ACHIEVING a mercury-free Philippines is not a job for a single person or official but a shared responsibility of the government, private sector and civil society to include the general public.
This was what Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu emphasized during the launching of the country’s National Action Plan (NAP) for the total phase-out of mercury-containing products and wastes.
“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.
NAP was crafted under a project jointly implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
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.
NAP is a product of collaboration among 10 government agencies, and provides a detailed 5-year full implementation document of the activities and actions that the government will undertake.
According to Cimatu, NAP is a crucial and important document that will enable Philippines to successfully carry out the elimination of mercury from consumer products and other materials used in industries that greatly reduce the risk to human exposure and contamination of the environment.
“The completion of the NAP likewise increases confidence in the country’s readiness for the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury,” Cimatu pointed out.
In 2013, the Philippines was one of the 128 countries that signed the Minamata convention, which regulates the use and trade of mercury.