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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 EU health scientists recommend dental amalgam alternatives to reduce mercury pollution
EU health scientists recommend dental amalgam alternatives to reduce mercury pollution PDF Print
Monday, 22 September 2014 01:11
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EU health scientists recommend dental amalgam alternatives to reduce mercury pollution

[12 September 2014, Brussels]  For the first time, the European Commission’s scientific committee on health has recommended mercury-free alternatives in place of dental amalgam for children’s primary teeth and in pregnant patients. EU and international NGOs [1] welcomed this and called on decision-makers to develop an EU plan to phase-out amalgam with a deadline, particularly for sensitive populations.

“Several studies (see endnotes section) show that it is now time to phase out mercury use in dentistry, for at least pregnant women and children, but also for adults” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, Zero Mercury Campaign at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).  “The European Commission must prepare measures for phase out when preparing dental-related legislative proposals to be included in the “Minamata ratification package”[2], and go for options beyond what the treaty calls for.”

The key finding in the preliminary opinion from the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), are in line with the Minamata Convention and the general aim to reduce mercury use within the European Union:“…for primary teeth, and in pregnant patients, alternative materials to amalgam should be the first choice.”[3]

Many EU countries – including Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, among others – have virtually phased out amalgam use, indicating that the alternatives are more than adequate.

Dr. Bent Christiansen, a dentist from Denmark’s Jutland, said “Amalgam alternatives are now used in the overwhelming majority of cases.  From a dentist’s perspective, the alternatives are plainly superior to amalgam, which requires invasive removal of good tooth matter.  By contrast, alternatives are minimally invasive.”

While the SCENIHR has now given more attention to the rising threat of dental mercury pollution, concerns remain that SCENIHR is still not adequately addressing the health concerns scientists have about mercury in amalgam.[4]

Mercury is a highly neurotoxic product which can cause brain damage to children and foetuses.  Dental amalgam is about 50% mercury. 


 [1] The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest federation of environmental citizens’ organisations. It is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our aim is to ensure the EU secures a healthy environment and rich biodiversity for all.  For more information, see:  http://www.zeromercury.org/.

The World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry (WAMFD) is a coalition of NGOs dedicated to ending dental mercury pollution.  We work with NGOs, dentists, and dental patients on six continents and throughout the EU Member States.  For more information, see:  http://www.toxicteeth.org/.

The Mercury Policy Project (MPP) works to promote policies to eliminate mercury uses, reduce the export and trafficking of mercury, and significantly reduce mercury exposures at the local, national, and international levels. We strive to work harmoniously with other groups and individuals who have similar goals and interests.  For more information, see:  http://mercurypolicy.org/.

 [2] http://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/MinamataConvention

[3] SCENIHR, page 71

[4] http://braindrain.dk/2014/09/mercury-fillings/

Background reading:


-Margherita Tolotto, Project Support Officer ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, T: +32 2 2891308, 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

-Attorney Edith Bon, European Union Counsel, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry,

T: +33 (0)1 45 26 32 46 or +33 (0)6 87 04 11 31, 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  

 -Alison Abrahams, EEB Communications Officer at 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 (0) 2289 13 09 or +32 (0) 489 304 962

 URL: http://www.eeb.org/EEB/?LinkServID=F5F34E51-5056-B741-DB49ECAEF5C63DA9