Indonesia Urges the World to Erase Illegal Mercury Trade

Indonesia is trusted to be the host for the Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP-4). The event was executed in Bali and split into two phases, the first one was held virtually from 1-5 November 2021 and the second one in-person from 21-25 March 2022.

The purpose of COP-4 is for the Indonesian government to urge world leaders to eradicate the illegal mercury trade that is still barely under control.

General Director from the Ministry of Forestry and Environment, Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, stated that the efforts to erase such an illegal practice is one of the most pressing issues to be discussed during the conference.

“We hope that all of the Indonesian Representatives are willing to fully support our agenda, to communicate with accredited countries, to explain our intention, and to garner support for this proposal,” said Rosa during the briefing session with overseas Indonesian Representatives, Monday (15/11).

The abundant illegal trading routes are one of the main factors why unauthorized mercury is still widely distributed. According to a report by UN Environment Programme in 2020, the total value of the global illegal mercury trade amounts to more than US$210 million.

The number is expected to increase due to the rising demand for gold during the pandemic. More than 50% of the illegal mercury trade comes from small-scale gold mining. It’s recorded that there are 3 areas with the highest concentration of small-scale gold mining in the world, which are Southeast Asia and East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South America.

One of the Indonesian Representatives, Muhsin Syihab, explains how important it is for Indonesia to continue the efforts to erase the illegal mercury trade to other participating countries at phase 1 of the conference.

“Indonesia wants to straighten out this issue as the main priority, including the opportunity for partnerships, cooperation, for instance, with international institutions, law enforcement, and e-commerce,” said Muhsin.

Hopefully, in the future, there will be a strict international regulation imposed on mercury trades to prevent further illegal transactions.

Mercury is one of the most hazardous and persistent chemicals on Earth which is why it shouldn’t be traded or used loosely. Unregulated uses of this chemical will potentially put both humans and the environment at risk.

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