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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
Contributing to the preparation/implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, with a focus on developing strategies for phasing out mercury-added products and on reducing mercury use in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining through development of PDF Print
Thursday, 03 September 2015 15:52

 

 

EEB/ZMWG[1]-FAO/EC Project Overview: 

Contributing to the preparation/implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, with a focus on developing strategies for phasing out mercury-added products and on reducing mercury use in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining through development of National Action Plans.”



Updates

EEB/ZMWG supported projects focusing on phasing out mercury added products

EEB/ZMWG supported projects focusing on developing ASGM NAPs

African Regional Conferences, Nairobi, 22-26 May 2017 - blog 

African Regional Conferences, Nairobi, 22-26 May 2017 -  on ASGM 23-24 May 2017, on Products 24-25 May 2017

Report from the Project Inception Workshop in Mauritius - January 2016

Report from the Project Inception Workshop in Nigeria

Report from the Project Inception Workshop in Tanzania

Report from the 1st Miners Regional Workshop in Tanzania (Geita)

Report from the Project Inception Workshop in Ghana

Report from the 1st Miners Regional Workshop in Ghana (Tarkwa)



  1. Background and context

Following its 2009 Decision 25/5, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council convened an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to prepare a legally binding instrument on mercury.  Five INC meetings took place and the treaty text was finally agreed to on 19th January 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland. In October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was adopted and opened for signature.

Over the next three to five years, many countries signing on the Convention will likely need to conduct their Minamata Convention preparation activities. Related to this, a number of countries have already accessed funding from the Global Environment Fund for Minamata Implementation Activities and other related activities.

The non-governmental organization (NGO) European Environmental Bureau, in collaboration with the Zero Mercury Working Group, will work with local NGOs in four countries from the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group, specifically in the African region. In view of this work, we respectfully extend our offer to support these countries in preparing to conduct their Minamata Convention obligations in regard to provisions for 1) developing National Action Plans designed to reduce mercury use and release in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) and 2) the phase-out of mercury-added products.

  1. Overall objectives of the project

With funding provided by the European Commission (EC) through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, the European Environmental Bureau, in collaboration with the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), (hereafter referred to as EEB/ZMWG), will support at least in part the preparation for ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in four countries in the African region, which may then be used as a model for other countries in the ACP regions and perhaps elsewhere, by delivering the following outcomes, subject to discussions with the governments as relevant:

  • Formulation of specific strategies in two selected African countries for addressing the mercury-added products phase-out provisions of the Minamata Convention;

  • Technical assistance to the two selected countries in developing National Action Plans (NAP) for reducing mercury in Artisanal and Small scale Gold Mining (ASGM)  as per the Minamata Convention;

  • A summary of the above activities together with model legislation/ action plans that may also be developed, will be presented during regional conferences, contributing support and awareness raising for national and regional stakeholders interested in mercury reduction initiatives particularly related to the Minamata Convention.

The mercury-added product phase out initiatives and ASGM national action plans created under this project will enhance the ability of the selected African countries to work toward ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention. Specifically, by the end of the project, it is hoped that, countries’ representatives will have more clarity and direction on their overall Convention ratification and implementation obligations vis a vis the two specified areas – phasing out mercury-added products and reducing mercury use and release in ASGM, whilst becoming well prepared to put in place the Convention obligations in these two areas.

  1. Project Partners

The EEB/ZMWG, with resource person assistance provided by the Mercury Policy Project (USA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (USA) and groundwork (South Africa), plans on working collaboratively with  local NGO Partners, including: Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev) in Nigeria; Pesticide Action Network (PANeM) in Mauritius; Friends of the Nation (FoN) in Ghana; and AGENDA for Environment and Responsible Development (AGENDA) in Tanzania in implementing the projects where these local NGOs reside, as per the goals of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the aspirations of each of the governments in the four African countries. The focus area in Nigeria and Mauritius will be the phase out of mercury added products, while in Tanzania and Ghana the reduction of emissions and use of mercury in ASGM.

 

  1. Opportunities for Cooperation

    Aware that multiple endeavours related to mercury awareness raising, exposure and pollution reduction initiatives are, were, or maybe on-going in the four respective project countries, the EEB/ZMWG, with its partners in this project, would appreciate opportunities to discuss and where viable and appropriate, cooperate and coordinate our respective project work with UN agencies, government ministries, stakeholders, and other relevant parties.  To assure coordination, EEB/ZMWG would also welcome letters or expressions of interest in the project from the Ministries of Environment in the four selected project countries.



[1] The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), located in  Brussels, Belgium, is a federation of over 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in 30 EU Member States, in candidate, potential candidate and neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. Created in 1974, EEB aims to provide a focal point for our members to monitor and respond to the EU’s environmental policies.  EEB is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. We want the EU to ensure all people a healthy environment and rich biodiversity.

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.

 

For more information on EEB’s Zero Mercury Campaign and ZMWG, see: www.zeromercury.org , www.eeb.org