Under the motto "Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste", the 9th Rotterdam Convention Conference is currently taking place in Geneva.
100 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans, 50 million tonnes of electronic waste per year and the growing use of pesticides in agriculture that are harmful to health and the environment: these are huge problems that are currently being negotiated at the Conference. Asbestos, one of the main causes of occupational diseases, will also be the subject of controversy at the conference. The challenges are many and far-reaching especially for workers in the global South, where asbestos is still used.
In this framework, SOLIDAR Suisse - together with the Swiss trade union UNIA and activists from all around the world - is advocating for a worldwide ban on white asbestos and for the inclusion of white asbestos in the list of hazardous substances. In order to do so, SOLIDAR Suisse also held a demonstration in the presence of asbestos victims on the Place des Nations in Geneva.
While producing countries, led by Russia, continue to reject the ban on asbestos for economic reasons, a minor group of countries are making a positive exception. For example, at the request of the Swiss delegation, a majority decision was taken today to introduce a new compliance mechanism. This has the potential to enforce the listing of particularly hazardous substances in the future by majority decision instead of unanimously, as was previously the case. This means that white asbestos could be, in the early future, finally be added to the list of hazardous substances.
SOLIDAR joins the call to ban asbestos and reiterates that safety and health at work are an essential component for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
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