Failure to List HHPs in the Rotterdam Convention Underscores Need for Pesticides Treaty

The Conference of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions was held in Geneva, Switzerland from April 29-May 10, 2019. (Photo by PANAP)

Press Release

PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) expressed deep concern at the failure of the Conference of Parties to list the 4 out of 5 Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) proposed for the Rotterdam Convention.

Only a small handful of countries blocked the listing of paraquat (Guatemala, Indonesia, Chile), fenthion (Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda), acetochlor (Argentina, Chile), and carbosulfan (Kenya, India, Brazil) at the recently concluded Triple COPs in Geneva, Switzerland, despite agreeing that these pesticides meet the criteria of the Convention. Countries that opposed the listing claimed that these pesticides were needed, that there are no suitable alternatives, or that correct use does not significantly harm environment and human health, ignoring the fact that the Convention does not prevent them still using the pesticides.

“It is highly disappointing that some policymakers still chose to misinterpret the Convention and to ignore the body of evidence of the serious harm these pesticides cause to human health and the environment. The incredibly slow pace with which pesticides are listed in the Rotterdam Convention—which doesn’t even constitute a ban, and only requires Prior Inform Consent in trade—show that existing mechanisms will not satisfactorily solve the problem of pesticides use,” said Sarojeni Rengam, PANAP executive director.

PANAP pointed out some positive outcomes of the Triple COPs, such as the listing of dicofol in the Stockholm Convention, the listing of phorate in the Rotterdam Convention, and the agreement to establish a compliance mechanism for the Rotterdam Convention. However, according to Rengam, “These gains are far too few, compared to the steps needed to address not just the systemic poisoning of farmers and consumers by pesticides use, but also the ecological collapse that is upon us.”

A Global Assessment Report released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) last week warned of a “dangerous decline to unprecedented species loss.” The UN report, compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, assesses changes in biodiversity and ecosystems over the past five decades. According to the report, at least a million species are at risk of extinction, with industrial agriculture and pollution as major drivers.

The IPBES report recommended the promotion of good agricultural and agroecological practices; as well as multifunctional landscape planning, which simultaneously provides food security, livelihood opportunities, maintenance of species and ecological functions.

“The extremely troubling IPBES report should act as a wake-up call for national and international policymakers. Every single day, lives of humans and species necessary for ecological balance are put at risk by our inaction. A global legally-binding treaty or mechanism for the lifecycle management of pesticides is the next, most urgent and decisive step the global community must make,” said Dr. Meriel Watts, PANAP senior scientist.

The Pesticide Action Network has already submitted to international bodies several proposals on how to arrive at such a pesticides treaty, including having legally binding elements within the Strategic Approach for International Chemicals Management Framework (SAICM), or for the proposed Global Enabling Framework for the Sound Management of Chemicals to provide a process for the establishment of new legally binding mechanisms that are needed for HHPs, plastics, and ‘chemicals in products,’ all of which remain major unregulated problems for people and the environment. ###

For reference:

Dr. Meriel Watts, PAN Asia Pacific Senior Science Advisor, meriel@merielwatts.net; Skype: meriel4747
Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific Executive Director, sarojeni.rengam@panap.net

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