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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 back on track to address global mercury crisis
EU back on track to address global mercury crisis PDF Print
Thursday, 13 October 2016 14:06

Brussels, 13 October, 2016

EU back on track to address global mercury crisis

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) voted this morning (13 October) to strengthen the European Commission’s proposal for a mercury regulation [1]. This moves the EU a step closer towards ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury [2].

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) applauded ENVI for playing an important leadership role in taking concrete steps to reduce exposure to this toxic substance that is especially dangerous for the developing nervous system.

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Manager, commented:

 “ENVI sent a clear message to the European Commission and EU Member States that it wants to see a robust mercury regulation going beyond the minimal requirements of the Minamata Convention. The EU is getting back on track to address the global mercury crisis. ”

In particular, the committee made it clear that double standards should be avoided and that mercury-added products already prohibited in the EU should not be exported with the risk that they may end up in countries with less stringent mercury management.

ENVI also expressed overwhelming support to phase out mercury in dentistry as the most effective way to prevent dental mercury pollution.

However, the EEB remains concerned with the decision to allow the disposal of solidified mercury waste in above ground facilities as this may pose much higher risks than if it were put underground.

Likewise, the EEB regretted the rejection of amendments to further control mercury emissions in the air and releases to water from the largest emitters[4].

 Christian Schaible, EEB Policy Manager Industrial Production, said:

“The main point source emitters of mercury, namely coal combustion plants, can continue to spit tonnes of mercury into the air until new stricter EU standards are agreed. Decision makers are gambling with environmental and human health protection.”

The EEB will now call on Member States to accept the proposed ENVI amendments that will reduce and eliminate all unnecessary uses and releases of mercury.

For more information, please contact:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Manager, +32 (2) 289 13 01, 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

Philippa Nuttall Jones, EEB Communications Manager, 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 editors:

[1] Adopted amendments include the following:

  •  The export ban on mercury-added products to be aligned with the restrictions already applied within the EU.

  • Mercury in dentistry to be phased out by end 2022, and for children and pregnant women within one year from entry into force of the regulation.

  • Liquid mercury waste must be solidified before disposal.

  • Mercury used in processes as a catalyst or as electrode should be phased out within the 4 years from entry into force of the regulation. Different industries have different deadlines.

  • The export ban should be expanded to include three additional mercury compounds

  • Import of mercury and listed mercury compounds shall be prohibited; import for disposal is permitted, initially until December 2027.

  • Contaminated sites by mercury or its compounds shall be identified and national decontamination strategies shall be adopted by the MS.

 [2] Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury by the EU


The Minimata Convention on Mercury http://www.mercuryconvention.org

 [3] Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, especially to the developing nervous system. Mercury transforms to neurotoxic methylmercury, which has the capacity to collect in organisms (bioaccumulate) and to concentrate up food chains (biomagnify), especially in the aquatic food chain – fish, the basic food source for millions of people.

[4]AM 235 was proposing to set a mercury limit with what is achievable by implementing BAT for Large Combustion Plants

[5] EEB calls for an ambitions EU mercury regulation, ENVI, 1st Reading Vote, 13th October 2016, 12/10/2016

EEB voting recommendations for an ambitions EU mercury regulation, ENVI 1st Reading 12/10/2016

Lifting Europe’s Dark cloud , 11/10/2016 and Health and Economic Implications of Alternative Emission Limits for coal fired power plants in the EU, May 2015

EEB proposals to ensure a robust revised EU mercury Regulation (sent to ENVI) – 4 July 2016 NGOs letter to ENVI – Phase out mercury from dentistry in the EU

EEB-WA Memo on Technical advantages of mercury free dentistry