Agricultural pesticides (i11)

  •  30/11/2023
  • objective 
  •  assessment 

In 2021, the index of harmonised risk in Belgium was 47 (average 2011-2013 = 100). To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must be reduced to 24. This objective will not be reached by continuing the trend since 2011-2013 (data available in November 2023). The index of harmonised risk is therefore developing unfavourably.

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Agricultural pesticides - Belgium - trend assessment

index, average 2011-2013 = 100

trend and extrapolation (November 2023)--117.192.758.752.838.229.8

Eurostat (2023), Harmonised risk indicator 1 for pesticides by categorisation of active substances [aei_hri], (consulted on 22/09/2023).

Agricultural pesticides - Belgium and international comparison

index, average 2011-2013 = 100

//: Average Growth Rates

Eurostat (2023), Harmonised risk indicator 1 for pesticides by categorisation of active substances [aei_hri], (consulted on 22/09/2023).

Definition: agricultural pesticides are chemical substances that are mainly used in agriculture to destroy organisms that are harmful to crops, such as fungi, insects, bacteria and plants. The harmonised risk indicator is based on the quantity of active substances contained in plant protection products placed on the market. These quantities are multiplied by risk weighting factors for different groups of active substances, as categorized in the EU Directive 2019/782 (Official Journal of the European Union, 16/05/2019). The weighting factors reflect the intrinsic hazard of the active substances. This indicator does, however, not take into account the quantities used of each plant protection product. The indicator is presented as an index relative to the average results of the period 2011-2013 (average 2011-2013 = 100). The data come from Eurostat.

Goal: the harmonised risk indicator must must be reduced to 24 by 2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 2.4: "By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality".

The Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity of December 2022 has adopted new goals in the Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework among which "Reduce pollution risks and the negative impact of pollution from all sources, by 2030, to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, considering cumulative effects, including: […] reducing the overall risk from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals by at least half including through integrated pest management" (target 7; CBD, 2022). As the decade covered by this Framework is 2020-2030, 2020 is considered as the reference year and on this basis this indicator must be reduced to 24 by 2030.

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development includes objective 28: "The environmental and social impact of our food production and consumption patterns will be significantly reduced" (Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

For the European Union, the European Commission's Farm to Fork Strategy announces that "the Commission will take additional action to reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50% by 2030" (COM/2020/381 final; Official Journal of the European Union, 20/05/2020).

International comparison: as in Belgium, the harmonised risk indicator decreases steadily in the EU27, from 108 in 2011 to 62 in 2021 (from 102 to 47 in Belgium). When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with the best performance in 2021. In that year, Romania ranked first with 32 and Estonia last with 140.

UN indicator: the selected indicator does not correspond to any monitoring indicator for the SDGs but is related to target 2.4, since reducing the use of dangerous pesticides helps to maintain ecosystems.


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