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Lithuania at the starting line of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

2017-09-26

The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury currently taking place in Geneva is attended by Lithuania as well. According to Aurelija Bajoraitienė, chief specialist of the Chemical Substances Division of the Pollution Prevention Department at the Ministry of Environment, this meeting is the beginning of the “path” of this new Convention that has just come into force in August.

The Minamata Convention sets forth the guidelines for the protection of human health and the environment against the adverse impact from mercury. Mercury is a highly toxic substance that can cause much damage to humans, animals, nature and ecosystems. This metal easily travels large distances by air, land or water, which makes its risks a universal problem that must be solved through cooperation at international level.

The meeting in Geneva has adopted many different solutions needed to begin the implementation of the Minamata Convention. The solutions deal with the export procedures, the mechanism of granting exclusions for the use of mercury-added products, reporting, terms of project funding, etc.

According to Aurelija Bajoraitienė, the countries participating in the meeting are mostly concerned with the questions of reporting, the requirements for the safe storage of mercury, the setting of limit values for waste and finances. The results of negotiations on the action plan and budget for the implementation of the Convention will determine the parties’ contributions to the Multilateral Fund of the Convention.

Lithuania supports the plan of integrating the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention with the Joint Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, as well as the clear and simple format of reports. Our country is of the opinion that the budget of the Convention implementation activities and the Secretariat for 2018-2019 has to be balanced to prevent the increase of the parties’ contributions. It is important to maximise the use of the existing institutional structures and the collected expertise.

Along with other EU states, our country seeks to achieve that the meeting in Geneva adopts the greatest possible number of solutions for the successful implementation of the Convention and the obligations laid down in its Final Act passed in October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan. At the conference in Kumamoto, Lithuania that was holding the Presidency of the EU Council at that time signed the Minamata Convention on its own behalf and on that of the European Union.

This Convention regulates all phases of the mercury life cycle and provides measure for their regulation, including the phasing-out of mercury production, the reduction of its use and emissions in both small-scale gold mining and large industrial enterprises, the phasing-out or reduction of its use in various industrial products, production processes, especially in dental amalgam, the ban on the manufacture, sale, export and import of mercury-added products or products containing its mixtures (e.g. batteries, lamps and thermometers), the control and reduction of the scale of mercury emissions to air, land and water, and ensuring the safe storage of mercury wastes and the adequate remediation of contaminated sites.

Public Relations Division
26.09.2017

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas