FAO in Pakistan

Pakistan's Commitment: Sustainable Chemicals Management at Rotterdam Convention Workshop


Pakistan, as one of the 165 Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, has reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to protecting human health and the environment. The Convention, a legally binding multilateral environmental agreement, strives to ensure the responsible use of hazardous chemicals and pesticides on a global scale. The Convention Secretariat, which plays a pivotal role in implementing the Convention, provided vital financial and technical support through professionals to bolster the success of a recent workshop held on 6-8 November, 2023 in Islamabad.
Syed Mujtaba Hussain, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination, highlighted Pakistan's commitment to its national and international obligations regarding environmental conservation. Emphasizing Pakistan's active participation in various environmental conventions, including the Rotterdam Convention, the Secretary outlined the country's measures for timely decisions on chemical imports, involvement in the Chemical Review Committee, and recent approvals of policies such as the National Hazardous Waste Management Policy 2022.
The workshop aimed to review the Convention's implementation status within Pakistan, addressing specific obligations and considering strategies for improvement. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination's initiatives, including the development of a National Action Plan, National Chemicals Management Policy, National Chemicals Control Act, and a specialized Directorate for hazardous chemicals and hazardous wastes, were also highlighted.
Dr. Zaigham Abbas, Deputy Director, Ministry of Climate Change and Environmental Coordination and a member of the Rotterdam Convention Chemical Review Committee, emphasized Pakistan's dedication to meeting its international obligations under various chemical and waste conventions. He stressed the importance of these efforts in safeguarding the well-being of the nation's populace and the environment, citing Pakistan's request for technical assistance from the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat to enhance its national capacity for Convention implementation.
The Rotterdam Convention effectively achieves its objectives by fostering shared responsibility in the environmentally sound management of hazardous chemicals. This is facilitated through the exchange of information on the characteristics of these substances and by establishing a national decision-making process for their import and export.
Dr. Mario Yarto, Agriculture Officer, Rotterdam Convention, FAO Headquarters, Rome Italy added that the Convention empowers its Parties to make informed decisions regarding the import of hazardous chemicals and pesticides, without imposing outright bans. It respects the sovereignty of individual nations in their decision-making.
Dr. Christine Fuell, Executive Secretary a.i. of the Rotterdam Convention, expressed her confidence that this workshop marked the commencement of a series of impactful activities. These initiatives are expected to raise awareness about the risks associated with hazardous chemicals and pesticides, strengthen the capacity and collaboration among key stakeholders in Pakistan, and promote practices that reduce pesticide risks while supporting sustainable agriculture.

The national workshop convened by Pakistan provided a platform for the collective review of the national system for managing chemicals and pesticides. A broad spectrum of national stakeholders including government, industry, civil society, and academia engaged in discussions surrounding policies and practices, aiming to enhance the overall management of these substances. The primary focus of these deliberations was to collaboratively develop a comprehensive national action plan aligned with the objectives of the Convention. This diverse assembly of stakeholders reflects a shared commitment to advancing sustainable practices and ensuring the responsible use of hazardous chemicals and pesticides in Pakistan.