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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 Government leadership needed on global mercury debate, say ZMWG.
Government leadership needed on global mercury debate, say ZMWG. PDF Print
Friday, 28 January 2011 00:00
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[28 January 2011, Chiba, Japan] Delegates from more than 120 countries met this week to
continue constructing a legally- binding global mercury treaty, expected to be signed in
Minimata, Japan in 2013. While many important issues were discussed, public interest NGOs
urged delegates to be more ambitious when setting the mercury treaty’s scope and goals.
“Governments need to step up and take more leadership in this debate”, stated Linda E. Greer,
Ph.D., of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury
is a problem within our grasp to solve, but it will take political will and focus to resolve it.”

The Minamata tragedy provided a centerpiece and inspiration for discussion; Minamata victim
Shinobu Sakamoto testified in the plenary session and presented a statement from 13 Minamata
victims and supporter groups directly to the Vice Minister of the Japanese Ministry of
Environment. They urged delegates to develop a strong treaty that would prevent future
Minamata catastrophes, and to justly address the continuing effects of the Minamata disaster,
still unresolved after over 50 years.

The Japanese government also received criticism from NGOs for its continued export of tons of
toxic mercury, especially to developing countries. “Japan knows more than any country in the
world the terrible cost to life and the environment that mercury causes because of Minamata,”
stated Richard Gutierrez, of Ban Toxics from the Philippines. “Only a ban of Japanese mercury
export can begin to give honor to Minamata’s legacy.”

Measures to reduce the global supply of commodity mercury, to reduce mercury use in industry
and to restrict trade were debated. Delegates also discussed requirements to control mercury
emissions from major sources such as coal fired power plants and metal smelters and to address
existing contaminated sites. Although delegates generally agreed that the proposed basic
framework for the reductions of mercury pollution was adequate, many substantive issues remain
to be resolved to ensure that health and environmental resources are protected worldwide.

The Zero Mercury Working Group and other non-governmental organizations spoke out on
many occasions during the session, with recommendations for strengthening provisions,
including: expanding the list of mercury-based products and processes to be regulated under the
treaty, providing explicit time lines for phase outs, and strengthening provisions that address
artisanal and small-scale gold mining, the largest single use of mercury in the world, among
many others.

Several manufacturing processes using mercury completely escaped notice in the working draft,
such as polyurethanes and sodium methylate. “Since there are well-developed, high-volume
non-mercury alternatives available to produce these materials, the mercury-based processes
should be phased out,” said Rachel Kamande of the European Environmental Bureau and the
Zero Mercury Working Group.

 

Notes for the editor
Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, contaminates fish supplies around the world, and poses particular risks to women and young children. The anticipated mercury treaty will address mercury pollution globally.
ZMWG comments on the Elements paper ZMWG summary of changes to the elements paper January 2011
ZMWG comments on the UNEP INC 2 Draft elements paper, FR, ES(only cover and track changes) January 2011
CONTACTS:
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, www.zeromercury.org
Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator 'Zero Mercury Campaign' , European Environmental Bureau/ZMWG, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Mobile: +32 496 532818
Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project/ZMWG, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +1 802 223 9000

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of more than 93 public interest environmental and health non-governmental 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.