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22 September 2017

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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:




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.


Home Press Releases Setback for health: EU Parliament shirks banishing mercury from measuring devices
Setback for health: EU Parliament shirks banishing mercury from measuring devices PDF Print
Tuesday, 14 November 2006 01:00

(Brussels, 14 November 2006) Anti-mercury health and environment NGOsi strongly deplore today’s vote by the European Parliament, delaying restrictions on measuring devices containing mercury, such as barometers and thermometers. . “Sadly, Parliament has yielded to pressure from a small group of barometer makers”, said Elena Lymberidi, Zero Mercury Project Coordinator at the European Environmental Bureau. “MEPs have allowed the whims of a tiny market sector to trample the much wider imperative of protecting people’s health and the environment. We will call upon the Commission and Council to reject Parliament´s position.”

The NGOs see making new barometers which contain mercury as irresponsible. . The alternative of controlling their manufacture does not prevent the danger from breaks or leaks that exists during the instrument’s entire lifespan.

“This is a deeply disappointing outcome”, said a representative from Health & Environment Alliance. “Dozens of tonnes will continue to enter the market and endanger people’s health and the environment, especially during leakage and breakage”, said Karolina Ruzickova, from Health Care Without Harm Europe.

The NGOs condemned Parliament’s vote, which waives earlier moves to restrict mercury- containing devices for consumer and healthcare use. Now a first reading agreement for a quick adoption of the directive cannot be reached and this means that very likely the whole issue will have to be brought under the REACH legislation. Because after REACH is adopted, a ban on mercury in specific applications will need to pass through the REACH legal procedures, leading to a serious delay of a possible ban. Meanwhile, many hundreds of those devices will break and leak and contaminate the environment. “Parliament has foolishly missed a vital and immediate opportunity to continue the steady progress towards totally removing mercury from measuring devices, although mercury-free alternatives are currently available. As a result, consumers, health workers, patients and the environment remain exposed to this source of mercury contamination”, said Lisette van Vliet, from Health and Environment Alliance.

The NGOs now call on the Commission to swiftly propose measures as soon as the ‘REACH’ chemicals law is adopted to reduce mercury contamination as quickly as possible.


For more information:-

Elena Lymberidi, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Tel +32 496 532818, Karolina Ruzickova, Health Care Without Harm Europe, Tel: +420 222 782 808

Lisette van Vliet, Health and Environment Alliance (formerly EPHA Environment Network (EEN)), Tel: +32 2 234 3645

Michael Bender, Mercury Policy Project/ Zero Mercury Working Group, Tel: +1 802 223 9000 www.zeromercury.org; www.env-health.org; www.noharm.org, www.mercurypolicy.org

See also letter sent to the Members of the European Parliament: http://www.zeromercury.org/EU developments/1 311 06NGOsLetterLimitationsPlenary.pdf

i Health and Environmental NGOs include:

Health and Environment Alliance, http://www.env-health.org/ is an international non-governmental organisation advocating environmental protection as a means to improving health and well-being. Member groups and organisations represent health,

environment, women, health professionals and others. The group has a diverse membership of 41 member groups (6 international organisations, 11 European networks and 24 national/local organizations) including non-governmental organisations, professional bodies representative of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, academic institutions and other not-for-profit organisations.

Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH), www.noharm.org, is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical and nursing professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labour unions, environmental and religious organisations. HCWH is dedicated to transforming the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of more then 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

The Zero Mercury Working Group, www.zeromercury.org, is an international coalition of more than 40 public interest non­governmental organizations from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group. The aim of the group is to reach “‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, towards eliminating mercury in the environment at EU level and globally.”

Also supported by NGOs from the USA (Natural Resources Defence Council), India (Toxics Link), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS), South Africa (groundWork).