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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 The world urgently needs an EU mercury export ban
The world urgently needs an EU mercury export ban PDF Print
Wednesday, 11 May 2005 01:00
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(Brussels 11/5/2005) National government representatives from EU countries will be meeting on Friday (13/5) to prepare for Council conclusions on the Commission proposed Mercury Strategy, expected to be finalised during the 24 June 2005 meeting of the Environment Ministers. Leading up to this meeting, environmental and health groups have called upon governments1 to maintain their earlier commitment to ban EU mercury exports by 2011 at the latest, and store excess mercury safely within the EU.

The groups point out that the EU recently presented itself as a strong advocate of a globally binding instrument on mercury at the February UNEP Governing Council meeting in Nairobi, proposing that mercury exports from the EU be banned in the near future. Now it has come to light that some countries—such as United Kingdom, Germany and Poland—are seeking delays in fixing a date for the EU mercury export ban until international measures controlling trade are taken. Yet international measures may be far off, say advocates, given that the U.S. and other countries continue to block a global treaty on mercury.

“Over 12,000 tonnes of mercury from EU mercury-cell chlor-alkali plants are expected to be dumped on developing countries over the next 10-15 years, if an export ban is not put into place,” said Elena Lymberidi, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Coordinator, EEB. “EU leadership in this area is needed to boost efforts to reduce global trade and the role of mercury in the global economy.”

The EU exports more mercury generally, and more to the developing world, than any other region of the world – as clearly shown in government trade documents. From 2001 to 2003, EU countries exported more than 3,000 tonnes of mercury to non-OECD countries. In 2003 alone, Spain exported 92 tonnes of mercury to Columbia, 53 tonnes to Peru, and 171 tonnes to Iran. Between 2001 and 2003, Spain and Germany exported 464 tonnes to Singapore, from where it was likely traded throughout Asia. From 2001-2003, Spain and the UK exported 470 tonnes of mercury to India, accounting for most of that country’s imports2.

As the world’s biggest mercury exporter, EU leadership in this area is an economic and moral imperative. The EU needs to keep the promise made to the international community for an export ban in the near future,” said Michael Bender of the Ban Mercury Working Group. “2011 is already three years later than what was originally proposed by the Luxembourg Presidency as a starting date for the ban.3 NGOs too have been calling for this earlier date of 2008.

It is well known that mercury has no respect for national or regional boundaries, traveling long distances through the atmosphere, and contaminating both the European and global food supplies at levels posing a significant risk to human health. Genon Jensen, Director of European Public Health Alliance Environment Network underlines “The EU has no grounds to stand on for delaying action considering its own admission that between 3-15 million Europeans are near to the international limit for mercury exposure4, and many are already exposed to unacceptable levels of methylmercury in the Arctic and Mediterranean fishing communities.”

1 See also letter sent to the Environment Delegates, 11 May 2005, http://www.eeb.org/activities/mercury/

2 See UN statistics at http://unstats.un.org/unsd/comtrade/ and Eurostat statistics at http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/ “external trade.”

3 http://register.consilium.eu.int/pdf/en/05/st07/st07986.en05.pdf

4 COM(2005)20final - Extended Impact Assessment, Annex to the Commission communication on the Community Strategy concerning Mercury, http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/extended _impact _assessment.pdf, p.12


This mercury exported to non-OECD countries is largely consumed in poorly controlled and outmoded or illegal activities, resulting in substantial exposure to workers and their families, and pollution of the local and global environments. According to the best information available, most of this mercury is destined for either battery production, use at chlor-alkali plants, or small-scale gold mining.

At a recent international conference in Madrid5 the concerns from the developing world were strongly voiced. “The biggest part of mercury imports in India and Brazil are from the EU, and this has to stop as soon as possible, said Ravi Agarwal, Toxics Link –India.

Small scale gold mining is the area of highest global mercury consumption (estimated at 800 tonnes in 2004)6. As much as 95% of all the mercury used in small scale gold mining is released into the environment. “It is important that the EU mercury ban is put in place as soon as possible”. said Karen Suassuna, ACPO, Brazil “The GEF/UNDP/UNIDO Global Mercury Project has strongly advocated an EU export ban as an effective way to reducing mercury demand in artisanal gold mining7

There have been arguments that new production might be triggered to fill in the market gap, thus the ban would accomplish nothing but substituting other mercury for EU mercury in the global marketplace. This argument lacks merit however, since it ignores the limited ability in mercury producing countries to expand their output for both technical and political reasons8.

Temporary storage of decommissioned mercury from the chlor-alkali industry should also be investigated immediately and implemented in the near future. “Storage areas must be secure sites, continuously monitored and where intervention can take place if necessary” said Kevin Brigden, a Greenpeace scientist. “Furthermore, the pursuit of temporary storage must incorporate the ultimate intention of permanent retirement. Otherwise this measure will only delay the use, releases and impacts of the surplus mercury, not prevent them”

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_text41519 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 496 532818

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_text54883 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +44 1392 263782

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_text25214 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 2333875;

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_text40280 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +1 802 2239000

Linda Greer, Natural Resources Defense Council, www.nrdc.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text89672 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +1 202-289-6868

i Environmental 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.

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

5 “Towards a Mercury Free World”, 22 April 2005, Madrid, for more info see http://www.eeb.org/activities/mercury/Madrid%20conference.htm

6 P. Maxson, presentation on 22 April 2005, “Towards a mercury free world” conference, Madrid, http://www.eeb.org/activities/mercury/Maxson-Madrid_HgProdUse&Trade_rev3May2005.pdf.

7 COM(2005)20final - Extended Impact Assessment, Annex to the Commission communication on the Community Strategy concerning Mercury, http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/extended _impact _assessment.pdf,, pg. 26

8 COM(2005)20final - Extended Impact Assessment, Annex to the Commission communication on the Community Strategy concerning Mercury, http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/pdf/extended _impact _assessment.pdf, pg. 25-26


The Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/, is an international coalition of 27 public interest non-governmental 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 non-governmental 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.

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).