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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 4-5 October 2008 and the second UNEP Open Ended Working Group(OEWG) on Mercury , 6-10 October 2008, Nairobi, Kenya PDF Print
Friday, 10 September 2010 13:57

Sixteen NGO representatives, from 14 countries from around the world and covering all regions, including one NGO representing also the Indigenous peoples, participated to the 2nd UNEP Ad Hoc Open Ended Working Group on Mercury, 6-10 October 2008, Nairobi, Kenya including 2 EEB member organisations.

NGO strategy meeting , 4-5 October 2008

In preparation for the meeting a conference call was organised among NGO representatives in September 2008. A Preparatory NGO Strategy working group was then organised by EEB/Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 October, in Nairobi.

A broad discussion on what was expected from the meeting and what were the objectives for the NGOs took place during the NGO meeting. Three NGO papers were finalised:

-Submission of the ZMWG Information document on development of a mercury framework, October 2008<

- ZMWG Recommended revisions to UNEP proposed mercury framework in OEWG 2.8

-Quick Views of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Mercury, Zero Mercury Working Group, IPEN, Health Care Without Harm in EN, ES and RU.

On Saturday afternoon NGOs participated to the Seminar on Socio-economic Costs of continuing the Mercury Pollution , Nairobi, organised by the Nordic Council of Ministers

All relevant documents for the UNEP meeting are available at UNEP Meeting documents for the 2nd Ad hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Mercury http://www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/OEWG2/Documents.htm

2nd UNEP OEWG on Mercury, 6-10 October 2008

The 2nd UNEP OEWG on Mercury started on the 6 October 2008. Plenary session started with introductory remarks from the different countries and regions. The NGOs opening statement can be found here. The Environmental NGOs statement was complemented by a statement on behalf of the Indigenous people, which can be found here.

Detailed discussion on the elements of the framework that a global instrument would have, continued during the whole week. The NGOs objective being to ensure that no proposed elements (as in document 2.8) would be dropped, many meetings took place between different countries at bilateral and/or delegation level. The NGOs participated actively to the debate, proposed text suggestions and contributed to the development of the finalised document. At the end the elements of the framework which were broadly agreed contained all initial proposals and clarified further some points. The final documents are not yet available.

Following that, the meeting discussed which was the preferred option and why, between a legally binding or a voluntary framework. An overwhelming majority of governments present , including the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, the African Region, Brazil and others, expressed their preference for a free-standing legally binding instrument. USA and India gave preference to voluntary options, China and Australia expressed preference for a voluntary framework for the time being without dismissing fully a future legal framework, whereas Argentina, and Mexico although they favoured a general voluntary framework, also considered that existing legal frameworks such as the Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel conventions could take some actions on mercury under their responsibility. The NGOs expressed their clear preference for a free-standing legally binding instrument as it can be seen here, and also commented the proposed voluntary framework as described by the USA, here.

Finally, a report from the OEWG which will be sent to the Governing Council (February 2009) was drafted and agreed – a draft final version can be found here. Furthermore the report from the meeting was drafted and agreed – draft final version can be found here.

The report from the OEWG together with the generally agreed elements of an instrument will be included in the report from the Executive Director and be submitted to the 25th Governing Council, as it was the requested by the governments at its 24thsession in February 2007.

At the end of the meeting an NGO press release was sent out to the European and US journalists networks, on 10 October 2008.

Side Activities

A lunch presentation of the ZMWG project on Asian Mercury Storage took place on Wednesday 8 October 2008. Many governments from the Asia-Pacific region participated to the meeting which was also supported by UNEP. An information note and introduction to the project can be found here.

>Side meetings also took place on the UNITAR/UNEP project funded by the Swiss and US governments, in Kyrgyzstan, in view of examining the options and conditions for a definite closure of the last mercury mine in the world which is exporting primary mercury to the global market. The NGOs participated actively at the meetings and will be following developments.

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, UNEP and other inter-governmental organisations.