31 July, 2012

Global Community asked to support Mercury Reduction Treaty

Sana Jamal 

ISLAMABAD – Considering the harmful effects of mercury, a toxic substance, on human life, wildlife, and ecosystems, a Pakistani think tank, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), has called upon the global community to come up with a legally binding global mercury treaty. Expressing its fears, in a statement issued on Monday, the organization noted that the existing important global treaty elements have proven to be weak and
“ineffective in addressing the rising mercury levels and are failing to protect wildlife, ecosystem and human health.” 
In a move to urge the national and international organization to come forward and support the motion for cleaner and healthier environment, SDPI has also moved a motion for a legally binding treaty on Mercury control to be presented at world’s significant conservation event, IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012 that is to be held in Jejo, Republic of Korea. 
The draft motion has garnered an overwhelming support from organizations across the world. The draft resolution moved on behalf of SDPI, by Dr Mahmood A. Khwaja, Advisor on Chemicals and Industrial Development, calls for effective measures to reduce and eliminate the use of mercury and ask for a mandatory National Implementation Plan (NIP) to ensure implementation of treaty. 

The draft resolution also requests Director General IUCN to work with the IUCN Commissions and membership networks for the promotion of awareness regarding adverse health effects of mercury exposure and protection. The resolution underlines mandatory obligations to identify and characterize contaminated sites with effective and enforceable treaty compliance provisions Mercury is a developmental toxicant whose effects have been known for many decades, but concern has increased in the last few years among the medical and environmental communities due to the recognition of its environmental ubiquity and the developmental effects observed at relatively low levels of exposure. 

In December 2002, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a Global Mercury Assessment, calling for immediate actions to reduce pollution. The report noted that as a toxic substance of global concern, mercury causes significant harm to wildlife, ecosystems and human health in general and to some populations, most notably the fetus and young children are especially susceptible. It is also a major threat to fish which constitute an all- important nutritious component of human diet.