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Summary of the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury

24th-29th September, Geneva, Switzerland.

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) closely followed the First Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1) in Geneva, Switzerland, 24th-29th of September 2017 and intervened as appropriate[1]. We were pleased to see the COP1 reached consensus on pending matters from prior meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) which resulted in establishing an effective Convention operational framework for achieving significant mercury reductions.

Our main priorities for COP1 included adoption of forms and guidance that was approved at INC 7, and addressing the issues of reporting, waste thresholds, interim storage guidelines, effectiveness evaluation, and matters for future action, which included the following decisions.

  • Article 3 guidance on identifying mercury stocks, and the forms/instructions for complying with mercury trade consent and related certification requirements;
  • The product and process exemption forms and associated register of exemptions under Article 6 of the Convention; a registrar will be kept by the Secretariat and these will also be available to the public
  • Article 8 (air emissions) guidance on BAT/ BEP, options for existing facility control requirements, preparing emissions inventories, and selection of “relevant sources” within the specified source categories; and
  • The Guidance for preparing the ASGM National Action Plan (NAP) under article 7.

COP1 also saw significant progress concerning various other ZMWG priorities, including :

Reporting:          Forms were adopted for use by Parties to report back on the measures undertaken to meet Convention obligations and on the effectiveness of those measures.  In particular, ZMWG most welcomed the decision for a shorter reporting cycle for supply and trade, reporting per year data on a biennial basis. For other obligations, Parties will report every four years. It was also agreed that each Party will submit its first biennial report by 31 December 2019 and its first full report by December 2021. Parties are also encouraged to submit an electronic form,  and the Secretariat is requested to make the Parties electronic reports available.

Furthermore, it was agreed that Parties would provide access to their data related to mercury emissions, under Article 8. Parties would also provide the rational on how they plan to ensure that facilities responsible for at least 75% of the emissions from a source category are subject to controls.

Waste Thresholds:          COP1 established an intercessional work group to further elaborate on waste thresholds, building on a document introduced by Japan. As recommended by NRDC/ZMWG, the terms of reference for the working group were focused more on determining which mercury wastes warrant thresholds rather than assuming thresholds are appropriate for all wastes. The expert group will identify the types of waste that fall within the categories specified in paragraph 2 of Article 11, provide related information; prioritising the types of waste identified that are most relevant for the establishment of waste thresholds, and identify possible approaches to establishing any needed thresholds for those prioritised waste for consideration at COP2. We were also pleased to see COP1 approving the participation of civil society within the working group, another ZMWG priority.

Interim Storage:                             COP1 requested the Secretariat to undertake further revision of the draft guidelines through input from relevant experts, including technical experts from the Basel Convention and present a revised draft for consideration at COP2. Provisional use of the current draft guidelines is encouraged.

Effectiveness Evaluation:             COP1 adopted a draft road map for establishing arrangements both for providing comparable monitoring data and elements of an effectiveness evaluation framework, as ZMWG had sought.  To that end an ad hoc group of experts was established including 25 experts nominated by the Parties – 5 per region, as well as 10 civil society experts, including NGOs, as observers.

Matters for Future Action (Article 3) - (Article 14):              Several matters were brought up for consideration. Under Article 3, trade in mercury compounds was one of several issued identified for future consideration by the COP. In regards to Article 14 – Capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer, Parties and other stakeholder were invited to submit relevant information on capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer for the Secretariat to compile and present at COP2.

Despite progress made, challenges remain, both related to the location and structure of the Minamata Convention Secretariat and the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the financial mechanism of the Convention with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The Secretariat will be temporarily located in Geneva, with further review of arrangements at COP2.

In summary, the final road map is now in place to ‘zero down’ global mercury pollution, but critical work remains.   ZMWG looks forward to a productive second meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Geneva 19-23 November 2018.   

[1] All ZMWG interventions are available on our website http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_content&;;view=article&id=309:unenvironment-minamata-mercury-cop1-24-29-september-2017-geneva-switzerland&catid=54:developments-main-category&Itemid=104

Home Press Releases European Parliament's Environment Committee calls for earlier and wider Eu mercury export ban!
European Parliament's Environment Committee calls for earlier and wider Eu mercury export ban! PDF Print
Wednesday, 22 February 2006 01:00

[Brussels 22/2/2006] - - - Environment and health groups' applauded today the Environment Committee’s resolution on the Community Strategy Concerning Mercury.

“The Environment Committee took the Commission’s strategy a step further, asking for the EU to come forward with an export ban by 2010, one year earlier than proposed in the EU Strategy Concerning Mercury last year, and strengthening several other key actions of the Strategy”, said Elena Lymberidi, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Coordinator at the European Environmental Bureau. “We commend the Committee for asking that mercury compounds are also included in the export ban”.

Further key points welcomed by NGOs include considering prohibition of exports of mercury- containing products; inclusion of trade tracking measures; phase-out of the mercury-cell chlor­alkali plants by 2010; and safe, continuously monitored storage of surplus mercury.

“We are delighted that the Parliament recognises just how urgent it is to eliminate mercury use as soon as possible in order to protect people’s health today and in the future, particularly those that are most vulnerable to even very low levels of exposure such as children and pregnant women”, said Genon Jensen, Executive Director of European Public Health Alliance Environment Network. “This issue is a Europe-wide public health concern, and the Parliament has taken this seriously by requesting more information on people’s actual exposure and recommending greater financial support for best practice in risk communication aimed at vulnerable groups”.

Consistent with the export ban, the Committee confirmed the importance of the EU supporting and promoting international action and cooperating with mercury mining countries and other regions at global level in view of reaching an agreement for a global legislative instrument on mercury. “We congratulate the Committee for their proposals”, said Michael Bender of the Ban Mercury Working Group. “We now challenge the Commission and EU governments to realise such requests – in preparation for the negotiations at the UNEP Governing Council in February 2007, where the possibility of a legally binding instrument and other global mercury strategies will be discussed”.

The NGOs further welcome the Committee’s opinion that the strategy should be followed by legislative acts, such as the introduction of emission limit values for mercury from all relevant activities and all-scale coal combustion processes – as well as national mass emission limits, measures on emissions from crematoria, and measures ensuring that all mercury-containing products are separately collected and safely treated when they become waste.

However, the NGOs regret that the Committee did not agree on the restriction of use of dental amalgams, considering that viable mercury-free alternatives exist. In some Member States, over 90% of all dental filling placements are with non-mercury fillings.ii “From a public health perspective it makes sense to apply a precautionary approach, considering that alternatives do existiii”, said Lisette van Vliet, Toxics Policy Advisor for Health Care Without Harm. “Dental amalgam waste causes water and sludge contamination when discharged from dental clinics plus air pollution from crematoria – and are de facto more expensive than most, possibly all, other fillings when including environmental costs”.iv

As a further step, the environment and health NGOs now call upon the Plenary of the European Parliament to follow the Environment Committee’s opinion on the EU Strategy Concerning Mercury.

For more information:

Elena Lymberidi, EEB, www.eeb.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 289 1301

Genon K. Jensen, EPHA Environment Network (EEN), www.env-health.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 2333875

Lisette van Vliet, EEN / Health Care Without Harm / International Chemical Secretariat, www.env-health .org, www.noharm.org, www.chemsec.org, lisette@env-health .org,

T: +32 2 2333877

Michael Bender, Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +1 802 2239000

i Environmental and Health NGOS include

The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of over than 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

The Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/, is an international coalition of 27 public interest non­governmental organisations from around the world formed initially in 2002 by 2 US based NGOs, the Basel Action Network (www.ban.org) and the Mercury Policy Project (www.Mercurypolicy.org). working to end pollution from the toxic metal -- Mercury.

European Public Health Alliance Environment Network (EEN), http://www.env-health.org/ is an international non­governmental organisation advocating environmental protection as a means to improving health and well-being. Member groups and organisations represent health, environment, women, health professionals and others. The group has a diverse membership, 29 members with 5 international organisations, 10 European networks and 14 national/local organisations, including non­governmental organisations, professional bodies representative of doctors and nurses, academic institutions and other not-for­profit organisations.

Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH), www.noharm.org, is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical and nursing professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labour unions, and environmental and environmental health organisations. HCWH is dedicated to transforming the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

And with the support of NGOs from the US (NRDC), India (Toxics Link), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS), South Africa (groundWork)

ii Swedish KEMI Report 4/04, Mecury - Investigation for a general ban, page 32.

Also, an article "Exit amalgam? Use of amalgam in dental practice in Norway 2002" recently published in the Journal of the Norwegian Dental Association (Den norske TannlegeforeningsTidende 2004; 114 no. 6, p 284-286) http://www.tannlegetidende.no/pls/dntt/pa_dtdm.xpnd?vp_seks_id=97290&b_start=1

iii KEMI - Swedish Chemical Inspectorate. Mercury – Investigation of a general ban http://www.kemi.se/upload/Trycksaker/Pdf/Rapporter/Rapport4_04.pdf accessed 13 June 2005, p. 8

iv Hylander, L. D. & Goodsite, M. E. 2005. Environmental costs of mercury pollution. Sci. Total Environ., Table 2, p. In press.