GIS – 22 September 2014: A series of eight half-day training workshops, an initiative of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, kicked off this morning at the Voilà Hotel, Bagatelle, under the project Sustainable Management of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Mauritius.
The opening ceremony was graced by the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr. Devanand Virahsawmy, the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Attorney General, Mr. Satya Veyash Faugoo; and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Mr. Simon Springett, amongst others.
The project, initiated in 2008, is in line with the Stockholm Convention to which Mauritius is party and aims at removing POPs from the environment of Mauritius and developing alternative strategies for Malaria Vector Management.
POPs are chemicals that possess a particular combination of physical and chemical properties such that they remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs circulate globally and can cause damage wherever they travel.
During the workshop, an overview of the activities carried out under the project will be provided and key findings as well as lessons learned will be shared with the participants. Additionally, a capacity building exercise with local stakeholders on the management of hazardous wastes will also be conducted.
The “Responsible Care Programme” is one component of the project with the objective to raise awareness on sound management of chemicals. Four pamphlets were also launched today, under this programme, namely: Laboratory Safety Practices; Sound Management of Chemicals at the Workplace; “Conseils pratiques sur l’utilisation des produits chimiques agricoles”; and Managing Household Chemicals.
The pamphlets provide participants with practical and useful tips in the safe handling, storage and disposal of chemicals and on actions to be taken in case of accidents. The eight workshops will be targeting some 400 participants from the public and private sectors and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), including representatives of consumer associations.
In his address, Minister Virahsawmy underlined that Government is fully conscious of the need and importance of managing chemicals cautiously and, in this respect, Mauritius has become party to several Conventions.
According to him, developing countries and Small Island Developing States, lack the knowhow and the appropriate infrastructures to ensure that chemicals are managed safely and soundly. In order to address this shortcoming, and on the basis of technical guidance from experts, the Government is adopting a multipronged approach for the sound management of chemicals, he added.
For his part, Minister Faugoo recalled that the Sustainable Management of POPs project has benefitted from technical and financial supports of the UNDP and the Global Environment Facility. My Ministry has been an active collaborator with regards to this project, he said.
POPs have been recognised as causing adverse effects on humans and the ecosystem, he said, adding that over the years, several measures have been taken, and sensitisation campaigns targeting stakeholders have been organised by his Ministry.
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