With the subtitle “Minamata Convention: 5 years since ratification” and organized within the Specific International Programme project in Moldova, the workshop was held on 19-20 September.
In partnership with the secretariat of the Minamata Convention, the regional workshop “Enhancing environmental response to address and reduce risks associated with mercury and building institutional capacities in the Central and South Eastern Europe” brought together in Chișinău representatives of parties to the Convention such as Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, as well as experts and other stakeholders.
For two days the participants shared experiences in the ratification and implementation of the Convention in the region, discussed the management of metallic mercury, waste registration and reporting, waste trafficking, regional and international cooperation in the field, challenges and opportunities, as well as exchanged best practices and lessons learned.
In a video message, Executive Secretary of the Minamata Convention Monika Stankiewicz congratulated Moldova for being an outstanding partner to work with since the beginning of their Specific International Programme (SIP) project, underlining that “we are witnessing first-hand the importance of the SIP in facilitating capacity-building and technical assistance to support the implementation of the Convention, and I believe that by the end of this workshop you will agree with me on the value of this small but powerful project in supporting not only Moldova, but also the other parties to the Convention in the region, in implementing their Convention obligations."
Secretary General of the Moldovan Ministry of Environment Igor Pșenicinii highlighted that "since the ratification of the Convention five years ago, we have advanced in the effort to reduce mercury pollution sources. From 2022, the import of products containing mercury was banned. We are at the stage of creating the hazardous waste management infrastructure. Also, work is being done to improve the legal framework, so that it ensures a clean and healthy environment, without suffocating the economy."
The overall objective of the workshop was to increase the implementation of the Minamata Convention at national level, and to strengthen the regional response to new challenges, engaging in effective cross-border cooperation by promoting a common understanding. Next steps are to integrate these best experiences and lessons learned into regional context, strengthening the knowledge of the participants and exploring ways forward to enhance cooperation.
Claudia Dumitru participated in the opening as President of the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention (COP-5) and contributed to the discussions as representative of Romania. She stated that "this regional workshop confirms the involvement of the Parties from the CEE region in the application of the provisions of the Minamata Convention as the highest involvement. Participation in this event opens, for me, as COP-5 President, the series of representations in the intersessional process. I am confident that the negotiations for COP-5 will prepare the Parties for the 2023 meeting in the most constructive way possible.”
Senior Programme Manager Officer of the secretariat of the Minamata Convention Eisaku Toda represented the secretariat in the opening, delivering a presentation and participating on the second day in the press conference with members of the Moldovan government. He stated: "I am very impressed by the great efforts by three participating countries - Moldova, Montenegro and Romania - to establish domestic regulations compliant with all the obligations under the convention. I look forward to productive discussion, which may also be helpful for other countries in the region.”
In the closing remarks, Associate Expert of the secretariat of the Minamata Convention Maria Irene Rizzo said: "It is a great pleasure to see the Parties to the Minamata Convention in this region come together to exchange experiences and share information to enhance the implementation of the Convention. As part of the secretariat, I am proud to see first-hand the work that the Specific International Programme enables."
The workshop was organized within the second-round project of the Specific International Programme (SIP) titled “Support to post-ratification of the Minamata Convention to the Republic of Moldova by building phase down capacities and reducing risks associated with mercury”, whose objective is to promote adoption of a nationally consistent approach to phase down use of mercury containing products. In order to achieve this goal, the project focuses on activities such as developing measures and a regulatory framework, knowledge and technical capacity building for environmentally sound interim storage of mercury, and conducting awareness raising activities, among others.
Executive Secretary Monika Stankiewicz pointed out that “knowledge sharing is critical to the success of the SIP and I strongly encourage regional collaborations such as this and the sharing of lessons learnt and best practices to meet the challenges of reducing mercury pollution and risks. This can be of great benefit to partners in other ongoing SIP projects, future applicants to the SIP, and even non-parties who will realize that achieving full implementation of the Convention is completely feasible, practical, and beneficial – essential, really -- to your country and to our planet. By working together, we can help each other maximise our results, and together achieve the goal of making mercury history.”