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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 Last Chance for Governments to Develop Strong Global Mercury Treaty
Last Chance for Governments to Develop Strong Global Mercury Treaty PDF Print
Thursday, 10 January 2013 23:29


Last Chance for Governments to Develop Strong Global Mercury Treaty


Groups Fear Failed Treaty Outcome


For Immediate Release


[Geneva, 10 January 2013] – Non-governmental organizations from around the world renewed their call for “Zero Mercury Now!” to world governments as representatives converge in Geneva this coming week for the fifth and last UN intergovernmental meeting.[i] After 4 years of negotiations an agreement on a Mercury Treaty is just days away.


Concerned that special interests might affect the outcome of a strong international treaty, the Zero Mercury Working Group[ii] is hosting a pre-treaty event to highlight new key findings[iii] on mercury seafood contamination, with health effects occurring below the level considered “safe” just a few years ago.  They are urging governments to take immediate and substantial measures to reduce global mercury pollution.


The keynote speaker, Professor Philippe Grandjean, from the University of Southern Denmark and Harvard School of Public Health, will present new evidence on prenatal exposure to mercury in the womb.  Dr. Grandjean’s results indicate that mercury exposure before birth can result in $18,000 in lost lifetime earning potential for each IQ point lost, which adds up to many billions of dollars per year on a global scale. [iv] 


“How much is a developing child’s brain worth?” asks Dr. Grandjean.  “We are taking developing brains hostage and we are allowing this pollutant to interfere with a very precious organ.”


The treaty is expected to include actions to reduce intentional mercury use and emissions, which will ultimately reduce exposure.  Yet the negotiations have been slow going.


“We know how to control mercury emissions, and there are mercury-free alternatives for nearly all mercury-containing products and industrial processes,” said Michael Bender, Co-coordinator of ZMWG. “What is missing is the political will to do this.”




Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) represents the largest intentional use of mercury globally, and is the reason for much of the mercury trade from north to south.  “Achieving reductions and a time-limited phase out in the use and trade of mercury in ASGM is a must for the treaty,” according to Rico Euripidou of groundWork in South Africa.


“In the last round of negotiations countries were dragging their feet on taking tough action on mercury,” stated Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics!, Philippines. “If the global community won’t agree on mandatory emission cuts or have meaningful reductions in mercury use and trade by the end of the week, this treaty will be a failure.”


ZMWG has highlighted the following critical points that the treaty needs to address:


  • Restricting      supply and trade, including a prohibition on primary mercury mining, and      keeping mercury from closing chlorine plants off the market;
  • Phasing out the use of mercury      in new and most existing products and processes;
  • Requiring substantial      reductions of mercury releases to the environment, consistent with BAT      capabilities;
  • Prohibiting the worst      practices, and phasing out mercury use in artisanal small scale gold      mining;


  • Adopting basic binding requirements to ensure  environmental sound management of commodity mercury storage and disposal of mercury waste, and
  • Providing adequate financial      assistance to developing countries, including during the crucial interim      period when governments are undertaking their necessary treaty      implementation preparation activities.


“The final treaty negotiation session in Geneva is the world’s last chance to create a strong program for international action and cooperation to finally reduce global mercury exposure,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Coordinator of the ZMWG “We urge world governments to make this a reality at the end of this meeting”.


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Alison Abrahams;  EEB/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 +32 489 304 962


Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB/ZM΅G; 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 ; +32 496 532818


Michael Bender , MPP/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 ; +1 802 9174579


[ii] The Zero Mercury Working Group is an international coalition of over 100 public interest NGOs from more than 50 countries founded in 2005 to achieve ‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury; www.zeromercury.org

[iv] ZMWG global webinar, 4 Dec 2012, see:  www.zeromercuryorg with link to slides; also see:  http://www.biomedcentral.com, http://www.ehjournal.net/content/12/1/3/abstract