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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 NGOs call for a broader directive restricting the use of all measuring and control equipment contain...
NGOs call for a broader directive restricting the use of all measuring and control equipment containing mercury PDF Print
Friday, 03 June 2005 01:00

[Brussels 3/6/2005] Environment and Health NGOsi are strongly urging the Commission1 to strengthen its proposed restriction on the use and marketing of non­electrical and non-electronic measuring and control equipment containing mercury. They recommend that all consumer and professional uses be included in the restriction, with exemptions for a limited period of time and only where alternatives do not exist.

The Commission has developed a working document for a proposal - amending a directive - to restrict the marketing of certain measuring devices containing mercury. This working document proposes that new fever thermometers and other mercury containing measuring devices intended solely for consumer use (e.g. manometers, barometers, sphygmomanometers) should not be placed on the market.

“This approach is too narrow and much more limited than the EU Mercury strategy proposed action 72 . As a result, it will not achieve the possible reductions in mercury contamination from measuring and control devices that are both necessary and achievable” said Elena Lymberidi, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Co-ordinator at the European Environmental Bureau, “The EU should not place itself in the position of trying to anticipate every possible use and then undertaking regulatory action to restrict that use. Instead, the EU should start with the proposition that mercury use in products is generally unsafe and unnecessary. Any manufacturer who still wants to use the toxic chemical – in cases where there is no alternative – should then be required to apply for special permission.”

“The burden of proof should rest with manufacturers. They should be obliged to show that their proposed use of mercury is necessary because of the lack of available alternatives”; said Lisette van Vliet , Toxics Policy Advisor for Health Care Without Harm Europe. “This approach has been already used successfully in EU law3 and can be significantly more effective.

Individual Member States4 and some Hospital associations5 have already taken action in banning or restricting the use of such products containing mercury - including professional devices, with several exemptions where adequate alternatives do not yet

exist. 6,7,8,9

The Groups point out that for both consumer and professional uses, other categories of products containing mercury exist, such as Temperature Measurement and Sensing Devices, Gastrointestinal Tubes, Pressure Gauges and Flow Rate Devices, which are

1 http://www.eeb.org/activities/mercury/050603_NGOs_comments_WD_measuring_equipment_directive.pdf

2 http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/com_2005_0020_en.pdf

3 EU directives- 2002/95 on the Restriction of certain hazardous substances from EEE and 2000/53 on Env of Life Vehicles

4 Countries such as Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway

5 http://www.cleanmed.org/europe/2004/english/docs/press/press_vienna_declaration.pdf

6 http://europa.eu. int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/norway. pdf

7 http://europa.eu. int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/sweden .pdf 8http://www.eeb.org/activities/mercury/Petra%20Hagstrom%20presentation%20Hg%20Madrid%20042205.pdf 9 French response to Consultation document Development of an EU Mercury Strategy Invitation to Comment, http://europa.eu. int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/france_en .pdf

not currently covered by the proposed directive, but for which cost and functionally comparable or better alternatives exist10,11,12,13,14.

Mercury containing devices can pose a risk to human health and the environment during usage, because they are easily broken. After usage they end up in the waste stream, contaminating air, water and soil. This creates an unacceptable health risk for children and women of childbearing age. There is increasing evidence that residential inhalation at home and in the workplace can be a source of significant mercury exposure15. More than 33 tonnes of mercury are estimated to be used for such equipment annually in the EU, with some 25-30 tonnes of mercury entering the cycle via thermometers alone16. Respective emissions to air are estimated to be 8 tonnes per year, plus 27 tonnes entering the waste stream from old equipment17.

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 '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text12588 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> 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 '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text29188 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 2333875;

Lisette van Vliet, Health Care Without Harm Europe, www.noharm.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 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 '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text19925 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> 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 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 non-governmental organisations, professional bodies representative of doctors and nurses, academic institutions and other not-for-profit 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 USA (Natural Resources Defence Council), India (Toxics Link), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS).

10 See www.noharm.org/mercury/mercuryFree for a list of pharmacies no longer selling mercury

fever thermometers and www.noharm.org/mercury/ordinances for a list of laws prohibiting

mercury fever thermometer sales in the United States.

11 See a detailed comparison of mercury and non-mercury measuring devices and instruments

performed for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection at www.maine.gov/dep/mercury/lcspfinal.pdf and the proposed strategy based on that report at www.maine.gov/dep/mercury/productsweb.pdf. Following the submission of this strategy, the Maine Legislature enacted a prohibition on the sale of most mercury measuring devices and instruments effective July 2006. Appendix B to the report contains some examples of substantial cleanup expenditures resulting from measuring instrument breakage.

12 Global Mercury Assessment, UNEP, December 2002, p.141

13 http://www.informinc.org/fsmercalts.pdf and http://www.informinc.org/fsmerchealth.pdf

14 Nordic Council of Ministers, “Mercury – a global pollutant requiring global initiatives”, Copenhagen 2002 http://www.norden.org/pub/miljo/miljo/sk/2002-516.pdf

15 A. Carpi and YF Chen. Gaseous Elemental Mercury as an Indoor Air Pollutant. Environ. Sci.Technol., Vol 35:4170-41 73 (2001).

16 SEC(2005)1 01, Extended Impact Assessment, annex to the Community Strategy on Mercury, p.37

17 Risks to Health and the Environment Related to the Use of Mercury Products, Final Report, prepared for the European Commission, DG Enterprise (2002), p.106