Geneva will play host to the body responsible for implementing a global convention to reduce mercury pollution. Some 150 countries voted in favour of the Swiss city at the first conference of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which was also staged in Geneva.
The conference also agreed on a range of measures to limit the impact of mercury extraction and industrial usage. This included guidelines to regulate artisanal gold mining and the reduction of mercury emissions. Another guideline specifies how the atmospheric mercury emissions generated by coal-fired power plants, waste incineration plants and cement plants can be reduced.
Switzerland is an important legal trader in mercury and recycler. Switzerland exported 30 tonnes of mercury last year – down from 110 tonnes per year between 2011-2015 – the government said in June.
Geneva is a centre of expertise for hazardous chemicals and waste. It is already home to the secretariats for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP), the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.
On Saturday, at the end of a six-day conference, the Minamata Convention’s secretariat was added to the list of agencies that Geneva will host.
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