Over the past few decades, there has been a growing concern that chemicals, while essential for virtually every aspect of modern life and the economy, can cause significant adverse effects on human health and the environment. Many countries lack the capacity to handle chemicals management issues and are in great need to develop institutions, legislation, knowledge and general awareness. As a response to this, the programme “Towards a Non-Toxic Environment in South-East Asia” was initiated in January 2007. A second phase of the programme was approved by Sida in 2013.
The Field Alliance is one of four major partner organizations involved in this project. The programme builds on a strong partnership with well-established organisations that together have many years of experience on dealing with chemicals management issues in the region. Implementing partners are the Swedish Chemicals Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN-AP) and the Field Alliance (TFA). The geographical scope of the Programme is South-East Asia and has a primary focus on the Mekong region countries. Partner countries are Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Regional activities under this programme sometimes involve other countries from the region, like Indonesia and the Philippines
Major achievements in Phase I
While this program is only mid-way through completion, with the support of KemI and Sida, several major achievements have already been realized. Some of these achievements include:
Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Lao PDR finalized the country’s first chemicals law with support from neighbouring countries and KemI and submitted it to the National Legislative Assembly for endorsement. New Guidelines on labelling of pesticides have been issued in Lao PDR.Legislative impediments hampering effective enforcement of the pesticide regulation in Lao PDR have been resolved and new manuals for inspection and punishment in case of violations have been developed.
Thailand became formal member of the regional collaboration and contributed with valuable experiences from their on-going reform of the country’s system for chemicals management. Thailand further emphasized their engagement in the collaboration by agreeing to host the 10th regional chemicals management forum.
The number of farmers in the region that are implementing pesticide management according to IPM continue to grow due to efforts by FAO, PAN AP, TFA and their partners. Continued work on domestication of various plants, animals and insects bring additional income to poor farmers. Through TFA’s REAL programme approximately 6,000 students, 250 teachers and 3,300 farmers have increased their awareness and capacity in Pesticide Risk Reduction practices.
TFA has produced/contributed to a number of publications designed to attract international attention on issues relating to management and reduced use of chemicals in agriculture.