GORHAM, Maine – Researchers from Biodiversity Research Institute will present current mercury research at the 11th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant to be held July 28-Aug. 2, in Edinburgh, Scotland. In addition, David Evers, Ph.D., executive director of BRI and a member of a partnership group within the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will co-moderate a panel discussion between scientists and policymakers on the need to create a global mercury monitoring network that can evaluate the effectiveness of UNEP’s global mercury treaty.
“A critical component of our mission,” says Evers, “is that we inform policy with unbiased, sound scientific data.” Evers is a member of UNEP’s Mercury Air Transport and Fate Research Partnership Group — a committee that helped provide scientific information about mercury to the delegates who crafted the UNEP treaty. “This conference is a key step in gathering together international scientists and policymakers to promote science-policy interactions and enhance international exchange of information.”
In anticipation of the ratification of the global treaty on mercury, ICMGP will include a special panel session on Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Global Mercury Treaty, which Evers is co-moderating with Susan Egan Keane, deputy director of the Health and Environment Program at the National Resources Defense Council. “This panel will kick-start the critical dialogue between scientists and policymakers about ways to evaluate if the treaty is really having an impact on the environment and human health,” says Egan Keane.
The special panel session at ICMGP will discuss treaty-related issues such as:
• How to raise awareness of the need for a standardized and replicable monitoring network
• How to best communicate information
• What components are needed for cost-effective and customized plans
• Where are the best places for standardized monitoring stations
Panel topics will include monitoring of sources (especially artisanal small-scale gold mining, the world’s largest source of mercury pollution), human health and exposure monitoring, and monitoring of the physical and biotic environments. Science panelists include: Marcello Veiga, University of British Columbia, Canada; Nicola Pirrone, CNR-Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research, Italy; and Nil Basu, McGill University. Policy panelists include: Jane Dennison, U.S. State Department; Gunnar Futsaeter, United Nations Environment Programme, Switzerland; and Carolyn Vickers, World Health Organization, Switzerland.
In February 2009, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme agreed on the need to develop a global legally binding treaty on mercury. The work to prepare this treaty was undertaken by an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC), which completed negotiations in January 2013; the treaty will be officially signed in October 2013. In parallel, UNEP established a Global Mercury Partnership, a voluntary initiative that has been supporting immediate actions to achieve global mercury reductions while the treaty was being negotiated; and will continue to provide activities that will complement and support the treaty implementation. The overall goal of the Global Mercury Partnership is to protect human health and the global environment from the release of mercury and its compounds by minimizing and, where feasible, ultimately eliminating global, human-related mercury releases into air, water, and land.
BRI, a leading research institute studying the exposure and effects of mercury on wildlife in habitats around the world, has compiled a Global Biotic Mercury Synthesis Database and is working with international collaborators on a Global Mercury Observation System that will help track the effectiveness of the treaty.
The mission of Biodiversity Research Institute is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research, and to use scientific findings to advance environmental awareness and inform decision makers. BRI researchers work throughout the world in a variety of ecosystems and with a variety of wildlife species. Since its inception, the Institute has been a leader in research designed to understand the exposure and effects of mercury in ecosystems. To learn more about BRI’s Center for Mercury Studies, visit www.briloon.org/hgcenter.
To learn more about BRI’s international efforts to develop plans for an effective global mercury monitoring network, visit www.briloon.org/hgcenter