After around nine years of delay, the government looks finally set to ratify an international convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) this month.
The Stockholm Convention on POPs attempts to curb the production and use of hazardous chemicals and pesticides around the world.
State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar said Monday the ratification of the Stockholm Convention was urgently required to protect the environment, individuals’ health and the country’s economic growth.
“We hope the House can agree to signing the ratification this month,” Rachmat said after a meeting with the House of Representatives Commission VII overseeing environment and forestry Monday to discuss the ratification process.
Indonesia signed the Stockholm Convention in 2001.
Presently, 164 countries have signed the Convention, which was enacted internationally in May 2004.
Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia are the only Asian nations to have not ratified the convention so far.
The convention will entitle Indonesia to receive technical and financial assistance for implementing measures to meet the terms of the agreement.
The convention bans 12 chemicals, known as the “dirty dozen”, because they do not break down easily in the natural environment, they can travel long distances and accumulate in human and animal tissues.
POPs originate largely from pesticides, as by-products of industrial processes, as cancer-causing dioxins released from industry and as chlorine from waste incinerators.
Rachmat said any further delays in the ratification process could damage the competitiveness of Indonesia’s industrial and agricultural products on international markets.
“It would also harm our export markets, because the signatory countries of the Convention promote more eco-friendly products,” he said.
Rachmat said Indonesia had actually prohibited the use of the 12 chemical substances through several policies, including a government regulation on managing hazardous waste.
“The government has also set in motion a national implementation plan to eliminate POPs,” he said.
Experts have warned that POPs could interfere with children’s ability to learn, fight diseases and grow healthily.
Many of the persistent chemicals found in humans to date have been linked to serious short and long-term health problems including infertility, birth defects and cancer.
The fourth Conference of Parties between May 4 and May 8 at the Geneva International Conference Center in Geneva aims to discuss the ongoing issue of POPs and how to eliminate them.
The Director General of Multilateral Affairs at the Foreign Ministry Rezlan Izhar Jeni said the ratification of the Convention could boost Indonesia’s leverage and standing when dealing with issues of foreign diplomacy and negotiations.
Meanwhile, legislator Sonny Keraf, chair of the House Commission, said the government should promote eco-friendly chemicals as an alternative to the “dirty dozen” to ensure the ratification of the Convention is more effective in the future.
“We want the Convention to be implemented in full once it is ratified,” he said.
Sonny, who represents the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in the House, said in the past some conventions were left idle after the House ratified them because there were no further details or regulations to inform officials about how to implement them completely.
“Dirty dozen” banned under Stockholm Convention
Hexa Chlorobenzene (HCB)