Remarks: Monika Stankiewicz at planetGOLD Global Fourm on ASGM 2024

03 Jun 2024

Opening remarks by Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, at the 2024 planetGOLD Global Forum on Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining.

Monika

OPENING REMARKS by Executive Secretary Monika Stankiewicz

planetGOLD Global Forum 3-5 June 2024

Club Balai Isabel, Talisay, Batangas, Philippines

 

Good morning.

Undersecretary Joselin Marcus E. Fragada; distinguished colleagues from the GEF Secretariat, UNEP, UNIDO and the planetGOLD programme teams; distinguished delegates and guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great honor for me to deliver opening remarks at this flagship event of the planetGOLD programme, hosted in the Philippines for the first time.

Before I continue, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the organizers of this global forum, our colleagues from planetGOLD and UNIDO. Your hard work these past months and dedication in bringing all of us together here in the Philippines is very much appreciated.

The forum comes at an important time in the life of the Convention. In two months, the Minamata Convention on Mercury will be celebrating its seventh year, and thus our Parties are now deeply involved in implementing the suite of control obligations that they signed onto when they joined the Convention. Among these, Article 7 on artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM).

Our discussions in the next two days will be an opportunity to take stock of what the Minamata Convention community has done to progress the work on ASGM, and to look ahead with pragmatic lenses on how to address the challenges that lie ahead.

As we take stock of the past, I am reminded of how the negotiators decided to best address the complex nature and unique challenges of widespread mercury use in the artisanal gold mining sector.

The Convention negotiators agreed on an innovative approach that advances locally based solutions that are linked with national and international objectives. The resulting approach was Annex C of the Convention, on National Action Plans.

This approach owes its scientific and intellectual groundings to many of you here at the Forum.

The planetGOLD programme was designed to support countries’ commitments under the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and it in turn plays a key role in implementing the National Action Plans.

I am very proud that, as of today, the Convention has 147 Parties and new parties are joining on a continual basis. A great many of the Parties are eligible for support to implement the Convention, through its Financial Mechanism, which stands on two pillars, the Global Environment Facility and the Specific International Programme.

The Global Environment Facility has steadily increased its allocation for Convention support over the past three replenishment cycles and since the Convention came into force. Under GEF-8 a total of 269 million US dollars is allocated for Minamata Convention support.

To the National Focal Points and government colleagues who are here today, I would urge you to engage with your GEF operational and political focal points at the national level to ensure full and effective use of this allocation​, not only for ASGM but across the many sectors for which Parties have taken on binding obligations to control mercury pollution.

Thanks in large part to the enabling activity support from the GEF and the work of many of you here, there has been steady progress on the National Action Plans (NAPs):

  • The Secretariat has received 51 notifications from both Parties and non-parties that their ASGM sector is more than insignificant in their territory (46 from Parties and 5 from non-Parties);
  • 48 NAP projects have been funded by the GEF (43 from Parties 5 from non-parties);
  • 36 NAPs have been submitted (34 from parties, 2 from non-parties);
  • 23 planetGOLD projects have been funded in support of the NAP.

As these numbers tell you, many Parties are actively undertaking their NAPs and the GEF planetGOLD project support is right behind them and is available.

The Conference of the Parties last year, at its fifth meeting, took several decisions that will have big influence on how to implement article 7 and other obligations of the Convention.

First and foremost, the COP adopted specific decisions related to impacts of mercury on health and livelihood of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, fully recognizing their role as agents of change and importance of their involvement in projects and programmes under the Convention, including in the development and implementation of the NAPs. This recognition is a milestone in the life of the Convention, ensuring we are on the right track to reach the most important objective for our work and that is to protect people vulnerable to mercury exposure, including women and children.

Secondly, there is now a comprehensive Gender Action Plan for the Minamata Convention is place, to fully mainstream gender consideration in the work of the Convention.

Thirdly, there will be financial support available to Parties in undertaking their reviews of implementation of Article 7 on ASGM, and here I would like to express my appreciation to the GEF Secretariat for already acting on this COP decision and proposing a new line for enabling activities in GEF-8 to support Parties in doing their reviews.

Further, Parties were invited to work on mercury and biodiversity in an integrated manner, for example through including mercury-related actions in projects developed under the GEF-8 biodiversity focal area and integrated programmes as well as under the Global Biodiversity Fund.

While we recognize the amount of substantive work that has been done, there is still much work ahead of us. Global economic uncertainty continues to drive investors to gold, which feeds the demand for gold. The price of gold hit an all-time high in May.

This is a sobering reminder of the importance the work planetGOLD has undertaken, and the value of the knowledge it has generated to ensure lasting impact and inform our future efforts.

I look forward to a fruitful forum this week.

Thank you very much.

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