By MUHAMMED S. BAH
National Assembly members on Wednesday, 5 October 2016, ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The motion was tabled by Pa Ousman Jarju, Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources and seconded by Hon Haddy Nyang Jagne, National Assembly Member for Jeshwang.
Presenting the motion before law makers, the environment minister noted that the Convention was signed and adopted by the Gambia in October 2013, adding that it seeks to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
“For this reason, in 2001, the governing council of UNEP invited the Executive Director of UNEP to undertake a global assessment of mercury and its compound. In 2003, the governing council considered this assessment and found that there was sufficient evidence of significant global adverse impacts from mercury and its compound to warrant further international action to reduce the risks to human health and the environment from the release of mercury and its compounds to environment,” said the Environment Minister.
He further told the deputies that the Convention was ratified by 32 countries, and Gambia becomes the 33rdcountry to ratify it.
Mr. Jajru said the Minamata Convention on Mercury will come into full effect if 50 parties ratified it.
“Mercury is extremely harmful given its persistence, its mobility in the atmosphere, its ability to form organic compounds and to bio accumulate in living organism. Mercury causes damage to health and permanent changes in the nervous system particularly in pairing the developing nervous system, among many others,” he said.
Dilating on the impact of the mercury use, the environment minister said it will have a positive impact, especially on poor populations, but said the financial disadvantage affects mainly women and children by this impact.
He told law makers that addressing the environmental and health hazards associated with mercury is therefore crucial to ensure that hard won development gains are not compromised.
“Financial Mechanism of the Minamata Convention on mercury upon entry into force and its decision, inter alia: Authorised the use of up to 10 million for the funding of an early action pre-ratification programme for the Minamata convention on Mercury to be programmed during the remainder of GEF-5, upon request by eligible signatory countries,” he said.