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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs


“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury respects no boundaries and exposes people everywhere”
“Only a global pact can curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

In October 2013 the convention text was adopted and signed by 128 countries, but would not take legal effect until at least 50 countries had ratified it formally.  This milestone was reached in May of this year, and the convention enters into force today 16 August. 

“We are now on the right track,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, European Environmental Bureau and ZMWG co- coordinator. 

“Over time, the Convention is expected to provide the necessary technical and financial resources to reduce the risk of exposure to mercury worldwide. Governments must therefore move swiftly towards efficient implementation of the Treaty’s provisions”.

The aim of the Convention is "to protect the human health and the environment” from mercury releases.

The treaty holds critical obligations for Parties to ban new primary mercury mines while phasing out existing ones and also includes a ban on many common products and processes using mercury, measures to control releases, and a requirement for national plans to reduce mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.  In addition, it seeks to reduce trade, promote sound storage of mercury and its disposal, address contaminated sites and reduce exposure from this dangerous neurotoxin.

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.

The Minamata Convention joins 3 other UN conventions seeking to reduce impacts from chemicals and waste – the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.


For more information, see:




Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,  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 " data-mce-href="mailto: 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

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,   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 " data-mce-href="mailto: 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

Notes to the editors:

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero and small children. 

*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.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe's largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our experts work on climate change, biodiversity, circular economy, air, water, soil, chemical pollution, as well as policies on industry, energy, agriculture, product design and waste prevention. We are also active on overarching issues as sustainable development, good governance, participatory democracy and the rule of law in Europe and beyond.

We have over 140 members in over 30 countries.

EC register for interest representatives: Identification number 06798511314-27
International non-profit association - Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL)

Home Press Releases ZMWG blog: Summary of INC 7 on Mercury, 10-15 March 2016, Dead Sea, Jordan
ZMWG blog: Summary of INC 7 on Mercury, 10-15 March 2016, Dead Sea, Jordan PDF Print
Thursday, 31 March 2016 11:23


Summary of seventh Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC 7) on Mercury

31 March 2016, Dead Sea, Jordan

The Zero Mercury Working Group (Zero Mercury) closely followed the Mercury INC 7 negotiations in Dead Sea, Jordan, 10-15 March 2016.  These negotiations were held in preparation for the first meeting of the Conference of Parties, after the Minamata Convention enters into force. 

Our main priorities for INC 7 were related to how to best monitor mercury reductions at the national level through the Convention’s control measures and implementation framework.    In particular, the data submitted by the Parties regarding the measures undertaken and their effectiveness are vital to understanding the impact of the Convention, determining compliance, ensuring accountability and enhancing donor interest in supporting the Convention — both now and into the future.

INC 7 saw progress on several fronts.

Article 3 – Mercury supply sources and trade – One of our top priorities for INC 7 was to ensure that countries collect and provide mercury production and trade information in a timely manner.

The guidance on completing the trade consent forms required was provisionally adopted at  INC 7.  We sought instructions requiring that the trade consent forms be provided to the Secretariat, to facilitate a better understanding of mercury trade flows when the forms are aggregated.  The guidance as adopted “recommends” that Parties submit these forms, Moreover, the reporting form under development (see below) requests that Parties either submit the trade consent forms or provide “other suitable information” to demonstrate compliance with the trade provisions (Paragraph 6) of Article 3.  Taken together, we think its likely most (if not all) Parties will find it easier to simply submit the trade consent forms.

          The draft guidance on the identification of stocks and sources of mercury supply was also provisionally adopted at INC 7. Under the guidance, Parties may aggregate mercury (and the covered mercury compounds) stored by the same entity at different locations, for the purpose of determining whether the size of the stocks meets the Convention thresholds for “large” stocks. . Although examples of supply generation sources are not provided, the guidance stills contains questions countries may ask themselves regarding their potential supply sources, thus these questions can serve a similar function to the list. 

Article 7 – Artisanal and Small Scale Gold-mining (ASGM) - The draft guidance on Parties developing national action plans (NAPs) to reduce the use and release of mercury in ASGM was recommended for immediate use by countries.  This development is important because countries are already working on developing NAPs, so the sooner the NAPs can be completed and implemented the better. ZMWG welcomes the INC 7 decision to use the ASGM Guidance document considering that emissions from this sector are the largest in the world.

Article 8 – Emissions – INC 7 provisionally adopted four separate guidance documents to implement Article 8 of the Convention.  The four guidance documents cover: (1) The best available techniques/best environmental practices (BAT/BEP) for controlling major point sources; (2) setting emission limit values (ELVs); (3) demonstrating regulated sources encompass at least 75% of emissions from a source category;[1] and (4) developing and maintaining emission inventories.  As we suggested, the inventory guidance recommends that it include information on monitoring and measurement techniques, an important element which needs to be known to assess emission reductions over time.

Article 10 – Storage of mercury – The roadmap proposed by the secretariat towards developing guidance on interim storage of mercury for consideration at COP1 was revised as we requested, establishing a process for the secretariat to develop the guidelines that now includes Parties and NGOs, and participants in the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership.  ZMWG is happy to see that a wide pool of Minamata Convention experts and stakeholders will be nominated as experts, and that drafts of the guidance will be open to public consultation for feedback.

Article 12 – Contaminated Sites – With the support of many developing countries, several attempts were made to reach agreement on having the interim secretariat develop guidance on contaminated sites for COP 1.  After much debate, the compromise reached was to request the interim secretariat to compile country submissions and prepare a roadmap for developing the guidance to be considered at COP1. ZMWG was disappointed with this result since it prolongs development of the guidance.  We fully support the development of draft guidance for contaminated sites as important capacity building assistance to facilitate necessary site remediation. 

Article 13, 14. Financial resources and mechanism including the Specific International Programme (SIP).  A Memorandum of Understanding between the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) was provisionally adopted to address financing matters, as the GEF Trust Fund is the main financial instrument for the Convention. To meet accountability requirements, it was provisionally agreed by the INC that the GEF will report to the COP information related to the Convention including:  how GEF has responded to COP Convention guidance; a synthesis of approved projects on mercury indicating how resources were allocated; GEF monitoring and evaluation activities; and providing an explanation in the event that a project proposal was not approved.

Progress was also made towards the development of a Specific International Programme (SIP), which is an additional Convention financial assistance mechanism designed to primarily support capacity building and technical assistance in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. It was agreed that UNEP will deliver administrative support to the SIP. Elements such as its duration, governance arrangements, and resources, were discussed but not resolved. Text will be forwarded to COP1 for further discussion.

Article 21- Reporting: Reporting was our top priority for this meeting, considering that information will be needed to evaluate mercury reduction progress and the effectiveness of the Treaty.  Although the reporting form is not yet completed, we made substantial progress in securing the data needed on mercury production and trade, and on mercury use in industrial processes.  Still left to be resolved are issues related to reporting on air emissions, including whether emission inventories will be provided or made available, and the frequency of reporting.  There was significant discussion at INC 7 about a four year general reporting cycle, with more frequent reporting (every 1 or 2 years) for mercury production and trade.  

Article 22 - Effectiveness evaluation –  In order to assist the COP, the INC 7 requested the interim secretariat, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, to draft a report with recommendations on the establishment of arrangements for providing comparable monitoring data on the presence and movement of mercury and mercury compounds in the environment as well as trends in levels of mercury and mercury compounds observed in biotic media and vulnerable populations, as provided for in paragraph 2 of article 22, including references for assessing baselines.  In addition, the secretariat will compile information on existing monitoring programmes including baseline information and (b) prepare for COP1 a road map  for developing a draft Convention effectiveness evaluation strategy.  ZMWG is pleased to see the planning process underway, involving a wide array of experts and sources of information feeding into the development of the effectiveness evaluation strategy.  We had hoped for an expert group to work on the broad array of technical and policy issues embodied in this work, but look forward to becoming actively involved in the roadmap development.

Still unresolved are several elements under the COP Rules of Procedure, Convention financial rules, key aspects of the financial assistance mechanism, reporting on air emission control measures and reporting frequency generally, and the host arrangements for the secretariat.

Depending on how much progress is made in the interim, a short INC8 may take place before the COP1 to resolve remaining matters.

Technically, the final road map is almost in place to ‘zero down’ global mercury use. Zero Mercury Working Group looks forward to a productive first Conference of the Parties meeting that establishes an effective Convention operational framework for achieving significant mercury reductions.

[1] Parties are required to control emissions from relevant sources. Paragraph 2 (b) of article 8 defines “relevant source” as a source falling within one of the source categories listed in Annex D. Paragraph 2 (b) continues as follows: A Party may, if it chooses, establish criteria to identify the sources covered within a source category listed in Annex D so long as those criteria for any category include at least 75 per cent of the emissions from that category.