Currently, there is no consolidated ‘one-stop-shop’ that Basel Convention Focal Points, Competent Authorities and other stakeholders can rely on to gain a comprehensive understanding of the steps needed and the tools and guidance available to ensure prevention and minimization, environmentally sound management and control of transboundary movement of plastic waste. This course aims to fill this gap.

  • Education

Self-paced course

3 hours


In 2019, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, at its 14th meeting, and the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), at its fourth session, noted with concern that the high and rapidly increasing levels of marine litter, including plastic litter and microplastics, represent a serious environmental problem on a global scale, negatively affecting marine biodiversity, ecosystems, animal well-being, societies, livelihoods, fisheries, marine transport, recreation, tourism and economies.

The COP to the Basel Convention also emphasised that work under the Basel Convention can and will play an important role in addressing the high and rapidly increasing levels of marine plastic litter and microplastics by preventing plastic waste from entering the marine environment. In a landmark decision, the COP adopted amendments to Annexes II, VIII and IX (the Plastic Waste Amendments), making the Basel Convention the only global legally binding instrument that currently specifically addresses plastic waste.

What you will learn

The course explains the key provisions of the Basel Convention, thereby focusing on plastic waste across its three pillars:

  • prevention and minimization of the generation of plastic waste;
  • environmentally sound management of plastic waste;
  • and control of transboundary movements of plastic waste.

Learning Objectives

After completing the course, learners will be able to:

  • Summarize the key trends, challenges and opportunities related to plastic waste management at global and national level;
  • Discuss the Basel Convention and its key provisions and annexes as well as the role of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and its subsidiary bodies with respect to plastic waste;
  • Explain how different types of plastic waste are classified and must be managed under the Basel Convention;
  • and others.

Target audience

While the course is primarily targeted at the Focal Points and Competent Authorities of the Basel Convention, it is suited for learners irrespective of their level of pre-existing knowledge of the Basel Convention and plastic waste. It may also be useful for other government stakeholders, civil society, the private sector and the general public with some waste management or environment knowledge.

Course at a glance

The course is self-paced and adapted to the schedule of full-time working professionals. The three modules of the course are self-standing and can be completed in any order. For those with no or very limited background knowledge, it is recommended to complete each module in the given order. More experienced users may wish to choose specific modules individually to deepen their knowledge on a particular topic in a targeted manner.

  • Plastic Waste and the Basel Convention
    (0) Setting the scene – plastic waste; (1) What is the Basel Convention and why does it matter?; (2) What are the Plastic Waste Amendments?; (3) What legal and institutional arrangements are needed?
  • Prevention, Minimization and Environmentally Sound Management of Plastic Waste
    (4) How can we prevent and minimize the generation of plastic waste?; (5) How can we manage plastic waste in an environmentally sound manner?
  • Transboundary Movements and Illegal Traffic of Plastic Waste
    (6) How can we control transboundary movements of plastic waste?; (7) How can we combat illegal traffic in plastic waste?; (8) What is the role of customs in combating illegal traffic in plastic waste?

Completion requirements

The successful completion of the course rewards the learner with a certificate. To complete the course, the learner must complete all three modules and pass each associated quiz with a minimum grade of 70% from no more than three attempts. The completion of each module also rewards the learner with a badge.

Partners and Contributors

The course was developed by the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and funded through the European Union (EU) Global Public Goods and Challenges programme (GPGC).