Environmental Risk Management
As the production, trade and use of chemicals increases worldwide so too does concern about their harmful effects. In an effort to limit these risks to human health and the environment, United Nations and EU have been developed various regulations.
The Netherlands is a signatory to a number of international conventions and actively contributes to UN Conventions and EU regulation on limiting the effects of hazardous substances. An important part of the process is establishing synergy and preventing overlap between the various conventions.
The Netherlands is a signatory to the Rotterdam Convention which is a legally binding obligation to implement the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure for certain hazardous chemicals. The Convention bans or severely restricts the use of certain pesticides and industrial chemicals. The Netherlands is contributing to the secretariat to the Convention and is actively working to stimulate compliance with the provisions of the Convention.
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) concerns non-degradable chemicals of serious risk to man and the environment that accumulate in the food chain. Currently, the Convention has banned production worldwide of eight pesticides, and supports developing countries in meeting this obligation. The EU and the Netherlands as a Member State are working to extend the list of banned chemicals and so to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development goals.
The Convention is closely allied with the Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution.
The Helsinki Convention on Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents
This Convention includes 40 companies in the Netherlands. In 2010, the Netherlands was chairman of the Convention and is working in cooperation with neighbouring countries to implement the provisions of the Convention.
Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)
The Netherlands strives for political commitment to this policy framework developed by the United Nations Environment Programme to promote chemical safety worldwide. The goal is to manage chemicals throughout their life cycle and is directed to minimising adverse impacts on human health and the environment. The Netherlands wants the EU to play a leading role in implementing the SAICM Global Plan of Action.
The Netherlands supports the EU in a call for a global convention on mercury, a highly toxic metal causing large-scale pollution of forests and water resources, and irreversible health problems. To reduce the risks posed by mercury pollution, the EU has established directives and regulations.
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety concerns the international trade and transport of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Although not yet ratified by the major exporting countries and negotiations are ongoing about the global legal liability for damage to biodiversity, the protocol is in line with EU directive on environmental liability. The Netherlands is actively contributing to this process and to capacity building. EU has regulations on GMOs, however, the Netherlands considers the decision to grow GMOs should be made by the Member States themselves.
In addition to the Global Agreements, the EU has various directives that contribute to reducing environmental risks. The most significant are the REACH regulations (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances). The Netherlands has been proactive in the Committee in preparing and evaluating the REACH regulations. The Netherlands has played an active role in developing the directive on fireworks which incorporates the safety and sale of fireworks in the European Union.
In addition, the Netherlands has participated in the preparation of the Seveso II directive to reduce the risk of major accidents with hazardous substances in companies by preventing and limiting the consequences of such accidents.