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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)

 
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Switzerland must enact full mercury export ban say environmental groups PDF Print
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 13:43

PRESS RELEASE: 

Switzerland must enact full mercury export ban say environmental groups

Fifty environmental groups are calling on Switzerland to match their words with action by fully banning mercury exports.  

Just weeks after Switzerland held the first COP of the Minamata Convention on mercury they are considering continuing to export the dangerous neurotoxin for some allowed uses.

“Switzerland remains the weak link in Europe when it comes to allowing mercury flows to the rest of the world,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’ at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). 

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens' organizations with around 140 organisations in more than 30 countries

The EU banned exports of mercury in 2011 but the Swiss mercury trade has continued. Some 50 environmental groups have come together to call on Switzerland to stop exporting mercury.

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin and exposure can cause serious health problems. 

A public consultation was launched in Switzerland last year with proposed amendments to four ordinances.  According to the FOEN website, the objective is “to ensure that recycled mercury in Switzerland is removed from the global market and stored using an environmentally sound method.” 

“Unfortunately, commercial interests are reportedly trying to convince the Swiss government to allow mercury exports dental amalgam, even though that use has been nearly phased out in Switzerland,” said Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, USA.  

“If Switzerland wants to be the flag bearer for the Convention, it needs to show exemplary leadership.”

Advocates point out that the Convention calls on Parties to phase down the use of dental amalgam, which Switzerland has already done.  

“We strongly urge Switzerland to reconsider implementing only a partial export ban,” Dr Shahriar Hossain, Senior Research Advisor, Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO, Bangladesh.  

“Exporting mercury specifically for dental mercury use sends a contradictory message.”

Advocates say that it may be difficult to ensure that exported mercury will only go for intended uses and that any controls will not be circumvented for financial gain, or that mercury may change hands further down the chain. With the price of mercury doubling in the last year alone, financial incentives to circumvent any informal agreements or regulations have only increased.

The Swiss Federal Council’s decision is expected tomorrow Wednesday 25 October.

ENDS

Notes for editors

References

Letter from Green Groups on Swiss Mercury Export Ban , 23 October 2017
 
https://www.bafu.admin.ch/bafu/en/home/topics/international-affairs/news-releases.msg-id-68251.html
 
https://www.tdg.ch/geneve/actu-genevoise/geneve-fief-combat-mercure/story/29077832?track
 
https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/minamata-convention_nations-meet-in-geneva-to-make-mercury-history-/43543598
 
https://chemicalwatch.com/register?o=53294&;productID=1&layout=main
 
http://www.customstoday.com.pk/switzerland-propose-wto-to-amend-its-mercury-regulations/
 
http://cop1.mercuryconvention.org/
 
www.zeromercury.org

For further information, please contact:
 
Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, T: +32 2 2891301, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, USA, T: +1 802 917 8222,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Shahriar Hossain, Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO, Bangladesh, T: 880-2-912-2729 (W), 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
 

 

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