Minister for the Environment participates in international meeting on mercury

Mercury is one of the most dangerous environmental toxins. Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog is participating in the first Meeting of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury and is representing strong Swedish engagement on the issue.

"Mercury has long been a priority issue for Sweden, and we were one of the initiators behind the Minamata Convention. It is very positive that the Convention on Mercury is in place," says Ms Skog.

Most of the mercury that falls on Swedish soil comes from other countries. To reduce environmental pollution it is important that measures are taken at global level.

"Mercury is dangerous for both the environment and people's health. Strong action is needed throughout the life cycle, such as reducing emissions to air and water, phasing out of amalgam and clear rules on taking care of waste. This is a challenge for all countries," says Ms Skog.

Poor people are particularly vulnerable to dangerous substances, partly because access to information is lacking. The use of mercury in the small-scale extraction of gold, for example, leads to enormous health and environmental problems in many developing countries. Often whole families, including young children, are involved in this work. The issue is particularly highlighted in the Minamata Convention and will be discussed during the Meeting of the Parties.

Swedish ban on mercury since 2009

Mercury is a volatile metal that can be transported long distances in the air. Mercury is not degradable; instead, it accumulates in soil, water and living organisms. High levels can occur in fish, for example.

Since 2009, Sweden has had a comprehensive ban on mercury. The ban means that the use of dental amalgam in fillings is not permitted and products containing mercury may no longer be released on the Swedish market.

Contact

Hanna Björnfors
Press Secretary to Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog
Phone (switchboard) +46 8 405 10 00
Mobile +46 (0)72-500 92 11
email to Hanna Björnfors, via senior registry clerk

The Minamata Convention

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a UN treaty adopted in 2013. The Convention regulates all aspects of mercury’s life cycle, from extraction to waste management, including emissions to air. The Convention regulates the use of mercury in both products and industrial processes through bans and restrictions that in most cases apply from 2020.

Negotiations on the Convention were concluded in 2013 and so far it has been ratified by 74 countries. Sweden ratified the Convention in May 2017.

The first Meeting of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1) will takes place in Geneva on 24–29 September 2017. Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog will participate in a high-level segment at the end of the meeting. The overall theme of the meeting is ‘Make Mercury History’. The City of Geneva is hosting the Meeting of the Parties.