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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 Governments at UN mercury negotiations urged to reduce exposure, end toxic trade
Governments at UN mercury negotiations urged to reduce exposure, end toxic trade PDF Print
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 00:00
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Governments at UN mercury negotiations urged to reduce exposure, end toxic trade

Punta del Este, Uruguay, 27 June 2012 — As delegates from over 150 countries converge for the fourth session to negotiate a mercury treaty, NGOs from around the world are calling on them to address the global mercury crisis.  Alarmed that mercury is still transported great distances through the air and by trade, they are urging world leaders to adopt strong treaty provisions on supply and trade that will, among other things, prohibit mining of mercury.

“While mercury exports are banned in the EU and will soon be in the U.S., traders can still ship this dangerous neurotoxin everywhere else, poisoning people around the globe,” said Michael Bender, Zero Mercury Working Group[i] co-coordinator. “With the price of mercury almost doubling in the past year[ii], a treaty is the only way to end the profiteering in toxic trade.”

While the draft treaty text has proposed some trade restrictions on mercury, ZMWG is urging that these be strengthened.   Along with that, ZMWG recommends:

·         Phasing out the use of mercury in most products and industrial processes;

·         Requiring best available control technologies to minimize mercury emissions from  priority sources, such as coal-fired power plants and nonferrous smelters;

·         Requiring action plans to reduce mercury use and releases from artisanal small scale gold mining;

·         Safely managing surplus mercury and mercury waste and responding to contaminated sites, including addressing the risks to vulnerable populations; and

·         Providing sufficient funding to assist developing countries.

“It’s time to take bold and corrective action. Unless these measures are taken the impact of mercury pollution, especially on developing countries will be costly,” explains Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics!, Philippines  “The new Mercury Convention needs to include well established precedents such as the precautionary principle, polluter pays, and environmental justice, principles aimed to protect the poor and marginalized.”

In addition to adopting strong treaty provisions, ZMWG is also calling for interim funds to aid implementation planning after the treaty is signed, but before it enters into force.

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group said  “Securing interim financial support to enable the development of national implementation plans prior to treaty ratification is critical, especially to developing countries.”

ZMWG looks forward to working with delegates to achieve these objectives.


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 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


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

[i] The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of more than 94 public interest nongovernmental 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.