Elisabetta Tagliati
Today's Expert
Elisabetta Tagliati
Topic: COUNTDOWN TO THE TRIPLE COPs: Rotterdam Convention and FAO - the relationships between pesticides, agriculture and environment
Elisabetta Tagliati is a Programme Officer in the Secretariat of Rotterdam Convention based in FAO, in Rome, responsible for technical assistance activities supporting implementatio...
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Number of questions: [5]
Posted on 23/04/2015 12:14:45
How does the work of the Rotterdam Convention support social and environmental sustainability?
Marco Knowles (from Italy)
RIO+20 called for an international working group to develop Sustainable Development Goals. One of the milestones of the new set of SDGs is that they should carefully integrate the three dimensions of sustainability: Social, Economic and Environmental. [“Embedding the Environment in Sustainable Development Goals”, UNEP, Post-2015 Discussion Paper 1, Versions , July 2013. Achim Steiner in his POLICY STATEMENT at the opening of the First Universal session of the Governing Council of UNEP, Nairobi 18 February 2013
• places the environmental dimension on par with the economic and social, and recognizes their inherent integrated nature;
• calls for the formulation of sustainable development goals for focused and coherent action, integrated into the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015”

The Environment is the prerequisite for socio-economic development. Poverty eradication cannot be achieved without sustainable development and sustainability cannot be achieved without poverty eradication. One of the key challenges of SDGs is how to decouple “socio-economic” development from the depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation. Agriculture is highly responsible for environmental resources degradation and depletion due, among several reasons, to the over-exploitation of the arable land and in parallel with it, to the high use of pesticides and chemicals to intensify the crop production for achieving food security.

70% of the chemicals addressed by the three Conventions are pesticides used in agriculture, this fact places the three UNEP Chemicals Conventions in a strategic position as far as the SDGs implementation and enforcement is concerned. With their international mandate to protect human health and the environment, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are key tools to empower this new approach to sustainability considering the social dimension as integral part of environmental protection.
Moreover, Rotterdam Convention shares the Secretariat with FAO, the Agriculture Agency of the United Nations, as a unique example of well-established partnership (since 1998) between two agencies and programs of the UN family.
FAO and UNEP are working together to eradicate hunger and reduce rural poverty through sustainable food systems while reducing the risk of health and environment impacts, contamination of natural resources and degradation of agro-biodiversity.
Rotterdam Convention and Chemicals Conventions; Basel, Stockholm and the newly negotiated Minamata Convention on mercury have the overarching objective to protect human health and the environment which relate closely to sustainable agricultural production and food safety. The three Conventions cover the whole chemicals life-cycle and through the cooperation with FAO have a direct link to Agriculture and Pesticides’ Risk Reduction programs.

It is globally agreed that “successful goals” are the ones that build on general support from society and scientific consensus regarding the urgency of a problem and the goal has to be embedded in effective institutional and political frameworks and governance regimes that ensure implementation and compliance.
It is easy to implement because of the availability of different solutions and linked to specific and measureable targets.
With their mandates the three Conventions can successfully achieve a real impact at national level through an integrated approach of the social dimension with the environmental protection aspect. Here following I list some of our key strengths, that brings the balance to a real positive energy to achieve our goals.

BRS have well established networks of focal points in all country-Parties. Today, the key exercise is to reinforce our national institutional networks with a sound awareness raising campaign on the importance of the social and environmental aspect when dealing with chemicals management programs. Public consensus at social and scientific level on a urgent problem is the first criteria to apply when designing any capacity building and training activity. We have to reinforce the message on How Urgent is the “Chemicals” problem.
BRS goals are identified as priority by the international political agenda. For example, POPs (chemicals and pesticides) chemicals creates irreversible change in the environment and this gives high priority to the actions intended to prevent any further release of new POPs.Scientific Subsidiary bodies of BRS made of neutral experts make the Conventions eligible of a key position at international level when taking decisions on issues that globally recognised as hazardous for the natural resources depletion or loss. Again we can have the scientific consensus.
One part of the Secretariat of Rotterdam Convention is based in FAO, this decision was taken on the fact that FAO pesticide programme normative work connects to farmers and governments and the 70% of the chemicals addressed by the Conventions are pesticides used in Agriculture.
Last but not least, the diversity of expertise in the BRS Secretariat functioning as one whole Secretariat is a special added value. This flexible and heterogeneous structure facilitates the designing of activities from different angles making available several solutions to a single problem and increasing the possibility of success and impact.

There is no development without an impact, there is no effect on human health or on environmental protection without an integrated approach that considers the different aspects of the problem. The activities proposed on social dimensions are impact-oriented, they are aimed at influencing, showing evidences and consequences, impressing and providing different solutions on a urgent problem to a vast stakeholders audience as far as chemicals management is concerned.
We talk about policy makers, national focal points, donors agencies, key partners as WHO, ILO etc, the more we succeed to involve governance regimes and institutional bodies the more we are likely to reach the beneficiaries of these actions in a established and sustainable way.
To have a positive impact we base our activities on indicators of different types, this ensures the right ramifications of our interventions and key influence at national and at the same time a balance between the never ending dilemma on qualitative and quantitative
indicators.
Integrating Social dimension aspect facilitates communication and understanding of mandate, objectives and our activities, bringing into front key messages not only for a general public and not only for chemicals stakeholders.
Data collection and information sharing is a key element to build a national and sub-sectoral knowledge on the subject and initiate a campaign with an all-aspects integrated approach in selected pilot countries.
Consolidating and expanding national networks, comprising: Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, Ministries of Labor and Health, national research institutes and NGOs (local and international) is another key ingredient to raise awareness, improve data collection and information sharing at national level and build a dedicated network for social protection from different angles.

Awareness raising is our driving force when starting any activity at national and also international level.


Posted on 23/04/2015 10:19:17
How FAO and Rotterdam Convention Secretariat are helping countries with hazardous pesticides?
Rebeca Koloffon (from Mexico)
Dear Rebeca,
Thank you for this question, very pertinent for us representing a unique case of a split Secretariat between UNEP Chemicals in Geneva and Headquarters of FAO in Rome. From where shall I start? Let’s say that FAO considers that reducing reliance on pesticides to be a key element of its focus on sustainable agriculture production.
FAO Pesticides management programme focus on pesticides risk reduction strategies (not only) and in particular including the progressive ban of highly hazardous pesticides. Many pesticides still in use are highly toxic at very low exposure, toxic for human health and for the environment, the problem reaches a higher magnitude in developing countries where risk reduction measures are not always applied or applicable many socio-economic reasons.
Rotterdam Convention secretariat benefits of this FAO comparative advantage: a wide extended pesticides management programme supported by a sound expertise in the field of agriculture production and pesticides. For more details on FAO pesticides programme please visit the web at: http://www.fao.org/agriculture/crops/thematic-sitemap/theme/pests/code/hhp/it/.
Rotterdam Convention main provisions are the Prior Informed Consent procedure on hazardous chemicals listed in Annex III and Information exchange through various means and article but on the main tool is the PIC Circular. As far as Rotterdam Convention activities related to hazardous pesticides here you following a will list some of the initiatives and approaches:
• awareness raising of government authorities, farmers, pesticides legislators and poison centre,
• promote use of alternative as for example the initiative on growing coffee without endosulfan, some videos have been prepared by PAN –UK and they are available on our website at: http://www.pic.int/Implementation/PublicAwareness/MultimediaGallery/tabid/2251/language/en-US/Default.aspx
• facilitate collect of data on pesticides poisoning under article 6 on Severely hazardous pesticides formulations
• facilitate a multi-stakeholders dialogue in order to facilitate policy maker and the process of taking decisions.
This is my attempt to summarize the general approach, I hope I provided you with some highlights on our activities as far a hazardous pesticides are concerned.

Posted on 23/04/2015 09:35:13
The majority of child labour takes place in agriculture (almost 60%!) Many of these children are exposed to hazardous work or conditions ? for example being exposed to pesticides. Non-working children are exposed too ? for example, while in the womb or nursing since their mothers are exposed. Many mothers also bring their babies and small children with them when they work in the fields ? either because they don?t know about the dangers or because they don?t have alternate child care. What is the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat doing to protect the health of vulnerable groups such as children and women of child-bearing age? What actions can ministries of agriculture, environment or health take to promote social sustainability and protect vulnerable groups from pesticides?
Jacqueline Demeranville (from United States of America)
Dear Jacqueline,
Thank you for this question, you raise an important issue that is very dear to BRS Secretariat, FAO strategic objectives and it is a key element of the SDG discussion and achievements for the Agenda Post-2015.
Rotterdam Convention entered into force in 2004 and since then he provided technical assistance in a programmatic way from the assistance to ratification to the implementation of the key obligations under the Convention, in particular compliance with article 10 for submission of Import responses and article 5 for submission of notifications of final regulatory actions.
In the last years, Parties started to request assistance for the implementation of article 6: preparation of proposals of Severely Hazardous Pesticides formulation, this was the entry point to have a capillary assistance at national level for the groups that are more vulnerable to pesticide poisonings and that often do not have a voice on this matter.
Rotterdam Convention secretariat developed a model of intervention that comprises the collect of data on pesticides use and poisonings through the involvement of different stakeholders. delegates of the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Health were directly involved in a national discussion, we also managed to get in the loop Farmers associations and local NGOs.
In the upcoming technical assistance activities delegates from Ministry of Labour and new partners as Social Protection Division in FAO and also ILO will be brought in, in such a way that we will be able to perpetuate this holistic approach that bases its success on social sustainability for any development action.
Rotterdam Convention secretariat supported the production of a visual tool (available on the web: wwww.pic.int) intended to be used by Agriculture extortionists, our Designated National Authorities and by any awareness raising campaign operators on the risk of pesticides for rural communities and not only for people that are living in the countryside! The pesticide can interfere with the health of rural communities in many ways, these tool aims at showing all possible dangers, evident or hidden.
There would be so much more to say, so I will finish by saying that we will have a side event on the work that has been carried on so far by the Secretariat on this important subject, it will take place on 13th of May during the COP in Geneva. At this event we will have the opportunity to present information on the activities related to social protection and vulnerable groups and concrete cases that brought to relevant results.
I hope I addressed your question.

Posted on 23/04/2015 07:42:18
What happened actually in Nigeria some days ago with many people dying of pesticide poisoning?
Wafa El Khoury (from Italy)
Dear Wafa,
Few days ago, newspapers headlines reported a shocking news: 18 mysterious deaths occurred in south-western Nigeria, Ondo state. More precisely the outbreak started in the town of Ode-Irele.
The victims suffered from blurred vision and headaches, and then lost consciousness before dying within 24 hours. WHO stated that tests were negative to virus and bacterial infections and that the hypothesis to be the cause of these deaths fell over a toxic chemical , a herbicide in particular (a weed killer).
At the moment, no more information is available to us, Lagos University is carrying on more tests hoping that we will all have soon further details.
What can be done?
If it is a case of pesticide poisoning it could be reported by Nigeria as party to the Rotterdam Convention under article 6, which is dedicated to Severely Hazardous Pesticide Formulation reporting, this article is a great opportunity for developing countries or for countries with economies in transition. The information provided to the Secretariat would be shared with all Rotterdam Convention stakeholders through the PIC Circular.
Information exchange, is a main provision and benefit under this Convention, the objective, in fact, is to be informative for other countries that have similar conditions of use of this chemical in their national territories.

Posted on 23/04/2015 06:32:26
Dear Elisabetta
How are you , I am , a young entrepreneur in Kenya .I am coming up with eco-friendly platforms of marketing and managing businesses using ICT in East Africa .

My question is does UNEP sponsor and offer help to young entrepreneurs

JULIA NDORIA (from Kenya)
Dear Julia,
How are you? Congratulations for being a young entrepreneur on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) In Kenya, there are many programmes in East Africa to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on ICT matters. Although this is not my field of expertise, to answer to your question in a more appropriate way, I would need to have more details, for example eco-friendly platforms in which way? Are you dealing with e-wastes? Which is the objective of your enterprise? Do you comprise any social innovation?

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