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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 CLOCK TICKING: TIME RUNNING OUT TO ADDRESS THE GLOBAL MERCURY CRISIS
CLOCK TICKING: TIME RUNNING OUT TO ADDRESS THE GLOBAL MERCURY CRISIS PDF Print
Monday, 02 July 2012 23:41

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

 CLOCK TICKING: TIME RUNNING OUT TO ADDRESS THE GLOBAL MERCURY CRISIS

 

[2nd July 2012]; Punta del Este, Uruguay -- Governments meeting at the 4th of only 5 negotiations are running out of time to meaningfully address key issues before finalizing a legally binding treaty on mercury, say NGOs.   Most major policy issues remain unresolved and the Zero Mercury Working Group, a global coalition of NGOs, expressed concern over the lack of progress at such a late stage.

 

“There has been no substantial progress with respect to the biggest sources of mercury pollution, emissions to air, nor in reconciling the different positions of governments,” said. Michael Bender, ZMWG co-coordinator “This issue is critical to diffuse the ticking mercury time bomb.”

 

Issues as straightforward as the phase out of mercury in products and processes and supply and trade did not progress any better. 

 

“Time is running out on deciding which products to phase out and by when,” explained Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, co-coordinator of ZMWG.  “Nor has any substantive progress been made on banning primary mining or ending the toxic trade in mercury.”

 

Barely visible in the draft treaty are core requirements for the environmentally sound management of elemental mercury and mercury waste, which are contingent on future decisions.  At the same time, the issue of contaminated sites has only been minimally addressed and no support given to the polluter pays principle.

 

One small light in the dark tunnel of the negotiation was a resolution on reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining through developing national action plans.  Yet even this small advance was overshadowed by the loophole on determining who are “significant” users of mercury. Unless this is defined, large users may walk away from their responsibility.

 

Regrettably, countries from the north are united in opposing a separate health article in the treaty to help countries assess and reduce exposure to mercury.  This is something that China, the Latin American and African regions have all called for.

 

“This is an example of north – south double standard over whether health issues will be addressed equitably, even though the whole reason for negotiation is to protect human health,” stated Rico Euripidou from Groundwork, South Africa, a member of the ZMWG.”Mercury is a basic human rights issue, as it affects millions of people. Health strategies to address reducing exposure to mercury must be included in this treaty.”

 

“One last round of negotiation is left to get things right,” said Richard Gutierrez, director of Ban Toxics!, a member of the ZMWG.  “Countries need to now get out of their positions and engage in meaningful compromises for our world and for future generations’.    

 

Notes to the editors

 

Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, contaminates fish supplies around the world, and poses particular risks to women and young children.  The anticipated Mercury Convention, projected to be finalized in January 2013 at the fifth negotiation in Geneva, is expected to address mercury pollution globally.

 

ZERO MERCURY WORKING GROUP PRELIMINARY VIEWS ON INC 4 DRAFT TREATY TEXT MAY 2012 - English version

 

PRELIMINARY DRAFT ZERO MERCURY WORKING GROUP RESPONSE TO CO-CHAIRS PROPOSED APPROACH TO EMISSIONS AND RELEASES May 2012

 

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

 

ZMWG Views on Mercury Use in Dental Amalgam, June 2012

 

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

 

Other language versions available at www.zeromercury.org

 

CONTACTS:

 

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 "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Mobile: +32 496 532818

 

Michael Bender, ZMWG Co-coordinator, 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 , Mobile: +802 917 4579