Today, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat have gathered 14 countries in the Caribbean to showcase the impressive efforts in phasing out mercury-added products in some of the countries in the region. The conference organisers hope to raise awareness about the global mercury crisis, emphasise the importance of implementing the Minamata Convention throughout the region, and encourage those countries that haven’t ratified the Convention to join this global and legally binding agreement.
The event takes place on 6 and 7 June in Port-of-Spain and is hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago government.
Since the year 2021, the EEB and ZMWG have been actively assisting the governments of Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda to phase out the mercury-added products (MAPs) listed under Article 4 of the Minamata Convention. Through the Sustainable Development Programme of the CARICOM Secretariat, the Region is taking significant strides towards building capacity and gathering support for the effective implementation, monitoring, enforcement of and reporting of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and related commitments in the chemicals and waste cluster, including mercury.
Together, the EEB and ZMWG have been involved in supporting the three Caribbean governments in the assessment of their institutional capacity and needs, as well as in the development of a roadmap for phasing-out MAPs. With the aid of local consultants, the organisations have conducted comprehensive market studies to discover the availability of mercury-free alternatives, whilst lending their expertise to the development of mercury-free procurement policies for MAPs, such as lamps, medical measuring devices and dental amalgam.
The conference is an opportunity to share the ZMWG’s Guide and Checklist to phase out the Mercury Added Products (MAPs), its template for developing a national plan to phase out MAPs, a market study on mercury-free product alternatives and examples of (mercury-free) procurement policies. These actions could come to complement the development and implementation of other chemicals and waste initiatives conducted by the CARICOM Secretariat and would allow for synergies and coordination between other regional agencies involved in similar initiatives.
The collaboration with the Caribbean governments reflects the EEB and ZMWG’s unwavering commitment to supporting the reduction and eventual elimination of the use of MAPs in the region and is part of the third phase of the Africa, Caribbean Pacific, Multilateral Environmental Agreements programme (ACP MEAs III), a partnership between the European Union, the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, UN Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Jointly, the EEB and ZMWG cooperate with the United Nations Environmental Programme and global partners to support and identify projects that reduce the use of and exposure to this dangerous neurotoxin and make mercury a thing of the past.
In recognition of the growing global mercury crisis, the EEB and ZMWG channeled resources to relevant NGOs or government projects across the world that are engaged in reducing mercury emissions and implementing the Convention. The Minamata Convention is directed towards the protection of human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. According to UNEP’s Global Mercury Assessment Report, human activities have increased the total atmospheric mercury concentrations by about 450% above natural levels. Between 2010 and 2015 and despite regulatory efforts to limit mercury emissions into the atmosphere, these have increased by 20%.
Rina Guadagnini, EEB Policy Officer:
“The current and future generations want to enjoy their right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, free from the dangers of mercury pollution. Future-proof policies must be mercury-free and this most toxic element on Earth must be made a thing of the past. Networks such as the EEB/ZMWG can offer expertise that supports achieving the mercury policy change we want to see.”
Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB’s Policy Manager for the ‘Zero Mercury’ campaign:
“The fight against mercury pollution is a long and assiduous journey that requires the collaboration of decision-makers, civil society and business partners at national, regional and global levels. We are onboard with providing the assistance, but national governments have the lead in implementing the Convention. We need their commitment to limit the mercury pollution in the country and in the world.”