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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 Press Releases Mercury treaty negotiation moves forward in ‘fits and starts’
Mercury treaty negotiation moves forward in ‘fits and starts’ PDF Print
Friday, 04 November 2011 00:00
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Mercury treaty negotiation moves forward in ‘fits and starts’

[4TH November 2011, Nairobi, Kenya] - Over 500 delegates from 125 countries met this week to continue constructing a legally-binding global mercury treaty. While the content of the draft treaty text was discussed, public interest NGOs tried to ensure that important control measures are in the streamlined new treaty text.

“Although some progress was made in terms of narrowing down the options important issues such as air emissions remain deadlocked,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. Due to its capacity for long-range transport, atmospheric emissions of mercury contribute the most to contaminating the global fish supply, threatening human health and the environment.

The delegates discussed various sources of mercury pollution to the global pool.  These ranged from polluting practices in artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM); emissions to air and releases to water and land; products and processes; waste, storage, and contaminated sites.

Relative progress was made on mercury storage and waste sections, where new draft treaty text was agreed as a basis for discussions for the next meeting of the intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC).

“The new treaty text provides a starting framework for the storage of mercury and safe management of waste,” said Michael Bender, ZMWG co-coordinator. “We are still concerned over what seems to be the blocking of progressive moves to prohibit mercury waste dumping in developing countries.”

The new text now reflects significant agreement to address mercury use in ASGM, a large and growing source of mercury pollution. Among the remaining issues still to be resolved, is which countries will be covered by the relevant provisions and whether mercury can be imported for this use. 

On products and processes, NGOs welcomed the fact that the option on voluntary approaches was removed. “It is important that such areas are regulated”, said Dr. Mahmood Khwaja, Senior Advisor, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan. “Removing mercury from products will be one step forward towards controlling the spread of mercury contamination and is huge step towards prevention and minimisation of mercury waste”.

An expert meeting was agreed to take place before the next INC meeting (number four)  to advance discussions on finances since relevant discussions stalled at this session. UNEP has been asked to prepare a revised draft treaty text as a basis for discussions at the next meeting.

“Multilateralism has to work, for our world’s sake,” stated Richard Gutierrez of Ban Toxics!, Philippines.  “We can achieve this only if countries get out of their positions and begin engaging in meaningful compromises for our world and for future generations.   

Notes for the editor

Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, contaminates fish supplies around the world, and poses particular risks to women and young children. The anticipated mercury treaty will address mercury pollution globally.

ZMWG Preliminary Views on the INC 3 Draft Treaty text - English version

ZMWG Position for INC 3 - Abridged version EN

Other language versions available at www.zeromercury.org


Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator 'Zero Mercury Campaign' , European Environmental Bureau/ZMWG, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Mobile: +32 496 532818 , in Kenya +254 706 045 272.

Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project/ZMWG, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +1 802 223 9000

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of more than 94 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from 52 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. (www.zeromercury.org)


The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), www.eeb.org , is a federation of over 150 environmental citizens’ organisations based in most EU Member States, most candidate and potential candidate countries as well as in a few neighbouring countries. EEB is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. We want the EU to ensure all people a healthy environment and rich biodiversity.