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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 Our work at UNEP Level
Our work at UNEP level PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 03 September 2010 17:14

Mercury has been on the UNEP GC’s agenda since 2001. The Global Mercury Assessment of December 2002 accepted that mercury is present throughout the world environment, is persistent and is constantly being recycled. It showed that mercury exposure causes major harm to human health, and is highly toxic especially to developing nervous and cardiovascular systems.  In the form of methylmercury it readily crosses the placental and blood-brain barrier making foetuses, children and women of child-bearing age more susceptible to mercury exposure. The assessment underlined the need for global solutions since with long-distance transport, even countries which release little or no mercury and other areas far away from industrial activity, may be contaminated. For example, the Arctic has high mercury levels, although it is far from major release sites.

After eight years of studies and deliberations, at the 25th session of the UNEP Governing Council (February 2009), the world governments finally decided to start a process towards the adoption of a legally binding instrument on mercury.  An Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) had to be formed, under UNEP, to start formal deliberations in June 2010, leading to a legally binding treaty on mercury on or before February 2013. The treaty will include actions to reduce mercury supply, its use in products and processes, and atmospheric mercury emissions, which will ultimately reduce human exposure to mercury globally.

 See International reactions on mercury decision  - http://www.unep.org/newscentre/videos/Interviews/2009-4-8_Mercury_Video.flv 

Concurrently with developing a mercury treaty, governments agreed that there is a need to continue and enhance, as part of the international action on mercury, the existing work, in the following areas:

(a) Enhancing capacity for mercury storage;

(b) Reducing the supply of mercury from, for example, primary mercury mining;

(c) Conducting awareness-raising and pilot projects in key countries to reduce mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining;

(d) Reducing mercury use in products and processes and raising awareness of mercury-free alternatives;

(e) Providing information on best available techniques and best environmental practices and on the conversion of mercury-based processes to non-mercury based processes;

(f) Enhancing development of national inventories on mercury;

(g) Raising public awareness and supporting risk communication;

(h) Providing information on the sound management of mercury;

 

This parallel decision continues earlier on the ground work at UNEP level that started in 2005, namely –the UNEP Mercury Partnerships.

 

The Zero Mercury Working Group has been following developments at both the Treaty and Partnership levels since the very beginning.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 18:28