- Journal Article
Authors' Summary: The 50th anniversary of the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment provides an opportunity to reflect on mercury pollution as a sustainability issue past, present, and future. Scientists and policymakers recognize that mercury is connected to multiple sustainability challenges, but a more comprehensive understanding of global mercury governance in the context of sustainability is needed.
Here, in this Review, we synthesize the existing literature and evaluate the global governance of mercury pollution in relation to sustainability.
We find that global 50-year trends in mercury production, consumption, and discharges are mixed, but mercury governance has expanded; mercury discharges from coal-fired power plants and artisanal and small-scale gold mining, two leading sectors of mercury pollution, are increasingly connected to sustainability challenges; a global-scale indicator of mercury discharges can provide policy-relevant information, but cannot capture local variations; and long-term interventions addressing mercury use and pollution are part of broader sustainability transitions.