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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

UNEP Treaty Ratification Workshops PDF Print
Friday, 27 March 2015 14:14

 A small scale funding agreement was signed by the European Environmental Bureau (on behalf of ZMWG) and UNEP Chemicals branch to assist with a series of treaty ratification workshops. Theses workshops were designed to assist countries in the process towards ratification and early implementation of their obligations under the Convention. UNEP assigned its financial support in order to guarantee the participation of at least one ZMWG representative to each of the scheduled workshops (2014 and 2015) and our treaty ratification guidebooks have been well received in the workshops since INC 6.

These workshops took place around the world in view of covering all regions:

    • Asia 1 – South East Asia- Kuala Lumpur, 19-21 March 2014

    • Africa EN 1 and Africa EN 2 , 23-25 April, 28-30 April, 2014 Nairobi;

    • Asia 2- Arab group – 5-7 August, 2014 – Jordan;

    • GRULAC, ES – 2-4 September, 2014, Brasilia, Brazil;

    • Asia 3, Other ,New Delhi - 18-20 September, 2014, India;

    • GRULAC, Central America, Mexico City, 26-28 November, 2014;

    • GRULAC, Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago; January, 2015;

    • Asia 4 - Pacific Islands – 19-21 January,2015;

    • Asia 5 and CEE (Russian speaking) Central Asia Countries, 18-20 February, 2015.

During these workshops several technical issues related both to the meaning and to the implementation process of the Convention were discussed. The ZMWG representative  actively contributed with at least two presentations in each meeting - one on the communication tools used to address the general public and particular audiences, and other  on the available support at the sub-regional level. In most cases ZMWG was also asked to give more specialized presentations on national action plan development to reduce mercury in ASGM, alternatives to mercury-containing products and processes as well to address issues related to mercury supply and trade.

The ZMWG further contributed its expertise in the discussions which took place during the workshops. A part of the workshops was dedicated to breakout groups’ discussion: during these sections, ZMWG representative also had the opportunity to deeply engage on some sensitive issues with Governments representatives and assist them in their development of their national roadmap towards the country’s ratification.

Prior to the start and after each workshop, internal ZMWG preparatory calls were arranged with the ZMWG representatives to help them prepare for the meetings, debrief  and acquaint them with the presentations, which were developed and adapted to each region depending on the workshops we were covering.