IPEN Studies Evaluate SDG Links with Pesticide Trends in Eastern Europe

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By IISD's SDG Knowledge Hub, June 20, 2020

The International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) has published a series of studies on the production and use of highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) in Armenia, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The studies also present trends and perspectives for transitioning to safe alternatives.

The studies show that these countries have all experienced an increasing trend in the use of HHPs, which can permanently undermine human health and affect future generations. HHP poisoning can lead to chronic disability or death. An overall summary of the studies provides a snapshot of each country's HHP use.

The Russia study highlights: partial contamination of land and adjacent environments with harmful substances due to long-term use of HHPs and agrochemicals in agriculture and forestry; challenges ensuring environmental safety due to a lack of effective state supervision over the safe handling of pesticides and agrochemicals in agricultural production; and environmental pollution in areas where obsolete and banned pesticides are stored.

In Armenia, more than 60% of pesticides allowed by legislation are HHPs, with one third of them categorized as carcinogens or possible carcinogens.

Many pesticides registered and officially used in Kazakhstan contain one or more active ingredients from the HHP list. The study from explains that, as of March 2019, 74 active ingredients belonging to HHPs are used in Kazakhstan, with 25 of the active ingredients banned in other countries. Of the 1,021 trade names of pesticides registered in Kazakhstan, 386 contain one or more active HHP substance.

In Uzbekistan, 59 HHPs are allowed for use, 34 of which are banned in other countries. Uzbekistan has established a database of laws and regulations governing the production, use, injury, and liability of individuals and legal entities and the sound management of chemicals, including the registration, licensing, and prevention of stockpiling of hazardous chemicals.

In Ukraine, the study concludes that among 3,966 preparatory forms of pesticides, 1,125 formulations contain one to three active ingredients of HHPs. Thus, around one third of pesticides and agrochemicals allowed for use in Ukraine are HHPs. Eighty-three active ingredients of HHPs in preparative forms of pesticides and agrochemicals are allowed for use in Ukraine, 41 of which are already prohibited in other countries.

Recommendations include: reducing and eventually eliminating HHPs in Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia through increased information on safe HHP substitution, including use of the ecosystem-based approach and traditional knowledge in agriculture; and Regional Focal Points to the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) collecting lessons learned from this process and sharing them with national officials to facilitate the switch from HHPs to safer alternatives.

The executive summaries are in English, while the full reports are provided in Russian. The studies were undertaken as a part of IPEN’s Toxics-Free SDGs Campaign, which focuses on international, multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral cooperation to support chemical safety and sound chemicals management and waste objectives beyond 2020. The Campaign contends that advancing chemical safety is necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. It seeks to engage civil society organizations to further advance its objectives. 

The studies are related to SDGs 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and wellbeing), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land). 

IPEN Participating Organizations have been undertaking activities related to the Toxics-Free SDGs Campaign since 2018. Activities address agroecology, chemicals in products, endocrine disrupting chemicals or POPs, hazardous chemicals in the lifecycle of electronics, HHPs, lead in paint, women and chemicals, workplace right-to-know, and/or zero waste issues.

In addition to the above five countries, activities are ongoing in Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, the Philippines, Senegal, Serbia, Thailand, and Togo.