[12th October 2013]

KENYA SIGNS THE MINAMATA CONVENTION ON MERCURY

Hon. Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources (center) during the plenary session of the Conference of the Plenipotentiaries on the Minamata Convention on Mercury at Kumamoto city on 10th October, 2013.

Hon. Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources led the Kenya delegation to the Conference of the Plenipotentiaries on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which took place in Kumamoto city from 7th – 11th October, 2013. Others in the delegation included Kenya's permanent representative to United Nations Environmental Programme, Dr. Martin Kimani; Kenya's Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Benson H.O. Ogutu; and senior government officials from the the ministries of Environment, Energy, Health, Agriculture as well as the attorney general's office.

The Conference was a pinnacle to the decision 24/3 adopted by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environmental Programme during its twenty fourth session in February 2007, calling for a successful outcome of the negotiations on a globally binding legal instrument on mercury to address the risks to human health and the environment. Five intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) sessions had been held and Kenya has participated in all of them. The last INC5 session, which agreed on and adopted the text of the Convention, was held in Geneva in January 2013.

During the Conference, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was opened for signature and ratification. The Cabinet Secretary signed the Convention on behalf of the Government of Kenya on 10th October, 2013. Over eighty (80) countries signed the Convention, which was named after a city in Japan (Minamata) where serious health damage occurred as a result of mercury pollution in the mid of 20th century. The overall objective of the convention was to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds by providing controls across a range of mercury products. The Convention shall enter into force on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

While addressing the Conference after the signing of the Convention, the Cabinet Secretary said that Kenya supported the increasing and important role being played by the United Nations Environment Programmed (UNEP) in Nairobi, especially in light of recent measures undertaken to increase its authority as the environmental policy pillar of the UN system. She underscored the need for consideration of paragraph 88 of the outcome document on "The future we want" reached at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Amongst the recommendations made was to progressively consolidate UNEP headquarters in Nairobi by hosting future conventions of the environment at UNEP. The Kenyan government was ready to support such an initiative through concrete action.

The Cabinet Secretary further held bilateral meetings with the EU Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Janez Potocnik; Chief Executive Officer of the Global Environmental Facility – GEF, Dr. Naoki Ishii; and Zimbabwean Minister of Water, Environment and Climate, Hon Saviour Kasukuwere. The meetings afforded opportunities to review our cordial and mutually beneficial relations and explored ways to enhance them in all areas of human endeavours.

More….(statement by the Cabinet Secretary)

From left – right: Mr. Benson H.O. Ogutu, Kenya's Ambassador to Japan; Prof. Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secreatry; Dr. Naoki Ishii, CEO Global Environmental Facility – GEF; Dr. Martin Kimani, Kenya's Permanent Representative to UNEP.

From left – right: Japan's Ambassador-designate to Kenya, Mr. Tatsushi Terada; Japan's Minister of Environment, Mr. Nobuteru Ishihara; Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Judi Wakhungu; and Kenya's Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Benson H.O. Ogutu during the official reception for Minamata Convention on Mercury at Kumamoto Castle, 10th October 2013.

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Judi Wakhungu with Hon Saviour Kasukuwere, Zimbabwean Minister of Water, Environment and Climate on 11th October 2013.

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Judi Wakhungu with the Kenya Delegation on 9th October 2013.

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Judi Wakhungu delivering a statement after signing the Minamata Convention on Mercury on 10th October 2013.

Cabinet Secretary, Prof. Judi Wakhungu with Dr. Naoki Ishii, CEO of the Global Environmental Facility – GEF on 10th October, 2013.

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