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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.



 

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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