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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 PROJECTS International projects
Indonesia PDF Print
Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:30

Indonesia

Coordinating NGO for EEB/ZMWG funded projects: Balifokus

Contact details: Yuyun Ismawati

2012 Project title:   Sustainable ASGM Practices - Workshop on Sustainable ASGM Practices, Mataram • Indonesia • 9-11 February 2012

Summary of the project/report

ASGM practices found in all regions in Indonesia with a general similar pattern. A discovery of gold deposit attracts gold prospectors, miners and non-miners from various areas, using cheap but destructive gold-extraction technology with mercury and cyanide followed by amalgamation and open burning. In parallel, after the prevalence of small-scale mining, the people who used to reject the presence of large-scale mining operations became more accepting as they gain direct benefit from the activities regardless the negative long term impact to their health, local socio-economic and the environment. Mining activities always produce irreversible negative environmental impact. Small-scale mining appear profitable to the people, but comes at a higher cost than the selling price of gold, in the form of health, environmental and social hazard. When the practice of illegal ASGM have grown to involve a large number of people, it is more difficult for law enforcement to curb the practice. Many local government categorised ASGM as illegal activities but could not stop the practices for various reasons. The best option for the long term ‘sustainable’ ASGM practices is to improve the current mining activities, develop proper community mining management and technical plan and capacity building, and prepare the shift of people’s livelihood from mining to other or alternative livelihoods such as from agriculture, fisheries and forestry. However, with the limitations and reality on the ground, closing-down operations and outreach programs are often only successful in the short term. From previous experience, the problem remained, even escalated in the last ten years.

Therefore, concerted control efforts are needed, in form of limiting and eventually eliminating the supply and distribution of mercury, training people to switch to non-mercury techniques and provide a special area for regulated community mining. The momentum of sharply increasing price of mercury should be seized to reduce the reliance of small-scale miners on mercury. The capacity of health care practitioners to handle mercury poisoning cases and educate people on matters of mercury hazard need to be increased, improved and conducted in scale and systematic way. Research on remediation of contaminated land should be continued with more options to clean up the contaminated soil and water as well as the final process and disposal plant.

Mercury-free ASGM techniques are already available and relatively cheap, but the implementation need to be adapted and adjusted to the characteristics of the local ores and the miners/community’s current practices. One of the solutions can be reached by conducting miners-to-miners training coupled with the formalization process. The effort must be guided by a national policy towards elimination of mercury in ASGM, localise the ASGM activities within the designated Community Mining Areas, midterm plan of transitional livelihood, clean up and remediation plan and long term rehabilitation strategy. Synergy is needed, not just by district/local governments and the Ministry of Environment, but also other departments such as the Mining and Energy, Trade, Health and Social Welfare. Caution must be exercised when choosing to formalize and legalize small-scale mining so as not to clash with existing laws, especially on forestry and environment.

Status:  completed, Final report