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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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Report from the NGO meeting on global mercury strategies 11 November 2007 and the first UNEP Open Ended Working Group(OEWG) on Mercury , 12-16 November 2007, Bangkok, Thailand. PDF Print
Friday, 10 September 2010 13:48

NGO meeting on global mercury strategies, 11 November 2007

Twenty five NGOs from 18 countries from around the world participated at the NGO meeting, organised by EEB/Zero Mercury Working Group, in Bangkok, in preparation for the first OEWG on mercury.

During the meeting the state of the world on mercury was presented to bring everybody up to date, as well as the position of the NGOs until now, and our proposals to the Governing Council in February 2007. Glen Wiser, CIEL, author of the Study on the different options, for UNEP, presented us the different options of legally binding instruments, existing and new.

The Study mainly included an analysis of the different policy options/instruments that can be developed to tackle mercury emissions, supply and demand. Chapter 4 of the UNEP study included a table listing potential control measures for each priority. A chapter also included a list of control measures per priority areafootnote.

Discussion followed between the NGOs and on the basis of the above we decided on 6 common points which the NGOs would need to push through to the governments during the meeting. The general feeling was that if governments tried to discuss different control measures and what policy option could be better for those to be implemented, this would be quite complicated and confusing. The NGO points agreed were the following:

Quick Guide to Public Interest NGO Views of the Open Ended Working Group on Mercury
11 November 2007


  1. The first meeting of the OEWG should seek to reduce the number of options remaining for legally-binding approaches to at most two or three.

  2. Appropriate options for a legally-binding approach are ones that can support the full range of possible measures needed to control mercury releases from all anthropogenic sources.

  3. Approaches that attempt to parcel out different needed mercury control measures to different instruments are not likely to work in an efficient or comprehensive way.

  4. The most promising options for comprehensive legally-binding approaches are: a new instrument; a protocol to the Stockholm Convention; and possibly, an agreement to add methyl mercury to Annex C of the Stockholm Convention and to treat metallic mercury environmental releases as anthropogenic sources.

  5. Any legally-binding approach to mercury control must include a financial mechanism that obliges donor Parties to provide adequate, new and additional financial and technical resources sufficient to enable developing countries and countries with economies in transition to fulfill their obligations without undermining basic economic development and poverty reduction objectives.

  6. Legally-binding and voluntary approaches can and should both be pursued in a complementary way and at the same time. Voluntary approaches should be used to make early progress and gain experiences while a more systematic and precise legally-binding approach is being developed.


First OEWG meeting on Mercury, 12-16 November 2007

The OEWG started on Monday 12 November. John Roberts (UK) was elected as chair. A 5 member Bureau of the OEWG was created (including the chair) with representatives from all regions (Mexico, Belarus, Japan, Nigeria).

The NGOs had been pushing for a discussion to take place horizontally on the different options – legally binding and voluntary –in view of narrowing down mainly the legal ones, into two – a protocol to the Stockholm Convention or a new free standing treaty. At the end the agenda was decided to follow the 7 priority areas (atmospheric mercury emissions, waste containing mercury, mercury demand-uses, mercury supply and primary mining, environmentally sound storage of mercury, contaminated sites, increase of knowledge in inventories, exposure etc) and the different control measures that could be taken under each priority area, and then a discussion on through which instrument these control measures could be implemented.

On the basis of that, the different control measures that could be added under each priority areas were discussed, and whether a voluntary or a legal approach would better suit each one was discussed by the governments.

The updated list of control measures as these were discussed in plenary and contact groups can be found here including section 4.7 on information. NGOs were also able to suggest additions which were accepted if supported by a country – all of the NGOs suggestions were included in the list.

Overall, on the implementation options, US, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and China supported voluntary approaches for all control measures. Canada agreed to this line as well but was somehow more open also to existing legal approaches –mainly the Basel and Rotterdam Conventions. The EU, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, Brazil, the African region, the CEE region and many countries of the Asia-Pacific and Latin America as well as the Arab countries expressed their support to a legally binding approach and preference to the creation of a protocol to the Stockholm Convention or a new free-standing treaty.

Finally governments entered into negotiation over what would be the intersessional work for UNEP secretariat in preparation for the Second OWEG foreseen to take place in October 2008.

Four proposals were tabled on what the intersessional work should have been:

  1. by the African Region, supported by Norway and Switzerland
  2. by the EU, mainly along the lines of the African proposal with minor differences
  3. by Australia and New Zealand
  4. by the US

In addition the US submitted a proposal for a Voluntary Framework to address global mercury risks.

After eight hours of negotiations (until 3.00 am) there was an agreement on the work to be done until October 2008. The agreed text on the Intersessional work can be found here.

Governments requested mainly UNEP to:

  1. provide information on how different financial mechanisms (GEF, Multilateral fund of the Montreal Protocol etc.) would apply on a New protocol to the Stockholm Convention on mercury, a new free-standing treaty and  on voluntary arrangements, and what is the funding currently available to address mercury;
  2. further analyse implementation options through which countries could pursue a new free-standing treaty, a new protocol to the Stockholm convention and voluntary arrangements;
  3. regroup the control measures within each strategic objective of each priority according to 4 clusters (inventories and knowledge building, BAT/BEP and product/standard restrictions, financial considerations and capacity building , and technology transfer) , indicating at the same time which of the control measures can be implemented at national level (considering countries’ capacity to do so), and which would benefit from a coordinated international framework whether through legal or voluntary arrangements.
  4. carry out different studies on: qualitative analysis of costs and benefits fir each of the strategic objectives, including information on the socioeconomic costs of continuing the status-quo, assessment on whether projected appropriate demand could be met if primary mining was phased out , and preparing an updated paper on major mercury containing products and processes that have effective substitutes.

Finally a draft report was produced from the meeting, additions/corrections were made in plenary and this will be submitted to the 10th Special Session of the Governing Council, February 20-22, 2008, Monaco.

To conclude, our main objective to narrow down the options of implementation instruments to a New protocol to the Stockholm Convention and a New free-standing treaty was met; the fragmented approach of tackling different issues through different existing legal instruments was chosen not to be considered, although Canada seemed to be pushing towards that direction – although isolated. The analysis of a voluntary arrangement still stayed on the table however for further consideration. Nevertheless all approaches as discussed were looking at a comprehensive instrument which would cover measures to tackle all seven priority areas. The effort from the US to request a study on the elasticity of mercury price related to the Artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASM) sector was rejected thanks to coordinated efforts….So, some first steps were indeed made to the right direction, streamlining global solutions on mercury, but there is some way to go.

A press release was send out from the NGOs at the end of the meeting, on 16 November 2007.

NGO activities
The NGOs were meeting every morning and evening before and after the plenary session for coordination purposes. On the basis of the regional representation and language capacities NGO representatives were also attending some of the regional groups – depending on their openness. Further to that a separate meeting was set up between the NGOs and the EU, and between the NGOs and the Asia Pacific region – which brought us closer to these countries and open further channels of communication.

Three NGO side events were organised during the OEWG in Bangkok.

1.  Mercury Uses in Developing World, on Monday 12/11

2. Mercury Effects on human health, on Tuesday 13/11

  • Mercury Effects on Human Health, Irma Makalinao, Pacific Basic Consortium for Environmental Health Sciences, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of the Philippines Manila

3.  The Global Movement for Mercury-Free Health Care, on Wednesday 14/11

and also

NGO representatives were invited to present:

All events were well attended and useful discussions/presentations took place which triggered the interest from government representatives.

Furthermore many interventions from different NGOs attending (each NGO had their own flag) were made from the floor during the plenary and many of our suggestions were supported by governments and eventually adopted by the plenary.

The NGO community with their interventions, side events and informal discussions made their presence very evident at the meeting and their input was appreciated by many governments and other inter-governmental organisations.

footnote Seven priority areas (atmospheric mercury emissions, waste containing mercury, mercury demand-uses, mercury supply and primary mining, environmentally sound storage of mercury, contaminated sites, increase of knowledge in inventories, exposure etc), have been identified, per Art. 19 of the UNEP GC 24-3 Decision, February 2007.