The inaugural Gender Water & Development Conference with the theme “The Untapped Connection” took place In East London South Africa from 3-7 November 2014. The Water Research Commission of South Africa, in partnership with the Department of Water Affairs of South Africa, AMCOW, SADC and the Women for Water Partnership, were hosting the conference. More than 320 delegates from 30 countries attended.
AWHHE case was presented during the session “Women: Agents of Change Implementing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation”. This session demonstrated how women’s civil society combines water and gender to effectively contribute to the development of their communities and countries. It showed the added value of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation as a means to accelerate the social en economic empowerment of women and to tackle poverty at the root. It in particular addressed the challenges that women’s organizations face in their work, with the aim to contribute to a transformative, women inclusive development agenda.
Ms. Nomvula Mokonyane, the Minister of Water and Sanitation of South Africa and member organizations of Women for Water Partnership
On October 24, 2014 Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment” NGO participated in “Minamata Convention Initial Assessment of Armenia” project inception workshop representing the civil society organization in SAICM national committee.
The workshop was opened by the Minister of Nature protection of Armenia Aramais Grigoryan.
Head of Hazardous Substances and Waste Policy Division, Dr. Anahit Aleksandryan made a presentation on Overview of Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The AWHHE representative Qnarik Grigoryan made a presentation “Towards mercury-free production” on assessment of mercury in the environment.
EU and FAO partnership project
“Improved pesticides and chemicals management in the Former Soviet Union”
From 17 to 21 of March 2014, the FAO/EU partnership project on “Improved pesticides and chemicals management in the Former Soviet Union” held a training on awareness raising and communication in Chisinau, Moldova.
The course brought together representatives of national NGOs and press officers from the Ministries of Agriculture and Ministries of Environment from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine to work jointly on developing communication and awareness raising strategies following their countries’ priorities as defined in the FAO/EU partnership project.
The training was aiming to strengthen the capacity of specialists to contribute to the reduction of risks to public health and the environment from pesticides. The issue on awareness with regard to exposure to hazardous pesticides of vulnerable groups in agriculture will be one of the curtail points in the agenda of the training. In addition, special attention was dedicated to the need to strengthen data collection at field level on the use of pesticides and related poisoning incidents in order to create awareness among and a link to decision-making institutes at the national level, such as pesticide registrars.
The project is covering twelve countries in the European Neighborhood, Central Asian and Russian Federation regions and co-funded by the EC Europe Aid with technical implementation by FAO in partnership with a range of development partners including international NGOs (Blacksmith Institute, Green Cross Belarus and Switzerland, Milieukontakt International, Pesticide Action Network UK, and the International HCH and Pesticide Association) and the Secretariat of the Rotterdam Convention.
The European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization have invested €7 million to assist these countries and to foster an environment of cooperation and capacity development to eliminate the risks from obsolete and POPs pesticides and to develop a more sustainable agriculture in the future. It is estimated that over 200,000 metric tons of these hazardous chemicals exist in the region and a concerted international effort is needed now to prevent contamination of water and soil used for production of food.
FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE 134 EB (January 2014)
Public health impacts of exposure to mercury and mercury compounds: the role of WHO and ministries of public health in the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury
Sponsored by Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, United States, Switzerland and Uruguay
The Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly,
PP1 Recalling WHA Resolutions WHA60.17 on Oral Health: Action Plan for Promotion and Integrated Disease Prevention, WHA63.25 on Improvement of Health and Environmentally Sound Waste Management, WHA59.15 on the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), and the Strategy for strengthening the engagement of the health sector in the implementation of the Strategic Approach adopted by the International Conference on Chemicals Management at its third session,
PP2 Recognizing the importance to deal effectively with the health aspects of the challenges that chemicals and wastes may pose, including mercury, particularly to vulnerable populations, especially women, children, and, through them, future generations,
PP3 Recalling the renewed commitments on sustainable development set in the U.N. Rio + 20 Summit outcome “The Future We Want”, of June 2012, as well as the Adelaide Declaration on Health in All Policies 2010, and the 8th World Conference on Health Promotion in Finland 2013, which promotes intersectoral collaboration of all sectors to achieve healthy populations.
PP4 Taking note that negotiations on the text of a new multilateral environmental agreement on mercury have been concluded in October 2013 with the adoption of the Minamata Convention on Mercury (Minamata Convention), being the first time a specific article on health aspects has been included, as well as other relevant provisions, and that the Minamata Convention places certain obligations on State Parties that will require action, as applicable, by the health sector, together with other competent sectors, including the phase-out of mercury thermometers and sphygmomanometers, the phase-out of mercury-containing cosmetics including skin lightening soaps and creams, the phase-out of mercury-containing topical antiseptics, measures to be taken to phase-down mercury-added dental amalgam, and the development of public health strategies on the exposure of artisanal and small-scale gold miners and their communities to mercury,
PP5 Recalling that the objective of the Minamata Convention on Mercury is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds,
PP6 Having in mind that the Minamata Convention encourages Parties to (a) promote the development and implementation of strategies and programmes to identify and protect populations at risk, particularly vulnerable populations, and which may include adopting science-based health guidelines relating to the exposure to mercury and mercury compounds, setting targets for mercury exposure reduction, where appropriate, and public education, with the participation of public health and other involved sectors; (b) promote the development and implementation of science-based educational and preventive programmes on occupational exposure to mercury and mercury compounds; (c) promote appropriate health-care services for prevention, treatment and care for populations affected by the exposure to mercury or mercury compounds; and (d) establish and strengthen, as appropriate, the institutional and health professional capacities for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of health risks related to the exposure to mercury and mercury compounds,
PP7 Noting that the Minamata Convention states that the Conference of the Parties in considering health-related activities, should consult, collaborate and promote cooperation and exchange of information with the WHO, ILO and other relevant intergovernmental organizations, as appropriate,
PP8 Thanking the preparatory work of WHO, during the negotiations, analyzing different risks and available substitutes, as well as analysis and identification of areas requiring additional or new effort, under the treaty obligations, and encouraging further and continuous analysis and other efforts as may be needed,
OP1 WELCOMES the formal adoption by States of the Minamata Convention in October 2013,
OP2 ENCOURAGES Member States :
(1)to take the necessary domestic measures to promptly sign, ratify and implement the Minamata Convention,which sets internationally legally binding measures to address the risks of mercury and mercury compounds on human health and the environment;
(2)to actively participate in national, regional and international efforts to implement the Minamata Convention;
(3) to address the health aspects of exposure to mercury and mercury compounds, in the context of the health sector uses, and also on the other negative health impacts that should be prevented or treated, by ensuring the sound management of mercury and mercury compounds throughout their lifecycle.
(4) to recognize the interrelation between the environment and public health in the context of the Minamata Convention implementation and sustainable development.
(5) to promote appropriate health-care services for prevention, treatment and care for populations affected by the exposure to mercury or mercury compounds, including national fish consumption advisories and effective risk communication strategies.
(6) to ensure close cooperation between health ministries and ministries of environment, as well as labor, industry, economy, agriculture and other ministries responsible for the implementation of aspects of the Minamata Convention.
(7) to facilitate the exchange of epidemiological information concerning health impacts associated with exposure to mercury and mercury compounds, in close cooperation with WHO and other relevant organizations, as appropriate.
OP3 REQUESTS the Director-General:
- To facilitate WHO´s efforts to provide advice and support to Member States to assist them towards the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, in all health aspects related to mercury consistent with WHO´s programme of work, in order to promote and protect human health.
- To assist Member States to develop and implement strategies and programmes to identify and protect populations at risk, particularly vulnerable populations, and which may include adopting science-based health guidelines relating to the exposure of mercury and mercury compounds, setting targets for mercury exposure reduction, where appropriate, and public education, with the participation of health and other involved sectors.
- To cooperate closely with the Minamata Convention Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, the Conference of the Parties and other international organizations and bodies, mainly UNEP, to fully support the implementation of health-related aspects of the Minamata Convention and to provide information to the Committee and Conference of the Parties on the progress made in this regard.