News Features

18th February is the 4th Anniversary of the - joint - BRS Secretariat
BRS Deputy Executive Secretary, Kerstin Stendahl, outlines lessons learnt from 10 years of working on synergies.

18th February is the 4th Anniversary of the - joint - BRS Secretariat

18th February is the 4th Anniversary of the - joint - BRS Secretariat
 
Royal Kingdom of Swaziland makes record notification of 36 Import Responses
The Swaziland Environmental Authority, under the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, made a notification of 36 Import Responses towards meeting its implementation obligations..

Royal Kingdom of Swaziland makes record notification of 36 Import Responses

Royal Kingdom of Swaziland makes record notification of 36 Import Responses
 
Watch the latest BRS science video
New film shows how science underpins decision-making for the 3 BRS conventions.

Watch the latest BRS science video

Watch the latest BRS science video
 
Call for views on compliance
The President of the COP invites Parties to share their views on outstanding issues, by 15 April 2016.

Call for views on compliance

Call for views on compliance
 
Institutional strengthening for implementation of the BRS Conventions
The Executive Board of the UNEP Special Programme holds its first meeting on 2 to 3 February 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Institutional strengthening for implementation of the BRS Conventions

Institutional strengthening for implementation of the BRS Conventions
 
What are the implications of the recent CRC11 meeting?
Interview between Charlie Avis, BRS Public Information Officer, Yun Zhou, Technical Officer of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat based at FAO Rome.

What are the implications of the recent CRC11 meeting?

What are the implications of the recent CRC11 meeting?

Interview between Charlie Avis, BRS Public Information Officer, Yun Zhou, Technical Officer of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat based at FAO Rome.

Charlie Avis (CA): Good morning, Yun, you must be very busy right now following up on the recent CRC meeting, thanks for joining me and first question please: what exact role does this scientific subsidiary body play in the workings of the Convention?
Yun Zhou (YZ): Good morning, Charlie and thank you! Yes indeed we are all very busy building on the highly successful meeting. The CRC – or Chemicals Review Committee to give it its full title – is made up of 31 experts in chemicals management appointed by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Rotterdam Convention and is responsible for undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing. Based on the Committee’s recommendations the COP takes a final decision on the listing of a chemical into Annex III of the Convention

CA: So actually the Committee prepares the way for decisions to be taken by parties at the COP, at which point they become binding. So, please tell me, what decisions have been taken by the Committee so far?
YZ: At its tenth meeting, CRC took decisions to recommend listing short-chained chlorinated paraffins and tributyltin compounds in Annex III to the Convention as industrial chemicals.  The Committee then prepared draft decision guidance documents on those chemicals and adopted them at the eleventh meeting. The Committee also concluded that at least two notifications of final regulatory action from two PIC regions for carbofuran and carbosulfan met the criteria in Annex II to the Convention, and thereby recommended listing of those chemicals in Annex III to the Convention as pesticides. The Committee will prepare draft decision guidance documents for consideration at its next meeting in September 2016.

CA: The two pesticides you mention, carbosulfan and carbofuran: can you please give me an idea of what uses they have had, and in which parts of the world?
YZ: Indeed. Carbofuran and carbosulfan are used to control pests in a wide variety of field crops. Just to give some examples, in the EU carbofuran was used to control soil insects where maize, sugar beet or sunflowers are grown. In Canada, it was applied to sunflower, corn, sugar beet, potato, raspberry, and strawberry. In the Sahelian countries it was used in various vegetables, fruits and other crops as well as in forests. With regard to carbosulfan it was used on maize, sugar beet, citrus and cotton. The review of the two pesticides by the CRC is triggered by the notifications submitted by the EU, seven Sahelian countries and in the case of carbofuran also by Canada. These countries concluded that the risks to human health and environment caused by the two pesticides were unacceptable and consequently banned them.

CA: And if those two chemicals are then listed, what would that mean for the parties in terms of obligations?
YZ: The chemicals listed in Annex III to the Convention are subject to the Prior Informed Consent - or PIC - Procedure. The PIC procedure is a mechanism for obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing Parties on the import of the chemicals listed in Annex III and for ensuring compliance with those decisions by exporting Parties.

Each chemical listed in Annex III has a decision guidance document (DGD) made available to all Parties. The decision guidance documents are intended to help governments assess the risks associated with the handling and use of the chemical and make more informed decisions about future import and use of the chemical, taking into account local conditions.

For each chemical listed in Annex III, all Parties need to take a decision on whether or not they will allow future import of the chemical, and send such a decision (import response) to the Secretariat. The Secretariat circulates the import responses every six months through the PIC circular. Exporting Parties need to ensure that exports of chemicals in Annex III do not occur contrary to the decision of each importing Party. Exporting Parties ensure that import responses published in the PIC Circular are immediately communicated to their exporters, industry and other relevant authorities.

CA: Good! Back to the CRC, is there another “chance” between now and the COP to propose additional decisions?
YZ: Yes, the CRC will meet again in September 2016 to review candidate chemicals and propose additional decisions on listing if they meet the criteria set out by the Convention. In order for them to do so parties of the Convention need to submit notifications of final regulatory actions for banned or severely restricted chemicals. Further, developing countries and countries with an economy in transition are encouraged to submit proposal on pesticide formulations that cause human health or environment problems under the use conditions in their countries. The CRC counts on timely submission by parties. 

CA: And what work is ongoing between now and then?

YZ: A lot of work is going on between now and then. For each of the chemicals listed in Annex III a DGD is prepared by the CRC to help governments making informed decisions about future imports of these chemicals. As decided at the current meeting, the CRC immediately started with the preparation of the DGD for carbofuran and carbosulfan, which will be finalized at its next meeting and submitted to the COP together with CRC’s recommendations to list the pesticides in Annex III. In order to enhance the efficiency of its work, about two months before the actual meeting the CRC will start to preliminary review the information submitted by parties, which is often voluminous. The members serve the Committee for four year in each term. In May 2016 about half of the current committee members will be replaced by new members. In view of the upcoming meeting of the CRC in September 2016 and of the substantial contribution required of members towards the intersessional work, it is important to enable new members and to provide them with appropriate tools. An orientation workshop will be organized in April 2016 to familiarize new members with the role and mandate of the CRC, as well as its operational procedures and policy guidance. The workshop will provide a platform to exchange experience, transfer knowledge and will help fostering efficient working relationships among members of the Committee. The secretariat supports the CRC in carrying out all these activities. It is indeed rewording to work with such a highly competent and dedicated Committee.

CA: Finally, the Convention is jointly administered by FAO in Rome and UNEP in Geneva. Can you say something about this shared responsibility, and how does it work in practice?
YZ: Indeed, the team supporting the CRC consists of staff from both parts of the Secretariats and works closely together. A workplan is jointly developed, which clarifies the responsibilities of each team member and helps us to communicate and monitor the progress. With regard to the technical support to the Committee the FAO colleagues are taking care of the pesticides while UNEP colleagues deal with the industrial chemicals. As the meeting was held at the FAO headquarters we also receive logistic support from the relevant divisions of the organization.  

CA: Thank you very much for your time, good luck with this important work
YZ: Thank you !

PIC Circular now available
PIC Circular XLII December 2015 is now available.

PIC Circular now available

PIC Circular now available
 
Geneva Gender Parity Pledge
The Secretariat hands over the signed BRS Geneva Gender Parity Pledge to Mr. Michael Moller, UNOG Director General.

Geneva Gender Parity Pledge

Geneva Gender Parity Pledge

 

Sub-regional dialogue advances in Portugal
Five African Lusophone countries gather at the FAO Representation in Portugal to identify key actions on social and environmental impact of pesticide use.

Sub-regional dialogue advances in Portugal

Sub-regional dialogue advances in Portugal

 

FAO staff mobility boosts Convention delivery in North Africa
BRS Agriculture Officer Mohamed El Hady Sidatt has re-located to the Sub-Regional Office for North Africa as Tunisia passes laws to ratify the Rotterdam Convention.

FAO staff mobility boosts Convention delivery in North Africa

FAO staff mobility boosts Convention delivery in North Africa

Mohamed El Hady SIDATT, an Agricultural Officer in the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat in Rome, took the opportunity under FAO’s mobility policy to move to the FAO sub-regional office for North Africa, in Tunis, on 1 November 2015. He continues to work full-time on Rotterdam Convention issues, in particular focusing on delivery of technical assistance in countries in Africa and the Near East.

On 20 October 2015 the Tunisian parliament adopted and published a law to ratify the Rotterdam Convention, a key step in the ratification process. “We look forward to welcoming Tunisia as the 155th party to the Rotterdam Convention!” noted Bill Murray, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention. “This has come about in part because of good collaboration between the Secretariat and colleagues in the Regional Office for the Near East. El Hady is well placed to support Tunisia’s implementation of the Rotterdam Convention. His presence in Tunis will strengthen contact with countries, both in encouraging ratification among non-Parties and in better understanding and responding to the need of Parties in the implementation of the Convention. This includes on key issues such as the identification of alternatives to candidate chemicals.”

El Hady has hit the ground running, during his first days in Tunis, he delivered a presentation on the work of the Convention and pesticides management, to journalists from Algeria, Morocco , Mauritania and Tunisia. We are looking forward to receiving more positive news from the sub-regional office in due course.

Kyrgyzstan workshop seeks integrated approaches
Government, FAO, and UNEP participants met in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 16 to 18 November 2015 to discuss synergies and integrated approaches for the sound management of pesticides and chemicals.

Kyrgyzstan workshop seeks integrated approaches

Kyrgyzstan workshop seeks integrated approaches
 
Experts meet to protect human health and the environment
FAO Rome hosts the 11th meeting of the Chemicals Review Committee, 26 - 28 October 2015 to consider draft guidance documents, final regulatory actions, and new listings.

Experts meet to protect human health and the environment

Experts meet to protect human health and the environment
 
Big step of 14 South African countries to implement the Rotterdam Convention
14 countries came together in Harare, Zimbabwe, recently to agree on a strategic action plan to reduce health and environmental risks from pesticides.

Big step of 14 South African countries to implement the Rotterdam Convention

Big step of 14 South African countries to implement the Rotterdam Convention

The Rotterdam Convention Secretariat joined forces with the FAO Pesticide Management Team as well as international partners in holding a strategic planning workshop for members of the Southern African Pesticide Regulators’ Forum (SAPReF) in Harare from 27 – 30 July. The objective of the workshop was to come up with a strategic action plan to reduce health and environmental risks associated with the use, trade and disposal of pesticides.

Established in 2011, the SAPReF is a group of pesticide regulators from Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member countries who are working together on matters related to pests and pesticide management. The major challenge so far has been the lack of an agreed plan of action towards reducing the risks posed by pesticides and how to strengthen their regulation and management.

The meeting saw 52 participants from 14 (out of 15 SADC) countries, representing Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and Health including five Designated National Authorities (DNAs) to the Rotterdam Convention, as well as partners including the Africa Institute, Africa Union (AU), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), FAO regional and country offices, the Inter-Africa Phytosanitary Council (IAPSC), Kemikalieninspektionen Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI), Southern African Development Community (SADC), University of Cape Town (UCT), and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The meeting strengthened regional cooperation and communication among participants and raised awareness of the Rotterdam Convention in the region. It provided parties with technical assistance to follow up on their obligations under the Convention and facilitated the mainstreaming of the Convention work into national activities on pesticide risk reduction.

Participants were extremely motivated and included the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention as a priority in the SAPReF Action Plan for 2015-2016. Apart from setting long term goals, concrete results were also achieved during and shortly after the workshop.

Two countries provided lists of banned pesticides during the meeting, and others are set to follow-up. All DNA contact details were reviewed and updated as necessary and three countries were supported in the nomination of new DNAs. Christine Fuell, Coordinator of the Rotterdam Secretariat in FAO, underlined the importance of, “Keeping the contact details for DNAs up to date as a means to ensure close cooperation between the Secretariat and the countries and the provision of best possible support”

The hands on training on import responses yielded success and several countries already submitted missing import responses. “After the workshop we are following-up with countries in particular to assist them with their obligations and also for them to make best use of their opportunities, such as the possibility to signal specific pesticide formulations that may be causing problems. We expect more import responses, notifications and even an SHPF proposal to be submitted as a result of the workshop ”, Christine Fuell said.

All but two countries are already parties to all three Conventions and information regarding the ratification of the Conventions was provided to the non-Parties.

For more information, please contact:
Christine Fuell
Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
E-mail: Christine.fuell@fao.org

Interview with the new Rotterdam Executive Secretary (FAO)
Meet the new ES of the FAO part of the Rotterdam Convention, William Murray, and discover his expectations for the upcoming Chemicals Review Committee (CRC) meeting in Rome.

Interview with the new Rotterdam Executive Secretary (FAO)

Interview with the new Rotterdam Executive Secretary (FAO)

Interview between William Murray, Deputy Director, Plant Production and Protection Division and Executive Secretary for the part of the Rotterdam Convention within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy, and Charlie Avis, BRS Public Information Officer.

CA: Good morning, Bill, and my congratulations to you as the new Executive Secretary for the part of the Rotterdam Convention within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome.

WM: Good morning, Charlie, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself. I have a long history with the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, both as part of the Canadian Delegation that negotiated the text of the Conventions as well as with the Rotterdam Secretariat. I coordinated the work of the Rotterdam Secretariat here in Rome from 2000 to 2009, moving on to other tasks within FAO in the midst of the consultation process on synergies among the Rotterdam, Stockholm and Basel Conventions. I am looking forward to renewing my connection with the colleagues in member countries, in the Secretariat in Geneva and to working closely with my counterpart Rolph Payet in his role as Executive Secretary of the three Conventions in Geneva.

CA: What are your thoughts about progress made so far in the synergies process?

WM: Looking at the documents from the seventh COP in May this year and discussing with colleagues here in Rome, the progress that has been made towards greater synergies among the three Conventions is impressive. The fact that the last two COPs have featured simultaneous meetings of the three Conventions is itself a testament to the progress in greater synergy among the Secretariats. We will also be hosting back-to-back meetings of the Rotterdam Chemical Review Committee (CRC) and the Stockholm POP Review Committee here in Rome in October.

I look forward to the upcoming review of the synergies arrangements and the opportunity to identify what has worked best and to identify any gaps or opportunities to further enhance ways of working together.

I intend to use my knowledge and experience of the Conventions to continue strengthen cooperation and collaboration among the Conventions but also with FAO and other partners.

CA: What sort of cooperation or collaboration do you have in mind – can you elaborate?

WM: There are a number of examples that come to mind. One area of continued concern to countries, in particular developing countries, concerns the risks associated with the use of pesticides. FAO is recognized as the lead international organization working on matters related to pesticide management including in its role within the Inter-Organizational Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) and the Strategic Approach for Integrated Chemicals Management (SAICM). Countries have called for concerted action on “highly hazardous pesticides” and a proposal has been jointly developed by FAO, including the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, WHO, UNEP and the SAICM Secretariat, to be considered by the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) this month in Geneva.

By solidifying the gains made through the synergies process over the last 10 years, we can look forward to opportunities for the Conventions to work with countries in different ways, for example in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.

An example of this is Goal 12, which includes an explicit reference to “the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes through their lifecycle” – but particularly in the case of pesticides, there are also new opportunities within the framework of sustainable food production systems and the increased recognition of the critical roles of agrobiodiversity and ecosystem services such as pollination.

CA: What about cooperation with other parts of FAO ?

WM: The creation of the FAO/UNEP Joint Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention in 2004 was a unique example of cooperation among two international organizations. Since then the merging of the Secretariats in Geneva, and the appointment of a single Executive Secretary has enhanced the visibility of the Conventions whilst maintaining their status as independent entities. At the same time the housing in FAO of that portion of the Rotterdam Secretariat responsible for pesticides has created opportunities to leverage the work of the Convention.

The Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention has been identified as an FAO Corporate Technical Activity, a mandated area of work for which specific resources are allocated. The FAO Conference in June 2015 allocated 1.5 million USD to support the Secretariat in 2016-2017.

The Secretariat works in close cooperation with more than 18 technical officers in the regional and subregional offices of FAO around the globe, part of a global network covering more than 180 countries, including 5 Regional Offices, 9 Subregional Offices, and 80 FAO Representations. These colleagues, with connections and in-depth knowledge of the regional and national conditions, are an invaluable resource.

CA: How do you integrate the work of the Rotterdam Convention into this?

WM: The programme of work mandated by the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, is aligned with FAO’s overall strategic framework and as far as possible integrated within the organization’s work on pesticide risk reduction. One advantage is that we are able to avoid duplication of work, identify synergies in working at the regional and country levels, and leverage the effective use of the resources available through the Convention.

For example the Secretariat joined forces with the FAO Pesticide Management Team as well as international partners in convening a recent meeting of the Southern African Pesticide Regulators’ Forum (SAPReF) (Harare, 27 – 30 July 2015). The meeting, involved representatives of 14 countries (including Rotterdam Convention Designated National Authorities or DNAs), and developed a strategic action plan to reduce health and environmental risks associated with the use, trade and disposal of pesticides. One result was that the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention was identified as a priority in the SAPReF Action Plan for 2015-2016 while progress was also made in the submission of import responses, notifications or final regulatory action as well as a possible proposal for a severely hazardous pesticide formulation.

CA: One last question, please. What are your expectations for the forthcoming CRC meeting which you mentioned earlier, and which takes place at FAO headquarters in Rome from 26 to 28 October?

WM: Well, it is the highly professional work of the Chemical Review Committee that enables the achievement of the Convention’s goals. This Committee does tremendous scientific work and my hope is that based on the available information and documentation it would be able to agree that the criteria set out in Annex II to the Convention have been satisfied by each of the notifications of final regulatory action for atrazine, carbofuran and carbosulfan. These three pesticides could probably then become part of the PIC procedure in the future and information about their risk to human health and the environment would be exchanged in a structured way so that parties can take action to protect their people and their environment. I also hope that the proposal to consider dimethoate EC 400 g/L as a severely hazardous pesticide formulation will satisfy the criteria set out in part 3 of Annex IV to the Convention. This is a great opportunity for developing countries and countries with an economy in transition to raise their voices at the global level regarding problems they face with particular pesticide formulations. And of course I hope that the draft decision guidance documents for short-chained chlorinated paraffins and tributyltin compounds can be finalized and then submitted to the Conference of the Parties, with a view to their adoption in 2017.

CA: Thank you very much for your time and welcome on board!

WM: Thank you, Charlie, for this opportunity!

Listing of methamidophos into Annex III of the Convention
The amendment to list methamidophos enters into force on 15 September 2015. Parties are invited to provide import responses by 15 June 2016.

Listing of methamidophos into Annex III of the Convention

Listing of methamidophos into Annex III of the Convention
 
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