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UN chemical experts recommend adding three pesticides to the PIC global watch list

Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee held its 9th meeting in Rome from 22 to 24 October 2013, back to back with the joint meeting of the conventions’ scientific review committees.

UN chemical experts recommend adding three pesticides to the PIC global watch list

UN chemical experts recommend adding three pesticides to the PIC global watch list

Geneva and Rome, 25 October 2013 –The Chemical Review Committee, the scientific subsidiary body of the Rotterdam Convention, recommended this week that methamidophos (pesticide) and fenthion 640 ULV* (a severely hazardous pesticide formulation) be subject to the Convention’s Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure. The Committee also adopted the draft Decision Guidance Document (DGD) for trichlorfon, a pesticide recommended for inclusion in the Committee’s eighth meeting held in March 2012.

The result of the ninth meeting of the Chemical Review Committee meeting is that three new Decision Guidance Documents will be forwarded to the Conference of the Parties in May 2015 for its consideration for inclusion in Annex III to the Convention and be subject to the PIC procedure.

The Prior Informed Consent procedure of the Convention is a key tool for developing countries to take informed and responsible decisions on the import and on the use of chemicals that represent a danger for the environment and for the human health. It enables member governments to alert each other to potential dangers by exchanging information on banned or severely restricted chemicals and to take informed decisions on them.  This provision prevents unwanted trade in the chemicals listed in Annex III of the Convention and constitutes an early warning system.

The Committee reviewed notifications of final regulatory actions taken by parties for five chemicals: cyhexatin, lead arsenate, lead carbonate, methamidophos, pentachlorobenzene, and one severely hazardous pesticide formulation, fenthion 640 ULV.

On four other chemicals – cyhexatin, lead arsenate, lead carbonate and pentachlorobenzene – the Committee agreed that criteria were not met and no further decisions will be taken for these chemicals at the moment.

“This is the second time since the Convention entered into force in 2004 that the Committee has recommended adding a severely hazardous pesticide formulation to the Prior Informed Consent list, using the ‘fast track’ mechanism that ensures developing countries’ rights to know and trade chemicals safely are respected,” said Clayton Campanhola, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“Putting these pesticides under the Rotterdam Convention’s PIC procedure would continue to strengthen the hands of governments and support informed decision-making about the import and use of chemicals known to harm human health and the environment,” said Kerstin Stendahl, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

The Committee’s recommendations will be sent to the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention for consideration at the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties, scheduled to be held from 4 to 15 May 2015 in Geneva.

The tenth meeting of the Chemical Review Committee will be held in Rome, Italy, from 20 to 24 October 2014 followed immediately by the POPs Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention, scheduled for 27 to 31 October 2014.

Note for Editors:

The objective of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm. The Convention contributes to the environmentally sound use of such chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.

Together, the Rotterdam, Basel and Stockholm conventions, the three leading global treaties governing hazardous chemicals, pesticide formulations and wastes, can help countries to manage hazardous chemicals throughout their life-cycle:

  • Rotterdam Convention provides early warning on dangerous chemicals and prevents the unwanted international trade on certain chemicals.
  • Stockholm Convention controls and eliminates production and use of  persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
  • Basel Convention limits “toxic trade” in hazardous wastes and ensures proper disposal of wastes.

The Chemical Review Committee is the scientific subsidiary body of the Rotterdam Convention.  The Committee consists of thirty-one scientific experts appointed by the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention charged with undertaking scientific review of chemicals proposed for listing.

Trichlorfon is an insecticide used on a number of crops, including fruits and vegetables. The recommendation by the Chemical Review Committee to list trichlorfon in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention was based on final regulatory actions submitted by Brazil and the European Union.

Fenthion 640 ULV, among wide range use, it is also used for birds control against grain-eating birds. The proposal has been submitted by Chad, which experienced problems for human health caused by the formulation under conditions of use in its territory. The Committee decided at its ninth meeting to recommend listing it in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention as a Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulation (SHPF), based on the proposal of Chad.

Methamidiphos is an insecticide used on many crops, it is already present in Annex III to the Convention and subject to the PIC procedure as severely hazardous pesticide formulation (soluble liquid formulations of substance that exceed 600 g active ingredient/L) and it is classified as highly hazardous (I b oral toxicity) by the World Health Organization. The Committee decided at its ninth meeting to recommend listing it in Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention as a pesticide, based on final regulatory actions submitted by Brazil and the European Union.

Contact:

Elisabetta TAGLIATI, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Rome, Tel. +39-06-5705-6420+39-06-5705-6420, elisabetta.tagliati@fao.org

Michael S. JONES, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva,  mobile/text message: +41-79-730-4495+41-79-730-4495, michael.jones@brsmeas.org 

For more information, see  www.pic.int

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*fenthion (ultra low volume formulations (ULV) at or above 640 g active ingredient/L)


UNEP and FAO experts explore scientific synergies between global chemicals agreements

Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions’ scientific review committees hold the ninth meetings back-to-back and their first joint meeting in Rome, 14–25 October 2013.

 

UNEP and FAO experts explore scientific synergies between global chemicals agreements

UNEP and FAO experts explore scientific synergies between global chemicals agreements

Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions’ scientific review committees hold the ninth meetings back-to-back and their first joint meeting in Rome, 14–25 October 2013.

Geneva and Rome, 11 October 2013 – The first joint meeting of the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee and the Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Review Committee will be held on Sunday, 20 October 2013, at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, Italy. The purpose of the joint meeting is to promote the exchange of scientific information between the two Committees.

The joint meeting of the two global chemical conventions’ scientific committees will be preceded by the ninth meeting of the POPs Review Committee (POPRC-9) from 14 to 18 October 2013, and be followed by the ninth meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC-9), from 22 to 25 October 2013, at the same venue.

At its ninth meeting, the POPs Review Committee will have before it proposals for listing decabromodiphenyl ether (commercial mixture, c-decaBDE) and dicofol in Annexes A, B and/or C to the Stockholm Convention. The Committee will also review, among other things, the draft risk management evaluation on chlorinated naphthalenes and hexachlorobutadiene and the draft risk profile on pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters.

The Chemical Review Committee will review five chemicals (cyhexatin, lead arsenate, lead carbonate, methamidophos, pentachlorobenzene) and one severely hazardous pesticide formulation (fenthion 640 ULV).  

The Committees make recommendations to their respective conferences of the parties for listing additional chemicals in their instruments.

Contact:

Kei OHNO WOODALL, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva, +41-79-233-3218, kei.ohno-woodall@brsmeas.org

Elisabetta TAGLIATI, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), + 39-06-5705-6420, elisabetta.tagliati@fao.org

Erwin NORTHOFF, Media Relations Officer (FAO), +39-06-5705-3105, erwin.northoff@fao.org

Michael S. JONES, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), mobile/text message: +41-79-730-4495, michael.jones@brsmeas.org

For more information, see www.pops.int (Stockholm Convention) or www.pic.int  (Rotterdam Convention).

 

Extraordinary UN Conference Takes Historic Strides to Strengthen Chemical Safety Globally

UNEP and FAO team up to promote synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in two-week chemicals and waste meeting.

 

Extraordinary UN Conference Takes Historic Strides to Strengthen Chemical Safety Globally

Extraordinary UN Conference Takes Historic Strides to Strengthen Chemical Safety Globally

UNEP and FAO team up to promote synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions in two-week chemicals and waste meeting.

Geneva, Switzerland, 11 May 2013 – The three conventions that govern chemicals and hazardous waste safety at the global level concluded their first ever jointly held meetings of the parties late Friday night in Geneva. The historic meeting, attended by nearly two thousand participants from 170 countries, as well as 80 Ministers, adopted 50 separate decisions aimed at strengthening protection against hazardous chemicals and waste.

The three legally autonomous conventions had convened the joint meeting of the conferences of the parties to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between the conventions, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of their activities on the ground. Each convention then continued individually over the two-week period to deal with its own specific topics of the global chemicals and waste agenda before returning in a joint session at the end of the week to finalize their outcomes.

The meeting culminated in a ministerial segment on 9 and 10 May 2013 dedicated to the theme of strengthening synergies between the conventions at national, regional and global level. The ministerial segment was joined by Swiss Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva, and Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii.  The global agency leaders pledged to deepen cooperation and collaboration as part of a broader effort to raise the profile of chemicals and waste issues, promote green growth and alleviate poverty.

At its conclusion, the joint meeting acclaimed the “Geneva Statement on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”. The Geneva Statement welcomed the UNEP-led consultative process on financing options for chemicals and waste that has considered the need for heightened efforts to increase the political priority accorded to sound management of chemicals and waste.

In a press conference following the ministerial segment, Mr. Steiner called the conferences of the parties “a unique historic event coming at a time of unprecedented change and progress in the arena of global environmental governance. The strengthening of UNEP and the synergies process of chemicals and waste multilateral environmental agreements are complementary parts of the ongoing reform to fortify the environmental dimension of sustainable development.”

Ms. Ishii spoke of the challenges countries face protecting the planet's critical ecosystems from contamination by hazardous chemicals and waste and of GEF support for strategies to overcome them. “At this critical juncture, the Global Environment Facility is committed to its financial support to help countries address these important challenges in three ways,” said Ms. Ishii. “Assisting them in their efforts to mainstream sound chemicals management in national agendas, creating an integrated GEF chemicals and wastes focal area, and expanding engagement with the private sector.”

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said that in many countries intensive crop production has depleted agriculture’s natural resource base, jeopardizing future productivity. “To fight hunger and eradicate poverty, we will need to find more sustainable ways to produce 60 percent more food by 2050,” he said. However, he recognized that chemical pesticides would continue to be part of farming in many parts of the world in future.

“The challenge is to enable countries to manage pesticides safely, to use the right quantity, at the right time and in the right way and also to apply alternatives to hazardous pesticides. Because when we don’t, pesticides continue to pose a serious risk to human health and the environment and will eventually end up as waste. Today, half a million tons of obsolete pesticides are scattered around the developing world,” he said.

“Around 70 percent of the chemicals addressed by the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions are pesticides, and many are used in agriculture. It is in the best interest of all countries to ensure that the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions can work together, effectively and efficiently, to address various aspects of the chemical life cycle.”

The joint meetings of the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions also reviewed the impact of the arrangements put in place by governments in 2011 to strengthen synergies among the treaties.

The parties endorsed the organization of the Secretariat, and adopted a programme of work and budget individual and for joint activities of three conventions in 2014-2015. ”The parties have agreed to strengthen capacity building and technical assistance for countries by investing the savings realized over the past two years into an enhanced technical assistance programme that better meets the needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. “In an era of financial austerity, we have learned through synergies how to deliver more to parties while living within the economic limits faced by Governments today.”

“Much of the success of this synergies meeting is owed to the outstanding cooperation and inspired leadership of the three presidents of the conferences, Franz Perrez of Switzerland, Magdalena Balicka of Poland and Osvaldo Álvarez-Pérez of Chile,” added Mr. Willis.

The 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to list hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) to Annex A to the Convention with specific exemptions for expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings. Efforts to adopt a non-compliance mechanism, however, did not succeed in the face of continuing disagreement on how such a mechanism might function.

Basel Convention's parties, at their 11th Conference of the Parties, took decisions to strengthen compliance with the Convention. The Parties adopted a framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and other wastes, and agreed, over the next two years, to develop technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electronic and electrical wastes (e-waste).

The meeting also decided terms of reference for the newly established Environmental Network for Optimizing Regulatory Compliance on Illegal Traffic (ENFORCE), which aims to prevent and combat illegal traffic in hazardous and other wastes through the better implementation and enforcement of national law.

The 6th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention had considered the possible addition of five chemicals and one severely hazardous pesticide formulation to Annex III of the Convention. It agreed by consensus to add the pesticide azinphos-methyl and the industrial chemicals PentaBDE, OctaBDE and PFOS to Annex III of the Convention.[1] Listing in Annex III triggers an exchange of information between Parties and helps countries make informed decisions about future import and use of the chemicals. The addition of four substances is the highest number to be added to the Convention's prior informed consent procedure by any conference of the parties since the adoption of the Convention in 1998.

In contrast, the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention did not succeed in reaching agreement on the addition of chrysotile asbestos and a severely hazardous pesticide formulation containing paraquat to the Convention. The proposal to list chrysotile asbestos and the paraquat formulation will be considered at the next Conference of the Parties in 2015.

The joint meeting hosted a three-day Regional Fair from 1 to 3 May 2013 dedicated to the theme 'Synergies through regional delivery' and attended by 20 Stockholm Convention or Basel Convention Regional Centres and two Regional Offices of UNEP. The Fair provided the venue for the signing of bi-regional and intra-regional cooperation agreements between centres in Latin America and Caribbean, and Central and Eastern European regions in the areas of technical assistance and awareness-raising and outreach.

Note to editors:

Chemicals contribute many advantages to today's world; however their use can also pose risks to human health and the environment. To reduce this harmful global impact, three conventions have been established that regulate chemicals and hazardous waste at global level:

Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal regulates the export/import of hazardous waste and waste containing hazardous chemicals. The Convention was adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1992. It currently has 180 Parties.

Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade currently regulates information about the export/import of 47 hazardous chemicals listed in the Convention’s Annex III, 33 of which are pesticides (including 4 severely hazardous pesticide formulations) and 14 of which are industrial chemicals. The Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004. It currently has 152 Parties.

Unlike the Stockholm Convention, the Rotterdam Convention does not ban or restrict trade in chemicals or pesticide formulations, but serves to strengthen protection of human health and the environment by expanding the exchange of critical safety information between exporting and importing States.

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants currently regulates 23 toxic substances that are persistent, travel long distances, bioaccumulate in organisms and are toxic. The Convention was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004. It currently has 179 Parties.

Contact:

Christine Fuell, Technical Senior Officer and Coordinator, Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), Tel. +39 06 5705 3765, christine.fuell@fao.org

Michael S. Jones, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Cell +41 (0) 79 730 44 95, msjones@brsmeas.org

Nick Nuttall, Director, Division of Communication and Public Information, and UNEP Spokesperson, +254 20 7623084, nick.nuttall@unep.org

For more information, visit the 2013 COPs website: synergies.pops.int or follow the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions on Twitter @brsmeas #brscops.

 


 

[1]PentaBDE: Pentabromodiphenyl ether (CAS No. 32534-81-9) and pentabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; OctaBDE: Octabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures; PFOS: Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanesulfonates, perfluorooctanesulfonamides and perfluorooctanesulfonyls.

 

Message of Condolence to the Family, Friends and Colleagues of the Late Sergey E. Tikhonov
Message of Condolence to the Family, Friends and Colleagues of the Late Sergey E. Tikhonov

Message of Condolence to the Family, Friends and Colleagues of the Late Sergey E. Tikhonov

Message of Condolence to the Family, Friends and Colleagues of the Late Sergey E. Tikhonov

The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Sergey Eduardovich Tikhonov, a leader in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the field of sound chemicals and waste management. Mr. Tikhonov died in Moscow, Russian Federation, on Friday, 26 October 2012.

Mr. Tikhonov headed the Autonomous Non-Profit Organization Centre for International Projects (ANO-CIP), based in Moscow, and served as director of the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre for capacity-building and transfer of environmentally sound technologies and the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Countries of the CIS.

Over a long and distinguished career, Mr. Tikhonov cooperated with the United Nations Environment Programme on awareness-raising and capacity-building initiatives in support of the chemicals and wastes conventions. He also supported a variety of public right-to-know mechanisms, including Earthwatch / International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals (IRPTC) and national Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers.

Sergey Tikhonov’s dedication and inspiring nature will long be remembered by those who were privileged to work with him.

Our Secretariat expresses its heartfelt sympathy to his family, friends and the staff of the Regional Centre in this time of sorrow.

UN experts recommend further industrial chemicals and a severely hazardous pesticide formulation be added to chemicals "early warning system"
The Rotterdam Convention’s PIC procedure, considered a country’s first line of defence against toxic chemicals.

UN experts recommend further industrial chemicals and a severely hazardous pesticide formulation be added to chemicals "early warning system"

UN experts recommend further industrial chemicals and a severely hazardous pesticide formulation be added to chemicals "early warning system"

Geneva, 23 March 2012 – United Nations chemical experts have recommended that three industrial chemicals and one hazardous pesticide formulation containing paraquat dichloride be included in the Rotterdam Convention’s Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure, considered a country’s first line of defence against toxic chemicals*.

The recommendations will be forwarded to the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention in 2013.

Two new candidate pesticides were also reviewed by the Committee and one – trichlorfon – was recommended for inclusion in the PIC procedure.

The Convention’s Chemical Review Committee based its recommendation on a review of national regulatory actions taken by the European Community and Brazil to ban or restrict the use of trichlorfon on the grounds that the pesticide poses an unacceptable risk to human health and the environment. Countries and other interested parties are encouraged to exchange information between countries and through the secretariat on ongoing trade and use of the pesticide.

“The recommendations to include these five chemicals in the PIC procedure demonstrate the ongoing demand by Parties for information supporting informed decision-making about the import and use of substances known to harm human health and the environment,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

“For the first time since the Convention entered into force in 2004, the Committee has recommended adding a severely hazardous pesticide formulation to the prior informed consent list, continuing to ensure that countries’ rights to know and trade chemicals safely are respected,” said Ms. Christine Fuell, Senior Technical  Officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Action on paraquat dichloride came as the result of Burkina Faso’s notification to the Convention in 2010.

Editors

Jointly supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Rotterdam Convention prevents unwanted trade in the chemicals included in its legally binding prior informed consent (PIC) procedure.

The Rotterdam Convention encourages nations to help each other to safely manage chemicals in international trade. The Prior Informed Consent, or PIC, procedure provides an early warning system that empowers countries to take informed decisions on whether or not to import hazardous chemicals in order to minimize the risks posed to human health and the environment. 

At present, there are a total of 43 banned or severely restricted industrial chemicals and pesticides, including four severely hazardous pesticide formulations listed in the Rotterdam Convention’s Annex III and therefore subject to the PIC procedure.

The Rotterdam Convention does not introduce bans but fosters information exchange mechanisms to help improve decision making about the trade of hazardous chemicals. It enables member Governments to alert each other to potential dangers by exchanging information on chemicals and to take informed decisions with regard to whether they want to import such chemicals in the future.

The Convention makes the international trade in hazardous chemicals more transparent and less vulnerable to abuse through its export notification provisions and by encouraging harmonized labeling of chemicals. Exporting member Governments are responsible for ensuring that no exports leave their territory when an importing country has made the decision not to accept a PIC chemical.

In this way, the Rotterdam Convention helps member Governments to improve their national capacity for chemicals management, and to protect human health and the environment. It also encourages all stakeholders to identify and promote safer alternatives.

For more information, please see www.pic.int.

Contact

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information Acting Director and Spokesperson, Tel. +41 795 965 737 or +254 733 632 755, e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Erwin Northoff, FAO Media Relations Officer, +39-06-5705-3105, e-mail: erwin.northoff@fao.org

Michael Stanley-Jones, Public Information Officer, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, +41-22-917-8668; (m) + 41-79-730-4495,
e-mail: msjones@pic.int


* Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, perfluorooctanesulfonates, perfluorooctanesulfonamides and perfluorooctanesulfonyls (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.8/CRP.7/Add.1/Rev.1); liquid formulations (emulsifiable concentrate and soluble concentrate) containing paraquat dichloride at or above 276 g/L, corresponding to paraquat ion at or above 200 g/L (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.8/CRP.8/Add.1); pentabromodiphenyl ether (CAS No. 32534-81-9) and pentabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.8/CRP.11/Add.1); and octabromodiphenyl ether commercial mixtures (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.8/CRP.12/Add.1)

Zimbabwe simultaneously ratifies the chemicals and waste conventions
It is the first time all three conventions have been ratified by a UN member State at the same time. The ratifications will be effective as of 30 May 2012.

Zimbabwe simultaneously ratifies the chemicals and waste conventions

Zimbabwe simultaneously ratifies the chemicals and waste conventions

Zimbabwe has deposited instruments of ratification of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, the globe's three leading chemicals and waste treaties. The Office of the UN Secretary-General announced Zimbabwe’s action on 2 March 2012. It is the first time all three conventions have been ratified by a UN member State at the same time. The ratifications will be effective as of 30 May 2012.

For more information, see the Status of ratifications page.

Globe's first line of defense against toxic chemicals strengthened
UN adds three pesticides to ‘Prior Informed Consent’ procedure to protect health and the environment against hazardous chemicals in international trade

Globe's first line of defense against toxic chemicals strengthened

Globe's first line of defense against toxic chemicals strengthened

UN adds three pesticides to ‘Prior Informed Consent’ procedure to protect health and the environment against hazardous chemicals in international trade

Geneva, 27 June 2011 – Parties to a global treaty supporting information exchange in international trade of hazardous chemicals have acted to strengthen protection of human health and the environment by expanding the exchange of critical safety information between exporting and importing States.  Agreement was reached on Friday, 24 June 2011, at the conclusion of a week-long meeting held in Geneva.

The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade agreed by consensus to add three pesticides, alachlor, aldicarb and endosulfan, to Annex III of the Convention. Listing in Annex III triggers an exchange of information between Parties and helps countries make informed decisions about future import and use of the chemicals.  

“The agreement on listing endosulfan coupled with decisions to strengthen technical assistance and synergies taken by the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention demonstrate that increasing cooperation between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions is yielding a rich harvest of benefits to countries by the protection of public health and the environment globally,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. 

Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants agreed earlier this year to eliminate endosulfan from production and use globally.

The decisions to list three chemicals were among 12 separate decisions adopted at the conference aimed at strengthening the globe’s first line of defence for chemical safety.

Amendments to the Convention bringing the three new chemicals under the Prior Informed Consent procedure will enter into force on 24 October 2011. This will raise the number of chemicals covered under the Convention to forty-three.

“The addition of these three chemicals marks the second time since the Convention entered into force that Parties have expanded the Convention’s list of substances covered by the Prior Informed Consent procedure. This gives countries that are considering importing hazardous chemicals the right-to-know about the risks they carry and how they can protect public health and the environment, as well as the means to protect against unwanted imports,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary.

The conference agreed to include endosulfan as a pesticide in Annex III to the Convention as recommended by the Chemical Review Committee, a scientific expert body, at its second and sixth meetings.  This marked a breakthrough, as past conferences had been unable to agree on inclusion of the pesticide in Annex III. Countries will now be provided with risk information allowing them to make informed decisions on importation of the hazardous chemical. The pesticides alachlor and aldicarb were recommended by the Chemical Review Committee at its fourth meeting.

Agreement to list a fourth chemical, chrysotile asbestos, eluded the conference for the third time since it was first recommended for listing by the treaty’s Chemical Review Committee in 2002.  Debate over the recommended listing of chrysotile asbestos drew widespread public attention throughout a week of sometimes tense negotiations between the Convention’s parties.

“The robust participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the work of the Rotterdam Convention has been on display this past week, as they increasingly are taking over the responsibility to assess the risk attached to hazardous chemicals and severely hazardous pesticide formulations”, said Peter Kenmore, Executive Secretary, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “The failure to find consensus on one substance does not diminish this achievement.”

Over 500 participants, representing more than 135 governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations attended the fifth meeting of Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention. The meeting was held from 20 to 24 June 2011, in Geneva.

Note to Editors

The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention met under the theme “Rotterdam COP5: PICturing Chemical Safety, PICturing Informed Decisions”.

The Rotterdam Convention entered into force in 2004. It built on the voluntary Prior Informed Consent, or PIC, procedure, initiated by UNEP and FAO in 1989, which gave way to the formalities of the Convention.  The Rotterdam Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004 and makes the PIC procedure legally binding.

One-hundred forty-one countries are currently Parties to the Convention.  Morocco and Russian Federation have deposited instruments of ratification and will become the 142nd and 143rd parties in July 2011.

Endosulfan has been used for over 50 years to effectively control several pests such as chewing, sucking and boring insects. Due to its severe adverse effects on health and environment, it is banned in at least 60 countries including the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Asian and West African nations. However it is still used in many other countries on commercially important crops, such as coffee and tea.

Chrysotile (serpentine forms of asbestos) was proposed to be included in the PIC procedure as an industrial chemical. Its proposed listing at the conference was based on the final regulatory actions to ban or severely restrict its use due to its impacts on health as notified by Australia, Chile and the European Community.

For Further Information Please Contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, +254 20 7623084 or email: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Christine Fuell, Coordinator, Rotterdam Convention secretariat, FAO, email: christine.fuell@fao.org

Paul Whylie, Coordinator, Rotterdam Convention secretariat, UNEP, email: pwhylie@pic.int

Michael Stanley-Jones, Public Information Officer, UNEP, mobile/text message: +41 (0)79 730 4495, email: msjones@pic.int

 

Governments gather to protect health and the environment from Hazardous chemicals

Under the theme “Rotterdam COP5: PICturing Chemical Safety, PICturing Informed Decisions”, the conference will consider measures to strengthen implementation of the globe’s first line of defence for chemical safety.

Governments gather to protect health and the environment from Hazardous chemicals

Governments gather to protect health and the environment from Hazardous chemicals

Geneva, 17 June 2011 – Governments officials, industry, NGOs and IGOs will meet in Geneva next week as the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention seek to protect human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals in international trade for certain hazardous chemicals in industry and agriculture.

The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade will open on Monday, 20 June 2011.

Over 450 participants, representing more than 110 governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are expected to attend the Conference, which will run through 24 June 2011.

Under the theme “Rotterdam COP5: PICturing Chemical Safety, PICturing Informed Decisions”, the conference will consider measures to strengthen implementation of the globe’s first line of defence for chemical safety.

The Rotterdam Convention entered into force in 2004. It built on the voluntary Prior Informed Consent, or PIC, procedure, initiated by UNEP and FAO in 1989, which gave way to the formalities of the Convention.  The Rotterdam Convention was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004 and makes the PIC Procedure legally binding.

The conference will consider decisions on, adding chrysotile asbestos, endosulfan, alachlor and aldicarb to the Convention’s Annex III, triggering the exchange of information between Governments on permissible importation and use of these hazardous chemicals and pesticides. There are 40 other chemicals and severely hazardous pesticide formulations already listed in Annex III.

“Global exchange of information on hazardous chemicals and pesticides in trade has expanded steadily since the sun-setting of the voluntary PIC procedure in 2006.  Today we enjoy a greater degree of transparency and security in knowing about chemical imports and their proper management than ever before, through the sharing of information and control measures used by Rotterdam’s Parties,” said Jim Willis, Executive Secretary.

“We are particularly pleased about the active participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the work of the Rotterdam Convention. They are increasingly taking over the responsibility to assess the risk attached to hazardous chemicals and severely hazardous pesticide formulations in order to improve the health of their population and the environment“, said Peter Kenmore, Co-Executive Secretary, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Endosulfan

The conference will consider proposals to include endosulfan as a pesticide in Annex III to the Convention as recommended by the Chemical Review Committee at its second and sixth meetings.

The recommendations followed notifications of final regulatory action from Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, the European Community, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, the Netherlands, the Niger, Senegal and Thailand. 

Endosulfan is an insecticide which has been used for over 50 years to effectively control several pests such as chewing, sucking and boring insects. Due to its severe adverse effects on health and environment, it is banned in at least 60 countries including the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, and other Asian and West African nations, and is being phased out in Brazil, China and the United States. However it is still used in many other countries on commercially important crops, such as coffee and tea.

Chrysotile asbestos

Chrysotile (serpentine forms of asbestos) is being proposed to be included in the PIC procedure as an industrial chemical. Its listing is based on the final regulatory actions to ban or severely restrict its use due to its impacts on health as notified by Australia, Chile and the European Union.

Also recommended for listing are the pesticides alachlor and aldicarb.

Technical assistance

Parties at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties requested the secretariat to focus on support to developing countries and countries with economies in transition to increase their capacity to undertake final regulatory actions on hazardous chemicals and to identify severely hazardous pesticide formulations (SHPF) being used under local conditions that may pose an unacceptable risk to workers, the public and the environment.  This conference will consider the proposals being presented by the secretariat, working closely with other international organizations, on industrial chemicals management and on projects in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization regional offices for supporting countries to identify SHPF.   The results of pilot projects in Botswana and Jordan on establishing a sound framework for chemicals management will feed into the preparation of an interactive training toolbox being created by the Inter-organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals.  This toolbox will be available to countries at all levels of development of chemicals management.

Non-compliance

The conference will consider non-compliance procedures and institutional mechanisms for determining non-compliance in line with the provisions of the Convention and for the treatment of parties found to be in non-compliance. The establishment of compliance procedures is something that is required to be established by the Conference of Parties as soon as practicable. 

Financial mechanisms

The conference will also follow up on possible options for lasting and sustainable financial mechanisms.

Trade: Cooperation with the World Trade Organization

Parties will review progress on cooperation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and follow up on the work of the Committee on Trade and Environment in Special Session (CTESS) and the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) between the Secretariat and the World Trade Organization.

Synergies among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

The conference is the second of three conferences of the parties scheduled in 2011 to consider synergies between the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. Parties to the Stockholm Convention met earlier this year and adopted a decision addressing joint activities, joint managerial functions, joint services, synchronization of budget cycles, joint audits and review arrangements between the three global chemicals and waste agreements.  An identical decision will be considered by Rotterdam Convention’s parties at this meeting, and by the Basel Conventions parties at the latter instrument’s 10th Conference of the Parties, meeting in Cartegena, Colombia, in October. 

For Further Information Please Contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, +254 20 7623084 or email: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Christine Fuell, Coordinator, Rotterdam Convention secretariat, FAO, email: christine.fuell@fao.org

 

Paul Whylie, Coordinator, Rotterdam Convention secretariat, UNEP, email: pwhylie@pic.int

Michael Stanley-Jones, Public Information Officer, UNEP, mobile/text message: +41 (0)79 730 4495, email: msjones@pic.int

Launch of InforMEA - the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)
The Multilateral Environmental Agreements Information and Knowledge Management Initiative (MEA IKM), launched today develops harmonized MEA information systems to assist Parties and the environment community at large access information from multiple agreements from one location. Supported by UNEP the initiative currently includes 17 MEAs from 12 Secretariats hosted by three UN organizations and IUCN.

Launch of InforMEA - the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

Launch of InforMEA - the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

Geneva, 14 June 2011 - The Multilateral Environmental Agreements Information and Knowledge Management Initiative (MEA IKM), launched today develops harmonized MEA information systems to assist Parties and the environment community at large access information from multiple agreements from one location. Supported by UNEP the initiative currently includes 17 MEAs from 12 Secretariats hosted by three UN organizations and IUCN. It is open to observers involved in MEA information and data management.

The first project – InforMEA, the United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements – is/was launched on 14 June at the occasion of the initiative’s 2nd Steering Committee Meeting, attended by Ms. Maria Louisa Silva, Executive Secretary of the Barcelona Convention, Mr. John Scanlon, Secretary General of Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and Mr. Jim Willis, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

“With the launch of InforMEA the global environmental community has taken a major stride forward in making access to information more transparent and easier to apply in solving the complex challenges we face in the Information Age”, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The InforMEA Portal presents Conference of the Parties decisions and resolutions, news, calendars, events, country specific MEA Membership, national focal points, as well as in the near future national reports and implementation plans organized against a set of 200 hierarchical terms taken from MEA Conference of the Parties (COP) Agendas.

In contrast to similar endeavors this project harvests and displays information directly from MEA Secretariats websites and data bases, who remain the custodians of their data. This allows for accurate and timely data availability in a cost effective manner. MEA secretariats individually implement the technical solution identified.

Harmonization of information standards and formats will facilitate the development of many other knowledge tools among conventions. For example, the Convention on Migratory Species and CITES could display the species listed on their respective appendices or the Stockholm Convention may feature decisions related to endangered migratory species threatened by POPs. Once such an application is developed, the tool is maintained at minimal cost.

www.informea.org - Making key MEA information “speak to one another”

For further information please contact: Marcos Silva (CITES) [marcos.silva@cites.org] and Eva Duer (UNEP) [eva.duer@unep.org], (respective MEA representative)

A Crisis of plastic pollution
Findings released from the world's first plastic-research voyage through the southern hemisphere

A Crisis of plastic pollution

A Crisis of plastic pollution

On Friday 10 December 2010 the Two Oceans Aquarium, in conjunction with the 5 Gyres Institute, the United Nations Safe Planet Campaign and Simon MAX Bannister, will host a media conference on the crisis of plastic pollution in the oceans at the Aquarium from 10h00. There will be presentations as well as opportunities to get aboard the research vessel, Sea Dragon, and to view the recently opened Plastikos exhibition in the Aquarium.

The 5 Gyres‐led crew will release findings from the world's first trans‐Atlantic plastic‐research voyage in the southern hemisphere. As part of the United Nations Safe Planet Campaign crew member and pro‐surfer Mary Osborne has pledged to undergo a body burden test as part of a global effort to raise awareness of POPs and other toxic pollutants which are accumulating in the food web, including in marine life, globally.

Sea Dragon and her 13‐member strong crew aim to arrive in Cape Town on 7 December, having sailed for approximately 28 days, covering 5391 kilometres of ocean. Led by the co‐founders of the 5 Gyres Institute, Dr Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, the crew consists of researchers, journalists and two pro‐surfers, Mary Osborne and James Pribram. The researchers have already found plastic in a part of the ocean most remote from human settlements. In his blog on 25 November 2010, Eriksen wrote,“We’re as far from land as we could possibly be in all directions… in the middle of nowhere… one of the most remote locations on planet earth. What do you expect to see? How about a plastic water bottle?”

Eriksen and Cummins plan to produce the first comprehensive snapshot analysis of plastic pollution in each of the globe’s five gyres. Building on Algalita Marine Research Foundation’s (AMRF) discovery of plastic pollution in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, the 5 Gyres crew has discovered garbage patches in the North Atlantic Gyre and the Indian Ocean Gyre. No other researchers have been to as many gyres. Eriksen and Cummins plan to sail across the South Pacific Gyre—their fifth subtropical gyre—in March 2011.

The 5 Gyres Institute is partnering with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and Food and Agriculture Organization‐led Safe Planet Campaign. In addition to sailing through gyres, the team aims to advance its research into whether humans are being harmed by eating fish that have ingested plastic debris contaminated with persistent organic pollutants such as DDT and PCBs. PhD candidate Chelsea Rochman of UC Davis is leading this research. Cummins has already found trace elements of such toxins in her body. In collaboration with the Safe Planet Campaign, Mary Osborne has volunteered to join a number of other high profile individuals who have pledged to share information about their own chemical body burden to call attention to the need for action. The Safe Planet Campaign promotes the life‐cycle approach to chemicals and waste management. It recognizes that effective solutions to the challenges posed by toxic chemicals and wastes require action be taken by a wide variety of agents working at all levels of society, from government, industry and educational institutions, to community‐led initiatives, grassroots organizations, and the decisions of individual households and consumers.

The 5 Gyres visit to Cape Town coincides with the Plastikos exhibition which opened in the Two Oceans Aquarium in National Marine Month in October 2010. Produced by Simon MAX Bannister, Plastikos is a unique exhibition that aims to raise awareness about waste – particularly plastic and micro plastic – and its impact on the oceans, all through art. The works are made from reclaimed polyethylene plastic which MAX collected by hand from the shorelines, roadsides and landfills of South Africa. Incorporated into the Atlantic Ocean Gallery of the Aquarium, Plastikos includes giant sculptures, a spectacular backlit plastic rendition of the Earth as well as the entangled mesh of rope and debris entitled “Tangled”. Other elements of Plastikos include a microcosm of a littered beach to illustrate how our beaches are turning to plastic as a result of the careless disposal and poor management of plastic waste. The items on display were all collected from Muizenberg beach. “While we aim to inform people about the marine environment, we also believe that we have to play a vital role in changing people’s behaviour. It is no longer enough to say to people ‘Please don’t litter’ – we have to urge them to rethink their lifestyles and to realise the power they hold as consumers,” said Helen Lockhart, Communications & Sustainability Manager for the Aquarium.