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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 Mercury ban in teeth of children adn pregnant women, NGOS call for full implementation
Mercury ban in teeth of children adn pregnant women, NGOS call for full implementation PDF Print
Friday, 29 June 2018 15:18

EEB and WAMFD Press Release:

Mercury ban in teeth of children and pregnant women, NGOs call for full implementation

A ban on the use of mercury in the dental fillings of children and pregnant women comes into effect on July 1 and NGOs are calling on European states to implement it fully.

Consumer and environmental groups are calling on EU Member States to require dentists to immediately adhere to a new EU-wide regulation banning placement of mercury dental fillings in children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that pollutes the environment, gets taken up the food chain and can damage the nervous, renal and cardiovascular systems. This ban aims to protect human health at an early stage of development. Mercury is used heavily in dentistry but it is easily replaceable.

“With the ban to protect Europe’s children starting today, we call on Europe’s dentists to adhere to it now,” says Charlie Brown, president of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry.  “21st century dentistry is mercury-free dentistry and Europe’s children deserve nothing less.”

Last year, the European Union adopted a new mercury regulation including a dental amalgam ban for the first teeth of children under the age of 15 and for pregnant and breastfeeding women beginning 1 July 2018. The regulation allows dentists to use dental amalgam in cases where they feel there is a medical need but this should only account for a very small proportion of cases. Dental amalgam is the metallic substance used by dentists to fill gaps in decaying teeth and it is 50% mercury.

The new rules also require Member States to establish a national plan by July 1 2019 to phase down dental amalgam use.  In addition, the regulation requires the European Commission to assess by mid 2020 the feasibility of phasing out dental amalgam use entirely.

“The EU decision for a partial amalgam ban for vulnerable populations clearly acknowledges the environmental danger from mercury in dentistry” says Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager “Zero Mercury Campaign” at the European Environment Bureau. “The EC and EU Member States need to ensure that dentists apply the ban straight away, and verify whether the use of exemption is really necessary. EU authorities should further ensure that citizens are made aware of these provisions.”

Given that dental amalgam is 50% mercury, the Minamata Convention on Mercury requires each participating nation to reduce its use.  According to the new EU regulation:

“The use of mercury in dental amalgam is the largest use of mercury in the Union and a significant source of pollution.  The use of dental amalgam should therefore be phased down in accordance with the Convention and with national plans based, in particular, upon the measures listed in Part II of Annex A of the Convention. […]  Furthermore, particular preventive health protection measures should be taken for vulnerable members of the population, such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.”

The regulation also states that: “The training of dentistry students and dental practitioners on the use of mercury-free alternatives, in particular for vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women [… ] can help in reducing the use of mercury.”

Notes to the editor:

EU Regulation 2017/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 on mercury, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1102/2008. Official Journal of the European Union L 137/1 (English). 24 May 2017.  https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/687ef0ed-4045-11e7-a9b0-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

EEB-WAMFD-Memo on Technical advantages of mercury free dentistry, May 2016

Minamata Convention on Mercury: http://mercuryconvention.org/


For more information contact:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager '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 " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , www. Zeromercury.org

Ian Carey, Communications Manager, European Environmental Bureau, 0032 (0)2 289 1309,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , www.eeb.org

Charlie Brown, Attorney and President, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, +1 202 544 6333, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " target="_blank"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it