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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 Evidence shows mercury threat underestimated ahead of UN treaty talks
Evidence shows mercury threat underestimated ahead of UN treaty talks PDF Print
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 11:11
EEB LOGO_FINAL_zeromercury logoBRI-AA

                                Evidence shows mercury threat underestimated ahead of UN treaty talks

[4 December 2012, Brussels]--New reports released today show widespread global mercury contamination of seafood and health effects from methylmercury in seafood occurring below the level that was considered “safe” just a few years ago. The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) [1], in cooperation with the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) [2], is facilitating the release of the three reports.[3] 

“The level of mercury in the Pacific Ocean is projected to increase by 50% by 2050 if current pollution trends continue unabated,” said Richard Gutierrez, executive director of Ban Toxics!, located in Quezon City, Philippines. “This is a wake-up call for all governments to stem the rising tide of mercury pollution and finalize a strong treaty.”

The new scientific findings are to be presented at the start of the fifth and final round of United Nations negotiations to put in place a legally binding global treaty to reduce mercury use and pollution [4]. The legal text negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee is expected to be completed on 18 January 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The latest science points to the need for strict reduction measures to address the global mercury crisis,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, co-coordinator of ZMWG at the European Environment Bureau in Brussels, Belgium.

Other key science findings include the following:

  •  Larger predatory      fish—such as swordfish, shark and certain species of tuna— are often      listed in national fish consumption advisories due to higher mercury      concentrations. Different seafood varieties can differ by at least      100-fold in their average mercury content.
  • Seafood regularly consumed      by people contains mercury concentrations that commonly exceed “safe” levels      (based upon US EPA standards [5]). However, there are also plenty of low      mercury seafood alternatives with high omega 3 benefits;
  • Several recent      epidemiological studies clearly show that the consumption of ordinary      amounts of fish can cause an unsafe risk to the developing foetus and      children, suggesting that the current health exposure tolerance levels      should be revised to reflect the latest scientific findings; and
  • BRI’s Global Biotic Mercury Synthesis (GBMS) project provides a standardized and      comprehensive database that can be used to      identify mercury data gaps, describe areas where further research is      needed, and evaluate the      effectiveness of the future global mercury treaty. 

“We believe it is crucial to understand global baseline mercury
concentrations in order to make appropriate decisions on how to evaluate the effectiveness of the treaty,”
David C. Evers, Ph.D., executive director of BRI and a member of the UNEP Fate and Transport Partnership Group.

ENDS

[1] Zero Mercury Working Group is a coalition of more than 95 NGOs around the world working towards zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum. www.zeromercury.org

[2] Biodiversity Research Institute’s  mission is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research, and use scientific findings to advance environmental awareness and inform decision makers.

[3] The report from BRI reveals patterns of global seafood mercury concentrations. A companion report written by Dr. Edward Groth III for the ZMWG provides an overview of epidemiological evidence for mercury effects on human health and a rationale for lower tolerance levels.  Finally, ZMWG presents a short summary of the report findings, and provides recommendations.  Links to all the reports are available at:  www.zeromercury.org.

[4] http://new.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/Mercury/Negotiations/tabid/3320/Default.aspx

[5] The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s health-based reference dose for methylmercury is 1x10-4 milligrams/kilogram-day, a body weight of 132 pounds or 60 kilograms and a fish meal size of 6 ounces or 170 grams.

Patterns of Global Seafood Mercury Concentrations and their Relationship with Human Health [EMBARGOED]

Mercury Contamination, Exposures and Risk: Summary and Recommendations (Zero Mercury Summary and Recommendations)

An Overview of Epidemiological Evidence on the Effects of Methylmercury on Brain Development, and a Rationale for a Lower Definition of Tolerable Exposure

Contacts:

ZMWG /EEB – Alison Abrahams - 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 +32 489 304 962

BRI - Deborah McKew - 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 - +1 (207) 839-7600  x222