Saint Kitts and Nevis - ready to share their knowledge

Ms Jeanelle Kelly is one of the two Designated National Authorities (DNAs) whom Saint Kitts and Nevis has nominated to address the implementation work of the Rotterdam Convention (RC) and to cooperate closely with the RC Secretariat on chemicals and pesticides. Ms Kelly is a Quarantine Officer in the Department of Agriculture in the country.

Christine Fuell is the coordinator of the FAO part of the RC Secretariat and Senior Technical Officer in FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.

CF: Saint Kitts and Nevis is quite a small island in the Caribbean. Your country has been Party to the Rotterdam Convention since the end of 2012, so you have eight years of experience with the convention by now. What are the challenges you face to fully implement the Rotterdam Convention?

JK: As you mentioned, we are small, we have only 53,000 inhabitants. So human and physical resources are scarce and only a very limited number of people are in charge of managing a range of national and international obligations as they relate to chemicals and waste management.

CF: The Parties in the region are all quite good at submitting import responses. And you are one of the few Parties that have submitted them all. What is the secret of this success?

JK: Well, you see, we are not producing or using these 52 chemicals listed in Annex III, which means we don’t need them at this time. Therefore, we do not want to import them into our country. In this way, we will stay clear of any risk attached to them. So, we were able to swiftly fill the import response form indicating “no consent to import”.

CF: And you know that you could change your decision at any time, right?

JK: Sure. If we were to decide that we wanted to use some or all of these chemicals and pesticides it would be sufficient to submit a new form indicating “consent to import”. After all, Annex III chemicals are not generally banned under the RC, but they have been banned on a national basis in at least two Parties within different PIC regions after evaluating their risk to human health and the environment.

CF: So how, for example, do you deal with plant pests without those listed pesticides? And what are the main challenges with pesticides in general in your country?

JK: There is a wide range of other chemicals not listed in Annex III that pose less of a risk to human health and the environment that may be used to manage plant pests. We try to use lower risk chemicals as far as possible with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and biological control to control and manage plant pests. The main challenge with the management of a specific pest is the selection of the most appropriate method. Also, there is a range of chemicals available with varying modes of action and we aim to select the least hazardous ones that are still effective. It is always a balance between protecting human health and the environment and ensuring food security.

CF: Is your country currently reviewing your Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Acts and maybe contemplating whether to restrict or even ban the use of certain chemicals and pesticides? Would you then be prepared to submit notifications of Final Regulatory Actions (FRAs)?

JK: With the assistance of FAO, we were able to secure a GEF funded Caribbean Regional project to review our Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Control Acts and it is a priority of the Government to restrict and/or ban the use of certain highly hazardous chemicals to protect human health and the environment. In the future, we will be preparing to submit notifications of FRAs for these chemicals with the kind assistance of the Secretariat.

CFs: Is the preparation of notifications of FRAs straightforward?

JK: Well, I’d say the Secretariat has prepared quite a lot of information material and made available various information resources to support the Parties in this task as much as possible. We also participated in some training workshops organized by the RC Secretariat and kindly funded by FAO. For example a Joint Training Workshop on Pesticides Inspection and Customs Issues in the Caribbean in 2017, or a Training on the Rotterdam Convention in the framework of the Coordinating Group of Pesticides Control Boards of the Caribbean (CGPC) Meeting and the Steering Committee meeting for the project GCP/SLC/204/GFF in 2018, among others. And of course we never miss the Conference of the Parties and the respective Regional Preparatory Meetings! Actually, after that meeting in 2019, we submitted all import responses! There is a lot of information available on the process, plus the Secretariat stands ready and available to assist all Parties.

CF: How did you know about these training workshops?

JK: We are part of the Coordinating Group of Pesticides Control Boards of the Caribbean (CGPC). In addition, FAO invites us to participate in their meetings. And if Parties are interested in receiving trainings and technical assistance they can directly address the Secretariat. They are very responsive, discuss the particular needs with the Party and, for example, can suggest participation in an already scheduled workshop, develop a tailor-made activity together with the DNA or suggest cooperation with partners in the region.

CF: Do you think you could cooperate with those few Parties in the region who seem to face challenges in submitting import responses. A type of South-South cooperation facilitated by the Secretariat?

JK: We are very good neighbours in the Caribbean and we would certainly be available to help. Maybe the Secretariat can support us to get started?

CF: We would be very happy to do so. Just let us know your ideas and needs and we will act immediately. There is still a handful of countries in the region that are not yet Party to the Rotterdam Convention. Would you be willing to encourage them to become a Party and why would that be?

JK: Definitely. We as small islands live in an amazing environment, rich in biodiversity, and at the same time we are very vulnerable as regards adverse impacts on the environment – be it due to climate change, plastic waste or hazardous chemicals and pesticides. We have an obligation towards our children to protect this unique environment and we have an international obligation to implement the 2030 Agenda. We have only ten years left for this! So we better join forces as much as possible. Being Party to the RC – or better, to all chemicals and waste conventions – gives us a stronger voice, more information and better capacity to make informed decisions on our future, including on future imports of certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides.

CF: You are currently also a Rotterdam Convention Bureau member and have been a Stockholm Convention Bureau member in the past. As Bureau member, you are heavily involved in the preparation of the biennial Conference of the Parties (COP). How should Parties prepare themselves for the next meeting that is scheduled to take place in July 2021?

JK: As mentioned, work is underway for preparation of the 2021 BRS COPs. Parties normally meet at the national and regional level to air their views on the topics to be discussed at the COPs meeting, as well as formulate regional positions and this is certainly encouraged. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has put some hurdles in our way, we are strong, resilient, innovative people and will be working together at the international level to ensure the continued sound management of chemicals and waste.

CF: It was a pleasure getting your views. Thank you so much for your willingness to share your experience with all Parties.

The Rotterdam Convention Secretariat looks forward to continuing collaboration with all Parties, taking account of their identified needs and upon their request.