This week there will be a new international convention opening for signatures that will for the first time in history offer an agreed-upon plan to significantly decrease the usage of mercury throughout the world. This plan will also offer more safeguards for human and environmental health for the handling of this toxic material. After four years of negotiation the Minamata Convention on Mercury is now being praised by environment and health groups across the globe. Although some of the effects of said treaty will not be enforceable for about ten years following its ratification, it will come into effect after the convention has received signatures from 50 countries. The overall goal of the treaty is to, by 2020, phase out and ban the use of mercury (in ratifying countries) in consumer products. The treaty is also designed with the hope of eliminating mercury pollution at it's two most common sources: small-scale gold mining and coal-burning power plants. These two examples provide the reasoning that this convention will effect many developing countries more than the industrialized ones. For the countries involved in small-scale coal mining there will be a required action plan to seek alternatives, and to ensure that workers and the environment are not being negatively effected while also making them. It is also apart of this plan to ban the worst forms of this sector's use of mercury, burning it.
I feel as though the ratification Minamata Convention is one of extreme importance to the countries around the world. Although there are many countries who followed the U.S. influence of adopting more strict policies regarding the usage of mercury it is clear that the job is not yet complete. There are still too many countries in which mercury levels have been found to be above what is considered to be the safe limit; some of these countries such as Japan and Spain should not even have this problem. This finding only leads me to think that in the countries classified as developing that the percentage of mercury found in citizens would be even higher. This issue is of great importance regarding not only the safety of people throughout the world, but also the well-being of our environment and should therefore be ratified in as many countries as possible.
October 11, 2013