UN targets widely-used pesticide endosulfan for phase out
Geneva, 3 May 2011 - Representatives from 127 Governments meeting in Geneva last week agreed to add endosulfan to the United Nations' list of persistent organic pollutants to be eliminated worldwide. The action puts the widely-used pesticide on course for elimination from the global market by 2012.
The decision was among more than 30 measures taken by Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to boost global action against POPs.
The Parties agreed to list endosulfan in Annex A to the Convention, with specific exemptions. When the amendment to the Annex A enters into force in one year, endosulfan will become the 22nd POP to be listed under the Convention.
A Party may extend the phase out period of the pesticide by five years but only for a small number uses.
"The conference recognized that financial and technical support is required to facilitate the replacement of the use of endosulfan in developing countries and countries with economies in transition," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
"In establishing a consultative process on finance for the chemicals and waste conventions, UNEP has responded to the need of those countries by seeking to make the sound management of hazardous chemicals a development priority of the green economy in which all countries can fully and fairly participate," he added.
Endosulfan is an organochlorine insecticide used in crops worldwide. It is mainly used on cotton, coffee and tea. Endosulfan can act as an endocrine disruptor, causing reproductive and developmental damage in both animals and humans
"New POPs present new challenges, as we are usually dealing with chemicals that are still widely used commercially," said Jim Willis, the newly appointed Executive Secretary of the Basel, Stockholm, and UNEP-part of the Rotterdam Convention Secretariats. "Parties have demonstrated that they can find creative solutions to speed the elimination of POPs and protect environment and human health from these dangerous chemicals."
The conference evaluated the continued need for DDT for disease vector control to combat mosquitoes carrying the deadly malaria parasite. On the basis of available scientific, technical, environmental and economic information, it saw a continued need to use DDT while effective alternatives were being sought and implemented by an increasing number of countries.
"Despite all efforts, malaria remains one of the world's tragedies with almost a million fatalities every year. All means are needed to combat this vector," said Victoria Mupwaya, director of the Environmental Council of Zambia.
The first assembly of the Global Alliance for alternatives to DDT, held on 26 April 2011, concurred with the WHO findings. Although there is no deadline for the elimination of DDT, the goal of the Alliance is to reduce reliance on DDT for disease vector control by strengthening countries capacities to deploy safer alternatives.
The conference requested UNEP to take over administration of the Global Alliance, in collaboration with the World Health Organization. UNEP was also requested to take over the PCB Elimination Network.
Monique Barbut, chief executive officer of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), speaking at the "Finance Forum for Sustainable Solutions" on the opening day of the conference, announced the GEF would provide US$ 250,000 in support to countries to update their national implementation plans in response to the adoption of new POPs to the Convention. In total, the GEF has in recent years funded more than US$ 1 billion to address implementation of hazardous chemicals and waste cluster agreements.
Seven new Stockholm Convention regional centres were endorsed by the conference: in Algeria, Kenya, India, Iran, Senegal, South Africa and the Russian Federation. The Russian region centre is conditional on the Russian Federation's ratification of the Convention.
Karel Blaha (Czech Republic) was elected president of the conference on the opening day. Osvaldo Alvarez (Chile) was elected to serve as president of the 6th meeting of the conference, to be held in May 2013.
Over 700 participants took part in the conference, which was held from 25 to 29 April 2011. Under the theme, Stockholm at 10: Chemical Challenges, Sustainable Solutions, the conference marked the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention in 2001.
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