Activities on Mercury

Mercury has been identified by the international community as a global chemical of concern. In 2002, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in cooperation with the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) developed the Global Mercury Assessment (GMA), indicating that mercury is a persistent chemical which cycles globally with serious health effects to humans and the environment. The GMA also pointed out that mercury-related problems are most challenging to developing countries.

In this context UNITAR initiated activities related to mercury in 2007, to assist countries in developing national strategies to reduce emissions and manage risks caused by mercury. An important aspect is the systematic collection of information concerning emissions from point (e.g. power plants) and diffuse sources (e.g. landfills, mercury containing products). Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR), are an important tool that can assist countries in identifying and reporting emissions and transfers of mercury on a sustained basis. Knowledge of mercury emission patterns and their magnitudes can afterwards serve as a sound basis for targeting national reductions in mercury emissions through a national risk reduction strategy.

UNITAR's activities are in general closely related to UNITAR's long standing PRTR and Risk Management Decision Making specialized training and capacity building programmes. Activities in this area take place through a country-driven and multi-stakeholder approach in collaboration with relevant international agencies, such as UNEP.

UNITAR's Assistance to Countries

UNITAR provides technical support for national project activities, including training activities and provision of guidance materials. UNITAR provides:

  • International expertise and training to strengthen skills to develop mercury inventories
  • Training to strengthen capacities on and risk management decision-making
  • Training to strengthen capacities on PRTR development and implementation
  • Provision of guidance and training materials in support of national mercury implementation activities, such as the following: “Integrating Mercury Pollution Information into a National PRTR System: Institutional and Other Strategic Considerations”; “Developing a Risk Management Plan for a Priority Chemical”; “Linkages between Mercury Product Information and Mercury Emissions Note”; and “Mercury National Situation Analysis and Capacity Assessment Document”
  • Other country-specific activities designed to address particular point sources (e.g. a planned project to address a mercury point source in Kyrgyzstan, with the support of the Government of Switzerland).

Application Opportunities

UNITAR would be pleased to assist additional countries in implementing national projects to develop mercury emission inventories, integrate the inventories within national PRTR systems and develop and national risk management plans for mercury. Interested countries are requested to contact UNITAR (see contacts below).

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