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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

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EU agrees dental amalgam ban in children, pregnant and breastfeeding women PDF Print
Thursday, 08 December 2016 16:30

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EU agrees dental amalgam ban in children, pregnant and breastfeeding women

Brussels 8 December 2016,

European civil society has endorsed this week’s provisional agreement by the three EU institutions (European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of the European Union) to ban dental amalgam fillings for children under 15 and for pregnant and breastfeeding women as of 1 July 2018.

The text, which must now be approved by both Parliament and Council, also requires each Member State to set a national plan by 1 July 2019 on how it will reduce amalgam use. The Commission will report by mid-2020 on the feasibility of phasing out dental amalgam preferably by 2030 to be accompanied by a legislative proposal, if appropriate. The action is part of a broader package to ratify and implement the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Charlie Brown, President of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry said:

“The children of Europe have won. The next generation in Europe will be safe from mercury dental fillings.”

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo of the European Environment Bureau said: 

“With this agreement Europe takes an important step towards returning to world leadership in implementing the Minamata Convention.  These steps towards a phase out of dental amalgam will now resonate across the world.”

U.K. dentist Graeme Munro-Hall, chair of the Transition and Training task force of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, said:

“Amalgam is a primitive polluting device. It is technically inferior to today’s modern alternatives.   Dentistry’s amalgam era is over, a fact embraced enthusiastically by thousands of European dentists and accepted by the others.”

Philippe Vandendaele of Health Care Without Harm Europe said:

“We welcome this agreement with mixed feelings. Such a decision should not only lead to a reduction of mercury in the EU, but it is also an open acknowledgement that mercury fillings should not have a place in our society. We regret that the measures for a full phase out of dental amalgam proposed by Stefan Eck (Rapporteur), did not survive the trilogue discussion. It is a missed opportunity to actually reduce the largest presence of mercury in the EU at its very source: dental amalgam.”

 

Genon Jensen of Health and Environmental Alliance said:

"This partial ban on dental amalgams is excellent news, especially for children’s health. It will not only help protect the health of mothers and children but also contribute to reducing everyone’s environmental exposure to mercury.  Several Member States either disallow amalgam use or have already reduced it to less than 10% of all dental fillings. We hope each Member States will now take seriously its duty to reduce amalgam use for everyone."

 

Notes to the editor:

Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, especially to pregnant women and the developing nervous system.  Amalgam consists of 50% mercury, which under certain conditions can transform to neurotoxic methylmercury.

Joint NGO press release, 29 November 2016, Civil society calls on EU decision makers to phase out dental amalgam

A Joint NGO letter was sent on 15 November, to EU Environment ministers, to the EU Health Ministers, and to the European Commission.

 

For more information contact:

 

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, 0032 (0)2 289 1301, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Philippa Nuttall Jones, EEB Communications Manager, 0032 (0)2 289 1309, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Philippe Vandendaele, Chemicals Policy Advisor, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe, 0032 (0) 2503 0481, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Aidan Long, Press & Communications Officer, HCWH Europe, 0032 (0) 2503 0481 / 0032 (0)465 100 940, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Diana G. Smith, Communications and Media Adviser, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), 0033 (0)1 55 25 25 84 / 0033 (0)6 33 04 2943, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it