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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

Contributing to the preparation/implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, with a focus on developing strategies for phasing out mercury-added products and on reducing mercury use in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining through development of PDF Print
Thursday, 03 September 2015 15:52



EEB/ZMWG[1]-FAO/EC Project Overview: 

Contributing to the preparation/implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, with a focus on developing strategies for phasing out mercury-added products and on reducing mercury use in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining through development of National Action Plans.”


EEB/ZMWG supported projects focusing on phasing out mercury added products

EEB/ZMWG supported projects focusing on developing ASGM NAPs

African Regional Conferences, Nairobi, 22-26 May 2017 - blog 

African Regional Conferences, Nairobi, 22-26 May 2017 -  on ASGM 23-24 May 2017, on Products 24-25 May 2017

Report from the Project Inception Workshop in Mauritius - January 2016

Report from the Project Inception Workshop in Nigeria

Report from the Project Inception Workshop in Tanzania

Report from the 1st Miners Regional Workshop in Tanzania (Geita)

Report from the Project Inception Workshop in Ghana

Report from the 1st Miners Regional Workshop in Ghana (Tarkwa)

  1. Background and context

Following its 2009 Decision 25/5, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council convened an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to prepare a legally binding instrument on mercury.  Five INC meetings took place and the treaty text was finally agreed to on 19th January 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland. In October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was adopted and opened for signature.

Over the next three to five years, many countries signing on the Convention will likely need to conduct their Minamata Convention preparation activities. Related to this, a number of countries have already accessed funding from the Global Environment Fund for Minamata Implementation Activities and other related activities.

The non-governmental organization (NGO) European Environmental Bureau, in collaboration with the Zero Mercury Working Group, will work with local NGOs in four countries from the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group, specifically in the African region. In view of this work, we respectfully extend our offer to support these countries in preparing to conduct their Minamata Convention obligations in regard to provisions for 1) developing National Action Plans designed to reduce mercury use and release in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) and 2) the phase-out of mercury-added products.

  1. Overall objectives of the project

With funding provided by the European Commission (EC) through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, the European Environmental Bureau, in collaboration with the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), (hereafter referred to as EEB/ZMWG), will support at least in part the preparation for ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in four countries in the African region, which may then be used as a model for other countries in the ACP regions and perhaps elsewhere, by delivering the following outcomes, subject to discussions with the governments as relevant:

  • Formulation of specific strategies in two selected African countries for addressing the mercury-added products phase-out provisions of the Minamata Convention;

  • Technical assistance to the two selected countries in developing National Action Plans (NAP) for reducing mercury in Artisanal and Small scale Gold Mining (ASGM)  as per the Minamata Convention;

  • A summary of the above activities together with model legislation/ action plans that may also be developed, will be presented during regional conferences, contributing support and awareness raising for national and regional stakeholders interested in mercury reduction initiatives particularly related to the Minamata Convention.

The mercury-added product phase out initiatives and ASGM national action plans created under this project will enhance the ability of the selected African countries to work toward ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention. Specifically, by the end of the project, it is hoped that, countries’ representatives will have more clarity and direction on their overall Convention ratification and implementation obligations vis a vis the two specified areas – phasing out mercury-added products and reducing mercury use and release in ASGM, whilst becoming well prepared to put in place the Convention obligations in these two areas.

  1. Project Partners

The EEB/ZMWG, with resource person assistance provided by the Mercury Policy Project (USA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (USA) and groundwork (South Africa), plans on working collaboratively with  local NGO Partners, including: Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev) in Nigeria; Pesticide Action Network (PANeM) in Mauritius; Friends of the Nation (FoN) in Ghana; and AGENDA for Environment and Responsible Development (AGENDA) in Tanzania in implementing the projects where these local NGOs reside, as per the goals of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the aspirations of each of the governments in the four African countries. The focus area in Nigeria and Mauritius will be the phase out of mercury added products, while in Tanzania and Ghana the reduction of emissions and use of mercury in ASGM.


  1. Opportunities for Cooperation

    Aware that multiple endeavours related to mercury awareness raising, exposure and pollution reduction initiatives are, were, or maybe on-going in the four respective project countries, the EEB/ZMWG, with its partners in this project, would appreciate opportunities to discuss and where viable and appropriate, cooperate and coordinate our respective project work with UN agencies, government ministries, stakeholders, and other relevant parties.  To assure coordination, EEB/ZMWG would also welcome letters or expressions of interest in the project from the Ministries of Environment in the four selected project countries.

[1] The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), located in  Brussels, Belgium, is a federation of over 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in 30 EU Member States, in candidate, potential candidate and neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. Created in 1974, EEB aims to provide a focal point for our members to monitor and respond to the EU’s environmental policies.  EEB is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. We want the EU to ensure all people a healthy environment and rich biodiversity.

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 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.


For more information on EEB’s Zero Mercury Campaign and ZMWG, see: www.zeromercury.org , www.eeb.org

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 March 2018 12:55