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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 Environment Council makes positive but cautious steps towards ending mercury pollution at EU and glo...
Environment Council makes positive but cautious steps towards ending mercury pollution at EU and global level ! PDF Print
Friday, 24 June 2005 01:00
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[Brussels 24/06/2005] Environment and health groups' welcomed the conclusions of the Council of the EU Environment Ministers on the Community Strategy on Mercury as a courageous and positive step forward towards reducing global mercury pollution.

“The EU Governments gave a green light to the Commission to take actions as proposed in the Community strategy concerning mercury, including an EU mercury export ban by 2011 at the latest”, said Elena Lymberidi, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Coordinator at the EEB, “However, there are no good reasons to allow exports until that date ;a ban by 2008 is feasible!.”

Consistent with the export ban, the Council confirmed the need for parallel action to ensure the safe storage of mercury including that from decommissioned chlor-alkali production facilities, sending a global message stressing the need to break the mercury cycle by stopping any surpluses of mercury from re-entering the market.

“This agreement banning mercury exports demonstrates strong EU leadership on global mercury issues. It also sets the stage for international negotiations on mercury, where the possibility of a legally binding instrument and other global mercury strategies will be discussed.” said Michael Bender, Ban Mercury Working Group.

With respect to strategic actions at international level, the NGOs commend the Council for recognising that a viable EU mercury strategy is most effective within a global strategic framework. In this regard, the Council has stressed the need for the EU to continue and strengthen its international efforts to reduce mercury emissions and exposure on a global scale with a view to reaching a global phase-out of primary production, preventing surpluses re-entering the market, as well as to phase out mercury use and trade, taking into account the availability of alternatives. Underlining the need for EU support to developing countries, or countries with economies in transition, in promoting actions to reduce mercury emissions from coal combustion, among others, is also of great importance.

The NGOs further welcome the fact that the Governments brought new issues to the table, underlining that:

  • the use of mercury in vaccines must be addressed;
  • viable techniques for further reducing mercury emissions from fuel combustion and replacing mercury in gold mining should be developed;
  • it is necessary to consider the social problems arising from the closure of mercury mines – rehabilitation of contaminated sites and community assistance.

The Council omitted however, giving its opinion on the need to better control dental amalgam waste and emissions from crematoria, whereas on all other issues the conclusions simply supported the Commission’s original intentions in the proposed strategy, without giving a clear direction, a timeframe and the scope for concrete action. “On several issues there was and still is space for stronger measures, such as on protection against exposure , broadening the scope of marketing restrictions on the use of mercury in certain measuring and control equipment, and on thermostats” said Lisette van Vliet, Toxics Policy Advisor for EEN / Health Care Without Harm / International Chemical Secretariat.


As a further step, the Environmental and Health NGOs now call upon the Environmental Ministers to stay vigilant and to rapidly implement all relevant actions stemming from the EU Strategy on 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, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 2333877

Kevin Brigden, Greenpeace, www.greenpeace.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text23641 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +44-1392-263782

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

Linda Greer, NRDC, www.nrdc.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text30998 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel: +1 202 2896868

i Environmental and Health NGOS include

The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of more then 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.

Greenpeace, www.greenpeace.org , is an international independent, campaigning organisation that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and force solutions for a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace's goal is to ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), www.nrdc.org, is a private, U.S. not-for-profit environmental organization that uses science, law, and the support of more 500,000 members nationwide to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places, and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.

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