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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 Governments at UN mercury negotiations urged to reduce exposure, end toxic trade
Governments at UN mercury negotiations urged to reduce exposure, end toxic trade PDF Print
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 00:00
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Governments at UN mercury negotiations urged to reduce exposure, end toxic trade

Punta del Este, Uruguay, 27 June 2012 — As delegates from over 150 countries converge for the fourth session to negotiate a mercury treaty, NGOs from around the world are calling on them to address the global mercury crisis.  Alarmed that mercury is still transported great distances through the air and by trade, they are urging world leaders to adopt strong treaty provisions on supply and trade that will, among other things, prohibit mining of mercury.

“While mercury exports are banned in the EU and will soon be in the U.S., traders can still ship this dangerous neurotoxin everywhere else, poisoning people around the globe,” said Michael Bender, Zero Mercury Working Group[i] co-coordinator. “With the price of mercury almost doubling in the past year[ii], a treaty is the only way to end the profiteering in toxic trade.”

While the draft treaty text has proposed some trade restrictions on mercury, ZMWG is urging that these be strengthened.   Along with that, ZMWG recommends:

·         Phasing out the use of mercury in most products and industrial processes;

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

·         Requiring action plans to reduce mercury use and releases from artisanal small scale gold mining;

·         Safely managing surplus mercury and mercury waste and responding to contaminated sites, including addressing the risks to vulnerable populations; and

·         Providing sufficient funding to assist developing countries.

“It’s time to take bold and corrective action. Unless these measures are taken the impact of mercury pollution, especially on developing countries will be costly,” explains Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics!, Philippines  “The new Mercury Convention needs to include well established precedents such as the precautionary principle, polluter pays, and environmental justice, principles aimed to protect the poor and marginalized.”

In addition to adopting strong treaty provisions, ZMWG is also calling for interim funds to aid implementation planning after the treaty is signed, but before it enters into force.

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group said  “Securing interim financial support to enable the development of national implementation plans prior to treaty ratification is critical, especially to developing countries.”

ZMWG looks forward to working with delegates to achieve these objectives.

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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



[i] The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of more than 94 public interest nongovernmental organizations from 52 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.