Consultation on the update to the national implementation plan on persistant organic pollutants: chapter 7

Chapter 7 - Other Commitments

Article 9: Information Exchange

Under Article 9 of the Convention, Parties are required to facilitate or undertake the exchange of information among Parties, relevant to:

  1. (a) The reduction or elimination of the production, use and release of persistent organic pollutants; and
    (b) Alternatives to persistent organic pollutants, including information relating to their risks as well as to their economic and social costs.
  2. The Parties shall exchange the information referred to in paragraph 1 directly or through the Secretariat.
  3. Each Party shall designate a national focal point for the exchange of such information.
  4. The Secretariat shall serve as a clearing-house mechanism for information on persistent organic pollutants, including information provided by Parties, intergovernmental organizations and nongovernmental organizations.
  5. For the purposes of this Convention, information on health and safety of humans and the environment shall not be regarded as confidential. Parties that exchange other information pursuant to this Convention shall protect any confidential information as mutually agreed.

Since the Convention's entry into force, Canada has shared information with other countries and has responded to requests for information from them, and from the Secretariat, and will continue to do so with respect to the nine new chemicals. Canada has programs and initiatives in place that address the exchange of information between national governments and can readily comply with this obligation through continuation of existing strategies.

In addition, CEPA 1999 specifically allows for the exchange of information with the government of a foreign state or an international organization with the condition that the information be kept confidential. The PCPA similarly allows the sharing of information, including confidential test data and confidential business information, with another government provided that there is an agreement in place relating to the exchange of information about pesticides. Under both Acts, the responsible Minister must be satisfied that the law of the jurisdiction to which the information would be communicated enables the recipient of the information to prevent public disclosure of the information and the unfair use of the information by third parties for commercial purposes. Such a law would have to be consistent with the provisions of the PCPA, which prohibit public disclosure of confidential business information, prevent third parties from obtaining copies of confidential test data and establish a data protection policy governing the use of or reliance on such test data by third parties.

Under the Chemicals Management Plan, the Government of Canada has established a Chemical Substances website and works through other communication tools (for example, social media) to educate and support information sharing with stakeholders and the public. An email subscription service is available to keep stakeholders and the public informed of new information and actions being taken by the Government of Canada to assess and manage chemicals under the CMP[52].

Canada also provides information and supports demonstration projects that illustrate practical methods to control POPs (such as pollution abatement technologies) and to find alternatives to their use (such as integrated pest management). These programs are sponsored and delivered by Canadian government agencies, often in partnership with Canada's academic and private sectors. Canada also provides information and services on the internet (e.g. through the Environment Canada website[53]) and makes available relevant government databases to other governments and to the public.

Article 10: Public Information, Awareness and Education

Under Article 10, each Party is required, within its capabilities, to promote and facilitate public awareness, education and training activities and to ensure public access to updated information. Each Party is to give ‚Äúsympathetic consideration‚ÄĚ to developing mechanisms for the collection and dissemination of quantitative information on annual releases and disposal of POPs.

Canada makes environmental and human health information on POPs available to the public through a variety of other sources, including federal, provincial and territorial Internet sites. The Chemicals Substances website provides, among other things, information on the POPs being managed under the CMP[54]. Substance assessments under CEPA 1999 and the CMP are made available to the public through the publication of these assessments[55] along with risk management scopes, approaches and strategies[56] developed and implemented for those substances posing a hazard to human health and/or the environment are also publicly available through the Chemical Substances website. The Northern Contaminants Program (NCP) also conducts education and awareness activities to ensure that individuals and communities in the North receive the information needed to assist informed decision making in their food use.

Information is also shared with the public through the Chemicals Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Council[57], which includes representatives from industry, academia, Aboriginal groups, consumer groups, health and environmental sector professionals and non-government organizations. Members of this council are responsible for sharing information with their respective stakeholders.

Information is also received by the Government of Canada through the public comment process associated with the Chemicals Management Plan. Additionally, another source of information on Canada's approach to managing chemicals is Pollution Probe's Primer on Toxic Substances[58].

Article 11: Research, Development and Monitoring

Under Article 11 of the Convention, Parties agree to, within their capabilities (and among other actions):

Canada has a number of domestic programs dealing with research, development and monitoring of POPs, which also contribute to international knowledge. Among these are POPs research and monitoring activities carried out by Environment Canada laboratories and in relation to Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory[59]. Monitoring is also an important element of Canada's Chemicals Management Plan and the Northern Contaminants Program.

In addition, Canada supports international POPs research and monitoring activities and assists capacity building in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. For example, Canada provides support for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which has carried out a number of projects to manage chemicals and hazardous chemical wastes in developing and transitioning countries. Canada also participates in POPs related work conducted by the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) through its involvement in the NCP, and participates in work of the Commission on Environmental Cooperation, an agency under the North American Free Trade Agreement, and its Sound Management of Chemicals program.

The Northern Contaminants Program[60] co-ordinates Canada's action on northern contaminants, including POPs, both nationally and internationally. The NCP was established in 1991 and is coordinated by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The program monitors environmental and human exposure to elevated levels of contaminants, particularly in wildlife species that are important to the traditional diets of northern Aboriginal peoples. Early studies found a wide variety of substances, many of which had no Arctic or Canadian sources, but which were, nevertheless, reaching unexpectedly high levels in the Arctic ecosystem. The Northern Contaminants Program allocates funds for trend monitoring and research and related activities in five main areas:

Under NCP, long-term air monitoring at Environment Canada's Dr. Neil Trivett Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Observatory in Alert, Nunavut, includes measurements of PBDEs, alpha-HCH, beta-HCH, lindane and precursor substances of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).

During the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2009, a sub-Arctic station was established in Canada's Yukon to measure PBDEs, Alpha-HCH, Beta-HCH and Lindane in air in western Canada. In addition, during IPY, collaboration was established with Russia, USA (Alaska), China, Vietnam and Japan to measure these same chemicals and assess their circulation in the atmosphere around the Pacific Rim. Canada coordinated air monitoring of POPs at eight stations in these countries and contributed to transferring technology on POPs air monitoring to stations in Russia, China and Vietnam.

Canadian air monitoring programs that have provided temporal and spatial information on legacy POPs have begun to address monitoring and surveillance needs for the newly listed POPs and CMP priority chemicals. From 2008 to 2011, PBDEs used as flame retardants in a variety of commercial and industrial products were monitored and analyzed in air samples collected across Canada as part of the National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) program. In the Great Lakes region, the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network (IADN) has been monitoring PBDEs, alpha-HCH, beta-HCH and lindane, among other chemicals.

Canada also continues to operate the only global-scale air monitoring network for POPs, the Global Atmospheric Passive Sampling (GAPS) network. Since 2005, GAPS has been operating at more than 50 sites on all seven continents, using technology that was pioneered at Environment Canada. Canada assists in the transfer of this technology to other countries and regions as a cost-effective and simple approach for monitoring POPs in air. Improvement to the passive sampling approach under GAPS has led to the first global-scale data sets of many of the new POPs including PeCB, PFOS precursors and related chemicals, and PBDEs. These data sets are unique as they allow for the testing of regional and global transport models for POPs. Data from the GAPS network are also being reported for new priority chemicals which will aid risk assessment and consideration of these chemicals as candidate POPs.

Article 12: Technical Assistance

Under Article 12, Parties shall:

2. ...cooperate to provide timely and appropriate technical assistance to developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition, to assist them, taking into account their particular needs, to develop and strengthen their capacity to implement their obligations under this Convention.

3. ... include, as appropriate and as mutually agreed, technical assistance for capacity-building relating to implementation of the obligations under this Convention. Further guidance in this regard shall be provided by the Conference of the Parties.

4. ... establish, as appropriate, arrangements for the purpose of providing technical assistance and promoting the transfer of technology to developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition relating to the implementation of this Convention. These arrangements shall include regional and subregional centres for capacity-building and transfer of technology to assist developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition to fulfil their obligations under this Convention. Further guidance in this regard shall be provided by the Conference of the Parties.

5. ... in the context of this Article, take full account of the specific needs and special situation of least developed countries and small island developing states in their actions with regard to technical assistance.

Canada continues to provide technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for capacity building in the fields of chemical management and alternatives to POPs use. Support for these activities is provided through the GEF.

Article 13: Financial Resources and Mechanisms

Article 13.1 Each Party undertakes to provide, within its capabilities, financial support and incentives in respect of those national activities that are intended to achieve the objective of this Convention in accordance with its national plans, priorities and programmes.

Canada continues to participate in the financial provisions of the Convention on an ongoing basis through its financial contribution to the GEF. Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency, is contributing approximately CDN $60 million annually to the GEF. About 9% percent of this supports work specifically on POPs.

Article 15: Reporting

  1. Each Party shall report to the Conference of the Parties on the measures it has taken to implement the provisions of this Convention and on the effectiveness of such measures in meeting the objectives of the Convention.
  2. Each Party shall provide to the Secretariat:
    (a)    Statistical data on its total quantities of production, import and export of each of the chemicals listed in Annex A and Annex B or a reasonable estimate of such data; and
    (b)   To the extent practicable, a list of the States from which it has imported each such substance and the States to which it has exported each such substance.
  3. Such reporting shall be at periodic intervals and in a format to be decided by the Conference of the Parties at its first meeting.

Canada reports under Article 15 in the format and at intervals decided by the Conference of the Parties. In accordance with its obligations, Canada submitted its first National Report on March 15, 2007, and its second National Report on November 8, 2010[62]. Canada's next National Report, which will address the obligations for the 9 new POPs, is to be completed by August 31, 2014.

Article 16: Effectiveness Evaluation - Canada's involvement in the Global Monitoring Plan

As a party to the Convention, and as called for under Article 16, Canada will cooperate in evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention. The Global Monitoring report is one of three elements that contribute to the Effectiveness Evaluation of the Convention (Article 16). The other two elements include national reports submitted pursuant to Article 15 and compliance information submitted pursuant to Article 17.

The first global monitoring plan (GMP) report of the Stockholm Convention on POPs was completed in 2009 and provided a baseline for POPs concentrations in core media - air and human tissues (milk and blood). Canadian monitoring program data (e.g. NCP, IADN, NAPS and GAPS) and expertise were prominent in the implementation of the GMP. Canada is the coordinator of the regional organizational group for the Western Europe and Others Group and also serves on the global coordination group. The regional working groups and global coordination group are responsible for implementation for the GMP and reporting.

Capacity building efforts under the GAPS network continue to address data gaps in several UN regions identified in the first GMP report. Canadian scientists are also actively involved in the revision of UNEP's Guidance Document for the GMP and the development of new sampling and analytical methods for addressing the newly listed POPs and other priority chemicals (e.g. candidate POPs).

Canadian experts will continue to support the next stage of the GMP process, with the second GMP report due in 2015. The 2015 report will begin to explore temporal trends of POPs in core media and the association of these trends to effectiveness of control measures implemented as a result of the Convention. Canadian long-term data sets for legacy and new POPs are unique and will contribute to this process.

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