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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 NGOs from around the world call for actions in confronting global mercury crisis
NGOs from around the world call for actions in confronting global mercury crisis PDF Print
Friday, 04 August 2006 01:00
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Concurrent Conference Will Identify Solutions to Mercury Problems

Madison, WI, USA -- An NGO led forum, “Finding Solutions to the Global Mercury Crisis” will be held, August 7th – 10th . Advocates from international environment and health policy organizations will focus on available, effective, common sense solutions that will reduce mercury releases and environmental and public health benefits. This conference will be held simultaneously with a global mercury science meeting, markedly more research oriented.

Early drafts of a “synthesis manuscript” which the science meeting conferees will release on the final day of the meeting suggest that the conference outcome may emphasize uncertainties about mercury rather than recommendations for action or specific solutions to known mercury problems.

“The fact that mercury presents adverse local and global effects warranting immediate action has already been acknowledged by the United Nations and a host of countries,” said Michael Bender, Director of the Mercury Policy Project. “By hosting our meeting alongside the science conference, we hope that participants will come away with more concrete solutions to reduce mercury pollution and its impacts.”

At their meeting, the NGOs will demonstrate that the mercury crisis is a solvable problem and that use and pollution reduction alternatives are cost effective and available. Co­sponsors of the NGO meeting will relay new evidence on the prevalence of mercury in fish, an American and global diet staple, and the risks of exposure from consumption of those fish.

“To see the presence of mercury in our lives, just go to a grocery store, pick up a swordfish or tuna fillet, and instead of cooking it, send it to a lab for analysis,” said Eric Uram of the Mercury Free Wisconsin coalition. “Our groups did that here in Wisconsin and as we expected, the swordfish is loaded with mercury, at levels above the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) action level. Tuna comes in a little lower, but it’s still high enough to warrant limiting consumption, particularly by young women and children.”

“These data show how much we need signs at seafood counters to convey the FDA advice and to make sure parents and parents-to-be get the information they need to make informed


and healthy choices for their families,” said Jackie Savitz of Oceana. “But none of the grocery stores in Wisconsin where we got the fish have such signs. Posting the government’s advisory on mercury in seafood is another simple, common sense solution to this widespread problem.”

High mercury levels in seafood provide clear evidence of the need to take stronger action to address the mercury problem.

“Wisconsin has fallen behind in regulating mercury emissions from power plants,” said Keith Reopelle, Program Director for Clean Wisconsin. “We need to reduce mercury emissions by at least 90 percent as our neighbors in Illinois and Minnesota have.” The Wisconsin DNR will make a decision on mercury regulations this fall.

“To reduce human mercury exposure, mercury-free solutions also should be promoted in chlor alkali facilities, and further investigated in dentistry and in artisanal and small scale gold mining,” said Elena Lymberidi, “Zero Mercury Campaign” Project Coordinator, of the European Environmental Bureau.

Results of the Wisconsin fish testing are available at http://www.mercurypolicy.org. Fish was purchased at Sam’s Club, Pick and Save, Jewel, Cub Foods and Copps.

Sponsors of the advocacy conference on mercury include:

Mercury Policy Project, http://www.mercurypolicy.org Natural Resources Defense Council, http://www.nrdc.org

European Environmental Bureau’s Zero Mercury Campaign, http://www.zeromercury.org/ Oceana, http://www.oceana.org/

Health Care Without Harm, http://www.mercuryfreehealthcare.org/

National Wildlife Federation, http://www.nwf.org/mercury/ Toxics Link of India, http://www.toxicslink.org/

International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology, http://www.iaomt.org/

Clean Wisconsin, http://www.cleanwisconsin.org Mercury Free Wisconsin, http://www.mercuryfreewi.org Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, http://www.wiwf.org/

Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin, http://www.psrmadison.org/

Madison Environmental Justice Organization, http://www.mejo.us

Sierra Club, http://www.sierraclub.org/mercury/

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, http://www.iatp.org/

Ban Mercury Working Group, http://www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/

Consumers for Dental Choice, http://www.toxicteeth.org/ Green Action of Japan, http://www.greenaction-japan.org/

For more information on each of the conferences, see: http://www.mercurypolicy.org/new/documents/AgendaWINGOHgMtg061506.pdf http://www.mercury2006.org