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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 5, 13-18 January 2013, Geneva, Switzerland PDF Print
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 18:05

5th meeting of the Mercury Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee - INC 5

13-18 January 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

 A letter has been sent to INC delegates on 7th January 2013 -

ZMWG letter: Last chance to develop strong treaty to reduce mercury exposure, 7 January 2013 

 Press releases

Last Chance for Governments to Develop Strong Global Mercury Treaty 12 January 2013

Mercury treaty rises but weak emissions regime undercuts progress  19 January 2013

 Collection of INC 5 related press clips

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


In preparation for the INC 5 on Mercury, the following ZMWG position papers have been developed:

 November 2012

ZMWG preliminary views on the Chair's draft text for INC 5, November 2012 - English

ZMWG preliminary views on the Chair's draft text for INC 5 November 2012 - French

ZMWG preliminary views on the Chair's draft text for INC 5 November 2012- Spanish

ZMWG preliminary views on the Chair's draft text for INC 5 - November 2012- Portuguese

ZMWG preliminary views on the Chair's draft text for INC 5 -  November 2012 -Arabic

ZMWG preliminary views on the Chair's draft text for INC 5 - November 2012- Russian


ZMWG INC 5 BRIEFING PAPER SERIES - ASGM and Mercury Trade , November 2012

ZMWG views on dental amalgam, January 2013



Opening statement 13/01/13

Products and Processes 13/01/13 (EN and FR)

FInance and Technical assistance 13/01/13 in EN in EN and in RUS

Emissions and Releases 14/01/13

Supply and Trade 14/01/13

ASGM 14/01/13

Storage and Waste  14/01/13  in EN and Arabic

Article 20 bis on health



In preparation for  INC 5 ZMWG is undertaking a series of Communication activities:

Two Global ZMWG Webinars set for 4th December 2012, Webinar 1: 8.30 AM CET , Webinar 2: 16:00 PM CET , Instructions on how to get on the webinar

On the 4th December 2012, the Zero Mercury Working Group, in cooperation with scientists from the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) and with other prominent scientists, is organizing a global webinar to release new findings that demonstrate extensive mercury contamination of seafood and to summarize recent studies that show health effects from methylmercury occurring below the level that was considered “safe” just a few years ago. Scientists will highlight new research and explain why current government “safety limits” should be strengthened worldwide. The reports will be released accompanied by a press release on the 4th December 2012. . This comes ahead of the final round of United Nations negotiations, scheduled in January 2013, for a global mercury treaty.

Slides from the webinar presentations now available now available!

The actual webinar video can be downloaded here.

Press Release - 4 December 2012 - Evidence shows mercury threat underestimated ahead of UN treaty talks
Also from colleagues around the world - SDPI Pakistan, AWHHE- Armenia, EeA- Spain, EEB/ZMWG FR version

Reports are now available:

BRI report:  Mercury in the Global Environment - Patterns of Global Seafood Mercury Concentrations and their Relationship with Human Health

Groth report for ZMWG: An Overview of Epidemiological Evidence on the Effects of Methylmercury on Brain Development, and A Rationale for a Lower Definition of Tolerable Exposure

ZMWG summary/recommendations - Mercury Contamination, Exposures and Risk: A New Global Picture Emerges

ZMWG News Clips from Global Webinar