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On December 19th, 2012, the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and the Ministry for the Environment (MATTM), Land and Sea signed a Protocol for the establishment of a National Reference Centre for Mercury (CNRM), in response to the initiatives adopted by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to tackle the problem of mercury pollution.

Italy will propose the CNRM as an International Centre to support national and international organisations in the promotion and implementation of, and also the eventual compliance with, the provisions of the Minamata Convention. The Minamata Convention is the International agreement on mercury pollution adopted in Geneva on January 19th, 2013.

The CNRM will aid the coordination of Mercury Observations both nationally and internationally, building on the experience gained during the Global Mercury Observation System (GMOS), project. GMOS is a five year project (2010-2015), funded by the European Commission and coordinated by the CNR - Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research. The CNRM also aims to provide support in the management of the activities related to the validation, reporting, and dissemination of data, including those relating to health impacts, in accord with the criteria that will be decided by the UNEP Governing Council. A further aim of the CNRM is to update annually the global anthropogenic mercury emission inventory, to coordinate modelling studies for the analysis of future emission reduction scenarios.

An important part of the CNRM’s role will be to provide capacity building and technical assistance to developing countries, supporting them in the implementation of the obligations established by the Minamata Convention.

The establishment of the International Reference Centre for Mercury and its coordination by Italy has a strategic relevance for Italy as it will reinforce the country's role within the environmental policy framework at European and international levels, and will stimulate future technological developments in the field of environmental monitoring and control of industrial emissions.