In each newsletter, Sims will feature an interview with one of our customers, partners, or colleagues in the recycling field in an effort to provide insight on various aspects of recycling, whether from an economic, environmental, or social perspective. This first time profile features Dana Lapešová of Slovakia, the director of the Basel Convention Regional Centre for the Central and Eastern-European region.
In addition to establishing the first international control system for hazardous waste imports and exports, the Basel Convention set up a network of 14 Regional and Coordinating Centres (BCRCs) for training and technology transfer regarding the management of hazardous and other wastes and the minimization of their generation.
Sims: How long have you been the Director of the BCRC for the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region, and what made you decide to pursue international environmental policy work?
Lapešová: I have been working in this position since January of 2002 but I was involved in this BCRC as a Project Manager from the Centre’s beginning in 1997. I am a chemist by origin and environmental activities were always very attractive to me. I started to work in the environmental area in 1993.
Sims: What do you see as the role of the BCRCs in terms of implementing the Basel Convention?
Lapešová: The role of the BCRC is now slightly different than it was when we started our regional activities in 1997. Our assistance for the served countries is realized mainly through projects, workshops, trainings, and information exchange. The level of management of hazardous waste was different in each country in our region when the BCRC was established in 1997. For that reason, the adoption and implementation of the Basel Convention principles into national legislation was considered a main priority. Currently, all countries from our region are parties to the Basel Convention. At this time our experts focus on assisting countries in requested topics related to the main aims of the Basel Convention: the environmentally sound management of different waste streams and the implementation of the Convention’s control system for the trans-boundary movement of the hazardous waste.
The basic document that directs our activities is the Business Plan (BP) that is worked out by each BCRC and then endorsed by served countries. All planned activities are in accordance with national priorities and the strategic plan for the implementation of the Basel Convention. We consider waste from electrical and electronic equipment, used batteries, healthcare waste, waste containing persistent organic pollutants, and the synergies process regarding multilateral environmental agreements as the most important topics.
Sims: What type of activities does the BCRC undertake?
Lapešová: BCRC Slovakia is located in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. The BCRC is part of the Slovak Environmental Agency (SEA) and cooperates very closely with SEA experts in the waste management area. SEA experts are involved in many regional projects coordinated by BCRC, and participate as speakers in our regional workshops organized in Bratislava or in the CEE region.
Sims: You have been a member in the Basel Convention’s Private-Public Partnership for Action on Computing Equipment (PACE) since it was established and are an active participant; please tell us what you think about the PACE and its work.
Lapešová: From my point of view, the PACE is a group of excellent experts. I appreciate the opportunity to be involved in a group where experts from such different backgrounds (governmental sector, private sector, NGOs, BCRCs, or Universities) cooperate and are able to reach consensus. Thanks to the excellent work of PACE co-chairs, I think that PACE is a successful partnership.
My role in this partnership, which I think is the same for other BCRCs, is to spread information into the region and attract countries with economies in transition to actively participate in the partnership. In 2012, I organized a regional workshop, financially supported by the European Commission, which featured presentations on PACE results and outputs. Three co-chairs from PACE project groups presented results of their work and the work of their colleagues with regards to technical guidelines, adopted by the Basel Convention, related to the environmentally sound management, repair, refurbishment, recovery and recycling of end-of-life computing equipment. The workshop was attended by participants from 10 countries from the CEE region. Participants received a detailed picture about the work of the partnership program under the Basel Convention.
This workshop was well attended and considered one of our most successful events as the amount of end-of-life computing equipment is increasing very rapidly in the countries with economies in transition. Such countries have received plenty of used computers as a “gift” and most of them are often unusable. People in such countries don’t know how to manage the problem properly. Often there are no facilities for recycling and you can find broken equipment in landfills. Many countries from our region asked our BCRC to assist with environmentally-sound management of e-waste. Countries need assistance in capacity building through legislative framework preparation, decision-making for appropriate financial mechanisms, and investment for building of treatment facilities.
Sims: A project from your region was selected as a PACE-sponsored pilot. Could you please describe this project?
Lapešová: Yes, I am really very happy that the PACE working group has decided to select a project from our region for financial support. The general aim of the project is to research and develop an environmentally-sound management plan for waste from electrical and electronic equipment in Serbia. Specific project targets are broken out into four components: legislative, a financial model for sustainable waste collection and recycling, a proposal for an e-waste material treatment facility, and public awareness and education. The Serbian project proponent is a representative from the
University of Beograd in Serbia and he is expecting to involve Serbian experts from different sectors, including government, NGOs, private, and academic. The first task seeks to harmonize the Serbian legislation with the European legislative framework.
Sims: Is it true that your BCRC may host one of the upcoming PACE physical meetings?
Lapešová: It will be a great pleasure if we have the opportunity to host the PACE physical meeting. I think it would be the first visit to the Slovak Republic for most of the participants. Our BCRC has already organized over 20 regional workshops with different environmental topics. If we were to host a PACE physical meeting, we would expect to hold it in Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia). Bratislava is a relatively small city with a beautiful historical center.
Sims: What do you do on your spare time?
Lapešová: I enjoy reading books and spending maximum time with my family. I have two teens and a supportive husband. I also like swimming and outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking.