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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 Towards a Mercury Treaty
UNEP Hg INC 4, 27 June - 2 July 2012, Punta de l'Este, Uruguay PDF Print
Thursday, 24 May 2012 11:46

4th meeting of the Mercury Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee - INC4
27th June- 2nd July 2012, Punta de L'Este, Uruguay 

The fourth Mercury of Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee will be taking place on 27th June- 2nd July 2012,in Punta de L'Este, Uruguay

All relevant documents and details about the meeting can be found at the UNEP website:


In preparation for the INC 4 on Mercury, the following ZMWG position papers have been developed (May 2012):

ZMWG Preliminary Views on the INC 4 Draft Treaty text - English version

ZMWG Preliminary Views on the INC 4 Draft Treaty text - French

ZMWG Preliminary Views on the INC 4 Draft Treaty text - Arabic

ZMWG Preliminary Views on the INC 4 Draft Treaty text - Portuguese

ZMWG Preliminary Views on the INC 4 Draft Treaty text - Russian

ZMWG Preliminary Views on the INC 4 Draft Treaty text - Spanish


PRELIMINARY ZMWG RESPONSE TO CoChairs Emissions Paper May 2012 - EN

PRELIMINARY ZMWG RESPONSE TO CoChairs Emissions Paper May 2012 - ES


Zero Mercury Working Group Initial Comments on Products/Processes Discussion Paper June 2012


ZMWG Views on Mercury Use in Dental Amalgam, June 2012

Also available in RU, ES

ZMWG INC 4 BRIEFING PAPER SERIES - Phasing out Mercury Use in Button Cell Batteries

ZMWG INC 4 BRIEFING PAPER SERIES Mercury in VCM and PVC Manufacturing


ZMWG activities while at INC 4

The ZMWG carried out an action for INC4 whose theme was: Zero Mercury Flow: End Toxic Trade Now! Polluter pays!  Ten NGO colleagues wore placards showing faces of persons harmed by the use of mercury-added skin lightening creams, to raise awareness – passing the message that this is the effect when mercury flows also in products. We carried out this action in front of the plenary room handing out bookmarks and lanyards and USBs that carried the key messages that we wanted to communicate to the delegates and that focused on supply, trade and the effects of mercury use in products. (see photo at: http://www.iisd.ca/mercury/inc4/, with other photos at our Photo library


ZMWG statements while at INC 4

27 June 2012
Opening statement

Statement on Storage, Waste and Contaminated sites

Statement on Section J (art. 18-19)

28 June 2012
Statement on Emissions and Releases

Statement on Finance and Technical Assistance

29 June 2012
Statement on Products and Processes in EN and FR 

30 June 2012
Statement on Supply and Trade

Statement on Article 20 bis (Health)

Statement on Article 21 (NIPs)

Other relevant documents

Discussion paper on products and processes for regional consultations in preparation for INC4 on mercury - Tokyo paper- 4 May 2012Tokyo paper- 4 May 2012

Draft EU CRP supply and trade

Draft EU CRP emissions

Draft EU CRP storage and waste

WHO Factsheets: Skin Lightening and Health Care