reviewed periodically and updated to address new obligations under the Convention. Canada submitted its initial and updated NIPs in 2006 and 2013 respectively.
Canada actively participates on the POPs Review Committee (POPRC), a subsidiary technical body to the Convention, assisting in efforts to scientifically assess candidate POPs for addition to the Convention. Canada has also contributed expertise to help develop technical guidelines on POP wastes and to establish a Global POPs Monitoring Group for evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention. Canada monitors and conducts research on the pathways and effects of POPs through a number of programs, most notably the Northern Contaminants Program (NCP). Canada also participates in POPs-related monitoring and assessment by the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). The NCP and AMAP provided much of the foundational science on which the Convention is based.
POPs in Canada are regulated through the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012, the PCB Regulations, 2008, and the Pest Control Products Act, which prohibit production and use of several POPs. The Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations control the export of POPs.
National reports contain information on the measures taken by a Party in implementing the Stockholm Convention, provide quantitative information on the effectiveness of such measures in meeting the objectives of the Convention, and must be submitted every four years. Canada’s national reports, from 2006to 2018 are available at the Convention’s National Reports website.
The Global Monitoring Plan (GMP) under the Convention provides a harmonized organizational framework for the collection of comparable monitoring data on the presence of POPs from all regions, in order to identify changes in their concentrations over time, as well as on regional and global environmental transport. Canada is a key contributor to this report, available at the Convention’s Monitoring Reports website.
Progress: National actions by all Parties to implement the Convention are ongoing. The most important indication of whether the Convention is meeting its objective comes from the results of the first six-year cycle (between 2010 and 2017) of the Convention’s Effectiveness Evaluation. Two key data sources for this evaluation are the National Reports submitted by Parties and the GMP report.
The Stockholm Convention currently includes 30 POPs for elimination or restriction. Canada has put in place regulatory measures for all POPs and has ratified the listing of 21 of these substances.
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