FAO in Geneva

FAO strongly supports the global environmental agenda at the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention


Representatives of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Conventions) met in Geneva, Switzerland from 1 to 12 May 2023, to take legally binding action regarding the impact of hazardous chemicals and wastes on human health and the environment.

This year, the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-11) discussed the listing of four pesticides, two severely hazardous pesticide formulations, and one industrial chemical in Annex III. These chemicals and pesticides have been notified by parties who banned or restricted their use in their territories due to the risk they pose to human health and the environment.

Among them are the fungicide iprodion with a high long-term risk to aquatic organisms, and the insecticide terbufos for which an extremely high hazard to terrestrial organisms was identified. “It is important to note that this Convention is not asking parties to ban these pesticides” highlighted Christine Fuell, Executive Secretary ad interim of the Rotterdam Convention. “All parties rather benefit from the prior informed consent procedure, which allows them to take an informed decision on future imports, decisions that have to be respected by all parties,” she added.
FAO also supported two side events on “Advancing a human rights-based approach to pollution for people and the planet” and “Italy as a case study for mainstreaming biodiversity and sound pesticide management in agriculture and transforming agrifood systems in the Mediterranean”.

The Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm Conventions
The Basel (1989), Rotterdam (1998), Stockholm (2001) Conventions were agreed to address the harmful impacts of hazardous chemicals and wastes on the environment and on human health. The three Conventions closely cooperate with other legally binding instruments and substantially contribute to the overall protection of biological diversity and the range of goods and services provided by our planet’s ecosystems.

The Basel- and the Stockholm Conventions are serviced by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Rotterdam Convention is jointly administered by both FAO and UNEP, thus drawing from the specific expertise of both these organizations.
Legally independent instruments, the Basel-, Rotterdam- and Stockholm Conventions embarked on a synergy approach around 10 years ago with the first back-to-back meetings of all three Conferences of parties held in 2013. Since then, during the conferences of parties, issues such as the programme of work and budget or technical assistance are discussed jointly, and more specific topics are dealt with in the convention specific sessions.

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade entered into force in 2004. Its objectives are to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties and to contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous chemicals and pesticides by facilitating information exchange and by providing for a national decision-making process on their future import. In this way, the Rotterdam Convention protects its 165 Parties (status May 2023) from unwanted trade with regard to the chemicals and pesticides listed in its Annex III.

FAO’s support to the Rotterdam Convention
The part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat hosted by FAO provides technical assistance to parties on all pesticide related issues. FAO assigns high importance to this normative work and capacity building, therefore providing financial support from its Regular Program funds in the volume of USD 1.5 million per biennium since the entry into force of the Convention. This work is leveraged by the close cooperation with FAO’s Pesticide Management Team in FAO and the support of country-, regional- and subregional FAO offices worldwide.

Located in Switzerland, one of the host countries of the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention, the FAO Liaison Office in Geneva (LOG) plays a role as a “connector” to facilitate FAO’s interventions and engagement at the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions and further promote FAO’s mandate on achieving food security and sustainable agrifood systems transformation high on the environment and climate agendas in Geneva. Throughout the 2-week’s meeting of the Conference of the Parties, both offices worked closely to intervene with statements in plenary and engage in bilateral meetings with important stakeholders.

“This is a great example of excellent cooperation between headquarter colleagues and liaison office colleagues to accelerate the achievement of important goals” Dominique Burgeon, Director of the FAO Liaison Office in Geneva said.