1-2 September 2016, Freetown, Sierra Leone – The Environmental Protection Agency of Sierra Leone (EPA-SL) officially launched the Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) and National Action Plan (NAP) projects, with support from UNITAR as an executing agency.
Mercury is a global threat to human health and the environment. The Minamata Convention on Mercury was adopted on 10 October 2013 at a Diplomatic Conference held in Kumamoto, Japan, as a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
After signing the Convention on 12 August 2014, Sierra Leone has swiftly proceeded to undertake meaningful steps towards the reduction of mercury emissions and releases, by promoting best practices in operations using mercury. One of the first stages of the project included the organization of an inception workshop. The inception workshop was hosted by the EPA-SL and was supported by UNITAR’s Chemicals and Waste Management programme.
The two-day inception workshop was designed to raise awareness among policy makers and the general public on the threats of mercury, and to mobilize the required infrastructure and support for national action. The workshop was officially opened by Ms. Haddijatou Jallow, Executive Chairperson of the EPA-SL and was chaired Ms. Dr. Nana Pratt, a renowned national chemist.
The Workshop was attended by representatives (eighty in total) from parliament, government, industry, academia, NGOs and Civil Society, community leaders, Artisanal Small Scale Gold Miners, and others. In addition, the workshop had extensive press coverage (both print and electronic), which will help to communicate the message domestically.
The overall objective of the MIA and the NAP is to support Sierra Leone with the Ratification and Early Implementation of the Minamata Convention. Under the MIA project, the national mercury profile will be developed. The MIA profile will form the basis for the future measures and policy interventions required by Sierra Leone to implement the Convention. Based on the MIA Profile, the NAP will outline specific targets and objectives for the reduction of mercury used at the national level within the ASGM sector. The sector has been identified at the national level as Sierra Leone’s priority area in mercury control, and the country has notified the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention that the ASGM sector is “more than insignificant” (as per the language of the Convention).
The outcomes of the meeting were: the establishment a National Coordination Mechanism (NCM) and Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG); endorsement of the operational terms of reference of the NCM and SAG; and greater awareness on Minamata Convention by all stakeholders.
The project is funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme.
Photo 1: Group Photo, EPA-SL officially launches the MIA and NAP projects in Freetown, Sierra Leone
Photo 2 - UNITAR’s representatives meet with Ms. Jallow, Executive Chairperson of EPA