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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 Environmental NGOs and Indigenous Nations urge immediate action to reduce Global Mercury Pollution a...
Environmental NGOs and Indigenous Nations urge immediate action to reduce Global Mercury Pollution at upcoming UNEP meeting PDF Print
Friday, 18 February 2005 01:00
NRDC_logoeeb_logogreenpeaceban_hg_logo

(Brussels/Nairobi 18/2/2005) Environmental NGOs and indigenous nation representatives1 are urging

Governments to take action against global mercury pollution by taking immediate steps to reduce mercury contamination, through use and emission reduction, while developing an international binding agreement on mercury. The above mentioned groups will be participating at the UNEP Governing Council (GC) on 21-25 February 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, where mercury is on the agenda. Some of them will also participate at the Global Civil Society Forum, 19-20 February, Nairobi, which forms the main entry point for Civil Society to participate at the governance level. It agenda mirrors the GC’s agenda.

“We urge the UNEP Governing Council to follow the lead of the EU Mercury strategy, adopted

in January 2005,” said Elena Lymberidi , “Zero Mercury Campaign” Project Co-ordinator, EEB. “The European Commission’s advocacy of a global phase-out of mercury primary production, and encouraging countries to stop surpluses re-entering the market, by presenting an initiative similar to the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances, should become the central discussion at the UNEP Governing Council meeting.”

The environmental NGOs and indigenous nation representatives propose and urge support from the State members participating at the UNEP Governing Council for the following concrete measures:

> Improve the tracking of global mercury trade to facilitate transparency and coordinated global action.

> Adopt global goals of a 50% reduction in mercury consumption by 2010 and an 80% reduction by 2015, versus 2000 levels.2

> Prevent the introduction of surplus mercury into the global marketplace by immediately terminating subsidies to primary mercury mines, phasing-out primary mercury production by

1 Environmental NGOS include:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), www.nrdc.org, is a private, U.S. not-for-profit environmental organization that uses science, law, and the support of more 500,000 members nationwide to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places, and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.,

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 Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/, is an international coalition of 27 public interest non­governmental 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.

Greenpeace, www.greenpeace.org

And with the support of NGOs from India (Toxics Link), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS), South Africa (groundWork-Friends of the Earth South Aftrica) and traditional indigenous nations in the U.S. and Alaska (International Indian Treaty Council)

2 See environmental NGO comments to UNEP at: http://www.mercurypolicy.org/new/documents/UNEP_Comments_070104.pdf


2010; and storing excess mercury from decommissioned mercury chlor-alkali plants and potentially other sources.

> End the manufacture and trade of mercury-containing soaps and cosmetics, and educate health professionals and populations at risk about the adverse human health effects attributable to use of these products.

> Promote the phase-out of mercury use in batteries, paints, switches, relays, measuring devices, and potentially other products and processes where non-mercury alternatives exist or become available over the next ten years by targeting key countries or regions where production or consumption is substantial, encouraging inventory preparation in such countries or regions, and sharing information on alternative technologies, and relevant laws and standards.

> Develop and implement a global strategy to promote the use of non-mercury and lower mercury use technologies in small-scale gold mining.

> Control the largest global source of mercury emissions by employing best available technology on the larger coal-fired power plants by 2012 and all coal-fired power plants by 2017.

> Encourage voluntary contributions sufficient to support the above mentioned actions, the creation of a mercury unit within UNEP, and ensure the active participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife. High doses can be fatal to humans, but even relatively low doses have serious adverse effects on the central nervous, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems. Mercury has no respect for national or regional boundaries as it travels great distances through the atmosphere. It has contaminated global food supplies at levels which pose a significant risk to human health, according to medical and public health professionals around the world.

Linda Greer, NRDC, www.nrdc.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text9 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel: +1 202 2896868

Elena Lymberidi, EEB, www.eeb.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text77636 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel: +32 2 2891301; +32 496 532818

Kevin Brigden, Greenpeace, www.greenpeace.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text60089 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel :+ :+44 7968 844906;

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_text43230 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , + 1 802 249 8543 or +1 802-223-9000.