EARTH Thailand

Towards a comprehensive and transparent global system for prevent chemical and waste pollution?

EARTH REPORT 04 February 2023

Key points from Science Policy Panel OEWG meeting in Bangkok 

The “Science Policy Panel” or SPP as it is frequently called in the meeting halls of the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok, came a slight bit closer to fruition yesterday.

Borne from the meeting halls of the United Nations Environmental Assembly 5 in March of 2022, the SPP is meant to address the third of the triple planetary crisis, which includes climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. 

From the beginning of the negotiation, many has already hoped that the SPP would raise awareness on the urgency of chemical and waste pollution, giving the crisis the same gravitas as the 1.5 degree limit now indicative of the climate change issue. Many also question whether the notion of “science” so central to this panel would take into account knowledge generate by local communities, and whether the information-sharing function of the panel would bring about full transparency to chemical and waste pollution. 

At the last bang of the gavel in the late evening of February 3rd, it seems the clearest progress of the meeting is that the contact group has agreed that there will be five objectives for the panel. The first four – horizon scanning, assessment of current issues, providing up-to-date and relevant information information-sharing, all appeared in the UNEA resolution of March 2022. However, developing countries managed to push for “capacity building” to be added as the fifth function.

This raises interesting question: what does capacity building entails exactly? Will it including building the capacity of citizen scientist? Will the panel’s function help bring about the democratization of science and promote citizen science efforts?

The answer is yet to be developed, and is something we should follow up for the months and years to come.