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Conference Program

The program of WE 2C is based on opportunities with emphasis on the interaction between the ocean, land, rivers and coastal zones. The main action undertaken by WE 2C, with support from public and private funding, includes the following :

   Independant scientific analysis; the Probo Koala case  

August 2006, the waste arising from the normal operation of the vessel Probo Koala mixed with residues from chemical operations undertaken on board the ship to modify the quality of the gasoline cargo are being dumped in the City of Abidjan generating a major environmental and public health crisis. In the aftermath of this incident, several scientific assessments and analysis of the sites polluted by the waste of the Probo Koala were carried out by a number of public and private expert centres, institutions or laboratories, including specialized bodies of the United Nations. A French company was contracted to ensure the sound and safe disposal of the waste. A deacade later, the Probo Koala case is not closed.


While reviewing the history of this case, the stakeholders involved did not use a single baseline or benchmark independent scientific analysis to form their opinion or judgement. Several stakeholders made use of the scientific analysis that fits better their own needs or objectives. One cannot identify, among the many scientific analysis carried out, which one could be use by every stakeholder to determine or measure a common value judgement on this case.


This raises a fundamental issue. Is it feasible to undertake and produce an independant benchmark scientific analysis for major environmental and human health crisis? Can such a study be done taking into account the multiplicity of actors at the age of global media and internet. It seems quite urgent and critical to focus on how to make an independant scientific analysis that would not suffer from disregard or ignorance. A scientific analysis that would serve as a benchmark. This would consolidate the process of resolution of environmental and human health crisis, especially at a time where the International Court of Justice agrees to enlarge its jurisdiction to environmental crimes.


WE 2C is organising, in cooperation with WEBSTER University Geneva, a colloquium in March 2017 on this theme. For more information please go to «Our Action».

   The environmentally sound management of waste generated by ships  

Over 90% of world trade is carried by the international shipping industry. The world fleet is composed of more than 80 000 vessels of which around 50 000 merchant ships trade internationally. The fleet of oil tankers and dry bulk carriers make up more 70% of the total world fleet. Every ship generates waste, residues or garbage during its operation or when transporting cargoes. The principal categories of waste generated on board ships include: sludge, oily tank washings or slops, garbage from the crew and cargo residues. Depending on its size, a ship can generate a few hundreds tons of oily residues (slops) during its voyage after settling and getting rid of the water through the oil discharge monitoring equipment. With 50,000 ships over 500GT in the world fleet, and assuming an average of 10 port calls per ship, half a million port calls per take place annually (International Maritime Organization). Port States are required by the the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 (see Box), as modified by its 1978 Protocol (MARPOL 73/78 to provide adequate port reception facilities to collect waste generated on board ships. Illicit discharges of ship's waste (slops) represent a major source of marine pollution. For instance, according to REMPEC (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea) there are more than 2500 illicit discharges of waste generated by ships polluting the Mediterranean Sea annually.


The London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972 and 1996 Protocol (MARPOL) is one of the first global conventions to protect the marine environment from the effects of human activities and has been in force since 1975. Its objective is to promote the effective control of all sources of marine pollution and to take all practicable steps to prevent pollution of the sea by dumping of wastes and other matter.


The issue of the environmentally sound discharge, collection and management of waste generated on board ships is part of a set of wider global issues. It has to do with the goal of the international community to reduce waste generation, to improve transport efficiency, to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas and to protect the marine environment. It brings the issue of discharge and collection of ship's waste into the context of land-use planning, the protection of the marine environment and coastal ecosystems, clean transport and the development of waste management infrastructure. It includes long term objectives to put in place best management practices for ships and operators of port reception facilities aimed at reducing, reusing or recycling in a safe and sound way the waste generated on board ships. It is part of a new paradigm to move towards zero discharge of waste from ships.


WE 2C has organised an international conference on the environmentally sound management of waste generated by ships in Marseille in November 2008 (see «Our Action» and a round table in Bruxelles in 2011 to define the basis of a programme for the Mediterranean.

   The Sea-Land-River interface:the case of the Magdalena River in Colombia  

Colombia's petroleum and minerals industry is growing. However, the industry is fully aware that Colombia struggles with deficient transport infrastructures and might not cope with the anticipated production boom. The transport system remains the main obstacle to the economic development of the country, especially between the central plains and the coastal ports and terminals. It is in this context that Colombia is investing to improve the navigability of the Magdalena River. Development of the River, including the possible establishment of a river port, will increase inland waterways traffic substantially in the next few years, in particular regarding the transport of oil, coal and other commodities. WE 2C has conducted work on the applicability of MARPOL to sea-river vessels and barges transporting petroleum products, coal and other commodities.


Industry has a responsibility to the environment but needs comprehensive and applicable rules to exercise this responsibility. All actors, both at sea and on shore, need to take a long view on potential environmental impacts. This requires cooperation between the private and public sectors, between land and sea operators and an in-depth knowledge of issues that are critical to the sound operation of shipping. This report provides a number of elements that indicate that while international legislation exists to regulate the transport of petroleum products for instance by sea-river vessels and barges, its applicability requires the development of robust domestic legislation.


Inland waterways often display exceptional ecological sensitivity that are likely to be perturbed by the multimodal character of the water use. The permissible levels of discharge into inland waters of polluting substances are laid down in legal instruments on questions of environment and ecology and in relevant regional or sub-regional agreements or stipulated by individual central or local authorities. These levels may differ from the waterway, to the mouth of the river and to the sea. Harmonization of water quality standards is very important. Navigation on the sea-river interface requires that all operators, public and private, work together to ensure that sea and inland navigation remains as friendly to the environment as possible.


The on-board collection of waste and its transfer to shore for treatment should be considered the preferable option for preventing pollution by vessels. Governments have every right to ensure the highest possible level of environmental protection for their coast, shores and inland waterways based on international legal instruments and national regulations. Closer interaction between inland navigation and maritime transport should be encouraged, Governments might supplement their national regulations by the general pollution prevention policy considerations and recommended measures enacted by IMO and other United Nations bodies (i.e. UNECE). Seagoing or sea-river vessels like tug boats with their barges navigating on inland waterways should satisfy the environmental and nature-protection requirements of MARPOL 73/78. National authorities may introduce for inland waterways pollution control requirements more stringent than those applicable to sea going vessels in specific cases where this is justified from the point of view of water use, such as for the provision of drinking water, or because of the particularities of the ecosystems.

   Green Jobs  

Moving towards a more sustainable economy would have the potential to create millions of green jobs in sectors like agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, construction, business and services or engineering research. Investments in cleaner technologies and energy efficiency would stimulate the creation of green jobs. Building and construction (e.g. isolation, wind and sun energy equipment) would be the focus of green jobs in many countries. Saving energy is seen as the most promising way to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Production of renewable energy systems is said to be the fastest-growing industrial sector in the world and on the rise. The creation of green jobs may depend greatly on how individual governments could develop programmes to boost the development of a greener economy that can bring environmental, employment and social benefits altogether.


Cleaner technology and energy paths should help minimize the impacts of human activities on the climate, reduce the pollution or contamination of the environment, create new industries and business opportunities that can provide millions of jobs a portion would be green jobs. A transition is operating where green-collar job creation is starting to replace blue-collar jobs. It would be critical to direct funding to research in cleaner energy (e.g. looking at wave power and hydro-kinetics, nanotechnology and photovoltaic-cell technology) while supporting efforts to up-grade existing positions into green jobs avoiding, where possible, the destruction of jobs.


Every country has its own demand and needs regarding green jobs. For some countries, the priority may be to create green jobs that produce goods and services for consumption. Some would argue that priority should be given to stimulate productivity. Others would wish low-paying jobs to be up-graded or would argue for creating more jobs to absorb their immense work force or focus on small-and-medium sized companies. All these tensions would have an effect on the main priorities to be given to the promotion of the different kind of green jobs considered.


A typology of green jobs with some pointers on their characteristics may be useful to get a comprehensive picture country by country or on a geographical or regional basis. Once the economic and employment dimension of green jobs has been clarified, the next step is to relate the green jobs concept to its environmental dimension. Green jobs should do two things at the same time :


   > Improve environmental performance of the economy;


   > Provide impetus for long lasting economic growth and social well-being.


One could find green jobs wherever there are efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of human activities. They can be found primarily in the renewable energy sector, construction, transportation, in the steel, aluminium, cement or paper industries, in recycling, refurbishment, remanufacturing or repair activities, agriculture, fisheries and forestry. It is therefore of value to couple the notion of green jobs with the global trend to move to a diversifying economic base and an economy that is less dependant on fossil fuels, generates less hazardous waste, produces less harmful chemicals, that transforms waste into resources, uses less chemical inputs in agriculture, that protects commercial fish species, that promotes agro-forestry, organic food production, afforestation and reforestation, that fits better into sound land use planning and ecosystem restoration, that limits water usage and resource extraction, and provides decent jobs.


In 2010, WE 2C contributed to the ILO (International Labour Organization) project on the preliminary guidance for the mapping of green jobs in Asia and the Pacific.

   Other activities include :  

   > The development of a strategy to value and include Congo's tropical forests in the carbon market


   > Preliminary strategy to ensure the sound and safe recycling and disposal of solar lamps in Africa


   > Strategy to reduce oil pollution in the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea


   > Strategic work undertaken for UNEP on the implementation of the Basel Convention