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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 ZMWG welcomes new Mercury Convention, calls for its speedy ratification - 50 by 2015: Make it Happen...
ZMWG welcomes new Mercury Convention, calls for its speedy ratification - 50 by 2015: Make it Happen PDF Print
Monday, 07 October 2013 02:14
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Zero Mercury Working Group welcomes new Mercury Convention, calls for its speedy ratification - 50 by 2015: Make it Happen!

Kumamoto, Japan; 7 October 2013 -  As more than 140 countries are expected to convene near the small town of Minamata, Japan, in the next few days to adopt a new legally binding treaty on mercury, the Zero Mercury Working Group[i] welcomes the new treaty.  It also urges governments pay homage to Minamata and the tragedy that befell this bucolic village by undertaking concrete activities that begin reducing global mercury pollution and ratifying the treaty quickly so that it legally enters into force.

“Governments and all the stakeholders involved need to build upon this momentum by continuing to undertake mercury reduction activities in parallel, and ratifying the treaty as fast as possible,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, ZMWG International Coordinator.  “We urge 50 countries to step up and ratify by 2015 — “50 by 2015 – Make it Happen!”

The treaty holds critical obligations that affect primary mining of mercury, mercury product phase-outs, mercury use, trade, emissions and disposal, among others, that taken together will eventually lead to global mercury reductions. 

“Delays in ratification not only translates to more mercury pollution,” said Lymberidi-Settimo, but it invariably raises the human and environmental costs of unabated mercury pollution.

During the preparatory meeting at the beginning of next week, governments must also decide on how to move collectively forward during the interim period until the treaty is ratified. 

“The Preparatory Meeting will need to agree interim activities of work to facilitate immediate mercury reduction and early ratification,” said Rico Euripidou of GroundWork South Africa, a member group of ZMWG.  “Countries need to take action while the treaty is in legal limbo. This must include providing the information and guidance necessary for developing countries to begin addressing crucial areas such as reducing mercury use in artisanal small-scale gold mining.”

The NGO group also expressed their preference that the resolutions to be adopted during this meeting, include language whereby NGO participation throughout the interim period is both facilitated and ensured. 

“This is particularly important where expert groups are created,” said Michael Bender, Coordinator of the ZMWG.  “NGO are needed to ensure that the process is balanced, transparent, and our technical experts can contribute their knowledge and experience.”

The ZMWG  expects a large number of countries to sign the treaty by the end of this week, opening the way to quick ratification.

Contacts

 

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, T: +32 2 2891301, Mobile: +32 496 532818, 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

Alison Abrahams, EEB Communications Officer at 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 (0) 2289 13 09 or +32 (0) 489 304 962

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +802-917-4579, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Background reading:

http://www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/MinamataConvention/ConferenceofPlenipotentiaries/DipConMeetingDocuments/tabid/105833/Default.aspx



[i] Zero Mercury Working Group is an international coalition of over 95 NGOs from more than 50 countries,  see: www.zeromercury.org