Rotterdam Convention contributing to attain a Sustainable Intensification by protecting the health of farmers and the environment

Driven by the need to obtain food self-sufficiency and to increase production of export crops, many Governments have, as part of their agricultural intensification programmes, promoted agricultural production systems that rely heavily on toxic pesticides to reduce crop losses. However there are a considerable number of pesticides that can not be applied by farmers without a negative impact on their health and on the environment.

Today, the challenge for Governments and Farmers is to promote a Sustainable Intensification of crop production that fully respects Human Health and the Environment with its fragile ecosystems.

The programme for Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulations (SHPF) of the Rotterdam Convention, through its article 6, introduces a procedure for countries to identify hazardous pesticide formulations causing severe problems to human health and to the environment under the conditions of use.  This procedure was developed in recognition of the fact that there are certain toxic pesticides that cannot be used within acceptable margins of risk for farmers and for the ecosystems.

The programme on Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulations of the Rotterdam Convention aims to:

  • raise awareness on the problems related to pesticide poisonings;
  • help develop a national process for recording and gathering data on pesticide poisonings and involving the relevant stakeholders;
  • facilitate the decision-making process regarding the pesticides registered and used;
  • protect human health and the environment without causing an unacceptable reduction of agricultural production.

Since 2009, the Secretariat has initiated SHPF monitoring pilot activities in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Ghana, Syria, Togo and Tanzania. The programme will soon expand to Asia and Latin America. The activities establish links between the focal points for the Convention at national level, and those national authorities responsible for health monitoring such as: local NGOs, Farmers Unions and Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and Health.  

The objective is to develop and implement a strategy to identify pesticide poisonings through the following steps:

  • engage the key players at different levels;
  • conduct a campaign to collect information relying on a sound methodology;
  • organise national consultations to discuss results of data collection
  • liaise national focal points of the Convention with the Secretariat to prepare proposals for hazardous formulations and bring to the attention of the Governing bodies at international level.

In developing the programme a number of challenges have to be addressed:

  • establishing a close link and fostering cooperation among key players
  • difficulty in gathering information that is often not systematically recorded
  • integrating this activity into other ongoing activities to make it sustainable
  • linking the actual field work to policy makers and Designated National Authorities (DNAs)
  • training of medical doctors and personnel
  • sensitivity of the issue at the political level

For further information please contact the Secretariat and visit our website at


Core Themes