Summary report, 8–10 October 2019

15th Meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC-15) of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade

At its fifteenth meeting, the Chemical Review Committee (CRC)
completed its technical work to support the Rotterdam
Convention’s goals of promoting shared responsibility and
cooperation in the trade of hazardous chemicals and environmentally
sound use of such chemicals. The CRC reviewed notifications from
countries that took a domestic final regulatory action (FRA) that
banned or severely restricted three chemicals: amitrole (an
herbicide), decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) (a flame retardant
used in textiles, electronics, and building materials), and
nonylphenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NP and NPEs) (surfactants
used in a variety of industrial and consumer products).

For amitrole and NP and NPEs, the Committee concluded that some of
the notifications for each chemical meet the criteria, but noted
that the successful notifications come from only one prior informed
consent (PIC) region. Notifications from two PIC regions are
required before a chemical can be listed in the Convention.
Therefore, no further action will be taken on amitrole or NP and
NPEs until a country from another PIC region notifies that it has
taken an FRA that bans or severely restricts the use of these

For decaBDE, the Committee agreed that the notifications received
meet the criteria and recommended that it be listed in Annex III of
the Rotterdam Convention, making it subject to the PIC procedure.

The Committee also reviewed the draft decision guidance document
(DGD) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related
compounds, which will provide information to parties when trading in
these chemicals.

The CRC-15 continued to flexibly apply its past practice and
precedents to reflect the complexities of the global chemicals
trade, while continuing to encourage countries to notify the
Convention when they take a final regulatory action.

CRC-15 took place in Rome, Italy, from 8-10 October 2019. Over 90
participants attended, including CRC members and observers from
parties, governments, industry, and civil society.

A Brief History of the Rotterdam Convention and the Chemical
Review Committee

Over the past 40 years, growth in chemical production and trade has
raised increasing concerns about the potential risks posed by
hazardous chemicals and pesticides to human health and the
environment. Developing countries were particularly vulnerable to
these effects, lacking the infrastructure to monitor their import
and use. In response to these concerns, under the auspices of the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment
Programme (UNEP), the Rotterdam Convention on the PIC Procedure for
Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
was adopted in September 1998 and entered into force on 24 February

Its objectives are:

  • to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among
    parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals
    in order to protect human health and the environment from
    potential harm; and
  • to contribute to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous
    chemicals, 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 PIC Procedure is a mechanism for obtaining and disseminating the
decisions of importing parties on whether they wish to receive
future shipments of certain chemicals, and for ensuring compliance
with these decisions by exporting parties. The Procedure applies to
chemicals listed in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention, which
includes pesticides, industrial chemicals, and severely hazardous
pesticide formulations (SHPFs). The Convention creates legally
binding obligations for the implementation of the PIC Procedure.

The role of the CRC: The CRC is a subsidiary body
of the Rotterdam Convention established to review notifications of
FRA against the criteria set out by the Convention in Annex II (for
chemicals) and IV (for SHPFs) and make recommendations to the
Conference of the Parties (COP) for listing such chemicals in Annex
III. Proposals to include chemicals under Annex III are submitted to
the CRC, with the final decision taken by the COP.

There are two ways to trigger the addition of new chemicals to Annex
III. For pesticides and industrial chemicals, all parties must
notify the Secretariat of any regulatory action they have adopted
domestically to ban or severely restrict a chemical for
environmental or health reasons. When the Secretariat receives two
notifications of FRA from two different PIC regions (Africa, Asia,
Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Near East, North America,
and Southwest Pacific) that meet the criteria established in Annex I
to the Convention (which describes properties, identification, and
uses of the chemical and information on the regulatory action), it
forwards the notifications to the CRC. The Committee then screens
the notifications according to the criteria contained in Annex II
and, if the CRC finds the criteria are met, it recommends listing
the chemical in Annex III and preparing a DGD for consideration by
the COP.

The CRC has met annually since the Convention’s entry into

For SHPFs, any party that is a developing country or country with an
economy in transition can propose a SHPF for listing, which the
Committee screens against the criteria in Annex IV (information and
criteria for listing SHPFs in Annex III).

Recent Highlights

COP-6: In 2013, COP-6 was held in conjunction with
the COPs of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary
Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and the Stockholm
Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and a simultaneous
extraordinary meeting of the three COPs. COP-6 decided to amend
Annex III to list: azinphos-methyl; commercial pentaBDE, including
industrial tetraBDE and industrial pentaBDE; commercial octaBDE,
including hexaBDE and heptaBDE; and PFOS, perfluorooctanesulfonates,
perfluorooctanesulfonamides and perfluorooctanesulfonyls. However,
COP-6 decided that while paraquat met the listing criteria for an
SHPF, it would postpone a decision until COP-7 as those opposed to
listing had concerns about the science, alternatives, and
implications for trade. A decision on listing chrysotile asbestos
was also deferred to COP-7, due to similar concerns.

CRC-9 and 10: In 2013 and 2014, the Committee took
decisions on trichlorfon, cyhexatin, methamidophos, lead arsenate,
lead carbonate, fenthion 640 ultra-low volume (ULV), and
pentachlorobenzene. It also adopted DGDs on methamidophos and
fenthion ULV, and agreed to prepare a DGD for short-chain
chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs), and to revise the tributyltin (TBT)
DGD to include TBT compounds for industrial uses. CRC-9 also
requested the Secretariat to prepare an electronic
“handbook” of procedures and guidance for the Committee.

COP-7: At COP-7 in 2015, delegates were unable to
agree on the listing of paraquat, fenthion, trichlorfon, and
chrysotile asbestos in Annex III, and deferred consideration to
COP-8. COP-7 also established an intersessional working group to:
review cases where the COP was unable to reach consensus on the
listing of a chemical by identifying the reasons for and against
listing and, based on that and other information, to develop options
for improving the effectiveness of the process; and to develop
proposals for enabling information flows to support the PIC
Procedure for those chemicals.

CRC-11 and 12: In 2015 and 2016, the Committee
adopted draft DGDs on SCCPs and on TBT compounds for industrial
uses. The Committee also recommended that the COP make carbofuran
and carbosulfan subject to the PIC Procedure, and decided to prepare
the DGDs for both substances. It also adopted a decision on the
final regulatory action on benzidine, and considered a proposal to
include carbofuran suspension concentrate at or above 300 g/L as an
SHPF. CRC-12 established an intersessional task group to update the
Handbook of Working Procedures and Policy Guidance for the CRC.

COP-8: In 2017, COP-8 agreed to list four chemicals
in Annex III: carbofuran, SCCPs, TBT compounds, and trichlorfon, but
deferred decisions on listing carbosulfan, chrysotile asbestos,
paraquat, and fenthion until COP-9.

CRC-13: In 2017, the Committee discussed 13
chemicals and two SHPFs, adopting recommendations for listing two
pesticides (acetochlor and phorate) and an industrial chemical,
hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), in Annex III. CRC-13 further agreed
to update the CRC Handbook.

CRC-14: In 2018, the CRC adopted the DGDs for
acetochlor, HBCD, and phorate and agreed that these chemicals met
the criteria to be listed in Annex III. The Committee agreed that
the notifications for PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds met
the criteria and established an intersessional drafting group to
work on the DGD. CRC-14 agreed to take no further action on a
notification submitted by Canada on HBCD, given that two
notifications from two PIC regions had been accepted, and it set
aside a notification on methyl-parathion, deciding that it had not
met all the criteria for listing.

COP-9: In 2019, COP-9 adopted a compliance
mechanism through a vote that established a new annex to the
Convention, concluding 15 years of negotiations on the issue. The
COP agreed to include HBCD and phorate in Annex III, but could not
agree to list carbosulfan, acetochlor, paraquat, fenthion, and
chrysotile asbestos.

CRC-15 Report

Chair Noluzuko “Zukie” Gwayi (South Africa) opened the
meeting on Tuesday, 8 October 2019, welcoming participants to the
session and encouraging all members and observers to engage
constructively in the important work of the Committee.

Hans Dreyer, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention-FAO,
outlined the agenda and noted the importance of the CRC’s work
in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially
through the sound management of chemicals and waste. He further
highlighted that more than 100 notifications of FRA have been
received, and said that these, and the efforts of the CRC, drive the
work of the Convention.

Carlos Martin-Novella, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Basel,
Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions Secretariat, on behalf of
Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, BRS Conventions,
welcomed participants to CRC-15, noting the work of the Committee
has enabled over 160 governments around the world to better manage
hazardous chemicals and pesticides. He underscored that the sound
management of chemicals is a prerequisite to sustainable development
and underpins every SDG. He explained that this is the last meeting
for half of the committee members, and thanked them for their work.
In closing, he stressed the need for science-based action in
implementing the Convention.

Chair Gwayi then introduced, and the Committee adopted, the
provisional agenda (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/1) and its annotations
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/1/Add.1). The Secretariat presented the
organization of work, including the scenario note and schedule for
the meeting (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/INF/1 and INF/2).

The Secretariat provided an overview of the outcomes of the
fifteenth session of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review
Committee (POPRC) that took place immediately prior to the
CRC-15 from 1-4 October 2019.

Review of COP-9 Outcomes

The Secretariat introduced a review of the outcomes of Rotterdam
Convention COP-9 that are relevant to the work of the CRC
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/INF/15). She noted COP decisions and
intersessional work on, inter alia, enhancing the
effectiveness of the Convention, and improving participation,
openness, and transparency in the CRC process, including increasing
the participation of experts, parties, and observers, and improving
capacity building.

Colombia supported the development of an online course and further
tools on risk assessment and evaluation, noting that they would be
useful for building the capacity of government officials.

Reiterating the need for training, Chair Gwayi highlighted that more
than 100 FRA notifications have been submitted, but only 33 were of
high enough quality to meet the criteria. The Secretariat noted that
while they are not formally opening this issue for consultations,
they welcome informal suggestions and proposals from experts,
parties, and observers at any time.

The Committee took note of the information.

Rotation of the Membership

On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced information on the rotation
of the CRC membership (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/INF/3), welcoming the new
CRC members from Canada and Pakistan, as well as 14 new members
whose terms start in 2020. Noting outgoing Bureau members Marit
Randall (Norway) and Norma Sbarbati-Nudelman (Argentina), Chair
Gwayi invited the Latin American and Caribbean Group
(GRULAC) and the Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
to propose new Bureau members by the end of the week. The Committee
confirmed Marit Randall as meeting rapporteur.

Current members of the CRC are: Argentina, Armenia, Canada, China,
Colombia, Djibouti, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, India,
Latvia, Madagascar, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, Niger, Norway,
Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa,
Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom, and Yemen.

On Thursday, the Committee agreed that Lady Jhoana Domínguez Majin
(Colombia) would serve on the Bureau for the GRULAC region, and
Martin Lacroix (Canada) and Kristīne Kazerovska (Latvia) would serve
for the WEOG region.

Technical Work

Consideration of Draft DGDs: PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related
On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the draft DGD for PFOA, its
salts and PFOA-related compounds (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/3) and a
summary of comments on the draft DGD (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/INF/6).

Drafting group Chair Viliami Manu (Tonga) introduced the draft,
and drafter Timo Seppälä (Finland) guided participants
through the process, underscoring the format and basis for the draft
DGD. He outlined the timeframe for the drafts, how comments had been
received and integrated at each step, and the resulting fourth draft
presented for consideration at CRC-15. He expanded on the issues
encountered, noting that the information in the notification may not
be up to date as legislation may have changed. He cautioned that for
groups of chemicals, national FRAs may differ in scope and cover
different chemicals.

He drew attention to decision CRC-14/5 that does not specify PFOA
compounds and does not list CAS numbers. He noted that the Stockholm
Convention COP decided to list PFOA in Annex A (elimination) with
some specific exemptions and that the decision defined the compounds
through an indicative list that would be updated over time.

He then returned to the differences in the scope of the national
FRAs, stressing that the Canadian notification addresses an
inexhaustive list, where some entries do not have CAS numbers, while
the Norwegian notification relates to eight chemicals only and these
overlap with those included in the Canadian FRA.

Seppälä noted that the Stockholm Convention PFOA listing is broader
in scope and highlighted that the CRC might receive notifications in
the future that include more CAS numbers.

Pakistan drew attention to a lack of capacity in developing
countries to track PFOA, as well as inappropriate labelling.

Canada underscored the need to include only the overlapping CAS
numbers between the Canadian and Norwegian notifications. Norway
said its national PFOA regulations were changing and that it was
planning to provide pertinent information before CRC-16.

Chair Gwayi proposed, and others agreed, to establish a contact
group and to include the comments from this meeting into the INF/6
document. The contact group, chaired by Manu, with Seppälä as the
drafter, met Tuesday afternoon and as a drafting group on Thursday.

The PFOA DGD contact group discussed the details of the DGD and
examined the compounds it covers. Participants explored parallels
with the Stockholm Convention PFOA listing as well as exemptions and
their length. They discussed how CRC-7 had addressed PFOS, moving
towards a DGD with specific CAS numbers, yet at CRC-8, the scope was
broadened, amending the CRC-7 decision to simply say “PFOS,
its salts and PFOS-related compounds” without listing CAS
numbers. Some suggested that this precedent illustrates that the CRC
can amend previous CRC decisions.

On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced three new draft documents
for consideration: a draft decision on PFOA
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.4); a revised draft DGD for PFOA
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.9); and a compilation of comments and
responses relating to the draft DGD for PFOA

Seppälä highlighted that the main unresolved issues relate to the
scope of PFOA chemicals included in the decision, specifically,
whether to include CAS numbers in the decision. He also noted
discussions on the classification of PFOA as a probable or possible

The Committee adopted the revised draft DGD with no further
amendments, and Chair Gwayi explained that it will be forwarded to
COP-10 along with the compilation of comments and responses relating
to the draft DGD.

The Committee then considered the draft decision. Pakistan, Norway,
Malta, and Ghana supported the draft decision, and Canada, New
Zealand, and observers from Australia and the US supported explicit
reference to the eight PFOA CAS numbers that are in both the
Norwegian and Canadian notifications. Participants discussed the
merits of including and excluding the CAS numbers in the decision,
and the Secretariat clarified that there is legal precedent for both

On Thursday, the Committee adopted the comments and responses
related to the DGD (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.10). Manu reported from
the drafting group and presented the draft decision
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.4/Rev.1), which the Committee adopted.

Canada suggested a discussion on potential future modifications to
the DGD as future notifications that include additional CAS numbers
are received. He suggested a modification of the DGD at CRC-16 based
on information received, perhaps by Norway or by other parties, of
FRA related to PFOA.

The Secretariat stated that the DGD would be forwarded to the COP.
She said that if notifications were received and considered by
CRC-16, members could discuss whether to revise the DGD. She noted
that this has not occurred in the past, but is within the mandate of
the Committee.

Final Decision: In the decision
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.4/Rev.1), the CRC, inter alia:

  • recommends that the COP should list PFOA, its salts and
    PFOA-related compounds in Annex III as industrial chemicals;
  • adopts the draft DGD for PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related
    compounds (CAS Nos. 335-67-1, 3825-26-1, 335-95-5, 2395-00-8,
    335-93-3, 335-66- 0, 376-27-2, 3108-24-5), and decides to forward
    it, together with the related summary of comments, to the COP for
    its consideration.

Report of the Bureau on the preliminary review of notifications
of FRA:
On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the Bureau report
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/2) and the summary record of notifications of
FRA for chemicals reviewed by the interim CRC and the CRC, and of
notifications scheduled for review (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/INF/5).
Bureau member Marit Randall reported on the preliminary review,
highlighting the establishment of an intersessional task group for
each candidate chemical. She further noted the review did not make
any recommendations on the chemicals, but rather identified possible
information gaps and prepared an analysis of whether each of the
candidate chemicals meets the criteria for listing. Canada
emphasized the Bureau’s role in identifying information gaps
in time to rectify them before the CRC meets.

Review of notifications of FRA: Amitrole: The Secretariat introduced notifications of FRA
for amitrole from Thailand and the European Union (EU) on Tuesday,
along with their supporting documents (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/4,
INF/7/Rev.2 and INF/8, respectively). Chair Gwayi explained that if
the CRC finds the notifications from Thailand and the EU meet the
Annex II criteria, the Committee should prepare a rationale
explaining how the criteria have been met.

Domínguez Majin, Chair of the intersessional task group, introduced
its work on amitrole, noting that members and observers agreed with
the general conclusions of the task group’s report.

Randall presented the intersessional task group’s review of
Thailand’s notification, which concludes that it meets Annex I
criteria, but does not meet all of Annex II criteria.

She then presented the intersessional task group’s review of
the EU’s notification, which concludes that it meets both
Annex I and Annex II criteria.

Thailand highlighted that her country’s notification did not
meet the risk assessment criteria due to lack of resources.

The UK, Canada, New Zealand, and an observer from the US noted that
the EU’s decision regarding amitrole and drinking water is a
policy-level decision, related to a concentration level, rather than
based on scientific testing, and should be referred to accordingly.
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) stressed that amitrole has a great
potential to enter groundwater and urged the inclusion of this
information in the report.

The Committee established a contact group on the EU notification,
chaired by Domínguez Majin, and with Randall as drafter. The contact
group met on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the Secretariat introduced the draft rationale for the
conclusion that the EU’s amitrole notification meets the Annex
II criteria (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.12). Canada, an observer from
the US, and CropLife International reiterated that the rationale for
the EU’s notification meeting criteria b(iii) (risk
evaluation) should not include the EU’s groundwater threshold
policy. Malta supported its inclusion. Participants adopted the
draft rationale.

The Secretariat introduced, and participants adopted, the draft
decision on amitrole (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.5).

Final Decision: In the decision
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.5), the CRC, inter alia:

  • concludes that EU’s notification of FRA for amitrole meets
    the criteria set out in Annex II;
  • adopts the rationale for the Committee’s conclusion; and
  • notes that, since only a notification of FRA from one PIC region
    meets the criteria set out in Annex II, it will take no further
    action on amitrole at present.

Decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE): On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced a note
containing notifications of FRA relating to decaBDE from Japan,
Norway, and Canada (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/5) and the supporting
documentation provided by each notifying country
UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/INF/11, respectively).

DecaBDE Intersessional Task Group Chair Suresh Amichand (Guyana)
described the group’s work and drafter Peter Dawson (New
Zealand) presented an analysis of the three notifications, reviewing
each criterion one by one. He noted that the scope of the Canadian
notification went beyond only decaBDE to include all polybrominated
biphenyl ethers, while the notifications from Norway and Japan
focused exclusively on decaBDE. Dawson noted that initial
information gaps in the Japanese notification had been filled, in
particular for criteria b (iii) (risk evaluation). Outlining the
details of the task group’s work, he reported that the task
group agreed that the three notifications met all the criteria set
out in Annex II.

On Japan’s notification, Pakistan asked for clarification on
the scope of each notification. Dawson clarified that CRC-15 is
addressing decaBDE only.

Canada drew attention to the Handbook of working procedures and
policy guidance for the CRC, highlighting section 2.1 on focused
summaries that outlines the rationale for a country’s FRA.

CropLife International questioned the timing of additional
information provided by Japan, noting that such additions should be
presented eight weeks prior to a CRC meeting. An observer from the
US also drew attention to section 2.1 of the Handbook, stating that
the Japanese notification and the supplementary information did not
present the basis for the FRA.

On the Norwegian and Canadian notifications, members had no
substantive comments.

Chair Gwayi proposed, and members agreed, to establish a contact
group to be chaired by Amichand with Dawson as the drafter. The
contact group met on Wednesday.

On Thursday, participants adopted: the draft rationale for the
conclusion that Japan, Norway, and Canada’s decaBDE
notifications meet the Annex II criteria
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.11); the draft workplan for the preparation
of a draft DGD (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.7); and the draft decision on
decaBDE (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.6/Rev.1). Canada noted and welcomed
the inclusion of a CAS number in the decision, highlighting that
this may prevent confusion at a later date, and an observer from the
US encouraged parties to develop and submit clear and complete
notifications, drawing attention to the focused summaries.

Final Decision: In the decision
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.6/Rev.1), the CRC, inter alia:

  • concludes that Japan, Norway, and Canada’s notifications of
    FRA for decaBDE meets the criteria set out in Annex II;
  • adopts the rationale for the Committee’s conclusion;
  • recommends that the COP list decaBDE (CAS No. 1163-19-5) in Annex
    III as an industrial chemical; and
  • decides to prepare a draft DGD for decaBDE, led by an
    intersessional drafting group.

Nonylphenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NP and NPEs): The Secretariat introduced the three
notifications received for NP and NPEs from South Africa, the EU,
and Switzerland (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/6), alongside their supporting
documents (UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/INF/12, INF/13/Rev.1 and INF/14,

Christian Sekomo Birame (Rwanda), Chair of the Intersessional Task
Group, introduced the notifications, adding that the notifications
from the EU and Switzerland contain NP and NPEs as both an
industrial chemical and a pesticide, while the South African
notification is only for NP and NPEs as a pesticide.

Seppälä, Drafter of the Intersessional Task Group, reported that
they found the notifications from the EU and Switzerland to meet all
Annex II criteria, but that the South African notification did not.

On South Africa’s notification, PAN questioned the rejection
of criterion b (i) (risk evaluation based on data generated from
scientifically recognized standards), stating that the notification
contained three peer-reviewed scientific articles. An observer from
the US highlighted that the criterion relates more to how the
articles are used in the notification, and the Netherlands lamented
that if the notification had been presented differently, there might
have been a very different result.

On the EU notification, experts and observers discussed at length
whether the Committee should consider the EU’s 2005
notification, or the June 2019 update that informs the CRC that the
scope of the relevant legislation has been amended. There was
general agreement that the Committee can only consider the
information submitted to them, and that CRC-15 is reviewing the
EU’s 2005 notification. Canada encouraged the EU to submit a
new updated notification.

The Committee established a contact group on the Swiss and EU
notification, with Birame as Chair and Seppälä as drafter. The
contact group met on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the Committee considered and adopted the draft
rationale for the conclusion that Switzerland and the EU’s NPs
and NPEs notifications meet the Annex II criteria
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.13). Participants noted that the rationale
addressed the EU’s 2005 notification and not the letter
submitted in 2019, and Canada encouraged parties to resubmit formal
notifications of FRA when they change or update relevant regulation.

Final Decision: In the decision
(UNEP/FAO/RC/CRC.15/CRP.8), the CRC, inter alia:

  • concludes that Switzerland and the EU’s notifications of FRA
    for NP and NPEs meet the criteria set out in Annex II;
  • adopts the rationale for the Committee’s conclusion; and
  • notes that, as only a notification of FRA from one PIC region
    meets the criteria set out in Annex II, it will take no further
    action on NPs and NPEs at present.

Venue and Date of the Next Meeting

CRC-16 will take place from 8-11 September 2020 at FAO Headquarters
in Rome, Italy.

Other Matters

There were two issues discussed under other matters: updates to the
CRC Handbook and effective participation.

The Secretariat reported on updates to the CRC Handbook carried out
since last year, noting the updated Handbook is now available
online. On country examples included in the Handbook, participants
discussed, and agreed to, removing the names of any countries that
submitted notifications that did not meet the criteria, but
retaining the names of country examples that did meet the criteria.

On effective participation, the Secretariat reported on
implementation of activities to enhance effective participation in
the CRC, including training and orientation workshops, e-learning
tools, regional workshops on enhancing effective participation,
debriefing webinars, and the translation of the CRC pocket guide
into Arabic, Chinese, French, and Spanish.

Canada suggested collecting feedback on the orientation workshops
one year after attendance. An observer from the US highlighted the
suggestions from the COP to improve the transparency of the CRC,
noting many have yet to be implemented. Participants took note of
the information and participants’ comments.

Closure of the Meeting

On Thursday, the Committee adopted its report

Christine Fuell, FAO, relayed comments from Hans Dreyer, Executive
Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, lauding the members’
active participation in the work of the Committee and side events
held during the meeting.

Carlos Martin-Novella, Deputy Executive Secretary, BRS Conventions,
congratulated members and observers for their work, both at the
meeting and, especially, during the intersessional period. He noted
that this intersessional work makes the CRC unique among
multilateral fora and contributes to the scientific foundations of
the Convention.

Chair Gwayi observed that half of the members will be leaving after
this Committee meeting and encouraged all participants to support
the incoming members. She urged participants to help promote
understanding and awareness of the Rotterdam Convention, and to
represent and defend the work of the Committee at the next meeting
of the COP.

A Brief Analysis of CRC-15

When Emperor Caesar Augustus erected the Golden Milestone monument,
little did he know that over two thousand years later, participants
at the fifteenth meeting of the Chemical Review Committee (CRC-15)
of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC)
Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in
International Trade would still find that all roads lead to Rome.

Indeed, delegates gathered at the headquarters of the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) spent considerable amounts
of time discussing two possible routes to listing families of
chemicals such as those used in non-stick cookware and
stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, only to find that all paths
lead toward the same destination: chemicals being listed in Annex
III of the Rotterdam Convention—chemicals subject to the PIC

The CRC was established to review the notifications of final
regulatory action (FRA) for potentially hazardous chemicals and
pesticide formulations. When countries take action to ban or
severely restrict a chemical, they notify the Secretariat, which, in
turn, provides the notifications to the CRC. If two regulatory
actions taken by countries from two PIC regions meet the criteria
(Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Near East,
North America, and Southwest Pacific), the Committee may then
recommend to the Conference of the Parties (COP) that the chemical
be listed in the Convention. Such a listing does not constitute a
ban, but initiates an information-sharing process and requires the
prior informed consent of importing countries during the trade of
these chemicals or severely hazardous pesticide formulations. The
CRC identifies chemicals that are of concern to parties and provides
information that can aid in their safe management and trade.

CRC-15 swiftly completed its technical tasks, focusing on one draft
decision guidance document (DGD) and three notifications of FRA.
Although these technical stepping stones toward listing substances
under the annexes to the Convention have been well-used over the
Committee’s history, CRC-15 was a reminder that both past and
emerging challenges can still surface. This led to several exchanges
on the best way forward and on how to appropriately leverage past
experience. By the end of the three-day meeting, CRC-15 achieved its
goals and validated its role in the global chemicals management
arena. This brief analysis explores the way the Committee addressed
the challenges encountered and the mechanisms put in place to
minimize future friction, elaborating on the relevance of the CRC in
today’s chemical landscape.

Emerging Challenges: Looking at the past to better chart the

Even though the CRC has reviewed over 100 FRAs to date, new
procedural questions continue to arise. At CRC-15, it quickly became
apparent that the dynamic nature of chemicals production and
management challenge the Committee to apply its tried and tested
procedures to new issues and cases. Far from mechanically fulfilling
its review, CRC-15 demonstrated how the Committee can draw on its
mandate and precedents while showing flexibility to address

One issue that proved thorny, for instance, was families of
industrial chemicals with complicated structures. Such substances
under review at CRC-15, in particular perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA),
its salts and PFOA-related compounds, which are used in non-stick
cookware, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, and nonylphenols and
nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPs and NPEs) surfactants used in the
manufacture of latex paints, laundry detergents, and personal
hygiene, automotive, and garden care products. Delegates were drawn
to debate how to apply the rules that underpin how such chemicals
are nominated for listing. Since a listing in the Rotterdam
Convention is based on domestic action by states and requires
notifications from two PIC regions, many felt that only the
chemicals that are specifically listed in both notifications can be

A few members and observers were less sure, suggesting that a more
inclusive listing approach could be possible. They recalled the case
of stain-repellant perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), where CRC-8
revised CRC-7’s outcome and recommended to the COP a broader
family of chemicals, by not listing the CAS numbers in its decision
only in the accompanying documentation. COP-6 was then left with the
question of which chemicals to list, a task some felt was
inappropriate for the political body. One observer recollected that
COP-6 may have expanded the list of chemicals beyond those that
overlapped between the notifications.

The debate manifested itself for CRC-15 in a discussion over whether
to specify CAS numbers for PFOA and NPs and NPEs and how to further
specify new CAS numbers within a same family. Ultimately, the CRC
agreed to specify the CAS numbers of the chemicals that are
contained in both the Canadian and Norwegian PFOA notifications.
Yet, many members seemed to anticipate further work on this issue,
especially if Norway or Japan, as rumored, submit notifications with
an expanded list of PFOA chemicals. For NPs and NPEs, no decision
was taken as only one notification met all the criteria.

The power of precedent prompted debate in discussions related to the
herbicide amitrole. The EU notification was found to have met the
criteria, despite doubts raised by some observers that this decision
followed past practice. These participants drew parallels with a
past CRC discussion on atrazine (an herbicide) where the FRA was
taken in response to an exceedance of the thresholds for groundwater
concentrations. Then, several members and observers suggested that
the risk evaluation, a crucial component of the criteria that
notifications must meet, should not be based on a policy decision
regarding thresholds, but on exposure and hazard data specific to
the substance. Similarly, the EU notification for amitrole cited the
exceedance of groundwater concentrations as a reason prompting the
EU to ban or restrict the chemical in its FRA. The outcomes
differed: atrazine was set aside pending further information while
amitrole is now potentially one notification away from a
recommendation to list it in the Convention. The differing outcomes
led to a call for “consistency with what has been done
before” cautioning against deviating “when it no longer
suits us.” After much debate, members eventually settled with
the decision, mainly because when drafting the rationale for the
decision, ample information was provided relating to the risk

Characteristically, CRC-15 demonstrated its innate ability to learn
from the past while remaining flexible to adapt to new situations
and open to further discussions to ensure all members are on board
and fully comprehend past decisions pertaining to listing.

Existing Challenges: Improving notifications to promote

CRC-15, like CRC-14, had a light workload, and once again several
wondered how to encourage more countries to submit notifications
when they take action against a chemical.

While one participant suggested that some countries may not be
submitting notifications because they are unlikely to meet the
Convention’s criteria, others pointed to the information and
capacity required to prepare the notifications in a way that meets
the guidance set out in the CRC Handbook. Some observers thought
that Japan’s notification for decabromodiphenyl ether
(decaBDE), a flame retardant, did not follow the guidance in the
Handbook on how to clearly summarize the rationale for its FRA. In
an effort to bolster their notifications, Thailand and Japan
provided more information on their FRAs for amitrole and decaBDE,
respectively. Several appreciated the extra effort to aid the
Committee’s review. But, only Japan’s notification was
found to meet the criteria. Some suggested developing an online
toolkit to help countries prepare their notifications. Better
notifications lead to clearer decisions by the Committee, and thus a
better chance that the COP will agree to list the chemical.

Some wondered if the new compliance mechanism recently adopted by
the COP may encourage notifications. Article 5 of the Convention
requires parties to submit notifications of FRA, and is in the scope
of the compliance mechanism. Whether parties will use the compliance
mechanism to support themselves or others to prepare notifications
is still to be seen.

More immediately, CRC-15 delegates were impressed both with the work
of the intersessional groups and the efforts of the drafters in
providing clear guidance and top-notch documents. Furthermore, both
parties and the Secretariat have initiated a number of robust
capacity-building measures nationally and regionally. These include
orientation workshops for new members to familiarize themselves with
the working procedures of the CRC and efforts to strengthen the
listing process, as well as translating the CRC Pocket Guide and
making the Handbook more widely available. These efforts have
clearly paid off as the work of the Committee becomes more efficient
and the quality of its discussions continually improves.

CRC in the Broader Chemicals Landscape

Several delegates found themselves in Rome via Bangkok, where the
negotiations for the post-2020 chemicals and wastes framework were
held the previous week. Others had just completed work for the
Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Review
Committee (POPRC), the subsidiary body that reviews chemicals to
determine if they should be listed as POPs and eliminated from
production and use.

As chemicals management issues continue to evolve, the CRC cemented
its role as a key piece in the global chemicals governance puzzle.
With half of the membership ending their terms, it will be incumbent
on the remaining members to serve as institutional memory and pass
on the precedents to new CRC members. Through this legacy approach,
the Committee can continue to provide its recommendations to the COP
and, if they are accepted, sound technical information to parties
and others working toward the sound management of chemicals. In this
light, any challenges faced during the CRC pale into insignificance
when the greater goals of protecting human health and the
environment from potential harm come into focus.

Upcoming Meetings

Montreal Protocol MOP-31: The 31st Meeting of the
Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the
Ozone Layer will address, inter alia, implementation of the
Kigali Amendment, linkages between hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in transitioning to low global warming
potential alternatives, issues related to energy efficiency while
phasing down HFCs, and critical and essential use exemptions.
dates: 4-8 November 2019
location: Rome, Italy www:

3rd Meeting of the expert working group on the review of Annexes
to the Basel Convention:
The expert working group will continue its work so as to enable the
development of amendment proposals and for presentation and
discussion at the twelfth meeting of the Open-ended working group
(OEWG-12). dates: 5-8 November 2019
location: Bratislava, Slovakia

Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata
Convention on Mercury:
COP-3 is expected to discuss, inter alia, waste
thresholds, releases, interim storage, contaminated sites, open
burning of waste, review of Annexes A and B, and harmonized customs
codes. dates: 25-29 November 2019
location: Geneva, Switzerland

57th Meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)

The 57th meeting of the GEF Council will take place in December. The
Council meets twice annually to develop, adopt and evaluate the
operational policies and programs for GEF-financed activities. It
also reviews and approves the work program (projects submitted for
approval), making decisions by consensus.
dates: 17-19 December 2019
location: Washington D.C., USA

4th Meeting of the Intersessional Process (IP4) considering the
Strategic Approach and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste
beyond 2020:

IP4 is expected to continue the discussions on a possible post-2020
platform for chemicals and waste and will convene ahead of the fifth
session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management
(ICCM-5), scheduled for 5-9 October 2020 in Bonn, Germany.
dates: 23-26 March 2020
location: Bucharest, Romania www:

8th International Nitrogen Initiative Conference: The conference is expected to stimulate an exchange among
policymakers and other relevant stakeholders of results, ideas, and
visions to improve future holistic management of reactive nitrogen.
dates: 3-7 May 2020
location: Berlin, Germany www:

12th Helsinki Chemicals Forum (HCF): HCF 2020 is
organized by the Chemicals Forum Association, in cooperation with
the European Chemicals Agency, the European Commission, the European
Chemical Industry Council, and the Finnish Government with local
partners, including the City of Helsinki, the Chemical Industry
Federation of Finland, and the University of Helsinki.

4-5 June 2020 location: Helsinki, Finland

42nd Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG-42) of the
Parties to the Montreal Protocol:

OEWG-42 will convene to prepare for the next Meeting of the Parties.
dates: 13-17 July 2020
location: Montreal, Canada www:

Sixteenth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review

The POPRC will review the possible listing of hazardous chemicals
under the various annexes of the Stockholm Convention.
dates: 14-18 September 2020
location: Rome, Italy www:

Sixteenth Meeting of the CRC: The CRC will review
the possible listing of chemicals in the Rotterdam Convention.
dates: 8-11 September 2020
location: Rome, Italy
email: www:

For additional meetings, see

Further information