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The Treaties - 25 - Treaty on Waste


Considering that:

1. The Earth's natural resources are finite and must be utilized in a responsible, socially just and environmentally sustainable manner;

2. Active cooperation between peoples, respect of human rights and participatory democracy - including access to education and unbiased information - are fundamental prerequisites for an equitable, peaceful and just society;

3. Society as a whole and the poor in particular, suffers from the health impact and the socioeconomic costs of soil, water and food contamination and air pollution, caused by the existing dominant model of economic development;

4. The indiscriminate production of waste causes a severe environmental disequilibrium that threatens the integrity of ecological systems and increases the harm to the social, economic and cultural well-being of the world's inhabitants;

5. National and international legislation and regulations concerning different categories of waste - such as urban, industrial, hazardous and nuclear - are highly amorphous and heterogeneous from country to country, thus representing a great obstacle to effective and environmentally sound global action.

6. Communities do not have control over the production, transportation, import and export, treatment and related emission and final destination of wastes in their vicinity, although those communities are the most threatened by the waste management activities;

7. Considering also the proposals contained in the "Agenda Ya Wananchi - Citizen's Action Plan for the 1990s" which was adopted at the International NGO Conference "Roots Of The Future" held in Paris in December 1991, therefore, citizens representing NGOs and social movements from around the globe gathered at the International Forum of NGOs and Social Movements "Commitments for the Future", held in Rio de Janeiro, June 1992, and committed to make responsible choices now for the good of future generations, have adopted the following principles and commitments as a basic platform for future actions.


8. Social forces in all countries have to work to reach the goal of zero production of hazardous and nuclear waste.

9. The adoption of any new technology or industrial process must include a precautionary principle towards waste production before commencing operation. It is wiser to prevent wastes that clean their negative impacts on human health and the environment.

10. All major programs of waste environmental education should stress the importance of a pluralistic culture, respect for local cultural traditions about the use of natural resources and the local lifestyle of a population.

11. All people have the right of access to full and unbiased information about all steps of waste production and management, including the different modes of waste storage and transportation, and the final destination of waste materials. Society also has the right to unrestricted access and to dissemination of information about quantities of all kinds of wastes produced and the risks involved in any part of the world, without any control, restrictions or censorship.

12. The primary impact of urban waste is local, and the solution of this problem should therefore be initiated on a local level with the introduction of environmentally sound alternatives. Decision-making must include public participation and must not be under exclusive control of authorities.

13. The problems induced by industrial, hazardous and existing nuclear wastes must be prevented and solutions must be funded by the producers themselves. These solutions must be licensed and monitored by the authorities as well as by elected citizens bodies. All of these management or clean up costs, direct or indirect, must be assumed by the producers themselves. The security and health of the workers must be assured.

14. In order to substitute nuclear power production, governments and industries must increase funding for research into renewable energy technology.

15. The adoption of national and international regulations aimed at implementing clean production technologies, minimizing waste at source and at eliminating packaging materials that are non-biodegradable, non-reusable or non-recyclable, is an essential step towards the creation of new social attitudes and to prevent the negative impacts of unlimited consumerism.

16. The informal recycling methods that exist today in a great number of cities must provide the basis for development of public schemes to promote the recovery of primary materials in urban waste. However, it is of utmost importance to consider the necessities of the poorest sector of society which finds itself dependent on income obtained from recycled materials.

17. The more strict and comprehensive environmental regulations in practice in any country should be extended to the global community as an emergency measure. In the longer term, new global regulations of the production and control of wastes and codes of practice must be implemented based on independent and realistic assessment of the impacts of wastes on the Biosphere and on the health and reproductive integrity of all species.

18. Industrial, hazardous and nuclear waste must be contained and maintained in the country where they are produced, even if they are designated as an economic good. Transnationals must be prohibited from making the decisions on where to put nuclear and other wastes.

19. All military wastes must comply with the rules and regulations as any other wastes.

20. Countries must not affect neighbours with its waste final disposal.

21. The commitments which pertain to organizational actions between NGOs should be achieved worldwide in one year.

Action Plans and Commitments

We will:

22. Develop through existing international networks, a permanent inventory of accidents, transportation routes and potential problems related to hazardous and nuclear waste including location, dates, perpetrators, solutions and outcomes.

23. Promote the formation of local, regional and international networks to share information and to organize pressure groups which can integrate monitoring, denouncements, solidarity actions and in case of severe violations, boycotts to fight for justice, health and ecological sustainability on a global level.

24. Encourage research on and an open access to database network about appropriate technologies and patterns of services, quality and costs of waste management, in order to provide local communities a basis for responsible decisions.

25. Encourage international organizations to establish an international training on waste issues.

26. Enforce evaluations and environmental impact studies prior to the implementation of any activity that generate wastes and might cause negative effects for the environment or for communities which will have priority participation in the evaluation of these studies, including the power to veto projects.

27. Advocate new life styles that promote the integrity of the equilibrium between public health and the health of ecosystems in a way that allows for an economic and social development model that does not threaten the environment nor produce uncontrollable and dangerous wastes.

28. Identify and articulate experts and reference centers through an international network, in order to provide independent and technically sound assistance to local movements in questions relating to wastes.

29. Influence governments to create comprehensive and effective waste management policies and regulations to observe the highest international environmental and health standards and to establish an international code of practice for wastes.

30. Pressure business to reduce wastes by the development and implementation of cleaner production technologies.

31. Enforce the public responsibility in determining how to handle waste.

32. Prohibit waste discharge without treatment into water, land, air and outer space.

33. Pressure local, regional and national governments to establish legal, financial and monitoring mechanisms that guarantee:

  1. the responsibility of waste producers in regard to the effects of such residues to the environment and living beings
  2. the strict prohibition of imports or exports of wastes
  3. ban on the construction and use of incinerators and similar technologies that merely change the physical state of waste
  4. the education and rigorous licensing of transporters of wastes.

34. Pressure that all corporations in our countries assume working and safety standards as high as those highest established by any country.

35. Reject the export of methodology, currently in use in many countries, to evaluate the impacts on health and environment of different actions called "health risk assessments", for being merely manipulative statistical models which justify death.

36. Pressure governments to enforce that the treatment, isolation and depositing of wastes is done in the countries of origin on the basis of unlimited liability on part of the producers of such wastes. The liability includes the obligation to restore, decontaminate and revitalize any location that has been affected by any kind of waste.

37. Establish campaigns aiming at enforcing the right of the public to be informed about production, use and trade of any kind of waste.

38. Denounce systematically any careless and illegal practices in regard to the handling of any kind wastes, on national and international level.

In Regard to Urban Wastes

39. Promote education campaigns to change values and lifestyle so urban wastes can be reduced.

40. Organize campaigns aimed at abolishing packaging that is non-recycle, non-biodegradable and non-reusable.

41. Enforce the source separation for collection of urban wastes in order to maximize the possibilities of recycling and to avoid the risks of contamination in composting.

42. Pressure the local and national governments to implement decentralized systems of waste management using technology appropriate to the local environmental,social and cultural contexts.

43. Promote local, regional and international educational campaigns aimed at reducing,reusing and recycling resources to the greatest extent possible.

44. Conduct educational campaigns aimed that all citizens know about their rights to complete and unrestricted access to public services of collection, treatment and disposal of unavoidable wastes, which service must be of good quality and for a fair cost.

45. Mobilize society against the installation of more waste incinerators and for the deactivation of existing ones.

46. Pressure government bodies to establish institutional waste management plans which include education campaigns, collection, making of recyclables, environmentally sound final destination and purchasing goods with recycled content.

In Regard to Hazardous Wastes

47. Pressure local, regional and national governments to establish legal, financial and monitoring mechanisms that guarantee:

  1. the reduction in the production of hazardous waste by making industry introduce preventive and substitutive technologies to those that generate such wastes either as industrial waste or as consumer products
  2. the regular publication and rigorous control of the transportation routes of dangerous chemical substances, to and from their production sites. In the case of regular transportation through inhabited areas there must be a previous public risk evaluation in which the potentially affected population would approve or deny the use of such routes
  3. a ban on imports of hazardous waste-producing technology repudiated in the countries of origin, including the systematic denunciation of the practice of linking financial loans to the acceptance of such technologies.

48. Form pressure group for a tax on the use of chemicals and their emissions by industry as a disincentive for the chemical abuse. Funds generated by such tax will be set aside for communities so that they can hire their own technicians and scientists for conducting environmental studies and assessment for enabling citizens inspection and permanent oversight of industrial facilities for computerizing information about chemical substances that corporations us, store and their final disposition. This information will be available free of charge to all citizens.

49. Claim for an immediate revision on the policies and legislation regarding the use and commercialization of all agrochemicals and ban the export and traffic of agrochemicals that have been prohibited in their country of origin.

In Regards to Nuclear Wastes

50. Provide for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be supplemented with an article to widen the spectrum of Human Rights to include ecological security and "radiation security" in particular.

51. Mobilize society to create national and international legislation with the following elements:

  1. Permanent ban on the construction of nuclear installations
  2. Deactivate and substitute existing nuclear reactors, and public the methods, criteria and timetables employed in the process
  3. Ban on the burning of plutonium
  4. Nuclear waste must be stored in a monitored retrievable way so that future generations can repackage it and keep it secured
  5. General prohibition of the use of sealed sources for food irradiation and oil exploration and of proper disposal of those previously used
  6. To guarantee that the treatment and depositing of nuclear waste is done in the countries of origin on the basis of unlimited liability on part of the producers of such waste. The liability includes the obligation to restore, decontaminate and revitalize any location that has been affected by radioactive leaks
  7. To start to control effectively the management and isolation of medical nuclear wastes
  8. There must be public health surveillance and medical assistance for workers and other persons exposed through nuclear accidents. Information on such accidents must be shared by computer systems.

52. Demand workers protection in nuclear installations from hazards of radiation

53. Promote and reinforce bans on the mining of uranium and the transportation of plutonium both inside and between countries.

54. Fight for nuclear-free zones in all countries.


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