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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 African Regional Conferences, Nairobi, 22-26 May 2017 - blog
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Tuesday, 13 June 2017 11:08

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

EEB/ZMWG (“Zero Mercury”) recently hosted a series of mercury reduction conferences from the 23rd to 25th of May 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration with UN Environment. The purpose of the conferences was to share information about, and experiences with, reducing mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and phasing out mercury-added products.

A total of 71 representatives from different Environment and Mining ministries, UN Environment, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNDP and special agencies, intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, as well as academics, private sector representatives and consultants from 30 African countries, Jamaica and China, took part in the workshops.

The workshop focused on the need for governments to plan for implementation of the Minamata Convention (“the Convention”), which will enter into force in mid-August 2017.  The Convention contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply, use and trade of mercury, as well as to reduce its emissions and releases to the environment. 

The first day and a half workshop focused on ASGM, and specifically on the development of National Action Plans for reducing mercury use in ASGM, a mandatory requirement of the Convention.  The discussions emphasized the challenges of formalization and technical approaches to reducing mercury use in ASGM. The experiences from our work in Tanzania and Ghana were also presented.  Because ASGM accounts for the biggest source release of mercury to the African environment, the workshop focused on the need for regional cooperation to simultaneously reduce supply of available mercury and demand for its use in the ASGM sector, while promoting cleaner production. This workshop was preceded by a UN Environment – Global Mercury Partnership training session on developing baseline estimates for the ASGM sector through a National Action Plan (NAP).

The next day and a half focused on the phase out of mercury-added products and outlined the need for country-specific laws and strategies to complete these phase outs by 2020, as required by the Convention. Case studies from Nigeria and Mauritius were presented, focusing on steps for phasing out products that can be taken not only by governments but also NGOs, UN agencies and other stakeholders. Phasing out mercury-added products is also a priority area for the region, since Africa is a net importer of mercury-added products that become environmental pollutant at the end of their life. 

These two EEB/ZMWG workshops were followed, on May 26th, by an awareness raising and knowledge sharing meeting of the UN Environment Global Mercury Product Partnership for the African region.  This one-day forum assisted government officials to develop their own draft country road maps for phasing out mercury in products, by using the checklist developed by the Zero Mercury. It further provided country case study examples towards successfully phasing out mercury added products.  In a key development, during this meeting, representatives of the Chinese manufacturing sector presented their plans for shifting to mercury-free products in the health care sector.

The active and enthusiastic participation of representatives of the African Region in these workshops demonstrated that the region has clearly committed to reducing mercury as a priority issue, with a focus on reducing mercury use in products and ASGM, its two largest uses. That enthusiasm is consistent with their efforts taken during the treaty negotiations, when the African Region took the lead in offering the strongest text to phase out mercury-added products, including dental amalgam, and raising concerns about exposure risks from ASGM.  It is notable that, of the 55 countries having ratified the Minamata Convention to date, Africa is ahead of every other continent with 20 country ratifications including Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Togo and Zambia. Thus, Africa continues to demonstrate its leadership in addressing the global mercury crisis.

This series of workshops was the culmination of a 3 year (July 2014-December 2017) Zero Mercury Working Group project, funded by the European Commission via the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under the programme on Capacity Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, phase 2 (ACP/MEAs2). Complementary funds were provided by UN Environment Global Mercury Partnership and the US EPA.



Africa Drives Global Action Against Mercury Use, http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/05/africa-drives-global-action-against-mercury-use/