•According to UNEP, pesticides can persist in the environment for decades and pose a global threat to the entire ecological system upon which food production depends.
•On mercury, the plan is to stop its use in dental fillings.
An NGO has lauded the newly adopted resolution to phase out highly hazardous chemicals such as mercury in some processes.
The resolution also agreed to phase out some pesticides known to be hazardous to people and non-targeted animals.
Nairobi-based Centre for Environment Justice and Development executive director Griffins Ochieng told the Star that the proposal, known as the Global Alliance on Highly Hazardous Pesticides was pushed through by the Africa region.
“We view that it can build momentum towards the phaseout of highly hazardous pesticides,” Ochieng said.
Parts of the proposal were adopted at the Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) during a meeting in Bonn, Germany, from September 25-29, 2023.
The Kenyan delegation to the meeting was led by Environment PS Festus Ng'eno.
However, Ochieng said some of the proposals put on the table especially by African countries received cold reception.
“On pesticides, Africa wanted ambitious target to phase out or eliminate some of the highly hazardous pesticides which the producing countries and companies were against,” he said.
CEJAD is accredited as NGO and observer on global, regional and national environmental issues by UNEP and international networks including the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Breakfreefromplastics Movement, World Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry and the Zero Mercury Working Group.
Ochieng said by 2035, stakeholders agreed they must have taken effective measures to phase out highly hazardous pesticides in agriculture where the risks have not been managed and where safer and affordable alternatives are available.
This, he said, will promote transition to and make available those alternatives.
According to Nairobi-based Route to Food Initiative, 76 per cent of the total volume of pesticides sold in Kenya, contain one or more active ingredients that are categorised as highly hazardous pesticides.
Ochieng said one of the targets agreed is that by 2030, governments need to work towards notifying or regulating or prohibiting the export of chemicals they have prohibited nationally, in line with their international obligations.
On mercury, the plan is to stop its use in dental fillings.
According to UNEP, pesticides can persist in the environment for decades and pose a global threat to the entire ecological system upon which food production depends.
UNEP says excessive use and misuse of pesticides result in contamination of surrounding soil and water sources, causing loss of biodiversity, destroying beneficial insect populations that act as natural enemies of pests and reducing the nutritional value of food.
They can cause disproportionate harm to environment and human health including severe environmental hazards, high acute and chronic toxicity.
Global efforts to eliminate some of the pesticides are ongoing.
Ochieng said financing the implementation of the agreed targets was also met with controversy.
Some delegates from Africa felt that there is need to have an international fund considering the limited resources in the continent amid competing needs.
There was a pushback from some delegates who argued that there is no need for another fund as some of the funds such as Global Environment Facility exists.
Another controversial proposal was that a tax of 0.05 per cent be imposed on chemicals. This too received cold reception.
Ochieng also revealed that there was controversy over the way the text was framed.
Some delegates felt that the text should remain as chemicals and waste and not chemicals and associated wastes.
Ochieng said the resolutions were arrived at on Saturday morning after some of the negotiations went into the dead of the night.
The newly adopted “Global Framework on Chemicals – for a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste” calls for the prevention of the illegal trade and trafficking of chemicals and waste, the implementation of national legal frameworks, and the phaseout by 2035 of highly hazardous pesticides in agriculture.
The framework calls for the transition to safer and more sustainable chemical alternatives, the responsible management of chemicals in various sectors – including industry, agriculture and healthcare – and the enhancement of transparency and access to information regarding chemicals and their associated risks.