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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 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.