29 April 2019: The ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9) to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade is considering, among other issues, proposals to list seven additional chemicals in Annex III.

The COP is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from 29 April to 10 May 2019, jointly and back-to-back with Basel Convention COP 14 and Stockholm Convention COP 9. The “Triple COPs” convene under the theme, ‘Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste.’ The COPs include joint sessions covering matters of relevance to at least two Conventions as well as separate sessions under each of the three COPs.

On matters related to the Rotterdam Convention’s implementation, the COP is addressing: the status of implementation; enhancing the Convention’s effectiveness; compliance, including a proposal to add a new Annex VII on compliance procedures and mechanisms; technical assistance; and financial resources.

On enhancing cooperation and coordination among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, the COP is addressing, inter alia: a clearing house mechanism for information exchange; mainstreaming gender; and synergies in preventing and combating illegal traffic and trade in hazardous chemicals and wastes.

More specifically, the COP will consider listing seven additional chemicals in Annex III, which includes pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health or environmental reasons by two or more Parties. Three new chemicals are proposed for listing, namely acetochlor and phorate (pesticides) and hexabromocyclododecane (an industrial chemical). The COP will also consider four chemicals previous COPs recommended for listing, which met the criteria but for which consensus was not reached, namely carbosulfan, fenthion and paraquat formulations, and chrysotile asbestos.

For example, fenthion, a pesticide used to control the red-billed quelea (Quelea Quelea) in semi-arid zones of Africa, is also highly toxic to non-target organisms. In 2012, Chad put forward a proposal for listing fenthion, which the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee (CRC) reviewed. The CRC prepared a draft decision guidance document for fenthion. The 2015 COP did not reach consensus on the listing, and requested the Secretariat to develop a technical assistance programme to help countries affected by the quelea bird problem identify alternatives to fenthion. The Secretariat commissioned a study on alternatives for quelea bird control that included mass trapping and the use of falcons to scare the birds away.

The Rotterdam Convention, which entered into force in 2001, is jointly administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), has 161 Parties, and currently lists 50 chemicals and pesticides in Annex III. While the Convention does not introduce bans, it facilitates the exchange of information among Parties on hazardous chemicals and pesticides and their potential risks in order to inform and improve national decision making. Through the PIC Procedure, it provides a legally-binding mechanism to support national decisions on importing selected chemicals and pesticides to minimize the risks they pose to human health and the environment. [Rotterdam Convention Website] [BRS Blog on Rotterdam Convention] [BRS Conventions Website] [IISD RS Coverage of 2019 Triple COPs] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on 2017 COPs] [GEF News Article] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Basel Convention COP 14] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Stockholm Convention COP 9]