Joel works at UNDP, coordinating activities in Ghana between his organization, the EPA, and UNITAR. He also supports other projects related to the Minamata Convention from the point of view of UNDP with other ministries. He participated in the joint inception workshop on the MIA and NAP for the artisanal small-scale gold miners in January 2017 and has been a part of the project management team.
From a systems point of view, Joel identified five key points as being the impact of the MIA Project, which UNITAR and UNDP support its execution.
- Increased national understanding on the need for mercury phase out to eliminate severe effects of mercury exposure on human health and the environment;
- Built a greater urgency for policy reform and to review the existing legal and institutional frameworks on mercury management in the country;
- Rose awareness and popularity of the Minamata Convention as well as clarified the responsibilities of individuals, institutions and private sector organizations;
- Supported national efforts to effectively coordinate activities geared towards the effective implementation of the Minamata Convention; and
- Bolstered the capacity of national personnel on how to do mercury inventory and write the Minamata Initial Assessment.
When asked where Ghana would be without the intervention from UNITAR, EPA and UNDP, Joel believes that Ghana may not have been in the same position it is today in regard to the implementation of the Minamata Convention.
“I think it would be best to look at it from the perspective of the whole project and not only specifically at the inception workshop. Because the workshop was just one key aspect of the project. I would say that the activities of the project that EPA, UNDP and UNITAR have supported has significantly increased the priority given to mercury management in Ghana. It is important to note also that this project was timely and came at a point when the Government through EPA had already started leading national efforts to effectively implement the Minamata Convention. The activities of this project therefore enhanced the already existing initiatives and has increased national discourse around the safe management of mercury.
Secondly, things would have been done in silos, where different organizations implement different initiatives at the same or different times with little or no coordination which makes it difficult to measure their total impact at the end of the day, and this has been the case for a long period now. But because of this project and under the leadership of EPA, things are being put together. Projects, or initiatives, or ideas that are related to mercury management have been brought together to make sure that it is done in a much more coordinated manner. So that the impacts or the outcome will be very significant and tangible in the country. For instance, a Minamata Convention Implementation Committee has been setup through this project to oversee all mercury-management related initiatives in the country in all sectors.
Joel also identified areas of indirect impact that have come about as a result of this project. “From the systemic point of view, maybe one outcome that I can say [is linked to] the policy level and the coordination part. UNDP has been leading the implementation of a project on mercury reduction in the health sector. Because of this MIA project and its key output which is the MIA Report, plans are been made for the organization of a policy dialogue on mercury phase out in the health sector in line with Article 4 of the Minamata
Convention. The policy dialogue is triggered by a myriad of factors including the mercury inventory results in the MIA report and we expect that the this will really set the tone for further policy reviews for mercury reduction and the effective implementation of the Minamata Convention in Ghana.”
From a personal point of view, I would credit my increased knowledge on mercury and the Minamata Convention to this project. I have had opportunities to read a wide variety of materials, to be involved in a variety of discussions on this subject. And I think that in the past year my knowledge on mercury and the Minamata convention has increased significantly because of this project and its activities.