The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a ten-year strategic plan and a communication strategy for the sound management of chemicals and waste in the country.
The two documents were launched alongside a national action plan on Artisanal Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM), with the aim of addressing the global climate crisis and contributing to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The first document dubbed, “Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste (SMCW) in Ghana Strategic Plan (2021-2030),” has been designed to strengthen national capacity to manage chemicals and waste throughout the lifecycle in a sound manner.
This is targeted to meet the country’s relevant commitments to international climate agreements and minimise the risks to human health and the environment.
Relatedly, the communication strategy for the SMCW has been developed to ensure the effective implementation of the 10-year strategic plan on SMCW. The strategy supports engagement participation and awareness creation targeted at mobilising stakeholders to achieve the SDGs related to the environment.
On the other hand, the National Action Plan to Reduce and Where Feasible, Eliminate Mercury Use in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining in Ghana,” was prepared in partial fulfilment of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The three documents were launched in Accra last Tuesday by the EPA, with the assurance to enforce the needed regulations for the sound use of chemicals in the country.
The Director, Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Lydia Essuah, launched the documents on behalf of the sector minister, Dr Kwaku Afriyie.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights, Marcos Orellana, was present at the ceremony which was also attended by other stakeholders in the science and environment space.
The minister said the launch of the documents was a key milestone in the country’s quest to soundly manage chemicals and protect the environment from destruction.
He said Ghana remained committed to the implementation of all chemicals and waste-related multi-lateral environmental agreements such as the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata conventions, as well as the strategic approach to international chemical management (SAICM).
Dr Afriyie observed that the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution threatened the stability of the global ecosystem upon which humanity depended.
Mr Orellana said the launch of the documents was timely as it would help the country to soundly manage chemicals whose usage contributed to environmental destruction.
Particularly, he said the national action plan on use of chemicals in the small-scale mining sector was crucial because small-scale gold mining was the largest source of emission of mercury to the environment.
"Mercury is an extremely hazardous chemical that can cross the human placenta that is persistent, it does not go away, it cannot go away; it cannot be washed away; it needs immediate action today. Every day that it passes without immediate adequate control of emissions of mercury to the environment is another day of human rights infringements and risk," he stressed.