Following her nomination to the post by the UN Environment Director, Inger Andersen, in November 2019, Monika Stankiewicz assumed her functions as the Executive Secretary of the Minamata Convention on Mercury on Monday, January 13, 2020.
“I am delighted to be joining the Minamata Convention team and I am looking forward to working with the Parties and partners to ensure continuous relevance of the Convention’s work, its visibility, and strengthen its implementation”, said Ms. Stankiewicz on her first day.
“I come from the Baltic Sea region, where hazardous substances remain a major concern, but also where many effective measures have already been taken, demonstrating that policy and measures do have an impact. The Baltic Sea is also a region where environment has been affected by the legacy of mercury pollution, facing the challenge of long recovery times for the environment. These are some of lessons learnt I am bringing with me to the Minamata Convention,” she added.
Ms. Stankiewicz has 20 years of experience working on environmental issues, including 13 years – of which seven years as the Executive Secretary of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM), an intergovernmental organisation and the former Professional Secretary of HELCOM responsible for shipping and cooperation with International Maritime Organisation (2006-2011). During her tenure, she cooperated with Multilateral Environment Agreements and UN agencies, such as UNEP and its Regional Seas Programme, the Convention on Biological Diversity, UNESCO, the International Maritime Organisation, the Convention on Migratory Species and the Sargasso Sea Commission.
“Many environmental problems are of transboundary character, such as mercury pollution. I have witnessed willingness of the countries, both at regional and global level, to consider and agree on common solutions to address these transboundary problems, which I find very inspiring. I could see similar spirit at the Minamata Convention COP 3, where after five intense days, the parties made important decisions for the effective implementation of the Convention,” she stated. “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs. Rossana Silva Repetto, my predecessor, for her warm welcome and smooth handover.”
Leading a team of 30 staff in the HELCOM Secretariat, Stankiewicz was said to be successful in the coordination of activities to identify issues related to sea-based sources of pollution as well as to ensure a swift national and transnational response to marine incidents involving oil as well as hazardous and noxious substances.
She advised on the formulation of new policies to address pollution sources at sea, on land and airborne, including in the prioritised areas of hazardous substances, as well as facilitated negotiating processes of the Contracting Parties to agree on common approaches and solutions. Monika is a member of the writing team of the chapter on hazardous substances of the 2nd World Ocean Assessment under the UN Regular Process.