The second round of applications is now open for 4 months. The deadline for all applications to be submitted to the Special Programme secretariat is Wednesday 20th June 2017 at midnight.
A list of concept notes for voluntary financial contributions for the biennium 2016/17 is now available on the BRS websites.
The Secretariat hands over the signed BRS Geneva Gender Parity Pledge to Mr. Michael Moller, UNOG Director General.
Ahead of the 2017 Triple COPs, recent meetings in Geneva have emphasised that freedom from a polluted environment is a human right.
All the latest information, including the schedule for Bureaux and Regional meetings for Sunday 23rd April, for the 2017 Triple COPs is available online
A new Rotterdam Convention study in small island developing states (SIDs) found that whilst the use of organic alternatives is increasing, threats posed by the misues of toxic chemicals still persist.
April 2017 – A field survey of interviews with hundreds of rural families across Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe indicates that although the use of organic alternatives to hazardous pesticides is gaining pace, the threats posed by the misuse of toxic chemicals persist.
The findings were presented at a subregional consultation meeting held by the Rotterdam Convention (RC) and FAO in Cabo Verde’s capital, Praia this March. Representatives from Angola, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe joined participants from the islands off the west coast of Africa to discuss further measures to reduce risks, improve the enforcement of existing legislation and continue with the implementation of the RC.
Since July 2016, RC technical experts have stepped up their work in these countries. The target of their programme is to increase social protection and limit environmental damage by extending the available information on alternatives to conventional pesticides. The preservation of natural resources stands at the very helm of FAO’s undertaking to support nations through policy advice, analysis and the provision of technical assistance.
“We know that the global population is growing rapidly, and with it the demands placed on agriculture. This is why the sustainable intensification of agriculture is so important. Working towards safer alternatives to hazardous pesticides is part and parcel of achieving this,” said FAO Programme Officer for the RC, Elisabetta Tagliati.
In Cabo Verde, interviews with the heads of 100 rural families found that less than 30 percent of those consulted used protective clothing while coming into contact with pesticides. Moreover, islanders were not legally bound to possess licenses to handle pesticides and 96 percent of respondents said they had never been asked to show a license to buy the chemicals.
“The first line of defence is a healthy agro-ecosystem. Pesticides and chemicals should not threaten the welfare, health or lives of farmers and their families,” said FAO’s Country Representative in Cabo Verde, Rémi Nono Womdim.
Cabo Verde is widely seen as a success story among island nations for its adoption of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methodology as fostered by FAO’s Farmer Field Schools (FFS). The schools involve a group-based learning process that has been utilised by a number of governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international agencies to promote IPM since it was developed some 30 years ago.
A high use of pesticides was also noted in Guinea-Bissau where over 80 percent of the 200 rural families surveyed said they did not use protective equipment while handling pesticides. Moreover, nearly 90 percent had no knowledge of the available alternatives.
Again, on the island of São Tomé, of the one hundred rural families approached as part of the study, almost 70 percent said they did not wear protective clothing while applying pesticides. Furthermore, some agricultural workers described feeling ill following exposure – a factor deemed especially concerning given the lack of adequate access to healthcare dedicated to intoxications and poisoning incidents.
Farmers on São Tomé however, said that they were using alternatives to pesticides in large part thanks to the island’s rich biodiversity. Manipueira – which is a liquid extract from cassava roots – was cited as being more efficient than chemical farming methods for its possible multi-purpose use as an herbicide, fungicide, insecticide as well as a bio-fertiliser.
“Manipueira has many functions. It helps soils preserve their natural nutrient content, and, it can also be used as a fertiliser, an insecticide as well as helping to combat pests,” said one farmer.
FAO is calling for urgent action to be taken to secure the future and food security of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) against the disproportionate effects of climate change. The Organization warns that those heavily dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as fisheries, tourism, and agriculture bear the brunt of climate change and rising sea levels although they contribute the least to it.
Those Portuguese-speaking African countries (PALOP) that are also classed as SIDS, face a series of shared problematics spanning from increasing productivity in a sustainable way while diversifying agricultural production to enhance resilience in food and nutrition. Boosting communities’ capacities to use pesticides safely while encouraging the use of alternatives is key to protecting their livelihoods.
The evidence collected by the RC and its partners will be used to boost collaboration between Portuguese-speaking African countries to establish political and diplomatic consultations and ultimately to contribute towards strengthening Country Programming Frameworks (CPFs)
A drastic reduction in pesticide-use is essential as it generates social, environmental and economic benefits, while contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In May, governments and stakeholders from all over the world will meet at the Conference of the Parties (COPs) in Geneva, Switzerland, to take decisions on chemicals and waste. Adapting farming methods to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals is a global challenge and will be top of the agenda.
Hosted by the Indonesian government and the Asia-Pacific Plant Protection Commission, participants set their sights on increasing notifications of hazardous pesticides and chemicals, to better protect human health and the environment
Countries at Indonesia training workshop sets sights on increasing notifications of hazardous pesticides and chemicals
April 2017 – Representatives from countries across Asia met at a subregional workshop in the city of Surabaya in eastern Indonesia last month to share best practices on strengthening the management of hazardous chemicals.
Hosted by the Government of Indonesia, the Asia-Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC) and the Rotterdam Convention (RC) Secretariat of FAO, at least 33 participants from nine countries attended the event, including several newly appointed Designated National Authorities (DNAs). DNAs are responsible for sharing information with the RC Secretariat and other participating countries, as well as partners such as those working in the trade and export industries.
“Each country came prepared with a country report, giving a clear picture of where they stand in terms of pesticide and chemicals management at a national level and presented specific ideas on the implementation of the RC,” said Yun Zhou, FAO Agricultural Officer for the Convention.
As a large exporting country, the representative for China explained how it met its obligations under the Convention; while Nepal and Lao PDR, two countries heavily reliant on imports, and considered vulnerable to pesticide exposure acknowledged the problematics they faced. Nepal said many of those dependent on agriculture viewed pesticides as a form of “medicine” for pest management and were therefore, not aware of the hazards they posed.
Attendees from China, Lao PDR, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam received practical training on the operational elements of the Convention including how to submit notifications of final regulatory action and reports on incidents caused by pesticide formulations.
A key challenge for countries is to balance the benefits and risks when taking national decisions on chemicals. The newly launched FAO Pesticide Registration Toolkit, which helps countries to make sound decisions on pesticides – in particular those lacking adequate infrastructure – was also introduced.
The common goals of the RC and the APPPC are to safeguard plant, human health and the environment while facilitating trade and protecting the sustainability of agriculture.
Agricultural growth in Asia has stagnated in recent years, with a serious decline in investment, and a depletion and degradation of natural resources in the face of continued population growth. Moreover, 60 percent of the world’s hungry live there. In order to address these issues, FAO’S Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Kundhavi Kadiresan recently called for a renewed focus on reaching the most marginalized people, the very poor and those living in remote areas.
FAO is collaborating closely with Indonesia to streamline ecosystem approaches into the nation’s agricultural practices. The Organization’s Regional Rice Initiative in Indonesia focuses on the importance of goods and services produced by rice ecosystems and promotes sustainable rice production practices to enhance resilience and increase efficiencies in order to improve food security and nutrition.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12) centres on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. Fulfilling this target requires minimizing the natural resources and toxic materials used, and the waste and pollutants generated throughout the entire production and consumption process. Building partnerships between countries to manage chemicals safely is regarded as pivotal in achieving the 2030 Agenda. A follow-up project to monitor highly hazardous pesticides in the context of the RC and to identify sustainable alternatives based on the ecosystem approach will begin in Lao PDR later this year.
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Women are vulnerable to the harmful effects of chemicals when working in agriculture: are they also the solution?
Women are central to the development of rural areas and national economies. They make up at least 43 percent of the agricultural workforce worldwide, with that figure rising to more than 70 percent in some countries.
By improving rural women’s access to resources and opportunities, food security can be enhanced for current and future generations. This goal lies at the heart of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) mandate.
Finding simple solutions to accelerate progress, however, is no easy matter. The prevalence of toxic chemicals and pesticides around the world is especially hazardous to women. What is worse, those most vulnerable are unaware of the dangers they face in using and handling these substances.
“The livelihoods of rural families are dependent on their crops and their harvests. They rely on these to feed their children, themselves and to sell at market. Often, this is their sole form of survival. So, when a farmer identifies a pest threatening their only source of food or money; their immediate reaction is that a “ready-to-use” solution like a pesticide is the exactly what they need,” said Elisabetta Tagliati, FAO Programme Officer for the Rotterdam Convention (RC).
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, is to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls. Addressing key challenges such as poverty, inequality, and discrimination against women is essential to change the course of the 21st century.
The target is to enhance the use of enabling technology, and in particular information and communications, to promote the empowerment of women.
Gender equality and rural women’s empowerment are central to UN efforts to reduce rural poverty and to achieve food security for all. By supporting national governments, several countries have now adopted national food and agriculture policies and action plans that fully integrate the need to spread knowledge about either cutting down on the use of or handing pesticides appropriately.
Ultimately, to increase incomes, it is essential to maximise women’s presence in rural institutions in addition to creating gender-parity by amending policies at local, national and international levels. Raising awareness of practices carrying low or high risks is key to advancing the economic empowerment of women working in agriculture.
Building a safer planet involves spreading the word about the correct ways to handle pesticides, from their purchase and sale, through to transporting them, in addition to raising awareness about the precautions to take to store them safely. The risks to those spraying fields without adequate equipment are high and ensuring instructions can be understood by those coming in to contact with pesticides is essential. Labels intended to inform are often a barrier towards safe use because many of those utilising the chemicals are unable to read or understand the languages in which guidelines are produced. “Insecticides are designed to destroy insects and this means they are also likely to be toxic to humans. Herbicides are widely used, and over time, low doses of exposure, can increase the risks of Parkinson’s disease, cancers, diabetes, gluten intolerance, infertility, and reproduction disorders,” said Tagliati. The RC has also noted that children commonly play in fields where pesticides are present and that women frequently wash contaminated clothes with their bare hands.
To tackle these trends, the RC holds international and national workshops to train and advise individuals.
“Globally we are looking at about 500,000 chemicals that are used in industrial processes. Some 5000 chemicals are added to that list every year. Most of them are extremely beneficial. Among them are medicines for saving lives. They are also necessary for industrial processes, to produce equipment for use, and, they are required to sustain a certain level of agricultural production such as fertilisers and plant protection products. About 200 million farmers apply these substances around the world,” said Gerold Wyrwal, FAO Agricultural Officer for the Rotterdam RC.
Many of these farmers are women and these women are often the victims of disturbing experiences.
Scientists report that global reproductive health is being affected and the research shows that pesticides are at least partly to blame. Moreover, pesticides have been linked to miscarriages, premature births and reduced fertility in both men and women.
The evidence indicates that exposure; even to small doses can be lethal. The pesticide problem calls for renewed and ongoing action.
Text by Sarah Barden
Communications and Advocacy Officer
FAO Rotterdam Convention Secretariat
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