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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 Best way to honor Minamata is to adopt a strong mercury treaty, say NGOs
Best way to honor Minamata is to adopt a strong mercury treaty, say NGOs PDF Print
Monday, 24 January 2011 00:00
zeromercury_logoeeb_logoCACP_logohealth_care_without_harm_logo

[Monday 24 January, Chiba, Japan] – As delegates from more than 100 countries today begin the second round of negotiations for a legally binding treaty on mercury , environmental and health NGOs and indigenous nation representatives from around the world urged them to truly honor the Minamata tragedy by agreeing to adopt strong measures to reduce exposure to mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin.

“If the world’s governments really want to call this the “Minamata Treaty” when the treaty is signed there in 2013, then they should back up their words with meaningful actions,” said Takeshi Yasuma, of Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution, a Japanese NGO, noting that a Japanese official had proposed calling it the “Minamata Treaty” during the first negotiation session last year, echoing an earlier statement from the Prime Minister of Japan.i

Meaningful actions means strong treaty measures to:

·         Phase out the use of mercury in the vast majority of products and industrial processes;

·         Reduce the global supply of mercury by phasing out mercury mining, and strictly limiting mercury trade to the few allowable uses under the treaty;

·         Require best available control technologies to minimize mercury emissions from new and existing priority sources, such as coal-fired power plants and non­ferrous smelters;

·         Require governments to implement action plans to reduce mercury use and releases from artisanal small scale gold mining .

·         Improve global capabilities to safely manage mercury waste and respond to contaminated sites, including addressing the needs of vulnerable populations in harms way; and

·         Provide sufficient funding as needed to assist countries within the developing world.

The starting draft is extremely weak in some of these crucial areas, such as the failure to control air emissions from existing facilities. Without strengthening provisions, mercury pollution from thousands of miles away will continue to affect indigenous peoples and contaminate their food sources.

“Today, mercury pollution threatens public health across the globe,” said Josh Karliner, International Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm. “The governments gathered here have an opportunity to protect people and the environment for generations to come. But to do so, they must significantly strengthen the draft text they’ve been given. “

“We look forward to working with governments at INC 2 to develop the kind of treaty text that will be required to meet these objectives,” said Rachel Kamande of the European Environmental Bureau / Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG).

 

 

 

 

 

For more information:

CACP

Takeshi Yasuma, Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , http://www.ne.jp/asahi/kagaku/pico/

ZMWG

Rachel Kamande, Project officer ‘ Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau/ZMWG, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Mobile:+32 477 367289,

Linda E. Greer, Ph.D., Director ­Health Program, Natural Resources Defense Council/ZMWG, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Mobile: 1 202 281 4098,

Josh Karliner, International Coordinator, Health Care Without Harm, +1 415 613 5386, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,

Note to the editor background documents

 

23 January 2011, Chiba Japan,

CACP/ZMWG NGO lunch event - Honoring Minamata. Poster-invitation also in Japanese

ZMWG comments on the Elements paper

ZMWG summary of changes to the elements paper

ZMWG comments on the UNEP INC 2 Draft elements paper

(i) Environmental NGOs include :

Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution (CACP), a Tokyo based NGO was established in 1997 and since then it has been working on policies and issues related to chemicals pollution in humans and environment. For more information see: http://www.ne.jp/asahi/kagaku/pico/index.html

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of more than 93 public interest environmental and health non­governmental organizations from 45 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. (www.zeromercury.org )

 

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), www.eeb.org , is a federation of over 150 environmental citizens’ organisations based in most EU Member States, most candidate and potential candidate countries as well as in a few neighbouring countries. EEB is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. We want the EU to ensure all people a healthy environment and rich biodiversity.

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), www.noharm.org, Health Care Without Harm is a global coalition of thousands of health professionals, hospitals and health systems working in 52 countries to promote public health and environmental sustainability.

i See: http://mercurypolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/hatoyama-apologizes-to-minamata-victims-2010.pdf