Mercury: From Inventories to Priorities to Action

Using various tools adapted to the specific needs of our clients, the mercury team of UNITAR’s Chemicals and Waste Management Programme (CWM) is offering targeted assistance to developing countries in their efforts to ratify and prepare for implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. This is done in close cooperation with our partners, including the UN Development Programme, UN Environment and the UN Industrial Development Organization.

The first step in any meaningful strategy to tackle this toxic element is to understand the specific challenges faced by each country. CWM is therefore successfully supporting governments and other stakeholders with training on the use of UN Environment’s mercury inventory toolkit. In recent months, CWM has delivered this service through a range of activities as part of the Minamata Initial Assessments, including workshops, the interactive Mercury:Learn training course, a dedicated webinar, and individual expert review of draft inventories.

For example, in November 2016, CWM conducted face-to-face training workshops in Guinea and Mauritania. Representatives from key ministries, industry and civil society took an active role in the workshops, which focused on practical application of the mercury inventory toolkit. The participants learned about the various source categories of mercury emissions and releases, how to interpret and where to find data for each sector, and how to use the toolkit template. As a result, a wide range of stakeholders in Guinea and Mauritania are now able to identify their most important sources of mercury pollution; for example, batteries containing mercury, and the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. This allows them to set priorities for action and to develop concrete intervention strategies, informed by legal and institutional reviews which UNITAR is also supporting.

Equipped with the necessary knowledge and strategies to implement the Minamata Convention successfully, and with ongoing support available from UNITAR, the countries will be well-positioned to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.