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Forum held on persistent organic pollutants

Dec 5, 2014, 10:43 AM | Article By: Yai Dibba

The Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Water Resources, Park and Wildlife, Pa Ousman Jarjue, has said environmental protection was not the duty of the government alone but everyone must demonstrate their commitment and take active role in it.

He said The Gambia Government, in partnership with development partners such as GEF and UNEP, is implementing this important project as part of the implementation of the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

The environment minister was speaking at a workshop organised by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on the National Inception Forum on the review to update the implementation plan for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in The Gambia.

The forum was held to map out strategies of implementation and identify roles and responsibilities for different stakeholders.

He said the Gambia ratified the Stockholm Convention in June 2003, adding that environmental protection through sound management of chemicals is not government duty alone but for all.

The Gambia was aware of the health concerns resulting to local exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants, the impact it would have upon women, future generation and the community considering the low level of awareness, he said.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are toxic chemicals that adversely affect human health and the environment around the world, he said.

Minister Jarju explained that The Gambia has recognised the need and over the years taken courageous steps towards the development of an institutional framework for the sound management of chemicals support a rapidly growing industrial and agricultural sector.

To meet her obligations under the Convention, he said, The Gambia had to prepare a National Implementation Plan that would outline the situation of POPs in The Gambia and develop a plan to meet the requirements of the Convention.

The goal of the National Implementation Plan (NIP) is an updating exercise to protect human health and environment from the risks posed by the unsound use, management and releases of persistent organic pollutants.

He said the main objective of the project was to comply with article 7 of the Stockholm Convention by updating the National Implementation Plan.

The updating of the profile would derive a lot from the civil society and the NGOs’ input, he said.

Public participation was critical in addressing the new POPs and their health and environmental effects and in developing adequate responses, which respond to their situation and circumstances, including opportunities for providing input at the national level regarding implementation of the convention.

The Minister maintained that consulting with communities regarding the impacts, alternatives, social risks and growing stakeholder involvement associated with persistent organic pollutants could enhance opportunities for providing relevant input at national level.

Recognizing the importance of stakeholder participation, the national inception forum was held to map out strategies of implementation and identify roles and responsibility for different stakeholders.

He said to make an effective and successful NIP, a wide range of stakeholders must be involved and engaged in the process.

The executive director of NEA, Ndey Bakurin, said the NEA was mindful of the significance of inclusive and integrative partnership and linkages with other sectoral players in addressing environmental issues of national concerns.

The cooperation of all stakeholders is being solicited for the success of the project, she said, adding that through this type of cooperation several goals could be achieved, such as capacity-building, environmental awareness raising, exchange of ideas and experiences and information about persistent organic pollutants and chemical management.

The Government of The Gambia has ratified many International and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) such as Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), and the Montreal Protocol as well as the sub-regional protocols as her commitment in the global efforts for the sound management of the environment, Mrs Bakurin stated.