Prior informed consent procedure for hazardous chemicals: Rotterdam Convention
Official title: Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
- Subject category:
- Chemicals & Wastes
- Type of agreement / instrument:
- Legally-binding treaty
- Ratified by Canada August 26, 2002
- In force in Canada February 24, 2004
- In force internationally February 24, 2004.
- Lead & partner departments:
- Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada
- For further information:
- Web links:
- ECCC Inquiry Centre
- Compendium edition:
- October 2018
- Reference #:
Plain language summary
The Rotterdam Convention is an international treaty that provides an early warning to countries on a broad range of hazardous chemicals in international trade that have been banned or severely restricted in other countries to protect human health or the environment. The information shared under the Convention enables governments to assess the risks posed by these hazardous chemicals and to make informed decisions on their future import.
By facilitating information exchange, the Convention empowers countries lacking adequate infrastructure to monitor the import and use of hazardous chemicals and pesticides.
Canada has been a strong contributor of notifications of final regulatory action and these notifications have led to the inclusion of a number of substances to Annex III of the Convention, making them subject to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure.
- To promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous industrial chemicals and pesticides in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm; and
- To contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous industrial chemicals and pesticides, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.
The Convention creates legally binding obligations for the implementation of the PIC procedure, which applies to substances listed on Annex III to the Convention.
When a Party prohibits or severely restricts an industrial chemical or pesticide for health or environmental reasons, any export of that industrial chemical or pesticide is subject to prior notification to the importing Party.
When a Party prohibits or severely restricts an industrial chemical or pesticide for health or environmental reasons, that regulatory action is notified to the Secretariat and shared among Parties.
Parties can refuse imports of industrial chemicals or pesticides they have banned domestically when those substances are subject to the PIC procedure.
Information is shared on the risks and hazards of substances subject to the PIC procedure.
Information is shared with the importing Party on the risks and hazards of industrial chemicals and pesticides not subject to the PIC procedure, but banned or severely restricted by the exporting Party.
By sharing information about hazardous industrial chemicals and pesticides in international trade, the Convention helps importing countries to more fully understand and manage the risks associated with their use. This agreement is important to Canada because it provides a mechanism for Canada to refuse certain imports of hazardous industrial chemicals and pesticides. Canada notifies all Parties of its consent or non-consent of imports for substances subject to the PIC procedure.
Canada issues notifications when taking regulatory action to prohibit or severely restrict the use of an industrial chemical or pesticide, which are used to inform other Parties of the risks that pose these substances to the human health and the environment.
Canada manages exports through the Export of Substances on the Export Control List Regulations.
Results / progress
Canada continues to be a strong contributor by submitting notifications of final regulatory action reagrding substances that have been prohibited or severely restricted in Canada. Canada’s notifications have led to the inclusion of a number of substances to Annex III of the Convention, making them subject to the PIC procedure.
Canada holds a seat on the Chemical Review Committee, the technical body under the Convention that makes recommendations for including substances in the PIC procedure. Canada is a member of the Intersessional working group on enhancing the effectiveness of the Rotterdam Convention.
Reports of the Conferences of the Parties and decisions
Reports of the Chemical Review Committee meetings and decisions
Reports available through IISD Linkages
As of October 2018, a total of 50 substances are subject to the PIC Procedure; 34 are pesticides (including 3 severely hazardous pesticide formulations), 15 industrial chemicals and 1 chemical that is both a pesticide and an industrial chemical. A total of 63 substances or groups of substances are subject to Canada’s export controls which apply the PIC procedure or prior notification of export.
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