Yussif Ibrahim/Florence Afriyie Mensah, GNA
Kumasi, Sept. 5, GNA – The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), has launched the Initial Assessment Report of the Minamata Convention in Accra, setting the tone for national discussions on mercury management in the country.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.
Ghana ratified the Convention, which focuses on ultimately phasing-out mercury and mercury-related or containing products from all sectors in August, 2017.
The Ministry launched the report in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the Sector Minister, said government was satisfied with the great effort put in by key stakeholders to ensure that the assessment was carried out successfully and in good time.
He said the Ministry was committed to provide adequate support for the implementation of the recommended actions identified saying “government will not relent in its effort to deal with illegalities in artisanal & small-scale gold mining, especially the use of mercury as this affects the environment”.
He said Ghana undertook the assessment to understand the existing institutional and legal frameworks on mercury management, sources of mercury releases, the gaps that needed to be filled, and actions required to ensure an effective implementation of the Convention.
Findings from the assessment, he said, identified the major mercury release sources in Ghana and these included gold extraction with mercury, mostly by artisanal small-scale gold miners.
Mr Frimpong-Boateng said communities close to water bodies and mining sites, patients, health professionals and people living close to health facilities that use mercury-added products were the most vulnerable in terms of risks of mercury exposure.
Mr Louis Kuukpen, Assistant Country Director of UNDP, called on leading national institutions to prioritize the implementation of these recommended actions to protect Ghanaians and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury exposure.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change call for the commitment of all stakeholders to ensure environmental sustainability” he said.
The UNDP, Mr Kuukpen said, was committed to partner governments and other development partners to work towards the realization of these global goals.