Arctic Council calls attention on mercury at UNEP

Finland as the current chair of the Arctic Council called on the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to initiate a global assessment of mercury discharges and their impact on the environment. Mercury is one of the most harmful and toxic of heavy metals accumulating in food chains and human food sources. The Arctic environment is particularly vulnerable to heavy metals such as mercury which is transported towards cold regions by global air streams.

Ministers of environment worldwide are gathered this week at the Nairobi session of the Governing Council of UNEP. UNEP was founded in 1972 to monitor, research and assess the state of the environment and to promote as well as to coordinate international treaties and their execution.

UNEP is also one of the observers of the Arctic Council which was founded in 1996. The Arctic Council, founded in 1996, is a high-level cooperation forum focusing primarily on environmental challenges facing the Arctic region and on issues dealing with sustainable development. The Council seeks to promote the region´s environmental, economic, social and cultural welfare. One of the key functions of the Arctic Council is to disperse information, encourage education and arouse interest in Arctic affairs. There are eight member states in the Council: the Nordic countries, Canada, the United States and Russia. The indigenous peoples have a status of permanent representatives. There are also several observers: states, international and non-governmental organisations.

For more information, please contact: Mr Peter Stenlund, at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel: +358-9-13416174, or Ms Outi Mähönen, at the Ministry of the Environment, at +358-16-3294444

Finland's statement at UNEP session in Nairobi