Swaziland hosts National workshop on Rotterdam Convention National Action Plans

The Swaziland Environmental Authority hosted a National workshop to identify elements of National Action Plans or strategies for the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention in Swaziland, from 17 to 19 September 2013. The workshop, which took place in the capital city of Mbabane, was attended by 31 representatives, including ones from the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Labour and Social Services, Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and Commerce, Industry and Trade; and academia, media, private sector and nongovernmental organizations. The World Health Organization and United Nations Development Programme and Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat were also represented.

Swaziland ratified the Rotterdam Convention on 24 September 2012 and became a contracting Party with effect from 24 of December 2012. The designated national authority for this convention is the Swaziland Environment Authority. Currently Swaziland has ratified the Basel and Stockholm and Vienna conventions. The Basel Convention was also domesticated in form of the Waste Regulations of 2010.

Under the Stockholm Convention a National Implementation Plan (NIP) and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) inventory have so far been completed. The POPs NIP is to be updated to include the nine new POPs.

The country has also benefitted from the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) Quick Start Programme Trust Fund for creating enabling environment for the implementation of sound management of chemicals. The major output of this exercise has been the compilation of the National Chemicals Profile and the Capacity Assessment Document. Among stakeholders this exercise raised awareness on chemicals management issues.

As a new Party to the Rotterdam Convention, Swaziland is seeking to meet its obligations. There is as yet no chemicals registry for imported chemicals and no information system is in place as far as chemical imports are concerned. Chemical imports are not regulated except for Ozone Depleting Substances.

Current challenges for implementation of the Rotterdam Convention are financial and technical resources to raise awareness to stakeholders, especially, farmers, agricultural, health and customs officers on the obligations of this Convention. A national legal instrument, information exchange and inter-ministerial co-ordinating mechanisms have to be put in place for effective implementation.

There will be need for the development of reporting mechanisms for chemical poisoning incidences to assess exposure risks. Health facilities will have to be capacitated to serve as poison centres. However, there are chemicals management activities currently running in the country synergies could be drawn from projects such as SAICM Quick Start Programme, Stockholm Convention and the Basel Convention.