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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 Breakthrough reached on 'Phasing Down' dental mercury use, at W.H.O. meeting
Breakthrough reached on 'Phasing Down' dental mercury use, at W.H.O. meeting PDF Print
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 01:00
eeb_logo zeromercury_logo mercury_policy_logo

[Geneva, Switzerland, 18th November, 2009] Hailed as “a breakthrough” by Green Groups, an agreement in concept was reached yesterday by a World Health Organization (W.H.O)-convened international expert group, supporting the “phase down” of dental mercury use worldwide [1]. However, the groups note that there is still much work to be done on deciding how and when a global amalgam phase down will occur.

“As a first step, I’m pleased to positively support a global ‘phase down’ on dental mercury use to reduce environmental releases,” said Michael Bender, meeting participant representing the Zero Mercury Working Group and director of the U.S.-based Mercury Policy Project. “We also recognised that fostering the increased use of mercury-free alternatives must tie in with W.H. O. ’s commendable goal of bringing affordable dental healthcare to the global population.”

W.H.O. recognises that world governments reached a consensus on the need for a legally binding treaty to reduce global mercury exposure [2]. They said that the “Meeting on the Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration WHO/HQ” in Geneva was intended “to provide global guidelines and strategies for future biomaterials use,” and address the different challenges for richer and poorer countries [3].

“It was evident from the presentations at the meeting that mercury-free dental fillings are already widely used in some developing countries, so reality may be overtaking policy decisions,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, observer at the meeting and coordinator of the European Environmental Bureau’s Zero Mercury Campaign. “Medical insurance covering alternative materials could be crucial for a swifter transition allowing tooth-coloured fillings to become the rule and not the exception to dental treatment”.

Last week, a letter signed by over 70 non-governmental organisations from around the world called on the W.H.O to establish a schedule to phase out the use of dental mercury fillings as soon as possible [4].

A 2005 W.H.O. Policy Paper on “Mercury in Health Care” states that: “Mercury is highly toxic, especially when metabolized into methyl mercury... Recent studies suggest that mercury may have no threshold below which some adverse effects do not occur.”

For further information please contact:

Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, Co-founder of Zero Mercury Working Group: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,
Mob: +1 802.917.4579,
T: +1 802 223 9000, www.mercurypolicy.org

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB Zero Mercury Project Coordinator, Co-founder of Zero Mercury Working Group, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ;
T: +32 (0)2 289 1301,
Mob: +32 496 532818, www.zeromercury.org


Editors Notes:

About mercury: Mercury is persistent and can be transformed in the environment into methylmercury, its most toxic form, which readily passes through both the placenta and blood-brain barriers. It accumulates in the bodies of humans and wildlife and can become more concentrated as it moves up the food chain, and poses a particular risk to pregnant women and young children who eat contaminated fish.

Previous relevant PR: Time to pull mercury out of fillings, say Health and Green groups to W.H.O. (also in FR, DE, ES), 16 November 2009

[1] The W.H.O. provisional meeting agenda: http://www.zeromercury.org/UNEPdevelopments/Agenda-22oct09.pdf

Besides W.H.O. and UNEP officials, those attending the meeting were from: FDI World Dental Federation; the American and Canadian Dental Associations, the Nordic Institute of Dental Materials, the Centre for Side-effects of Dental Materials in Norway, the Ministry of Social Protection from Colombia and expert scientists from University Dental Schools’ from the US, China, Kuwait, Sweden, Ireland, S. Africa, Japan, Thailand, UK, as well as environmental NGOs - European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project founding members of the Zero Mercury Working Group. Presentations covered and reported on situation concerning dental treatment in almost all of the world regions.

[2] U.N. Environment Council Decision 25 on mercury (starting on p.20): http://www.chem.unep.ch/MERCURY/GC25/GC25ReportEnglish255.pdf

[3] The WHO’s 22nd October 2009 correspondence recognised that world governments reached a consensus in February 2009 on the need for a global legally binding treaty to significantly reduce global mercury exposure:

.

“...awareness of the environmental implications of mercury has increased markedly over recent years, and mercury is a matter of concern to several countries and international organizations.... Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has launched an initiative on avoiding the contamination of the environment from mercury which has implications to the use of dental amalgam in countries... The advantages and disadvantages of these alternatives need to be analyzed in order for WHO to update the knowledge base and give advice to countries in this matter. The intention of the meeting is to provide global guidelines and strategies for the future use of biomaterials and the challenges are different for high-, middle-, and low-income countries.”

Link:

http://www.zeromercury.org/UNEP_developments/1-bender-let.pdf

[4] NGO 13 November letter to W.H.O.: http://mercurypolicy.org/wp­content/uploads/2009/11/091113 ngos sign on letter to who dental.pdf

[5] 2005 WHO paper: http://www.who. int/water_san itation_health/med icalwaste/mercurypolpaper. pdf