The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Samura M. W. Kamara has reaffirmed to World Leaders the country’s preparedness to work within the framework of a solid partnership intended to build a toxic free future, where dangerous chemicals are no longer produced, used or released on their sovereign terrains.
The aim of this conference which attracted over 170 countries, 1,400 participants and 70 Ministers of various governments is for participating countries to adopt sound management of chemicals and wastes and to ensure that the environment and human health are protected.
|Minister of Foreign Affairs during the exhibition ceremony
Dr. Samura Kamara in his address to delegates of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions held in Switzerland in April this year said the theme of this year’s high-level meeting: “A future detoxified: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste” is indispensable to the effective and healthy management of the world’s environment.
The challenges associated with chemicals and waste he underscored are enormous and harder for countries like Sierra Leone that lack resources, new to the Conventions and have no prior experience of implementation, compliance and reporting.
The Foreign Affairs Minister further reminded delegates that the Vision of Government by 2035 is that Sierra Leone aspires to be an inclusive, green, middle-income country by putting in place an effective environmental management system that protects our biodiversity and is capable of pre-empting environmental disasters.
‘The broad aim of these conventions is consistent with the policy agenda and development aspirations of our Government with regards to building a detoxified future’ he added.
Sierra Leone the Minister maintained is willing and ready to work with all partners and other stakeholders in the domestication and implementation of the Minamata, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions. This he said will enable Sierra Leone to create the appropriate legal environment at the national level to influence the formulation of a national strategy and the required policy actions for the management of chemicals and waste. With the support of the Global Environment Facility and its Agencies Dr. Kamara said, Sierra Leone is currently drafting several legislative instruments geared towards the effective management of chemicals and waste with the aim of protecting human health and the environment.
The country he said is currently engaged in policy actions to continue to demonstrate commitment to the objectives of the three Conventions including stocktaking exercises on several chemicals listed within the Stockholm Convention with a view to updating National Implementation Plan; conducting baseline estimate studies on mercury and its compounds; conducting inventory on obsolete pesticides; developing a National Action Plan (NAP) for the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector and improving Medical Waste management; and raising the bar in keeping its citizens informed on the dangers of poor management of chemicals and waste.
Government is therefore “developing national regulatory frameworks to contain pollution and other environmentally harmful activities from the use of hazardous chemicals and waste”. Our government maintains that environmental protection and development are inseparable and looking after one does not and should not exclude the other, he concluded.
It could be recalled that Sierra Leone ratified the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (SC) on 26 September 2003; the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (BC) on 1 November 2016; and the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (RC) on 1 November 2016.
Sierra Leone was warmly welcomed as new a member to the BC and RC at the opening plenary session in late April 2017.
At the end of this convention member countries are expected to roll out the implementation of these conventions through Ratification and Domestication. In Sierra Leone it is expected that the EPA will take the lead in the implementation of the policy actions.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.