OTTAWA, Oct. 10, 2013 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada today signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global agreement to reduce mercury emissions and releases to the environment. The Convention is a legally-binding treaty negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its primary objective is to protect human health and the environment from human sources of emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
"Signing this treaty reinforces Canada's commitment to protecting the Arctic ecosystem, the health of our indigenous peoples, Northerners and the global population," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Environment Minister, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council. "The Government of Canada actively participated in all five intergovernmental sessions to negotiate a strong treaty to reduce major sources of global mercury emissions that present risks to Canadians and their environment."
"I am very proud that, because of the federal government's support, a representative of the Inuit Circumpolar Council was part of the Canadian delegation and played an important role in these negotiations in raising northern Indigenous Peoples' health as a serious issue," said the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
As an Arctic country, Canada is one of the main beneficiaries of this agreement. While Canada has reduced its own mercury emissions by over 90% in the last forty years, more must be done to protect the health of Canadians and their environment. Over 95% of the mercury deposited in Canada from human activity comes from foreign sources.
The Convention addresses all aspects of the life-cycle of mercury, including providing controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted. The pace of mercury reductions will depend on a number of factors, including which countries ratify the treaty, how many ratify (50 required for entry into force) and what actions the Parties to the treaty decide to take.
At their meeting in Sweden in May 2013, the Ministers of the Arctic Council welcomed the Minamata Convention on Mercury, noting the particular vulnerabilities of Arctic ecosystems and indigenous communities, and encouraged the treaty's swift entry into force.
The Convention was opened to countries for signature during a Diplomatic Conference being held in Kumamoto, Japan, on October 10-11, 2013, and will remain open in New York until October 8, 2014.
SOURCE: Environment Canada
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