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22 September 2017

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PRESS RELEASE: 

New treaty effectiveness will depend on adequacy of data to be collected, say NGOs  

Geneva, Switzerland


Prior to the start of the first Conference of Parties (COP1), the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) welcomed the entry into force of the Minamata Convention. 

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, international ZMWG coordinator. “We applaud the world’s governments for committing to curtail 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.
 
During the prior negotiations, the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) approved many of the forms and guidance that the Convention specifies must be adopted at COP 1, which are needed for the swift and smooth launch and running of the Convention.  These include guidance documents on identifying stocks, determining best available technologies and reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining; as well as forms for trade procedures and for exemptions from certain deadlines.

“These INC approvals were achieved by consensus after considerable deliberations, and are ready for approval without further debate,” said Satish Sinha, Toxics Link India.

Among the most critical open issues to be discussed at COP1 are the reporting requirements, which will provide critical information on both the global mercury situation and the effectiveness of the Convention in achieving mercury reductions.   Particularly critical to collect will be data on mercury production and trade, which can change significantly in a short period of time.

 “Countries will not have readily available information about production and trade in bordering countries or within their region, unless there is frequent reporting under the Convention,” said David Lennett, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council “Many borders between countries are “porous,” and where a significant portion of mercury trade is informal/illegal.   Good data on legal trade flows will enable actions to address illegal trade, all of which has a huge impact on artisanal and small scale gold mining, the largest source of mercury pollution globally.

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

For more information, see:

http://www.mercuryconvention.org

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

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

For information on reporting, please contact David Lennett, Natural Resources Defense Council, T:  +1 202 460 8517   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

For further information, please contact:

*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.



 

Home Press Releases Last Chance for Governments to Develop Strong Global Mercury Treaty
Last Chance for Governments to Develop Strong Global Mercury Treaty PDF Print
Thursday, 10 January 2013 23:29

 

Last Chance for Governments to Develop Strong Global Mercury Treaty

 

Groups Fear Failed Treaty Outcome

 

For Immediate Release

 

[Geneva, 10 January 2013] – Non-governmental organizations from around the world renewed their call for “Zero Mercury Now!” to world governments as representatives converge in Geneva this coming week for the fifth and last UN intergovernmental meeting.[i] After 4 years of negotiations an agreement on a Mercury Treaty is just days away.

 

Concerned that special interests might affect the outcome of a strong international treaty, the Zero Mercury Working Group[ii] is hosting a pre-treaty event to highlight new key findings[iii] on mercury seafood contamination, with health effects occurring below the level considered “safe” just a few years ago.  They are urging governments to take immediate and substantial measures to reduce global mercury pollution.

 

The keynote speaker, Professor Philippe Grandjean, from the University of Southern Denmark and Harvard School of Public Health, will present new evidence on prenatal exposure to mercury in the womb.  Dr. Grandjean’s results indicate that mercury exposure before birth can result in $18,000 in lost lifetime earning potential for each IQ point lost, which adds up to many billions of dollars per year on a global scale. [iv] 

 

“How much is a developing child’s brain worth?” asks Dr. Grandjean.  “We are taking developing brains hostage and we are allowing this pollutant to interfere with a very precious organ.”

 

The treaty is expected to include actions to reduce intentional mercury use and emissions, which will ultimately reduce exposure.  Yet the negotiations have been slow going.

 

“We know how to control mercury emissions, and there are mercury-free alternatives for nearly all mercury-containing products and industrial processes,” said Michael Bender, Co-coordinator of ZMWG. “What is missing is the political will to do this.”

 

 

 

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) represents the largest intentional use of mercury globally, and is the reason for much of the mercury trade from north to south.  “Achieving reductions and a time-limited phase out in the use and trade of mercury in ASGM is a must for the treaty,” according to Rico Euripidou of groundWork in South Africa.

 

“In the last round of negotiations countries were dragging their feet on taking tough action on mercury,” stated Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics!, Philippines. “If the global community won’t agree on mandatory emission cuts or have meaningful reductions in mercury use and trade by the end of the week, this treaty will be a failure.”

 

ZMWG has highlighted the following critical points that the treaty needs to address:

 

  • Restricting      supply and trade, including a prohibition on primary mercury mining, and      keeping mercury from closing chlorine plants off the market;
  • Phasing out the use of mercury      in new and most existing products and processes;
  • Requiring substantial      reductions of mercury releases to the environment, consistent with BAT      capabilities;
  • Prohibiting the worst      practices, and phasing out mercury use in artisanal small scale gold      mining;

 

  • Adopting basic binding requirements to ensure  environmental sound management of commodity mercury storage and disposal of mercury waste, and
  • Providing adequate financial      assistance to developing countries, including during the crucial interim      period when governments are undertaking their necessary treaty      implementation preparation activities.

 

“The final treaty negotiation session in Geneva is the world’s last chance to create a strong program for international action and cooperation to finally reduce global mercury exposure,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Coordinator of the ZMWG “We urge world governments to make this a reality at the end of this meeting”.

 

- END -

 

Contacts:

 

Alison Abrahams;  EEB/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 +32 489 304 962

 

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB/ZM΅G; 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 ; +32 496 532818

 

Michael Bender , MPP/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 ; +1 802 9174579

 



[ii] The Zero Mercury Working Group is an international coalition of over 100 public interest NGOs from more than 50 countries founded in 2005 to achieve ‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury; www.zeromercury.org

[iv] ZMWG global webinar, 4 Dec 2012, see:  www.zeromercuryorg with link to slides; also see:  http://www.biomedcentral.com, http://www.ehjournal.net/content/12/1/3/abstract