United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

FAO Pesticide Registration Toolkit - better decision for better lives

Intergovernmental organization

    (http://www.fao.org/pesticide-registration-toolkit/en/) Pesticides play an important role in agriculture and in public health and by extension in eradicating hunger, food insecurity and improving farmers' and people’s livelihoods. However, pesticides are toxic chemicals and must be rigorously evaluated before they are allowed to be used in a country. Most pesticide regulatory authorities in developing countries do not have sufficient resources to do so, and pesticide use conditions tend to be more risky than in industrialized countries. In order to help pesticide registrars in low and middle income countries to make informed decisions about the acceptability of pesticides under local conditions, FAO has developed the Pesticide Registration Toolkit. The Toolkit is a web-based, interactive, multi-language registration handbook, intended for daily use by all those involved in pesticide registration. It helps authorities in countries with limited resources to make informed decisions on pesticide approvals, including technical, scientific and regulatory aspects related to risk assessment. The FAO Toolkit has now been on-line for almost four years, and more than 400 pesticide registration staff have been trained globally (for more than 71 countries) on its use. The Toolkit contents are regularly updated and new modules and tools are continuously under development. The layout of the Toolkit has recently been renewed resulting in a more responsive and user-friendly website.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    The Toolkit has been online since 2016 following extensive consultations and expert meetings in various areas (e.g. efficacy, aquatic risks, worker exposure, pollinator risks, etc). Further to English, it is available in French and Spanish since 2017 and it will also be launched in Russian and Arabic in 2021. The Toolkit is composed of various functional parts to help national pesticide registration staff carry out their regular tasks: ● Assess what data may be required for the evaluation of a specific type of pesticide for a particular purpose. These include chemical pesticides and biopesticides for agricultural and public health uses. ● Evaluate the technical aspects of the pesticide registration dossier submitted by the applicant, using broadly accepted methods or existing assessments from reputable registration authorities. ● Choose the appropriate pesticide registration strategy and procedures, depending on available local resources and priorities. ● Find pesticide-specific information, such as registrations in other countries, scientific reviews, hazard classifications, labels, MRLs and pesticide properties. ● Make their own decisions on whether to register a pesticide, depending on what decision criteria they use, and what risk mitigation measures to apply. As an on-line tool, the Toolkit is easily maintained and new information is added as it becomes available. In addition, technical content is also updated and enriched. In 2020, new modules were added on “registration criteria“ (i.e. criteria that are applied by countries when making a decision to register, or refuse registration, of a pesticide) and on the assessment of pesticide effects to soil organisms. While the Toolkit is an on-line handbook for self-use, FAO is also accompanying countries with the navigation of the Toolkit and most importantly with the relevant use of the information provided, so that countries can make better informed decisions. FAO has therefore been rolling out a training programme consisting of one-week national or regional workshops with all those interested in getting FAO assistance (subject to availability of FAO resources). In terms of resources utilized in the project, it has been a combination of financial inputs to both support the development of the Toolkit and ensure its regular update and maintenance. Funds from FAO, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Swedish Chemicals Agency and the Rotterdam Convention were pulled together to develop this project. In addition, in-kind support from countries and regional institutions are also of great contribution for Toolkit training sessions.


    FAO organizes regional and national training sessions on the Toolkit upon request by countries. To date, more than 400 pesticide registration officers in 70 countries have been trained to navigate the Toolkit and use it effectively. Collected feedback at the end of each training session on the Toolkit has been very positive. Suggestions made by trainees for new topics to be covered in the Toolkit are included, whenever feasible, in the updating programme. The main impact is that national authorities are better equipped to make informed decisions on how to evaluate a pesticide dossier and eventually to approve or reject a pesticide authorization. In addition, FAO and the Rotterdam Convention Secretariat are cooperating on this project. Many workshops and webinars have been jointly organized. The common objective is that Rotterdam Convention Parties, through use of the Toolkit, make improved notifications, including sound risk assessment, of their “final regulation actions” (to ban or severely restrict a pesticide because of human health or the environmental concern) that will eventually lead to listing the chemical in Annex III to the Convention. FAO is currently actively engaged in addressing Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs), an Emerging Issue of Concern under the SAICM. HHPs are a special topic of the Toolkit and this section has been used to raise awareness about HHPs and to support countries tackling this important issue.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    Among the main enabling factors to the Toolkit success: Adaptability: the Toolkit is adaptable to the resources available for pesticide evaluation in the local context. It is not a one size fit all manual Constant upgrading: being managed by FAO, the Toolkit benefits from a team of experts that are involved in all global dialogues and processes on topics related to sound management of pesticides. As such, new modules, tackling emerging problems, are constantly developed and existing modules upgraded. Continuous learning: participants to trainings join a community of practitioners that endure their learning process through exchanges of ideas and discussion of problems The main constraints encountered so far with the Toolkit are the need for a stable internet connection and the availability of funds to maintain the platform and offer trainings free of charge to member countries. Furthermore, successful implementation of the practices promoted in the Toolkit is highly dependent on national policy priorities. Countries in which the protection of human health and the environment, or promotion of sustainable agricultural production, are high on the agenda, also tend to take better environmentally sound decisions with respect to pest and pesticide management. In countries where this is not (yet) the case, national resources intended for sound decision making may be more limited, constraining effective implementation of the Toolkit in pesticide registration.

    Sustainability and replicability

    The Toolkit sustainability is based on several factors. Firstly, as it is managed by FAO and constantly updated with new modules and relevant information, it remains up to date and, as such, respondent to actual needs. Secondly, the Toolkit is accompanied by a community of practice (Toolkit Forum), so users can rely on constant feedback and support should they encounter any problems in its use. Finally, while training facilitates the use of the Toolkit and creates professional linkages by getting people together, the Toolkit is provided with videos and materials that can allow a potential user to familiarize with it independently. Moreover, FAO is working on developing e-learning modules that will facilitate even more self-learning on the Toolkit. Therefore, practices that are encouraged through the Toolkit in various ways are inherently made sustainable. The Toolkit replicability is also ensured by the nature of the practice itself. The Toolkit is first to be seen as a self-learning tool. In addition, FAO national and regional trainings on the Toolkit contribute to enhancing the practice and making it known and adopted more widely. Feedback from users at the end of training sessions has always been very successful and trainees have indicated they would communicate and “advertise” about the Toolkit to their work colleagues. One registrar in Morocco had indicated that he found the practice so useful to its daily work that he would ask all his staff to refer to it. So the replicability of the practice that contributes to making better decisions on pesticides in order to give access to nutritious, balanced and safe food and a better environment, and thus to supporting SDG3 (for good, healthy lives and promoting well-being) and SDG2 (for eradication of hunger), is ensured. In addition, action is underway to extend the practice more widely beyond agricultural pesticides and to cover public health pesticides ; and plans are developed to extend the practice to biological pesticides that present safer alternatives to chemical pesticides and that better ensure environment and biodiversity protection.

    Other sources of information

    ● Toolkit brochure in six languages: http://www.fao.org/3/ca3814en/ca3814en.pdf (in English) ● Videos: Introduction of the Toolkit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08TGG8AWD1o), other technical videos at : http://www.fao.org/pesticide-registration-toolkit/about/quick-start-gui… ● Summary of Toolkit training events: http://www.fao.org/pesticide-registration-toolkit/training/en/

    COVID-19 Impact

    The impact in terms of Covid 19 on the Toolkit activities has been determined by the limitation of travel and gathering. FAO is currently developing a training package for more on-line training to continue to facilitate and expand the practice. The Toolkit, as a web based tool, supported by its community of practise, has allowed the continuity of the registration processes in countries in time of Covid.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 January 2016 (start date)
    31 December 2030 (date of completion)
    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
    Other beneficiaries

    The Toolkit on Pesticide Registration was developed for the implementation of the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management (http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/agphome/documents/Pests_Pesticid…). Pesticide evaluation and registration is a key step in ensuring that pesticides used in a country are efficacious and do not pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. As such, the Toolkit is directly targeted at national authorities in charge of pesticide registration. These generally consist of representatives from the ministries of agriculture, environment and health, and also labour, industry and economic affairs. Their staff are the direct beneficiaries. One positive spill-over of the training sessions is that national/regional staff who attended the FAO training have reported to inform their colleagues about the usefulness of the Toolkit and more people are made aware of the Toolkit. The Toolkit also includes a discussion Forum restricted to regulators who want to exchange more about pesticide-related issues. Indirectly, the beneficiaries of the Toolkit are countless because pesticides have, since almost 100 years, become ubiquitous. Pesticides are applied by farmers and public health operators, and are present, as residues, in most food/feed and in the environment. Better informed decisions on pesticide authorizations have positive impacts on all of us and our environment, soil/land, water and air.

    More information
    United Republic of Tanzania
    United Republic of Tanzania
    Contact Information

    giulia, FAO Pesticide Registration Toolkit