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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 Our work at UNEP Level Other International Fora
Other International Fora PDF Print
Friday, 03 September 2010 17:17

With the objective to push towards a global instrument on mercury, other international fora (apart from UNEP) are also being followed.

The first meeting of the Convention of the Parties (COP1) for the POPs took place on 2-6 May 2005. Some of the NGO representatives (Toxics Link, ACPO, Arnika) active also on mercury are attending the meeting.

On 16-17 June 2005 the EEB, through its member VAK ( Latvia), attended the 2 nd meeting of the Task Force on Heavy Metals under the Convention for a Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution.

In view of the unbalanced agenda of the International Seafood and Health Conference 2005 : A close up look at the benefits of eating seafood, a letter was sent, to the sponsors of the event, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs and the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries. The letter was sent by the EEB and EEN on the 29 November 2005.

On the 9 January 2006, Pollution Probe (Canada), supported by the EEB, EPHA EN, HCWH and the International Ban Hg Working Group, sent a letter (and Annexes I, II, III) to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment , calling for the development and implementation of a mercury elimination and reduction strategy in Canada.

In February 2006, during the SAICM negotiations in Dubai, the Swiss government started discussing the possibility to organise a side event during the Intergovernmental Forum for Chemical Safety (IFCS) , Forum V, on heavy metals. After several email exchange and two teleconferences where the NGOs participated actively in the development of the final agenda. Finally in April, the agenda was finalised and the event was announced. The Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety, Forum V Side Event on Heavy Metals, Health and Environmental concerns associated with Heavy Metals; global needs for further action?, will take place on 23 September 2006, in Budapest, Hungary

On 11-12 May, our colleague from the Canadian NGO, attended the meeting of the Task Force on Heavy Metals under the Long Range Trounsboundary Air Pollution (UNECE), in Ottawa, Canada.

On the 8th June, Pollution Probe, Canada, sent a press release in the local press calling for a national (Canadian) strategy on mercury reduction.

An NGO lead conference “Finding Solutions to the Global Mercury Crisis”, August 7th-10th, 2006, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.was coorganised by more than 20 NGOs from the EU and the US.Please find here an initial note and the final agenda respectively.


The above mentioned meeting took place as an informal side event to the 8th International Conference Mercury as a Global Pollutant, Madison, WI, USA 6-11 August. The NGO meeting focused more on policy rather than scientific discussions on several issues such as mercury-cell chlor-alkali plants, coal fired power stations, mercury in small scale god-mining, etc.

A press release was published on the 4 August,2006 with the NGO expectations from the meeting.

Quite a few people participated actively to the meeting, including representatives from governments such as the US Environment Protection Agency, Environment Canada, Sweden, Philippines, as well as the European Commission. Many interesting discussions took place on the different issues and possibilities for future collaboration between governments as well as NGOs were given.

It has come to our attention that the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO) , have drafted an Action Plan Proposal on Mercury earlier this year. After NRDC's initiative and together with the Zero Mercury Working Group, comments have now been sent to this plan, on the 5 September 2006. Complementary comments were sent from our Brazilian partner NGO - ACPO on 14 September 2006.

On September 24-28,2006 EEB and other international NGOs of the Zero Mercury Working Group including our Indian, Brazilian, Chinese and S.African partners, participated actively at the Intergovernmental Forum for Chemical Safety (IFCS) Forum V.
On the 23 September, the Swiss government organised a side event on Health and Environmental Concerns associated with Heavy Metals; Global needs for further action? The NGOs participated actively at the side event mainly with respect to the global mercury policies. Oral interventions were made during the meeting and a written statement was also submitted to the organisers, which can be found here. This event was also covered by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin(ENB). The final report prepared by the Swiss organisers included among others the request for a globally binding instrument on mercury.

On the 25 September and as part of the Forum V discussions, Heavy Metals was on the agenda. The Swiss government presented the discussions and respective report from the side event. After that however, debate followed where the regions, individual countries and the NGOs provided their views. The African region called for globally binding instrument on mercury as well as the need for financial assistance to the developing countries to take action to reduce mercury demand and releases. Their statement can be found here. Norway, Switzerland and the EU also called for a binding instrument on mercury. The Asia Pacific region supported concrete actions on trade such as mercury export bans from the developed world and a financial mechanism to support global mercury use and releases reductions. The EEB on behalf of the Zero Mercury Working Group intervened as well addressing the issues above, with this statement. The US, Canada and Japan did not support a global binding instrument and expressed concerns on whether further action is needed. Considering the differences of opinions, the Chairman created a Contact Group which had as a mandate to agree on a document - outcome of this Forum V on Heavy Metals. Governments and stakeholders participated and expressed their views on the drafted text. The debate was tough and continued through the night during the 3 following days. At the end, the "Budapest Statement" was adopted calling among other for UNEP Governing council to continue the work on mercury, lead and cadmium considering a globally binding instrument among other actions. ENB covered the whole event including the contact group meetings with daily reports and pictures.

The FINAL REPORT of the -Fifth Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (Forum V)
25-29 September 2006, Budapest , is now available.

On March 8, 2007 and following the 8th International Conference Mercury as a Global Pollutant, Madison, WI, USA 6-11 August  the following NEWS ADVISORY was issued.


MADISON, Wis. (8 March 2007)-Mercury use and emissions pose a serious threat to the health of people, fish and wildlife around the world, according to a declaration by the world's leading mercury scientists published today in a special issue of the international science journal Ambio.  

"The Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution" stems from four expert panels assembled at the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant held last August in Madison, Wisconsin.  It presents 33 principal findings from five papers by panel members in the same issue of Ambio that summarize what is now scientifically known about the sources and movement of mercury in the atmosphere, the socioeconomic and health effects of mercury pollution on human populations, and its effects on the world's fisheries and wildlife.

The full text of the News Advisory can be found here.

The Madison declaration can be found here.