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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 CLOCK TICKING: TIME RUNNING OUT TO ADDRESS THE GLOBAL MERCURY CRISIS
CLOCK TICKING: TIME RUNNING OUT TO ADDRESS THE GLOBAL MERCURY CRISIS PDF Print
Monday, 02 July 2012 23:41

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

 CLOCK TICKING: TIME RUNNING OUT TO ADDRESS THE GLOBAL MERCURY CRISIS

 

[2nd July 2012]; Punta del Este, Uruguay -- Governments meeting at the 4th of only 5 negotiations are running out of time to meaningfully address key issues before finalizing a legally binding treaty on mercury, say NGOs.   Most major policy issues remain unresolved and the Zero Mercury Working Group, a global coalition of NGOs, expressed concern over the lack of progress at such a late stage.

 

“There has been no substantial progress with respect to the biggest sources of mercury pollution, emissions to air, nor in reconciling the different positions of governments,” said. Michael Bender, ZMWG co-coordinator “This issue is critical to diffuse the ticking mercury time bomb.”

 

Issues as straightforward as the phase out of mercury in products and processes and supply and trade did not progress any better. 

 

“Time is running out on deciding which products to phase out and by when,” explained Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, co-coordinator of ZMWG.  “Nor has any substantive progress been made on banning primary mining or ending the toxic trade in mercury.”

 

Barely visible in the draft treaty are core requirements for the environmentally sound management of elemental mercury and mercury waste, which are contingent on future decisions.  At the same time, the issue of contaminated sites has only been minimally addressed and no support given to the polluter pays principle.

 

One small light in the dark tunnel of the negotiation was a resolution on reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining through developing national action plans.  Yet even this small advance was overshadowed by the loophole on determining who are “significant” users of mercury. Unless this is defined, large users may walk away from their responsibility.

 

Regrettably, countries from the north are united in opposing a separate health article in the treaty to help countries assess and reduce exposure to mercury.  This is something that China, the Latin American and African regions have all called for.

 

“This is an example of north – south double standard over whether health issues will be addressed equitably, even though the whole reason for negotiation is to protect human health,” stated Rico Euripidou from Groundwork, South Africa, a member of the ZMWG.”Mercury is a basic human rights issue, as it affects millions of people. Health strategies to address reducing exposure to mercury must be included in this treaty.”

 

“One last round of negotiation is left to get things right,” said Richard Gutierrez, director of Ban Toxics!, a member of the ZMWG.  “Countries need to now get out of their positions and engage in meaningful compromises for our world and for future generations’.    

 

Notes to the editors

 

Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, contaminates fish supplies around the world, and poses particular risks to women and young children.  The anticipated Mercury Convention, projected to be finalized in January 2013 at the fifth negotiation in Geneva, is expected to address mercury pollution globally.

 

ZERO MERCURY WORKING GROUP PRELIMINARY VIEWS ON INC 4 DRAFT TREATY TEXT MAY 2012 - English version

 

PRELIMINARY DRAFT ZERO MERCURY WORKING GROUP RESPONSE TO CO-CHAIRS PROPOSED APPROACH TO EMISSIONS AND RELEASES May 2012

 

Zero Mercury Working Group Initial Comments on Products/Processes Discussion Paper June 2012

 

ZMWG Views on Mercury Use in Dental Amalgam, June 2012

 

ZMWG INC 4 BRIEFING PAPER SERIES Phasing out Mercury Use in Button Cell Batteries (

 

Other language versions available at www.zeromercury.org

 

CONTACTS:

 

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 "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Mobile: +32 496 532818

 

Michael Bender, ZMWG Co-coordinator, 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 , Mobile: +802 917 4579