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22 September 2017

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New treaty effectiveness will depend on adequacy of data to be collected, say NGOs  

Geneva, Switzerland

Prior to the start of the first Conference of Parties (COP1), the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) welcomed the entry into force of the Minamata Convention. 

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, international ZMWG coordinator. “We applaud the world’s governments for committing to curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.
During the prior negotiations, the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) approved many of the forms and guidance that the Convention specifies must be adopted at COP 1, which are needed for the swift and smooth launch and running of the Convention.  These include guidance documents on identifying stocks, determining best available technologies and reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining; as well as forms for trade procedures and for exemptions from certain deadlines.

“These INC approvals were achieved by consensus after considerable deliberations, and are ready for approval without further debate,” said Satish Sinha, Toxics Link India.

Among the most critical open issues to be discussed at COP1 are the reporting requirements, which will provide critical information on both the global mercury situation and the effectiveness of the Convention in achieving mercury reductions.   Particularly critical to collect will be data on mercury production and trade, which can change significantly in a short period of time.

 “Countries will not have readily available information about production and trade in bordering countries or within their region, unless there is frequent reporting under the Convention,” said David Lennett, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council “Many borders between countries are “porous,” and where a significant portion of mercury trade is informal/illegal.   Good data on legal trade flows will enable actions to address illegal trade, all of which has a huge impact on artisanal and small scale gold mining, the largest source of mercury pollution globally.

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero

For more information, see:




Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For information on reporting, please contact David Lennett, Natural Resources Defense Council, T:  +1 202 460 8517   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For further information, please contact:

*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.


Home Our work at UNEP Level Towards a Mercury Treaty
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.