(C) Alessandra Benedetti 2012 - José Graziano da SilvaSustainable Crop Protection: Rid Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia of obsolete pesticides

April 2012. Twelve countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia will start working with the European Union (EU) and FAO to manage their vast stocks of obsolete pesticides in a partnership that was launched at FAO's headquarters in Rome.

It is estimated that around 200 000 tons of obsolete pesticides, nearly half the world's stockpiles, can be found in twelve former Soviet Union republics. Kept in tens of thousands of unprotected sites, they pose a serious threat to the health of the people around them and to the environment. For the next four years, the EU and FAO will invest €7 million to assist these countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan — in managing obsolete pesticides and reducing the risks of current stocks. At the same time, the project will build capacity to reduce risks from pesticides used in agriculture and avoid build-up of additional stockpiles in future.

The EU is contributing €6 million to the initiative, and FAO, which is to act as implementing agency, has allocated €1 million in funding. This initiative aims to act as a catalyst for the development of obsolete pesticide and hazardous waste management in the region, by helping provide the resources needed for technical and policy support to enable countries to help themselves. Although activities will include the actual disposal of stockpiles, the priority lies in building capacities, for example in the areas of legislative reform, pesticide registration processes, the promotion of alternatives to the most hazardous chemicals in use and the development of communication strategies to raise awareness among farmers and the public. Another important goal is to establish a regional forum geared to the mobilisation of the additional resources needed for full-scale clean-up and the constitution of a region-wide system capable of dealing with future challenges posed by pesticides. Other cross-cutting activities include a survey of regional waste management capacity and the creation of a regional training centre.

In this initiative, FAO and the EU are working together with partners such as WHO, UNEP, the Secretariats of the Convention of Rotterdam, Stockholm and Basel, international NGOs, including the Green Cross and the International HCH and Pesticide Association and the private sector, among others. Source: FAO

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