Caribbean Urged To Phase Out Mercury Products

(CMC) – A two-day conference showcasing the efforts in phasing out mercury-added products in some of the countries in the Caribbean ends in Trinidad on Wednesday with the organisers saying the event is intended to raise awareness about the global mercury crisis.

“The current and future generations want to enjoy their right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, free from the dangers of mercury pollution,” said Rina Guadagnini, the policy officer with the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) one of the organisers of the event.

“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,” Guadagnini added.

The conference was organised by the EEB, the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), and the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretariat. It is being hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago government.

“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,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB’s policy manager for the ‘Zero Mercury’ campaign.

“We are on board with providing assistance, but national governments have the lead in implementing the Convention. We need their commitment to limit mercury pollution in the country and the world.”

The organisers said the conference was also intended to 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.

Since the year 2021, the EEB and ZMWG have been actively assisting the governments of Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts-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.

“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 Secretariat said in a statement.

It said 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 Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, UN Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.