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Regional approach to the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention

Pesticide management is an activity carried out within the overall framework of the Plant Protection Service of FAO. It is designed to encourage member countries to work together as partners to introduce sustainable and environmentally sound agricultural practices that reduce health and environmental risks associated with the use of pesticides.

The FAO Council, in November 2006, endorsed the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and gave strong support to FAO's involvement in pesticide management under SAICM. The Council had indicated that the Code of Conduct was to be considered an important element of the SAICM process.

As an essential activity to reduce the risks of pesticide use, particularly in developing countries, the FAO Council had requested FAO to assist countries in progressively banning Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). This request was reiterated by FAO's Committee on Agriculture (COAG) which noted the importance of this fact as it showed a significant evolution of opinion by the agricultural sector on the issue of banning HHPs.

With respect to risk reduction of HHPs, a side-event was organized at the FAO Committee on Agriculture (COAG), in April 2007, which included presentations by various stakeholders and countries. Explicit support for the FAO initiative on HHPs was expressed by the European Union, among others.

An international initiative to reduce risks associated with the use of pesticides focusing on Highly Toxic Pesticides (HTPs) is a direct contribution to various Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Efforts to protect human health and the environment and to support the growth of healthy crops against the hazards of pesticides will enhance agricultural and environmental sustainability (MDG 7).

The Rotterdam Convention provides an early warning system for countries on the potential danger of HTPs by sharing information on national bans or severe restrictions, and information on human poisoning and environmental damage. The Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure empowers countries to make their own informed decisions on the use and import of pesticides and prevents export of unwanted pesticides. The Convention assists countries to stop problems associated with HTPs before they emerge.

The environmental and health impact of pesticides is being reduced through the implementation of a number of concrete programmes on pesticide management. Noteworthy is the continuous growth of the Rotterdam Convention both in scope and number of Parties. For instance, the Convention had recently been formally included in the work of the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC).

Specific measures to reduce availability of HHPs had been reported since the last Session of the FAO Expert Panel for Pesticide Management, both by governments and by the pesticide industry. They include the plan by Cheminova, a major manufacturer of chemicals with focus on plant protection products, to phase out the production and sale of WHO class I pesticides in developing countries by 2010 as well as the prohibition of several WHO class I pesticides in China, Thailand and Viet Nam. As well, a number of developing countries such as China, Thailand and Viet Nam have recently banned the use of HTPs. In industrialized countries in general, the use of HTPs is severely restricted or has been phased out.

The regional approach to the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention features the country reports of various meetings held in Asia during the period from April 2007 to February 2008. These reports focus on the progress of the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention both at the sub-regional and national levels.

With the introduction of the PIC procedure by the Rotterdam Convention, parties to the Convention possess an effective tool to support their important cooperative efforts in sharing their responsibility to protect human, animal and plant health as well as the environment from potential harm of both pesticides and industrial chemicals which are traded internationally and domestically.

The notifications of final regulatory actions to ban or severely restrict chemicals as well as the import responses issued by several countries in Asia and the Pacific in relation to hazardous chemicals represent two key benchmarks measuring the progress achieved in the implementation of the Convention in the region.

Notifications of final regulatory actions to ban or severely restrict chemicals

The notifications which have been issued by the various countries, both in Tables 3.1 (Annex III chemicals) and 3.2 (Non Annex III chemicals) should serve as a starting point for other Parties in Asia and the Pacific to consider possible candidates which are suitable for issuance of their notifications.

Import responses

The information about the import responses issued by both Parties and Non Parties is useful for the countries concerned in their consideration of additional chemicals suitable for issuing import responses.

A series of activities have also been facilitated at both the sub-regional and country levels for providing technical assistance and advice on preparing national implementation plans (NIPs) and improving the capacity in implementation of the Convention in collaboration with the Secretariats of the APPPC and the Rotterdam Convention.

Sub-regional consultations among Designated National Authorities (DNAs) to the Rotterdam Convention (18-22 February 2008, Phuket, Thailand) fostered cooperation and facilitated a dialogue among Designated National Authorities (DNAs) in India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand on the challenges faced in the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention and to share experiences and promote cooperation in addressing these challenges.

National workshop on the implementation of trade related provisions of the Rotterdam Convention (PIC) (29 October 2007 – 2 November 2007, Hangzhou, China) reviewed examples from the perspectives of each stakeholder in the country and considered what actions and interactions would be required and by whom, taking into consideration the current practices, identifying gaps or needs for improvement, and exploring a way forward to address the gaps.

Based on the main elements of some Articles of the Convention, the actions required were analyzed. The participants also reviewed current operational procedures. In particular, they discussed the objective analysis of the situation of the implementation of the Convention in China, identification of gaps between the requirements under the Rotterdam Convention and the current status of the implementation and the challenges being encountered, as well as the proposals of solutions and suggestions for next steps. They also discussed the roles of the DNAs, customs officials, exporters, importers, manufacturers and other relevant stakeholders, if any, as well as the mechanisms for coordination and communication among the stakeholders. Importantly, they identified issues that would be considered in the 2008 follow-up workshop.

National consultation workshop on the development of national action plan for the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention (26-29 June 2007, Islamabad, Pakistan) involved a wide range of stakeholders from the government, civil society, the private sector, industrial and research organizations as well as professionals from academia.

The deliberations of the delegates at the workshop provide a starting point towards the development of mechanisms for safe management of chemicals and wastes in Pakistan. The opinions solicited from the technical experts and the valuable suggestions put forth by the learned participants will be reflected in the future strategies and plans devised in light of requirements/obligations under the Rotterdam Convention.

National consultation on the development of National Action Plan for the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention in Thailand (2-5 April 2007, Bangkok, Thailand) facilitated a national dialogue involving relevant stakeholders on the Rotterdam Convention as a basis for a national action plan or strategy on the implementation of the Convention in Thailand.

The key operational elements of the Convention and issues were discussed at the meeting. These included, among others, the PIC procedure, import response and compliance issues as well as the notification of final regulatory action to ban or severely restrict a chemical.

Thailand has been active throughout the development of Rotterdam Convention. Three Designated National Authorities (DNAs) have been designated for the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention, namely, the Department of Agriculture (DOA) as a DNA for pesticides, the Department of Industrial Works (DIW) as a DNA for industrial chemicals and the Pollution Control Department (PCD) as a DNA and the official focal point. The National Sub-committee has also been established under the National Environmental Board to provide support for the effective operation of the Rotterdam Convention.

With respect to regulatory and control measures relating to the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention, Thailand regulates pesticides and industrial chemicals under the Hazardous Substances Act B.E. 2535 (1992) in all activities including the production, import, export, or having in possession.

Various countries in the PIC region in Asia have made significant progress in the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention. However, there are still many things which need to be done.

Major challenges faced by several parties to the Convention include the following:

It is hoped that lessons and experiences made in some countries will help enhance the information exchange among the countries in this region and promote the effective implementation of the Convention in the next decade.

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