Developing countries are awash with pesticides; building public awareness of their risks remains a major challenge.
September 2016, Rome – “Urgent action is needed to secure the future and food security of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) against the disproportionate effects of climate change,” said FAO’s Director-General Graziano da Silva at a recent conference.
For the island states of Cabo Verde, São Tome and Principe, this is just one concern in ensuring food security for all. That security also hinges heavily on developing their capacities to farm independently and thus become less reliant on imported food supplies.
Each country is poor in natural resources and arable land, and prone to drought – building sustainable agriculture systems is therefore no easy matter.
A meeting in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, last year, saw the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) join forces with the Rotterdam Convention (RC) to agree on a new strategy to monitor the food and nutrition security of countries, in particular the SIDS.
As is the case for farmers around the world, pesticides - including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides and nematicides - are used to boost crop production. Though they can have negative impacts on the environment and human health, their appeal in increasing crop production is ongoing.
This, despite the fact that a 2012 FAO study analysing data from 1990 to 2009 found that a 1.9 percent increase in pesticide use only led to a one percent gain in crop output.
With little firm research available to establish how widely pesticides were being used on Cabo Verde, São Tome and Principe, FAO began an EU-funded study mission to each island in July, to review the use of pesticides in rural communities. The target of the mission was to first confirm if pesticides were being used, and then later to inform of the dangers associated with their use.
In São Tome and Principe, family farmers across the islands were observed wearing no protective clothing or equipment in their work. A long-term target is to build awareness of the risks associated with the use of pesticides and to promote the use of safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals.
In its undertaking to support the islands through policy advice, analysis and technical assistance, FAO also aims to help achieve sustainable development.
As a further measure to improve pesticide management and to avoid potentially serious poisonings, FAO is calling on all countries to adhere to an International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management – a voluntary framework that promotes best practices to prevent and reduce exposure to pesticides during handling, storage, transport, use and disposal.
A knowledge-sharing meeting is to be held in January 2017 to review the practices in Cabo Verde, São Tome and Principe and to adopt a framework to introduce alternatives to hazardous pesticides into farming methods.
At the ordinary meeting held in 2015, the respective conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) conventions decided to review the synergies arrangements at their meetings in 2017 (BC-12/20, RC-7/10 and SC-7/28). With the objective to gather data to inform this review process, e-surveys have been dispatched to all stakeholders. The e-surveys can also be accessed via the hyperlinks below.
Please click here to access the e-survey for parties. The submission deadline is 5 August 2016.
BCRCs and SCRCs
Please click here to access the e-survey for BCRCs and SCRCs. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.
FAO country offices
Please click here to access the e-survey for FAO country offices. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.
Please click here to access the e-survey for partners. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.
Please click here to access the e-survey for Secretariat staff. The submission deadline is 22 July 2016.
More than 2,000 delegates from around the world representing governments, civil society, and international organisations gathered from 23 - 27 May 2016 to attend the second UN Environment Assembly, held at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
As the first global meeting since the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change, UNEA2 aimed to forward efforts to deliver the environmental dimension of the 2030 agenda. A small team from the BRS Secretariat attended and contributed to numerous Side Events, panel discussions, High-Level forums, Green Room events and throughout the conference throughout the week in order to emphasise the centrality of sustainable management of chemicals and waste to the implementation of the SDGs. An interactive quiz was launched at UNEA2 on this subject to gauge delegates’ appreciation of these linkages and the results will be shared in due course. To take the quiz, please go to the BRS website.
Key resolutions adopted by Member States on Friday 27 May included those on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste, on Marine Litter, on Sustainable Consumption and Production, on Oceans, and on the role of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, (MEAs).
For more information on UNEA2 and on the resolutions agreed, please see the UNEP website.
Johannesburg, South Africa. 45 Pesticide Registrars and Designated National Authorities of the Rotterdam Convention from the 15 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries discussed the risk of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) to human health and the environment, their management and the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention at large during a 5 day workshop. The workshop also followed up on the SAPReF Strategic Action plan agreed at a similar workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe at the end of July in 2015, identifying risk reduction from HHP and implementation of the Rotterdam Convention as high priorities.
The Southern African Pesticide Regulators’ Forum (SAPReF) was formed in 2011 and since then placed particular attention on fostering regional collaboration for sound pesticide management. Key institutions namely FAO, University of Cape Town, Swedish Chemical Agency and the SADC Secretariat support this forum since the beginning. Through regional collaboration, countries are enabled to work more closely, share resources, lower the costs of pesticide registration, and coordinate implementation of the Multilateral Environmental Agreement such as Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Convention.
Participants were trained on identification of potential HHPs using their national registers of pesticides, risk management and on the protocols for the field surveys to assess use conditions of HHPs. “The Pesticide Registration Toolkit developed by FAO facilitates this important task that has to be carried out by countries”, Nadia Correale from FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division says.
The workshop put also emphasis on identifying gaps and challenges faced by the 15 countries (13 are party to the Rotterdam Convention) in meeting particular obligations under the Convention, such as preparation and submission of notifications of Final Regulatory Actions (FRA) under Article 5 and taking advantage of the opportunity in preparing and submitting proposals for Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulations (SHPF) under Article 6.
Christine Fuell, the Coordinator of the FAO part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat stressed that “FAO, the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, WHO, KEMI and UCT will continue to provide support to the SADC Member Countries in finalizing their national action plans and take any further steps to reduce the risks posed by highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs)”.
For more information, please contact Nadia Correale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Delivering on the environmental dimension of the SDGs requires achieving the sustainable management of chemicals and waste, that is one key message which UNEA-2 is expected to underline and re-affirm. It is also the message brought by the BRS Secretariat staff travelling to UNEA-2 in Nairobi, 23-27 May 2016. Through participation in a series of side events, panel discussions, and civil society green room events the BRS Executive Secretary Rolph Payet, and Deputy Executive Secretary Kerstin Stendahl, will promote the implementation of the BRS Conventions as part of the efforts to integrate chemicals and wastes into national implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.
The UNEA-2 Committee of the Whole (CoW) will meet throughout the week to prepare decisions for adoption. Important for chemicals and wastes will be the negotiations on the Omnibus Decision on Chemicals and Waste as a renewed commitment to strengthened implementation at national level. Sustainable consumption and production, marine plastic debris and microplastics, and air quality as well as many cross-cutting issues will also be of relevance as pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of SDGs implementation, themes which may well be developed in more detail (further explored?) at the 2017 Triple COPs.
On the first day, Monday 23 May at 1300, Rolph Payet will provide the Opening Remarks to UNEA-2’s first Side Event (#1), on “Advancing Sustainable Chemistry in a Sustainable Development Context”, organised by the Government of Germany, Federal Ministry of the Environment. On Wednesday 25 May at 1300, the Rotterdam Convention President, Franz Perrez from Switzerland, and Rolph Payet will act as Panellists to the UNEP-facilitated Side Event (#19) on “The mutually supportive role and benefits of MEAs and the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development”.
On Thursday 26 May at 1300, Rolph Payet contributes as Panellist to the Norwegian Government’s Side Event (#24) on “Marine Litter and Microplastics”, whilst at the same time Kerstin Stendahl will moderate the Side Event (#26) on “The Impact of Childhood Exposure to Toxic Chemicals on Children’s Rights”, organised by the UN Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Wastes, co-sponsored by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNICEF. That evening at 1700, Rolph Payet will then feature as Panellist on the Global Universites Partnership/UNEP Green Room Event (#22)on “Innovation and Solutions: Environmental Education for Sustainable Development Goals”.
In addition, the BRS secretariat will have an information Booth at UNEA-2 where interested delegates will be able to access, electronically, a range of important documents and publications and where BRS staff will be asking questions of delegates concerning the SDGs and chemicals and waste. The Secretariat will also be communicating latest news and updates live and direct from Nairobi through live-tweeting on @brsmeas. Follow us on twitter in order to stay up-to-date with what is happening at this important event, which has become known as “the global parliament for the environment”.
For more information on UNEA-2 please consult the UNEP website http://web.unep.org/unea/.
Following the rotation of membership in May 2016, about half of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC) members will serve for the first time as experts on this scientific body. In view of the upcoming twelfths 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 doing so and to provide them with respective tools.
Hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, 24 members of the CRC participated in the 3-day orientation workshop in Rome, Italy. The workshop intended to familiarize new members with the role and mandate of the CRC, as well as its operational procedures and policy guidance. It also provided a platform to exchange experience and transfer knowledge among the members.
Besides the presentations in plenary, a series of group exercises were undertaken using case studies, which allowed for active participation by the members and stimulated in-depth discussions .
Some members noted that the programme was very comprehensive, the discussions and case studies helped a lot for better understanding the work of the Committee. One member stressed that the policy guidance and working procedure collected in the Handbook is a treasure for the Committee that ensures the consistency and transparency. Another member said that the knowledge gained during the workshop would also be relevant to her day-to-day work and she would share it with her colleagues.
Yun Zhou, from the FAO part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat, noted that “participants were extremely interested and motivated. The workshop also helped fostering efficient working relationships among the members. We got great feedback from them. The new members feel that the workshop enabled them to effectively participate in the work of the CRC and they are “ready to go”.
For more information, please contact: Ms. Yun Zhou at Yun.Zhou@fao.org or Mr. Gamini Manuweera at email@example.com.