Sunita Narain, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi
Day 5: With no consensus reached on white asbestos, its back to square one. The only progress was India changing its stand and therefore one less country to convert in the next COP session. Canada continues to remain the villain. India on the other hand earned some more brownie points by agreeing to list endosulfan in the PIC list or the Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention.
India has started on the same note that it did at the Stockhlom Convention. It sought consensus based addition of chemicals in the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list. The COP5 of the Rotterdam Convention has met to decide upon the inclusion of the following chemicals in the Annex III to the convention- chrysotile asbestos, endosulfan, alachlor and aldicarb. On day one of the convention, COP5 parties adopted the agenda without amendments.
Day 2: India opposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list on day two of the Rotterdam Convention. India cited pieces of national evidence suggesting that the substance can be used safely. Sudan too cited the same reasons for opposing the listing of chrysotile asbestos also known as white asbestos. But India and Sudan were not the only countries opposing the listing of asbestos in Annex III of the convention.
Day 3: In a surprising turn of events, the Indian delegation agreed to the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention which is the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list. The turnaround came at a contact group meeting which was set up for discussion on chrysotile asbestos also known as white asbestos as they member groups of the convention could not agree upon a consensus. However, when India announced its stand it was applauded and it received a standing ovation at the plenary.
Day 4: Despite India changing its stand, the COP hasn't been able to reach a consensus on the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list. Confusion over the meaning of 'listing' as opposed to 'banning' was cited as the reason for not being able to reach a consensus.