Temas Glossary

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United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL): The UN regional commission for the Americas, based in Santiago, Chile. ECLAC has done considerable work in the environment field on such issues as mining, management of natural resources, water use, wastes, energy efficiency, and the use of economic instruments in environmental policymaking.

United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO): the Paris-based United Nations specialized agency charged with fostering international cooperation in education, the natural and social sciences, communications and culture.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): Nairobi-based UN agency created in 1972 to coordinate the environmental activities of the UN. UNEP fostered the development and negotiations for many major international environment agreements, including the UNFCCC, Montreal Protocol, and the Basel, Biodiversity, Stockholm, Rotterdam Conventions.

United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO): the Rome-based United Nations specialized agency created in 1945 to raise levels of nutrition, improve the efficiency of production and distribution of all food and agricultural products, and improve the conditions of rural populations. FAO is the lead UN agency on all issues involving food, nutrition, pesticides, fertilizers, forestry, and agricultural and food biotechnology. FAO co-sponsors the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): a treaty signed at the 1992 Rio Summit which commits contracting parties to the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [human-induced] interference with the climate system." The Convention set no legally-binding emission targets, but it commited Annex I countries (mostly OECD) to return greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. The Convention secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany.

United Nations Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods: see United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods: the set of UN guidelines, often referred to as "The Orange Book," on basic requirements applicable to worldwide transport of dangerous goods by all transport modes. The Recommendations aim at harmonizing international and national regulations on the subject while enhancing safety and facilitating trade. They are constantly updated, usually to reflect new or emerging issues raised by governments. Since the 10th revised edition published in 1997 the Recommendations have been presented in the form of Model Regulations so that they can be more easily transposed into national or international legislation. Most LAC nations use the Recommendations basis for their own regulations (some simply adopt them wholesale), as does MERCOSUR. The UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) serves as the secretariat for this work. The Recommendations are now in their 17th edition.

user charges: payments for the cost of collective services, such as national park management, provision of potable water, sewage treatment or collection, treatment and disposal of solid wastes.

Vienna Convention: the UNEP-sponsored framework convention on international cooperation to protect the Earth's ozone layer. The Convention mostly serves as the basis for scientific and technical cooperation, although it was the vehicle for concluding the Montreal Protocol.

volatile organic compounds (VOCs): organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure and thus can easily form vapors at everyday pressure and temperatures. Benzene, formaldehyde, many solvents (ethers, toluene, acetone, etc.), petroleum distillates, dry cleaning products and aerosol spray propellants are VOCs, and gasoline and paints often contain them. Some VOCs are carcinogenic and/or toxic, many are irritants and flammable. VOCs have been shown to contribute to smog, and are suspected contributors to "sick building syndrome."

warranty: a guarantee given by the seller (whether manufacturer or retailer) to the purchaser that the product is reliable and free from known defects. It usually also provides that, within a certain time limit and subject to certain conditions, the seller will repair or replace defective parts without charge to the consumer.

waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE): end-of-life electrical and/or electronic devices, their components and periperials, such as computers, cell phones, television sets, appliances, photocopiers, digital cameras, medical devices, etc. Some of these may contain hazardous substances or materials, such as heavy metals. Also known as "e-scrap," "e-waste," "technological trash" or "technological waste."

waste picker: man, woman or child who pulls items from waste in the street, in containers, or at waste management facilities, for economic reasons.

waste recovery: a waste management operation that diverts material from the waste stream and results in a product with a potential economic or ecological benefit. Usually includes composting, recycling, reuse and energy recovery.

waste reduction: any means of reducing the amount of waste generated initially, and thus what must ultimately be collected and disposed of.
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' Recycling & Solid Waste Policy
in Latin America and the Caribbean '
by Keith E. Ripley

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