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Highly Hazardous Pesticides & Detoxifying Agriculture Are Make-or-break Issues At Critical Global Pollution Conference

NGOs urge governments and UN agencies to act

  • Key reforms on pesticides must be agreed at historic chemical pollution conference in September to address significant threats to human health and the environment
  • Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) phase out and a Global Alliance to implement it are essential for credibility of multilateral system
  • Bans on trade in prohibited substances and new commitment supporting agroecology are also vital

Bonn, 20 September 2023: Commitments to phase out the use of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), ban exports of prohibited substances, and adopt non-chemical alternatives in agriculture are essential to the credibility of an historic global pollution summit, but are yet to be secured, NGOs say.

A new briefing by Pesticide Action Network International (PAN), entitled ‘Time for Credibility and Coherence’, highlights three draft Targets as critical reforms under negotiation in the ‘SAICM Beyond 2020 Framework’ – a new policy instrument proposed to be adopted at the fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) taking place from 25-29 September in Bonn.

Targets deemed critical include Target A7 to phase out highly hazardous pesticides in agriculture by 2030, Target A5 to ban exports of prohibited substances, and Target D5 mandating a transition to non-chemical alternatives to pesticides in agriculture. None are yet secure in the negotiations, with huge pressure on parties and UN officials to deliver an ambitious agreement.

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A Global Alliance on HHPs – proposed by all 54 states of the UN’s Africa Group and supported by countries in other UN Regions – must also be agreed by governments for the conference to be deemed a success and for key targets to be implemented.

Maïmouna Diene, chair of PAN International said: ‘Pesticides are a make-or-break issue for ICCM5. To remain relevant, the conference must commit governments to phase out highly hazardous pesticides in agriculture, establish a Global Alliance on HHPs to achieve that, prohibit exports of banned substances, including many HHPs, and support a transition to agroecological farming practices and non-chemical alternatives to pesticides.’

Nearly 250 civil society organizations from over 50 countries have signed a letter urging coordinated action from SAICM delegates to phase out HHPs by supporting these targets and the Global Alliance.

The use of hazardous pesticides is a global human rights and public health concern involving hundreds of millions of unintended farmer poisonings and thousands of suicides annually, wholesale biodiversity loss and systemic soil degradation underpinning agriculture’s massive climate emissions.

Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) are a subset of particularly toxic pesticides causing by far the most harm to people, biodiversity, and the environment.

PAN’s briefing highlights how SAICM’s targets on pesticides must contribute to critical pollution reductions targets enshrined in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, as well as required for the achievement of the SDGs and UN human rights provisions.

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