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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 New Study Raises Concern over Mercury Pollution from Burning Products
New Study Raises Concern over Mercury Pollution from Burning Products PDF Print
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 01:00
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Feb. 4, 2009; [Brussels] - A new international study released today shows how the burning of mercury- containing products is increasing the risk of environmental and health impacts around the world. [1] The study states that incineration and burning send upwards of 200 tons of mercury into the atmosphere every year, comprising 10 percent of the mercury that enters the earth's atmosphere through human activities.

"Based on this report's findings, we must recognize that the amount of mercury released into the atmosphere through incineration and burning is much more significant than previously suspected, representing at least twice the emissions as previously thought," said Michael Bender, Director of the Mercury Policy Project.

The study, entitled "Mercury Rising: Reducing Global Emissions from Burning Mercury-Added Products," has been released by several international non-governmental organizations.i Similar studies that previously estimated mercury emissions from the combustion of wastes and products containing mercury did not look carefully at the substantial emissions contributed by landfill fires and open burning of domestic waste in addition to incinerators. The report underscores the harmful environmental and health impacts posed by incineration and burning.

The main burning processes investigated in the report were medical waste incineration, municipal and hazardous waste incineration, municipal wastewater sludge incineration, landfill fires and open burning of discarded products such as fluorescent light bulbs and mercury thermometers.

Using Asia as an example, the magnitude of emissions in East and Southeast Asia due to landfill fires and open burning of domestic waste are shown to be quite significant, reflecting a combination of open burning, especially in rural areas, a large quantity of products containing mercury in the region and very low recycling rates. In Japan, the generation of large volumes of waste, relatively high use of mercury-added products and incineration of a very high percentage of waste also contribute to the magnitude of regional atmospheric mercury content.

The report recommends that, at the upcoming February meeting in Nairobi, of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the purpose of negotiating a free-standing legally binding instrument on mercury.

In the interim period before such an instrument becomes effective, the report recommends UNEP take the following actions:

  • Assume responsibility for the awareness-raising, analytical, technical and legal support activities
    necessary to encourage manufacturers of mercury-added products, and countries where such

manufacturers are located, to identify and implement the actions; and

  • Recognize that combustion of mercury-added products in incinerators, landfill fires and open burning of domestic waste is a significant contributor of mercury and other toxics in both local and global ecosystems, and urge countries to take steps to stop these practices and move towards

safe, just, sustainable and more environmentally-sound alternatives.



1. Michael Bender, Mercury Policy Project, telephone # +01 802-223-9000, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text96638 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

2. Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, T: +32 2 2891301, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

3. Vanessa Bulkacz, T: +32 2 2891309, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


The report “Mercury Rising: Reducing Global Emissions from Burning Mercury-Added Products” is available at


Press release, available at http://www.zeromercury.org/press/090204-HgBurnPRfinal.pdf


[1] Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, especially to the developing nervous system. They are also harmful to ecosystems and wildlife populations.

For more information about mercury please visit: www.zeromercury.org

i             This report is authored by the Mercury Policy Project: see www.mercurypolicy.org, and is co-released by

the following:

The Zero Mercury Working group is an international coalition of more than 75 public interest non­governmental organizations from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group. The aim of the group is to continually reduce emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, with the goal of eliminating mercury in the environment at EU level and globally. Please see www.zeromercury.org

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives / Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA) is a worldwide alliance of more than 600 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 80 countries whose ultimate vision is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. GAIA work against incinerators and for safe, sustainable and just alternatives. Further information may be found at www.no-burn.org

Ban Toxics! is an independent non-profit Asian regional environmental non-governmental organization that is focused on empowering local communities on the issue of toxics in order to reform national and regional toxics policy, making it more responsive and respectful to the needs of people and the environment. Ban Toxics! is an active member of Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) and is the Asia-Pacific node of the Basel Action Network. Please see www.bantoxics.multiply.com