DENR action plan launched for mercury phaseout
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) led the recent launch of the country’s National Action Plan (NAP) for the phaseout of mercury-containing products and wastes.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has pointed out that making the Philippines a mercury-free country is a shared responsibility of the government, private sector, civil society and the general public.

“Each of us has a role to play, and with the Philippines’ upcoming ratification of the Minamata Convention, it is incumbent upon us to properly manage mercury and its wastes in an environmentally sound manner,” Cimatu said.

The Minamata Convention is the world’s first legally binding treaty to phase out mercury, a highly toxic substance that poses threats to the environment and human health.

The NAP was crafted under a project jointly implemented by the DENR and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Funded by the Swiss government, the project also assisted the Philippine government in the management of mercury-containing products with a life cycle approach in accordance with the Minamata and Basel Conventions.

“The NAP is a crucial and important document that will enable us to successfully carry out the elimination of mercury from consumer products and other materials utilized in the industry, greatly reducing the risk to human exposure and contamination of the environment,” Cimatu said.

The NAP is a product of collaboration among 10 government agencies, and provides a detailed five-year full implementation document of the activities and actions that the government will undertake.

“The completion of the NAP likewise increases confidence in the country’s readiness for the implementation of the Minamata Convention on mercury,” Cimatu noted.

In 2013, the Philippines was one of 128 countries that signed the Minamata Convention, which regulates the use and trade of mercury.

The convention is named after the Japanese city where industrial emissions of the toxic substance caused a poisoning disease affecting thousands of people in the 1950s.

The Senate has yet to ratify the convention, which entered into force in August 2017.

Cimatu said that the DENR has “spearheaded the ratification process in consultation with the relevant government agencies and stakeholders.”

He also revealed that the ratification document has already been endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Office of the President.

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