News Features

Call for information as part of follow-up to the Rotterdam COP8
Letters have been communicated detailing calls for information from Parties and others, some of which have a deadline of 30 June 2017

Call for information as part of follow-up to the Rotterdam COP8

Call for information as part of follow-up to the Rotterdam COP8

 

China’s new chemical management actions pave the way towards a detoxified world
Read how China is stepping up its actions to protect human health and the environment.

China’s new chemical management actions pave the way towards a detoxified world

China’s new chemical management actions pave the way towards a detoxified world

May 2017 – China has stepped up its efforts to protect human health and environment from certain hazardous pesticides and chemicals both globally and nationally over recent years.

China was one of the first parties to submit import responses for all of the chemicals listed under Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention (RC). In 2015, in a further show of progress to notify other countries over potential dangers, it submitted five notifications for Final Regulatory Actions (FRAs) for industrial chemicals that were banned or severely restricted by the government due to their potentially harmful effects. So far this year, it has made seven notifications for pesticides and one for an industrial chemical, with subsequent submissions anticipated. 

“The importance of China’s proven commitment to prevent the unwanted trade and exchange of information over hazardous chemicals cannot be underestimated. By submitting import responses and notifications, it plays an active part in promoting shared responsibility among nations. China has demonstrated its’ willingness to be a responsible trade partner,” said FAO Agricultural Officer for the Convention, Yun Zhou.  

The RC was initially inspired by a North-South dilemma in which wealthier countries with bans on certain life threatening chemicals continued to sell them abroad. The Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure gives parties the power to take informed decision as to whether they wish to import certain hazardous chemicals and exporting parties are legally obliged not to trade those chemicals contrary to the importing countries’ decisions. Sharing information through the Convention is widely viewed as key to letting other parties know which chemicals are regulated and why. It also allows less advantaged importing countries to learn by example on how to manage toxic chemicals throughout their life cycle.

Advancing environmentally friendly practices

China remains a major producer, user and exporter of pesticides and chemicals, and the government has continually pledged to invest resources and infrastructure to reduce their risks to humans and the environment. This engagement comes despite the challenges of juggling the need to maintain rapid economic development in a sustainable manner.

In November 2016, China’s Environmental Protection Ministry hosted a series of national training workshops, with the aim of strengthening science-based decision-making, in particular in relation to risk assessment capacities. The Ministry of Agriculture, the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat and the European Commission (EC) have each pledged to maintain the momentum of the positive collaboration already initiated.

“We are in the process of formulating national chemical legislation which is fundamental for the reinforcement of the sound management of chemicals. At this very moment we are looking forward to receiving continued technical assistance from the RC Secretariat and to regular exchanges of policy and practices with developed countries,” said China’s newly appointed Designated National Authority (DNA) for the RC, Chief Engineer, Ding Qiong.

As the world’s most populous nation, with a strong economic growth over recent decades, China’s active participation in the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS) significantly contributes towards a detoxified world, the theme of this year’s Conference of the Parties (COPS 2017).

Earlier this month, FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, took part in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, a meeting focused on the initiative called, "One Belt, One Road", which sets out to expand development and trade links between Asia, Africa, Europe and South America.

FAO believes that agriculture is not only important for generating sustainable livelihoods, but also essential for ensuring food and nutrition security, preserving natural resources and biodiversity, and for promoting rural development.

China supports FAO’s South-South Cooperation programme, which has benefitted over 30 countries and produced strong impacts in developing countries.

Establishing the necessary infrastructure and capacities to manage chemicals soundly is indispensable to ensuring similar successful partnerships are upheld.

PIC Circular now available
The latest version of the Rotterdam Convention PIC Circular is now available online.

PIC Circular now available

PIC Circular now available
 
Now online: all photos of the 2017 Triple COPs
Browse and download the BRS photos of the chemical conventions Triple COPs, including side events, plenary, and high-level segment

Now online: all photos of the 2017 Triple COPs

Now online: all photos of the 2017 Triple COPs

 

Human rights, agriculture, environment emphasised at COPs High-Level Segment
Speeches from UNHCHR, UN FAO, and the GEF are now online

Human rights, agriculture, environment emphasised at COPs High-Level Segment

Human rights, agriculture, environment emphasised at COPs High-Level Segment

 

#DETOX Outcomes: Additional chemicals listed, new partnership on household waste established, mandate given to tackle marine plastics
Countries make important progress towards goal of a safer planet.

#DETOX Outcomes: Additional chemicals listed, new partnership on household waste established, mandate given to tackle marine plastics

#DETOX Outcomes: Additional chemicals listed, new partnership on household waste established, mandate given to tackle marine plastics
 
The 2017 Triple COPs have begun. Read the opening day speeches here
Opening day speeches from BRS’ Rolph Payet and Bill Murray, and UN Environment’s Ibrahim Thiaw are now available online.

The 2017 Triple COPs have begun. Read the opening day speeches here

The 2017 Triple COPs have begun. Read the opening day speeches here

 

Nine Asian countries at Indonesia workshop share best practices for implementing Rotterdam Convention
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

Nine Asian countries at Indonesia workshop share best practices for implementing Rotterdam Convention

Nine Asian countries at Indonesia workshop share best practices for implementing Rotterdam Convention

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.

A country-driven approach

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.

Field interviews confirm ongoing exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides amongst island rural families
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.

Field interviews confirm ongoing exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides amongst island rural families

Field interviews confirm ongoing exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides amongst island rural families

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.

Building safer rural communities

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.

Partnerships for progress

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.

The sound management of chemicals and waste as a human right
Ahead of the 2017 Triple COPs, recent meetings in Geneva have emphasised that freedom from a polluted environment is a human right.

The sound management of chemicals and waste as a human right

The sound management of chemicals and waste as a human right
 
Latest information on the 2017 Triple COPs
All the latest information, including the schedule for Bureaux and Regional meetings for Sunday 23rd April, for the 2017 Triple COPs is available online

Latest information on the 2017 Triple COPs

Latest information on the 2017 Triple COPs

 

More than 40 side events scheduled for chemical conventions’ COPs
Browse the newly published list of planned side events, including two film screenings, for the forthcoming 2017 Triple COPs.

More than 40 side events scheduled for chemical conventions’ COPs

More than 40 side events scheduled for chemical conventions’ COPs
 
How does the Rotterdam Convention work to protect human health and environment?
Our latest interview, with FAO’s Aleksandar Mihajlovski, explains all.

How does the Rotterdam Convention work to protect human health and environment?

How does the Rotterdam Convention work to protect human health and environment?

 

Keep well informed with the BRS clearing house mechanism, now with new, user-friendly, web section
Discover the information, tools and communities that make the joint clearing house mechanism a reality to support the conventions.

Keep well informed with the BRS clearing house mechanism, now with new, user-friendly, web section

Keep well informed with the BRS clearing house mechanism, now with new, user-friendly, web section
 
Ten Gender Pioneers to be honoured at the 2017 Triple COPs
Nominations are sought for outstanding women and men who have pioneered the integration of gender into the sound management of chemicals and wastes

Ten Gender Pioneers to be honoured at the 2017 Triple COPs

Ten Gender Pioneers to be honoured at the 2017 Triple COPs

 

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