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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 EU Commission asserts leadership in addressing Global Mercury Pollution
EU Commission asserts leadership in addressing Global Mercury Pollution PDF Print
Monday, 31 January 2005 01:00

[Brussels 31/1/2005] Environment and health groups welcomed the adoption of the awaited Community Strategy on Mercury, presented today by the Commission. The Strategy is a step forward at EU and Global level, giving a clear sign that the Commission is prepared to take significant measures to reduce Mercury emissions, supply and demand -not only at EU but also global level- for the protection of the environment and human health.

One point of major importance in the strategy is the intention to phase out and eliminate EU Mercury exports by 2011. “We regret that the date has been pushed back in comparison to earlier drafts, but it is very important that the Commission as a whole has come forward with a proposal, showing Europe’s clear responsibility for its Mercury trade with the rest of the world and especially the developing countries, where Mercury is often used in a much less regulated way”, said John Hontelez, EEB Secretary General. NGOs welcome as well that, consistent with the export ban, measures will also be adopted to ensure the safe storage of Mercury from decommissioned chlor-alkali production facilities, again asserting EU leadership to remove excess Mercury supplies from the global marketplace.

Other significant action intended for 2005 includes: a) a restriction in the marketing of non­electrical or electronic measuring and control equipment for consumer use and healthcare, b) considering options for abatement of Mercury emissions from small coal combustion, and c) a review of the implementation of existing waste regulations with respect to dental amalgam waste management and ensure correct application.

Despite the intended Mercury export ban, the NGOs caution that greater specificity will be required to adequately implement the phase-out of Mercury production at the world’s largest mine in Almaden, Spain. Stricter measures should also have been proposed regarding emissions from larger coal fired combustion plants because of the significance of this emissions source both within Europe and globally. This source is too great to rely simply on sulphur dioxide controls to adequately reduce Mercury emissions.

With respect to strategic actions at international level, the NGOs commend the Commission for supporting all ongoing international activities, while proposing other action, including pilot projects to reduce emissions from coal burning in countries such as China, India and Russia. The Commission’s advocacy of a global phase-out of Mercury primary production, encouraging other countries to stop surpluses re-entering the market, under an initiative similar to the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances, should become the central argument to the UNEP Governing Council meeting in Nairobi in February. At this meeting, measures aimed at limiting the impact of Mercury and its compounds on human health and environment are to be discussed and decided.

“To that end we call upon the Council and the Member States to keep at least this level of
commitment contained in the E.C. Mercury Strategy, and to give immediate support to

concrete parallel track measures to substantially reduce Mercury demand and releases over the next five years at the upcoming UNEP global debate,” said Michael Bender of the Ban Mercury Working Group.

Genon Jensen (Director EPHA Environment Network) said ´The public health community welcomes the Commission’s Strategy that puts awareness raising and education programmes to inform the public of the dangers of Mercury exposure as a key element and prioritises reducing exposure to vulnerable populations not just here in Europe, but globally.´ She continued, ‘Implementation and resourcing of the actions will be essential.’

Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems and wildlife. High doses can be fatal to humans, but even relatively low doses have serious adverse effects on the central nervous, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems. Mercury has no respect for national or regional boundaries as it travels great distances through the atmosphere. It has contaminated both European and global food supplies at levels which pose a significant risk to human health, according to medical and public health professionals around the world.

For more information http://www.eeb.org/activities/Mercury/041130-Final-Letter-on-Mercury-to-EC.pdf. 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_text49832 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel: +32 2 2891301;

Kevin Brigden, Greenpeace, http://eu.greenpeace.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text39093 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel :+44 1392 263782;

Christian Farrar-Hockley, 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_text10694 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel : +32.2333875;

Michael Bender,Ban Mercury Working Group,, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/)

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