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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs


“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.


For more information, see:




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 African Regional Conferences, Nairobi, 22-26 May 2017 - blog
African Regional Conferences, Nairobi, 22-26 May 2017 - blog PDF Print
Tuesday, 13 June 2017 11:08

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

EEB/ZMWG (“Zero Mercury”) recently hosted a series of mercury reduction conferences from the 23rd to 25th of May 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration with UN Environment. The purpose of the conferences was to share information about, and experiences with, reducing mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and phasing out mercury-added products.

A total of 71 representatives from different Environment and Mining ministries, UN Environment, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNDP and special agencies, intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, as well as academics, private sector representatives and consultants from 30 African countries, Jamaica and China, took part in the workshops.

The workshop focused on the need for governments to plan for implementation of the Minamata Convention (“the Convention”), which will enter into force in mid-August 2017.  The Convention contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply, use and trade of mercury, as well as to reduce its emissions and releases to the environment. 

The first day and a half workshop focused on ASGM, and specifically on the development of National Action Plans for reducing mercury use in ASGM, a mandatory requirement of the Convention.  The discussions emphasized the challenges of formalization and technical approaches to reducing mercury use in ASGM. The experiences from our work in Tanzania and Ghana were also presented.  Because ASGM accounts for the biggest source release of mercury to the African environment, the workshop focused on the need for regional cooperation to simultaneously reduce supply of available mercury and demand for its use in the ASGM sector, while promoting cleaner production. This workshop was preceded by a UN Environment – Global Mercury Partnership training session on developing baseline estimates for the ASGM sector through a National Action Plan (NAP).

The next day and a half focused on the phase out of mercury-added products and outlined the need for country-specific laws and strategies to complete these phase outs by 2020, as required by the Convention. Case studies from Nigeria and Mauritius were presented, focusing on steps for phasing out products that can be taken not only by governments but also NGOs, UN agencies and other stakeholders. Phasing out mercury-added products is also a priority area for the region, since Africa is a net importer of mercury-added products that become environmental pollutant at the end of their life. 

These two EEB/ZMWG workshops were followed, on May 26th, by an awareness raising and knowledge sharing meeting of the UN Environment Global Mercury Product Partnership for the African region.  This one-day forum assisted government officials to develop their own draft country road maps for phasing out mercury in products, by using the checklist developed by the Zero Mercury. It further provided country case study examples towards successfully phasing out mercury added products.  In a key development, during this meeting, representatives of the Chinese manufacturing sector presented their plans for shifting to mercury-free products in the health care sector.

The active and enthusiastic participation of representatives of the African Region in these workshops demonstrated that the region has clearly committed to reducing mercury as a priority issue, with a focus on reducing mercury use in products and ASGM, its two largest uses. That enthusiasm is consistent with their efforts taken during the treaty negotiations, when the African Region took the lead in offering the strongest text to phase out mercury-added products, including dental amalgam, and raising concerns about exposure risks from ASGM.  It is notable that, of the 55 countries having ratified the Minamata Convention to date, Africa is ahead of every other continent with 20 country ratifications including Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Togo and Zambia. Thus, Africa continues to demonstrate its leadership in addressing the global mercury crisis.

This series of workshops was the culmination of a 3 year (July 2014-December 2017) Zero Mercury Working Group project, funded by the European Commission via the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under the programme on Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, phase 2 (ACP/MEAs2). Complementary funds were provided by UN Environment Global Mercury Partnership and the US EPA.



Africa Drives Global Action Against Mercury Use, http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/05/africa-drives-global-action-against-mercury-use/