Scientists observed in the late1960s that waterborne and airborne pollutants
could be transported long distances. That means that an emission in one country
or region may influence the environment in other countries and regions, and the
conclusion was that separated countries could not handle their environmental
problems by themselves. International cooperation is a necessity.
One way to organize the international cooperation is to set up specific
agreements - conventions - as a common base for continuous cooperation.
The following convention are briefly described below (with links):
Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer,
The Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, was agreed upon in
Vienna in 1985. The main thrust of the convention was to encourage research,
cooperation among countries and exchange of information. Twenty nations signed
it in Vienna, but most did not rush to ratify it. The Convention provided for
future protocols and specified procedures for amendment and dispute
As the experts began to explore for specific measures to be taken, the
journal 'Nature' published a paper in May 1985 about severe ozone depletion in
the Antarctic. The paper's findings were confirmed by American satellite
observations and offered the first proof of severe ozone depletion and making
the need for definite measures more urgent. As a result, in September 1987,
agreement was reached on specific measures to be taken and the Montreal Protocol
on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed.
Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of
Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, 1989
In the late 1980s, a tightening of environmental regulations in
industrialized countries led to a dramatic rise in the cost of hazardous waste
disposal. Searching for cheaper ways to get rid of the wastes, "toxic
traders" began shipping hazardous waste to developing countries and to
Eastern Europe. When this activity was revealed, international outrage led to
the drafting and adoption of the Basel Convention.
During its first decade (1989-1999), the convention was principally devoted
to setting up a framework for controlling the "transboundary"
movements of hazardous wastes, that is, the movement of hazardous wastes across
international frontiers. During the next decade (2000-2010), the convention will
build on this framework by emphasizing full implementation and enforcement of
Link Basel convention
Helsinki commission, HELCOM or Baltic Sea convention, 1992
HELCOM works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all
sources of pollution through intergovernmental cooperation between Denmark,
Estonia, the European Community, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland,
Russia and Sweden. The legislative situation of selected hazardous substances
for immediate priority action has been surveyed.
OSPAR Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East
The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East
Atlantic ("OSPAR Convention") has been signed and ratified by all of
the contracting parties to the Oslo or Paris Conventions (Belgium, Denmark, the
Commission of the European Communities, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland,
Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and by Luxembourg and Switzerland. It
replaces the Oslo and Paris Conventions. The Commission will complete the
development of a dynamic selection and prioritization mechanism to select
hazardous substances for priority action. In the OSPAR 1998 substances list
there are candidates for selection, assessment and prioritization.
Link: OSPAR Convention
Kyoto Protocol, 1997
In 1992 at the "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro, the nations of the
world acknowledged the global nature of climate change in signing the Framework
Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). As the name suggests, the Framework
Convention is the foundation for the global response to climate change. The FCCC
specified that developed countries should bear the primary responsibility for
reducing greenhouse gases, and set out a system of voluntary reduction
commitments for these countries along with common monitoring and reporting
requirements for all countries.
In 1997 the Convention was given some "teeth" with the signing of
the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol encompassed many key decisions, but of
most importance was the decision for developed countries to accept emission
reduction commitments that would become legally binding when the Protocol is
ratified. Subsequent to 1997 negotiations on the rules for implementing the
Protocol have continued, although the process was dealt a significant blow in
2001 by the decision of the US to withdraw from the Protocol. It is widely
accepted that the Kyoto Protocol is only a small step in the global effort to
reduce emissions. The Kyoto protocol was ratified the 15 Feb. 2005, although the
United States remains outside this process.
Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs),
The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the
environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). 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. In implementing the Convention, Governments will take measures to
eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment.