Regional reps discuss Convention on mercury control

NUKU’ALOFA – February 23: 4.10pm (MEIDECC): The Mercury Initial Assessment (MIA) Regional Inception Workshop was officially opened on Thursday 23rd of February 2017 by Ms Lupe Matoto, Acting CEO of the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) held at the Department of Environment Conference room.

Ms Matoto in her opening remarks welcomed the participants and wished the participants a fruitful discussion in the coming days.

Regional reps at the meeting this morning

The MIA Regional Inception Workshop was held to initiate the Regional Project titled “Development of Minamata Convention Mercury Initial Assessment in Pacific,” which is implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and executed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with 5 (five) participating countries namely Cook Islands, Kiribati, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu.  The Project will end in 2018.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.

It was agreed at the Fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on mercury in Geneva, Switzerland on January 19, 2013 and adopted later that year on October 10, 2013 at a Diplomatic Conference (Conference of Plenipotentiaries), held in Kumamoto, Japan.

    Tonga’s Ms Mafile’o Masi at the meeting with other regional reps

The Convention draws attention to a global and ubiquitous metal that, while naturally occurring, has broad uses in everyday objects and is released to the atmosphere, soil and water from a variety of sources. Controlling the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle has been a key factor in shaping the obligations under the Convention.

Major highlights of the Minamata Convention include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones, the phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and processes, control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water, and the regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining. The Convention also addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal once it becomes waste, sites contaminated by mercury as well as health issues.

SPREP’s Dr Frank Griffith said the objective of the Project focuses on the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention by the use of scientific and technical knowledge and tools by national stakeholders in participating countries.

In addition to representatives from the participating countries, Papua New Guinea and Australia also participated as observers at today’s workshop.

Regional reps at the meeting this morning

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