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22 September 2017

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New treaty effectiveness will depend on adequacy of data to be collected, say NGOs  

Geneva, Switzerland

Prior to the start of the first Conference of Parties (COP1), the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) welcomed the entry into force of the Minamata Convention. 

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, international ZMWG coordinator. “We applaud the world’s governments for committing to curtail 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.
During the prior negotiations, the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) approved many of the forms and guidance that the Convention specifies must be adopted at COP 1, which are needed for the swift and smooth launch and running of the Convention.  These include guidance documents on identifying stocks, determining best available technologies and reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining; as well as forms for trade procedures and for exemptions from certain deadlines.

“These INC approvals were achieved by consensus after considerable deliberations, and are ready for approval without further debate,” said Satish Sinha, Toxics Link India.

Among the most critical open issues to be discussed at COP1 are the reporting requirements, which will provide critical information on both the global mercury situation and the effectiveness of the Convention in achieving mercury reductions.   Particularly critical to collect will be data on mercury production and trade, which can change significantly in a short period of time.

 “Countries will not have readily available information about production and trade in bordering countries or within their region, unless there is frequent reporting under the Convention,” said David Lennett, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council “Many borders between countries are “porous,” and where a significant portion of mercury trade is informal/illegal.   Good data on legal trade flows will enable actions to address illegal trade, all of which has a huge impact on artisanal and small scale gold mining, the largest source of mercury pollution globally.

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

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

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

For information on reporting, please contact David Lennett, Natural Resources Defense Council, T:  +1 202 460 8517   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

For further information, please contact:

*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.


Home Press Releases African Regional Conferences, Nairobi, 22-26 May 2017 - blog
African Regional Conferences, Nairobi, 22-26 May 2017 - blog PDF Print
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/