By Aisha Tamba
The National Environment Agency in collaboration with partners Tuesday organised an inception workshop to develop its capacity on the implementation of the Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), at a local hotel in Bijilo.It was in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, and the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP.
It was also designed to scrutinise and discuss the project activities and stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities during its implementation.
The Minster of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Lamin B Dibba, said the government in partnership with development partners such as UNEP, were implementing this important project as part of the implementation of the Multilateral Environment Agreements such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
“The Basel Convention on control of Trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal; The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure on International Trade in Hazardous Chemicals; The Minamata Convention on Mercury and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). All the aforementioned Conventions have the common objective of protection of human health and the environment.”
Accoding to him, the government of The Gambia attaches high priority to reducing chemical pollutions and to promoting sound management of chemicals and associated wastes.
He said: “The Gambia had been working closely with international partners on the implementation of the chemicals Conventions, which it considered crucial to further strengthening international commitment on the reduction of chemicals exposure.
“Aware of the health concerns resulting to local exposure to chemicals especially Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), and in particular impact upon women and through them, upon future generations and considering a community with a low level of awareness, The Gambia has recognise the urgent need to take steps towards the development of an institutional framework for the sound management of chemicals to support a rapidly growing industrial and agricultural sector,” he disclosed.
The Director General of NEA, Momodou Jama Suwareh, said that chemicals are important determinants for sustainable development, sound environmental health and quality of life.
He stated: “While the use of chemicals in all human activities (e.g. agriculture, health, energy production, manufacture, services and residential) contributes to improving the quality of life, it also raises concerns about its harmful effects on workers, consumers, the environment and society at large through exposure.”
Director Suwareh said the ‘Stockholm Convention’ is a legally binding international instrument, designed to lead to gradual decrease of the presence of persistent organic pollutants in the environment.
“The Gambia is a party to the Stockholm Convention,” he explained. “Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are toxic chemicals that adversely affect human health and the environment around the world. Because they can be transported by wind and water, most POPs generated in one country can and do affect people and wildlife far from where they are used and released. They persist for long periods of time in the environment and can accumulate and pass from one species to the next through the food chains.