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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

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The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project.  ZMWG strives for zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum.  Our mission is to advocate and support the adoption and implementation of a legally binding instrument which contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply and trade of mercury, the global demand for mercury, anthropogenic releases of mercury to the environment, and human and wildlife exposure to mercury.

ZMWG Member Organisations

Europe-EU

Central and Eastern Europe

Africa

Asia Pacific

North and Central America

Latin America

Arab Countries


ZMWG is also working closely with the following coalitions:

International POPs Eliminations Network (IPEN)

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH)

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

Greenpeace


INTERESTED TO JOIN?

An NGO (non profit, public interest group) can join the ZMWG by endorsing the ZMWG Guiding Principles, and by agreeing to become an active member of the coalition.  

If you are interested in being a member of the group please fill in the application form . Please let us know how you found out about the group and our mercury work.

Contact

 For all information please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or Michael Bender This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

History

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) started, in November 2004, in collaboration with the (international) Ban Hg Working Group and mainly the Mercury Policy Project, the ‘Zero Mercury’ Campaign having as its ultimate objective ‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, in view of reducing to a minimum, mercury in the environment at EU level and globally.

Our work at a global level, from the side of the NGOs, started in 2002, with the formation of the international Ban Mercury Working Group (Ban Hg Wg) (www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/) – formed initially by 2 US based NGOs, the Basel Action Network (www.ban.org) and the Mercury Policy Project (MPP) (www.mercurypolicy.org).


The Ban Hg-Wg is an international coalition of 27 public interest non-governmental organizations from around the world formed in 2002 to reduce and eliminate mercury pollution, trade and exposure.


The Ban Hg WG followed actively the UNEP discussions since then and participated actively in the formulation of the Global Mercury Assessment (December 2002) after request from the 21st UNEP Governing Council in 2001.

After receiving a special grant in November 2004, the EEB is continuing this work, collaborating closely with the international coalition and coordinating this new ‘Zero Mercury’ Campaign, which builds up on the work done so far and goes even further, extending the network worldwide.In 2005, an EU network was developed, to bring together and re-enforce the work done on mercury so far by individual environmental and health NGOs.

The Zero Mercury Working Group and a respective listeserver was created.

The different phases of the Zero Mercury Campaign can be seen below:

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase I (Nov. 2004-Oct. 2005)

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase II (Nov. 2005-Oct. 2006)

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase III (Nov. 2006-Oct. 2007)

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase IV (Nov. 2007-Oct. 2008)

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase V (Nov. 2008-Oct. 2009)

Zero Mercury Campaign Follow up (July 2009 - ongoing)

 

The EU/international group of NGOs working on mercury will continue to broaden to support the project.

 

 

Zero Mercury Campaign Follow up (July 2009 - ongoing)

From July 2009 onwards the Zero Mercury Campaign has been following mainly international work at UNEP level supporting the work of the Zero Mercury Working Group, in view of ensuring that a robust Mercury Treaty will be adopted by 2013. At the same time, the campaign has been assisting technically and financially NGOs from developing countries (and some in Europe), supporting national/regional projects which would help the ZMWG achieve its global objectives for a strong Mercury Treaty.

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase V (Nov. 2008-Oct. 2009)

The fifth phase of the project includes the following activities:

  • Follow up of the process at EU level – developments on legislative proposals implementing the Community Strategy on Mercury; follow up on a) the proposed regulation on an EU mercury export ban and the storage of surplus mercury mainly concerning storage issues, b) expanding the directive on restricting the use of mercury in thermometers- to sphygmomanometers, c) developments on the maximum level of mercury set in energy saving lamps. Other studies/actions, resulting from the strategy will be followed up - such as on the mercury in dental amalgams, IPPC etc. .
  • Follow-up on the chlor-alkali campaign ; ensure that the existing mercury cell processes are converted swiftly to cleaner mercury free technologies and that the decommissioned mercury will be safely stored and will not re-enter the market. Follow up actions will continue in the five EU countries (Legambiente/IT, Ecologistas en Accion/SP, Arnika/CZ, DNR/Germany and FNE/France) pushing and following up activities at national political level in view of establishing a national commitment/ law on a conversion date and monitoring/contacting the local authorities responsible for the IPPC permits.
  • Attention will be given to the use of mercury-free devices in healthcare. Campaigners will assist the EU policy work with input to case studies from national experiences, to show that a transition to mercury-free healthcare can take place at EU level.
  • Follow up of the process at UNEP level - Push towards a global legally binding solution. Follow up developments after the decision of the UNEP Governing Council (GC) in 2007 and prepare the ground for the debate and active participation at the UNEP GC, February 2009. Activities include cooperation with NGOs all over the world ( EU, US, Developing countries) and input to UNEP towards that direction and in preparation of the other relevant meetings. Feeding into this debate, activities in other international fora will be followed up.
  • Helping affected Developing countries – financial assistance will continue to the 4 NGOs from developing countries for active involvement. Support will be given for national activities as well as participation at international level, to assist in the global campaign to Toxic Links/India, ACPO/Brazil, Ban Toxics!/Philippines and Global Village of Beijing/China.

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase IV (Nov. 2007-Oct. 2008)

The fourth phase of the project includes the following activities:

  • Follow up of the process at EU level – developments on legislative proposals implementing the Community Strategy on Mercury; follow up on a) the proposed regulationon an EU mercury export ban and the storage of surplus mercury, b) EU scientific opinion on dental amalgam. Other studies/actions, resulting from the strategy will be followed up - such as on the mercury content in lamps.
  • Follow-up on the chlor-alkali campaign from Phase III; ensure that the existing mercury cell processes are converted swiftly to cleaner mercury free technologies and that the decommissioned mercury will be safely stored and will not re-enter the market. Follow up actions will continue in the five EU countries (Legambiente/IT, Ecologistas en Accion/SP, Arnika/CZ, DNR/Germany and FNE/France) pushing and following up activities at national political level in view of establishing a national commitment/ law on a conversion date and monitoring/contacting the local authorities responsible for the IPPC permits. Emissions will be measured around the specific plants in France. Events will be organised and a reports will be produced. An EU snapshot report will be produced following a survey on the implementation of the IPPC directive in the chlor-alkali sector. In parallel, a fish testing exercise will take place - results from mercury analysis in tuna and swordfish from 5 EU countries will be presented.
  • Follow up of the process at UNEP level - Push towards a global legally binding solution. Follow up developments after the decision of the UNEP Governing Council (GC) in 2007 and prepare the ground for the debate and active participation at the UNEP GC, February 2009. Activities include cooperation with NGOs all over the world ( EU, US, Developing countries) and input to UNEP towards that direction and in preparation of the 2nd OWEG on mercury (October 2008). Feeding into this debate, activities in other international fora will be followed up.
  • Helping affected Developing countries – financial assistance will continue to the 4 NGOs from developing countries for active involvement. Support will be given for national activities as well as participation at international level, to assist in the global campaign to Toxic Links/India, ACPO/Brazil, groundwork/South Africa and Global Village of Beijing/China.

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase III (Nov. 2006-Oct. 2007)

The third phase of the project includes the following activities:

  • Follow up of the process at EU level – developments on legislative proposals implementing the Community Strategy on Mercury; follow up on a) the proposed directive on restricting the use of mercury in certain non electrical and non electronic measuring and control devices (e.g. thermometers, barometers) and b) on the proposed regulationon an EU mercury export ban and the storage of surplus mercury. Other studies/actions, resulting from the strategy will be followed up - such as on the dental amalgam.
  • Follow-up on the chlor-alkali campaign from Phase II; ensure that the existing mercury cell processes are converted swiftly to cleaner mercury free technologies and that the decommissioned mercury will be safely stored and will not re-enter the market. Follow up actions will continue in the three EU countries (Legambiente/IT, Ecologistas en Accion/SP, Arnika/CZ) with part time campaigners. Actions will start in Germany and France pushing and following up activities at national political level in view of establishing a national commitment/ law on a conversion date and monitoring/contacting the local authorities responsible for the IPPC permits. Emissions will be measured around the specific plants. Events will be organised and a reports will be produced.
  • Follow up of the process at UNEP level - Push towards a global legally binding solution. Follow up developments after the decision of the UNEP Governing Council (GC) in 2005 and prepare the ground for the debate and active participation at the UNEP GC, February 2007. Activities include cooperation with NGOs all over the world ( EU, US, Developing countries) and input to UNEP towards that direction. Feeding into this debate, activities in other international fora will be followed up.
  • Helping affected Developing countries – financial assistance will continue to the 4 NGOs from developing countries for active involvement. Support will be given for national activities as well as participation at international level, to assist in the global campaign to Toxic Links/India, ACPO/Brazil, groundwork/South Africa and Global Village of Beijing/China.

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase II (Nov. 2005-Oct. 2006)

The second phase of the project includes the following activities:

  • Follow up of the process at EU level – developments on Community Strategy on Mercury ; the strategy will be discussed at the European Parliament; 2 legislative proposals are awaited from the EC: a)on restricting the use of mercury in certain non electrical and non electronic measuring and control devices (e.g. thermometers, barometers) and b) on an EU mercury export ban and the storage of surplus mercury. Other studies/actions, resulting from the strategy will be followed up.
  • Providing input focused on the chlor-alkali industry; ensure that the existing mercury cell processes are converted swiftly to cleaner mercury free technologies and that the decommissioned mercury will be safely stored and will not re-enter the market. Three EU countries (Legambiente/IT, Ecologistas en Accion/SP, Arnika/CZ) with part time campaigners will be pushing and following up activities at national political level in view of establishing a national commitment/ law on a conversion date and monitoring/contacting the local authorities responsible for the IPPC permits. Emissions will be measured around the specific plants. Events will be organised and a reports will be produced.
  • Follow up of the process at UNEP level - Push towards a global legally binding solution. Follow up developments after the decision of the UNEP Governing Council (GC) in 2005 and prepare the ground for the debate for the next UNEP GC, February 2007. Activities include cooperation with NGOs all over the world ( EU, US, Developing countries) and input to UNEP towards that direction. Feeding into this debate, activities in other international fora will be followed up.
  • Helping affected Developing countries – financial assistance will continue to the 4 NGOs from developing countries for active involvement. Support will be given for national activities as well as participation at international level, to assist in the global campaign to Toxic Links/India, ACPO/Brazil, groundwork/South Africa and Global Village of Beijing/China.

 

Zero Mercury Campaign - Phase I (Nov. 2004-Oct. 2005)

The campaign moves along 4 levels, with complementary activities towards the same goal:

  • Take part in the discussions at EU level - Community Strategy on Mercury ; an EU Strategy on mercury has been requested from the European Council and was presented by the Commission on 28 January 2005.
  • Activities in Spain - Stop mercury mining and trade in Almaden: The biggest mercury mine in the world is situated in Almaden, Spain. The owner company, MAYASA, is collecting and trading internationally (mainly to Developing countries) the mercury from Western Europe decommissioned chlor-alkali plants (using the mercury-cell process, which is not considered to be BAT (1) under IPPC (2) and will eventually have to be replaced). The EEB is working closely with its Spanish member Ecologistas en Accion towards supporting an EU mercury export ban, stopping MAYASA from becoming the world’s largest platform of mercury pollution and proliferation and amongst other, raising awareness of the effects of mercury export to developing countries.
  • Take part in the process at International and UNEP level - Push towards a global legally binding solution. Mercury was on the agenda of the UNEP Governing Council planned for end February 2005. Activities include cooperation with NGOs all over the world ( EU, US, Developing countries) and input to UNEP towards that direction.
  • Support environmental organisations in affected developing countries - 4 NGOs from developing countrieswill be financially assisted for active involvement. Support will be given for national activities as well as participation at international level, to assist in the global campaign.

The EEB receives a special grant from the Sigrid Rausing Trust for this activity

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1 Best Available Techniques, http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/ippc/index.html
2 Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/ippc/index.html