Multilateral Environmental Agreements
As part of its efforts to maintain and protect the environment, Singapore is party to a number of international agreements that provides guidelines or regulations on issues affecting the environment, often in areas with transboundary implications.
Singapore acceded to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal (Basel Convention) in the control of export, import and transit of hazardous wastes on 2 January 1996. On 16 March 1998, Singapore enacted "The Hazardous Waste (Control of Export, Import and Transit) Act and its Regulations" to regulate the control of export, import and transit of hazardous wastes in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Basel Convention.
Under the Hazardous Waste (Control of Export, Import and Transit) Act and its Regulations, any person who wishes to export, import or transit hazardous wastes shall obtain a permit from the National Environment Agency (NEA). NEA adopts the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure of the Basel Convention in granting any permit for the export, import or transit of hazardous wastes. For clarification and further information on matters pertaining to the Basel Convention, click here or please call 67319377.
Singapore signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (Stockholm Convention), together with some 90 other countries, on 23 May 2001. The Stockholm Convention calls for measures and international cooperation to control the production, use, trade and disposal of substances termed as persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Persistent organic pollutants are chemicals that resist degradation, enabling them to be transported by air, water or other means to remote regions where they have never been used. Their propensity to bio-accumulate in living tissues pose a risk to the well-being of human populations and wildlife. Scientific evidence has indicated that exposure to very low doses of certain POPs can lead to cancer, damage to the human nervous system, diseases of the immune system, reproductive disorders and interference with normal infant and child development.
The initial list of 12 POPs covered under the Stockholm Convention is: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex, toxaphene, PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, dioxins and furans. Many of these substances, which are commonly used as pesticides, have been banned in Singapore. POPs such as dioxins and furans are the unintentional byproducts of combustion, such as waste incineration. Processes and procedures are in place to minimize their production in Singapore waste incineration processes, and emission levels are low and comparable to those in other developed countries.
Improper handling and unsafe management of toxic pesticides and other hazardous chemicals cause serious harm to human, animals and the environment. Governments started to address this problem in the 1980s by establishing a voluntary Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. PIC required exporters trading in a list of hazardous substances to obtain the prior informed consent of importers before proceeding with the trade.
In response to these concerns, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have adopted the Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals in International Trade on 10 September 1998 by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The Convention creates legally binding obligations for the Implementation of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. The Convention had entered into force on 24 February 2004.
The PIC procedure:
- Helps participating countries learn more about the characteristics of potentially hazardous chemicals that may be shipped to them;
- Initiates a decision making process on the future import of these chemicals by the countries themselves; and
- Facilitates the dissemination of this decision to other countries.
The Convention initially covers 22 pesticides (including five severely hazardous pesticide formulations) and 5 industrial chemicals. These hazardous chemicals have been banned or severely restricted for health and environmental reasons and are included in the PIC procedure. Since then, many more hazardous chemicals have been identified and added under the Convention.
Currently, the Convention covers 40 hazardous chemicals. Among these chemicals, 25 are pesticides, 11 are industrial chemicals and the other 4 are severely hazardous pesticide formulations.
The PIC Procedure
Since June 2001, Singapore has been participating in the Interim PIC Procedure (IPP). On 24 May 2005, Singapore deposited its instruments of ratification and accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations in New York. The Convention came into force for Singapore on 21 Aug 2005 (i.e. the 90th day after the date of deposit of the instruments). The Pollution Control Department (PCD) of the National Environment Agency (NEA) is Singapore's Designated National Authority (DNA) under the PIC procedure, and hazardous chemicals in Singapore are already subject to stringent controls under NEA's Environmental Protection and Management Act and its Regulations. Through the control of export licenses, NEA can ban or restrict the import or export of hazardous chemicals. The list of chemicals subjected to the IPP (PIC chemicals) can be found at Annex A.
Under the PIC procedure, countries exporting hazardous chemicals identified in the Convention are only allowed to export to Parties that consent to the import of these PIC chemicals. The import decisions of each country can be found in the PIC Circular updated every six months by the Secretariat. Exporters are to comply with the decisions.
The text of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade can be viewed at the official website of the Rotterdam Convention.
The list of HS Codes and Product Codes assigned to the PIC chemicals are sorted in the numerical (HS codes) or alphabetical (chemical names) order.
Singapore shares worldwide concern in reducing consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODS) and help preserve the stratospheric ozone layer, for a safe and healthy environment. To signify her commitment to reduce consumption of ODS and protect the ozone layer, Singapore became a party to the Montreal protocol on 5 January 1989. On 2 March 1993, Singapore also acceded to the 1990 London Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and subsequently to the Copenhagen Amendment and the Montreal Amendment on 22 Sep 2000. Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) are controlled as hazardous substances under the Environmental Protection and Management Act. The import and export of controlled ODS are regulated under the Environmental Protection and Management (Ozone Depleting Substances) Regulations. For clarification and further information on matters pertaining Montreal Protocol, click here or please call 67319377.