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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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Publications 2009

Introduction and background
Mercury is an extremely toxic metal that is now ubiquitous in the environment due to centuries of unchecked releases. When airborne, mercury is a transcontinental pollutant that, once deposited, bioaccumulates and bioconcentrates as it makes its way up the food chain. Exposure to mercury, even at low levels, has been linked to central nervous system damage, kidney and liver impairment, reproductive and development disorders, defects in fetuses and learning deficits.
Introduction
It is widely known that mercury is highly toxic, causing damage in particular to the nervous system, with the highest risk to humans occurring during the early development phases.

In response to European Union and global concerns about mercury pollution, the aim of the Community Mercury Strategy is to reduce mercury levels in the environment, and thereby reduce human exposure, by restricting mercury use, supply, and releases. These critical objectives were also key factors behind the recent 25th UNEP Governing Council Decision to begin negotiating a legally binding instrument on mercury, with the aim to have a treaty in place by 2013.
Introduction
Il est de notoriété publique que le mercure est hautement toxique, et atteint notamment le système nerveux en particulier, avec un risque maximum pour les humains dans les premières phases de leur développement.
Mercury in Fish: A Global Health Hazard

Executive Summary

Methylmercury contamination of fish and fish-eating mammals is a global public health concern. The risk is greatest for populations whose per capita fish consumption is high, and in areas where environmental pollution has elevated the average mercury content of fish. But methylmercury hazards also exist where per capita fish consumption and average mercury levels in fish are comparatively low. In cultures where fish-eating marine mammals such as whales and seals are part of the traditional diet, methylmercury in these animals adds to total dietary exposure.

10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (EN) (1.17 MB)
 hot
Methylmercury contamination of fish and fish-eating mammals is a global public health concern. The risk is greatest for populations whose per capita fish consumption is high, and in areas where environmental pollution has elevated the average mercury content of fish. But methylmercury hazards also exist where per capita fish consumption and average mercury levels in fish are comparatively low. In cultures where fish- eating marine mammals such as whales and seals are part of the traditional diet, methylmercury in these animals adds to total dietary exposure.
10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (FR) (1.24 MB)
La contamination par le methylmercure des poissons et des mammiferes piscivores constitue une preoccupation de sante publique a l' echelle mondiale. Les populations dont la consommation de poisson par habitant est elevee sont les plus exposees, mais ce risque concerne egalement les regions oil la pollution environnementale a augmente la teneur moyenne en mercure du poisson.
10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (ES) (1.18 MB)
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La contaminaciOn por metilmercurio de pescados y mamiferos que se alimentan de pescado es un problema de salud pilblica. El riesgo es mayor para las poblaciones cuyo consumo de pescado es alto, en zonas donde la contaminaciOn ha elevado el contenido medio de mercurio en el pescado. Pero el peligro del metilmercurio tambien existe donde el consumo de pescado y su contaminaciOn por mercurio son, comparativamente, bajos. En las culturas donde ademas los mamiferos marinos que se alimentan de pescado, como ballenas y focas, forman parte de la dieta tradicional, la exposiciOn al mercurio aumenta de forma considerable
10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (PT) (1.20 MB)
A contaminacào por metilmerciirio em peixes e mamiferos que se alimentam de peixes é uma preocupacao mundial de sande pfiblica. 0 risco é maior para populaciies cujo consumo per capita é alto, e em areas onde a poluicào ambiental tem aumentado o contendo medio de merciirio empeixes. Mas os riscos do metilmerciirio tambem existem onde o consumo per capita e os niveis medios de merciirio em peixe sào comparativamente baixos. Em culturas em que fazem parte da dieta tradicional os mamiferos marinhos que se alimentam de peixes tais como baleias e focas, o metilmerciirio nesses animais aumenta a exposicào total na dieta.
10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (CHI) (1.16 MB)
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Executive summary
This assessment has been prepared for the Mercury Policy Project/Tides Center and is being co-released by the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), Ban Toxics! and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).
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