Rotterdam Convention: Cross-cutting technical assistance for African Lusophone countries

The Rotterdam Convention, with its normative work related to international trade of hazardous pesticides, plays a key role for the achievement of food security and poverty reduction since it contributes to increased sustainable agricultural production and to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Historically, this legally-binding treaty was inspired by the urgent need of countries, with a weak national warning system regarding pesticides, to be responsibly informed of the risks posed to national natural resources and to the health of their citizens by an irrational use of pesticides.

Information exchange on national decisions regarding the importation and use of certain hazardous pesticides is indeed one of the key elements through which the Rotterdam Convention operates and provides benefits for its Parties. When the Rotterdam Convention entered into force in 2004, technical assistance was mainly focused on fostering the ratification process of countries and on building capacity of their national focal points for the implementation of the obligations of the Convention.

Today, technical assistance activities are progressively aiming at the enforcement of the decisions taken by the 154 Parties that have so far ratified the Convention. Such change of the approach represents a key step towards a greater impact at national, sub-regional and regional level.

Integration with wider programmes of agriculture production intensification and social protection actions has been pursued in order to mainstream this type of interventions into the FAO Strategic Objectives SO2 and SO3. It is worth noting that this can also represent an important achievement in the optimization of the use of funds and in strengthening the collaboration among different divisions and teams.

In line with this, the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat has recently launched a new crosscutting technical assistance programme tailored to lusophone countries1, which contributes to different outputs under SO2 and SO3. The overarching strategic approach is to focus in particular on the social dimension of pesticide use and its adverse effects on rural workers and the communities nearby.

One main activity is to collect data on pesticide uses and on exposure to various rural communities, taking into consideration specific components linked to vulnerable groups and occupational safety and health measures. This could facilitate the submission of so called SHPF proposals, an opportunity under Art. 6 of the Convention for developing countries to systematically report health and environmental problems with specific pesticide formulations. Finally, this activity will contribute to decent work in rural areas in a systematic and holistic way.

Awareness raising on pesticide risks, close dialogue with stakeholders and the elimination or substitution of hazardous pesticides could provide an opportunity to change hazardous practices in agricultural work and lead to sustainable youth employment in this important economical sector in the targeted countries.

In order to make these actions more effective, a network of Designated National Authorities to the Rotterdam Convention, key national and regional stakeholders involved in pesticides management and in employment-related issues has been mobilized. This initiative has been enthusiastically welcomed by all the key actors.

The path is still long but some progresses and achievements have been already made by linking sustainable agricultural intensification and social protection actions and, in this way, contributing to the three dimension of sustainable development.

For further information please contact:

[email protected]
[email protected]

1The African lusophone countries, also called PALOP, are Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe


Core Themes