Anniversary of Agreement against Toxic Mercury

UNEP is celebrating the anniversary of the collaboration of 132 parties to disrupt trade, raise public awareness, build institutional capacity and manufacture mercury-free products. A year ago, on August 16, 2017, the Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into force – a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. To better help during the pandemic, the Congress Secretariat launched Minamata Online last year, a series of webinars designed to help parties and stakeholders fulfill their obligations and obligations under the Convention, which is legally binding. The second season of the series is underway. In addition, important reports on the links between chemicals and waste, biodiversity and climate change have recently been produced in cooperation with the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. The disproportionate effects of toxic mercury on women have also been the subject of new studies on gender equality and mercury. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) activities are the largest source of mercury release into the soil and often take place in species-rich and fragile ecosystems around the world. The fight against ASGM can reduce mercury exposure of 15 to 20 million miners worldwide, as well as emissions into the environment. The Minamata Convention is named after the city of Minamata in Japan, where local communities were poisoned by mercury-contaminated industrial sewage in the late 1950s and suffered crippling, incurable and stigmatizing effects. Every year, the toxic trail of economic growth – pollution and waste – results in the premature death of millions of people and inflicts immeasurable damage to the planet. Plastic is a major problem, from source extraction to waste. Not only for the environment, but also for people and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Want to know how? Find out with this animation! UNEP supports strong laws and institutions for a healthy planet and healthy people. In 2009, given the current impact and persistent threats of continued mercury contamination, governments around the world agreed to begin negotiations on a legally binding global mercury treaty, with the aim of completing it within four years. In January 2013, the fifth and final meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC5) on the preparation of the Treaty was held in Geneva, where agreement was reached on the text of the new Treaty. Human activities contribute to most of the mercury release. Each year, up to 9,000 tonnes of mercury are released into the atmosphere, water and land. The largest source of mercury emissions is artisanal and smallholder gold mining, followed closely by coal combustion, non-ferrous metal production and cement production. Everyday items such as cosmetics, some fluorescent lamps, some batteries and dental fillings also contain mercury and mercury compounds. Poisoning most often occurs through ingestion of contaminated fish and inhalation – liquid mercury, once commonly used in thermometers, evaporates at room temperature. A variant, methylmercury, is an organic compound that is often found in fish and crustaceans and then in the human food chain. Many commonly used products such as batteries, thermometers, and cosmetics, including those that lighten the skin, also contain mercury.

This week, the world is celebrating the fourth anniversary of the convention. Since the entry into force of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in 2017, 132 Parties from around the world have worked together to disrupt trade, raise public awareness, build institutional capacity and produce mercury-free products. In August 2017, the Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into force, one of the most recent environmental treaties in the world. A birthday is always a time of reflection and inspiration. Its goal was to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of mercury, a ubiquitous element that can cause everything from birth defects to kidney disease. It deals with anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its life cycle: mining, import and export, products and processes, emissions to air, releases to land and water, contaminated sites, waste management and many more. As of May 2017, 50 countries have ratified the Convention. Today, the number of Parties to the Convention has doubled to 95, and many more countries are pledging political and financial support to reduce and eliminate the use of mercury and its compounds. Discarded electrical and electronic equipment (such as phones, laptops, refrigerators, sensors and televisions), known as e-waste, is a growing challenge that keeps pace with the growth of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry. Currently, there are more mobile phone contracts on Earth than there are people. Electronic waste contains substances that can be dangerous to human health and the environment if not treated properly – including mercury, cadmium and lead. .