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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs

BRUSSELS - 16 AUGUST 2017
TODAY’S ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE MINAMATA CONVENTION ESTABLISHES THE FIRST NEW MULTILATERAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT IN OVER A DECADE.  THE ZERO MERCURY WORKING GROUP* HAS BEEN CALLING FOR A LEGALLY BINDING TREATY FOR OVER A DECADE AND WELCOMES THE NEW PROTOCOL.

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury respects no boundaries and exposes people everywhere”
“Only a global pact can curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

In October 2013 the convention text was adopted and signed by 128 countries, but would not take legal effect until at least 50 countries had ratified it formally.  This milestone was reached in May of this year, and the convention enters into force today 16 August. 

“We are now on the right track,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, European Environmental Bureau and ZMWG co- coordinator. 

“Over time, the Convention is expected to provide the necessary technical and financial resources to reduce the risk of exposure to mercury worldwide. Governments must therefore move swiftly towards efficient implementation of the Treaty’s provisions”.

The aim of the Convention is "to protect the human health and the environment” from mercury releases.

The treaty holds critical obligations for Parties to ban new primary mercury mines while phasing out existing ones and also includes a ban on many common products and processes using mercury, measures to control releases, and a requirement for national plans to reduce mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.  In addition, it seeks to reduce trade, promote sound storage of mercury and its disposal, address contaminated sites and reduce exposure from this dangerous neurotoxin.

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.

The Minamata Convention joins 3 other UN conventions seeking to reduce impacts from chemicals and waste – the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

ENDS 

For more information, see:

http://www.mercuryconvention.org/Negotiations/COP1/tabid/5544/language/en-US/Default.aspx

www.zeromercury.org

Contacts 

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Notes to the editors:

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero and small children. 

*The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project.  ZMWG strives for zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum.  Our mission is to advocate and support the adoption and implementation of a legally binding instrument which contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply and trade of mercury, the global demand for mercury, anthropogenic releases of mercury to the environment, and human and wildlife exposure to mercury.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe's largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our experts work on climate change, biodiversity, circular economy, air, water, soil, chemical pollution, as well as policies on industry, energy, agriculture, product design and waste prevention. We are also active on overarching issues as sustainable development, good governance, participatory democracy and the rule of law in Europe and beyond.

We have over 140 members in over 30 countries.

EC register for interest representatives: Identification number 06798511314-27
International non-profit association - Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL)

 
Home Press Releases Mercury Rising: EU must press on with urgent mercury export ban
Mercury Rising: EU must press on with urgent mercury export ban PDF Print
Friday, 08 September 2006 01:00
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Brussels, 8 September 2006- Environmental and health NGOsi opposed to mercury today urged the European Commission to abandon its deadlock and finally proceed with a delayed EU mercury export ban and secure storage of surplus mercury, in line with the EU’s Mercury Strategy of 28 January 2005. “We’ve been waiting for the Commission to make a proposal since at least the start of the year. Every month it delays, Europe is polluting the planet with one of the most toxic substances known to man”, said John Hontelez, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau.

All parties agree that there is a pressing need for an EU mercury export ban. As long ago as June 2005, EU Environment Ministers accepted the need for the ban and agreed on the strategy. In March this year the European Parliament also demanded an export ban. The move would be in line with the decision of UNEP’s 23rd Governing Council, where the EU told world governments it intended to halt exports of this dangerous substance.

“The EU is the world’s largest mercury exporter, and most of its mercury goes to developing countries.” said Ravi Agarwal of Toxics Link, India, “This dangerous neurotoxin is often haphazardly used and released, contaminating workers, their families, local communities and global food supplies. The EU must accept it has a moral and economic duty to take the lead in dealing with global mercury problems.”

“Strong EU leadership will not only encourage more countries to reduce their mercury consumption, it will also encourage global trade agreements, which are clearly needed”, said Zuleica Nycz, ACPO, Brazil. “Banning mercury exports will help reduce demand by increasing prices and thus encouraging more efficient use and reduced releases, with no adverse economic impact.ii,iii.”

The NGOs stress that the proposed export ban should cover metallic mercury, mercury compounds and mercury-containing products, which are, or soon will be, subject to use and marketing restrictions within the EU. The EU should avoid double standards and allow all the world’s citizens to be similarly protected. The ban on EU mercury exports should be implemented as soon possible, preferably by 2008iv, but certainly not later than 1 January 2011. The European Parliament’s resolution (March 2006) demanding implementation by 2010 must also be borne in mind.

“A strong and clear EU position is essential to confirm the global actions presented in this Community Strategy”, said Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group, “which must send a clear message to the world that mercury emissions, supply and demand should be reduced to an absolute minimum, as rapidly as possible, and in the interim, measures should be taken to protect the health of people who are most at risk, particularly women of childbearing age and children.”

Mercury drifts far and wide through the atmosphere, contaminating both European and global food supplies at levels which seriously risk human health, wildlife and the environment. “We shouldn’t underestimate the value of a strong EU commitment to tackling mercury problems globally”, said Génon Jensen, Executive Director of European Public Health Alliance Environment Network. “This is a straightforward opportunity to reduce health risks to millions of EU citizens, and many more globally, that we absolutely cannot afford to miss.”

The EU Extended Impact Assessment reveals that some 3-15 million people in Europe have mercury levels around the recommended limit and many of them have levels ten times as high, which are known to cause serious neurodevelopmental effects. Although the EU assessment does not calculate the costs of such contamination, a recent studyv estimates that between 300,000-600,000 babies born each year in the USA suffer from impaired neurological development which is due directly to methyl mercury exposure, and which costs the economy an estimated US$8.7bn a year in lost earnings.


For further information:-

See letter sent to Commissioners: http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/060907Letter%20toCommissionersMercuryExp ort Ban.pdf

Elena Lymberidi, EEB, www.eeb.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 289 1301

John Hontelez, European Environmental Bureau (EEB) Secretary General, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 289 1091

Génon K. Jensen, EPHA Environment Network (EEN), www.env-health.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text12629 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 234 3640

Michael Bender, Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text71139 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +1 802 2239000

Zuleica              Nycz,            ACPO, http://www.acpo.org.br/principal.php, zu This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

T: +55 41 3014-8096

Ravi Agarwal, Toxics Link, http://www.toxicslink.org/, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text1653 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +91 11 24 32 80 06

i i Environmental NGOS include

The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of more then 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

The Zero Mercury Working group, www.zeromercury.org, is an international coalition of more than 40 public interest non-governmental organizations from around the world formed in 2006 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group. The aim of the group is to reach “‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, towards eliminating mercury in the environment at EU level and globally.”

The Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/, is an international coalition of 28 public interest non-governmental organisations from around the world formed initially in 2002 by 2 US based NGOs, the Basel Action Network (www.ban.org) and the Mercury Policy Project (www.Mercurypolicy.org). working to end pollution from the toxic metal -- Mercury.

European Public Health Alliance Environment Network (EEN), http://www.env-health.org/ is an international non-governmental organisation advocating environmental protection as a means to improving health and well-being. Member groups and organisations represent health, environment, women, health professionals and others. The group has a diverse membership of 41 member groups (6 international organisations, 11 European networks and 24 national/local organizations) including non-governmental organisations, professional bodies representative of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, academic institutions and other not-for-profit organisations.

Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH), www.noharm.org, is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical and nursing professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labour unions, environmental and religious organisations. HCWH is dedicated to transforming the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

And with the support of NGOs from the USA (Natural Resources Defence Council), India (Toxics Link), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS).

ii Veiga MM, PA Maxson, LD Hylander, “Origin and consumption of mercury in small-scale gold mining.” Journal of Cleaner Production 14 (2006) 436-447, Elsevier..

iii COM (2005) 20 final - Extended Impact Assessment, on the Community Strategy on Mercury, pg. 26

iv as originally proposed in earlier Commission drafts but also by the Luxembourg Presidency http://register.consilium.eu.int/pdf/en/05/st07/st07986.en05.pdf

v Mount Sinai study: Public health and economic consequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain, February 28, 2005 http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2005/7743/7743.pdf