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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 USA joins EU in banning mercury exports; Environmentalists applaud bi-partisan effort
USA joins EU in banning mercury exports; Environmentalists applaud bi-partisan effort PDF Print
Wednesday, 15 October 2008 01:00
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U.S. Joins EU in Banning Mercury Exports

Environmentalists applaud bi-partisan effort

The U.S. has joined the European Union in setting a date certain to ban their mercury exports, thereby reducing the supply of commodity mercury into the world market. Environmental groups in the U.S. and around the world applauded the broad bi-partisan support of the legislation, which was introduced by Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in the Senate, and in the House by Representative Tom Allen (D-ME),.

"Neither mercury nor the fish we eat recognizes federal boundaries," Linda Greer, Director of the Health Program at NRDC, said. "Passage of this legislation banning the export of mercury is a great victory for the health of people in America and all over the world. It will curb the flow of mercury into global commerce, keeping it out of our tuna and other fish.”

In independent actions taken in late September, the EU adopted a mercury export ban that takes effect in 2011, while earlier this month Congress passed legislation to ban U.S. mercury exports by 2013. U.S. President George Bush signed the legislation it into law yesterday.

“Combined with a similar ban adopted just last month by the European Union, this new U.S. law will significantly reduce the amount of mercury use and pollution in the developing world,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator of the European Environmental Bureau’s Zero Mercury Campaign.

The Mercury Export Ban Act, S. 906, also prohibits the sale of mercury by the U.S. government, prohibits the transfer of elemental mercury by Federal agencies and requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to designate and manage an elemental mercury long-term disposal facility.

The U.S. and the EU are among the top exporters of commodity mercury. Between 40 and 50% of the estimated 3,800 metric tons of annual global trade in mercury passes through the EU and the U.S. Neither the U.S. nor the EU mines mercury anymore. Instead, most mercury supplies come from recycling of mercury products such as thermostats, as well as decommissioned mercury-cell chlor-alkali plants. Excess mercury is sold on the world market by commodity brokers.

Trading mercury is not like trading potato chips,” said Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project. We’ve got to stop this circle of poison, where over 1000 tons of mercury are used by 15 million gold miners in 50 developing countries, exposing themselves, the global environment and the world’s fish supply to this dangerous neurotoxin. With export bans passed in the EU and now the U.S., momentum is building a global mercury trade ban.”

Gold-mining sites are extensively contaminated with mercury around the globe. Airborne mercury is also a transcontinental pollutant that ends in waterways, contaminating fish that end up on dinner tables the world over.

“We are optimistic that the global community is well on its way towards establishing a treaty to control mercury trade and pollution, and effectively safeguard the fish we eat from this poison,” said Richard Gutierrez, of the Philippine NGO, Ban Toxics.

Lawmakers came up with the plan to have DOE accept the liquid metal for storage after they consulted with the industry organizations, including the American Chemistry Council, National Mining Association and The Chlorine Institute; environmental groups; and ECOS, a coalition of states’ top environmental regulators.

Contacts: Michael Bender, Director, Mercury Policy Project, mercurypolicy@aol .com, Tel: +802-223-9000/Mobile: +802 249 8576

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator, Zero Mercury Campaign, European Environmental

Bureau:, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 496 532818, +32 2 2891301;

Mobile: +32 (0)496 532 818

Linda Greer, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text55721 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +202 289 6868

For More Information:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/10/20081014-9.html http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1399&format http://www.iisd.ca/chemical/merc2/


The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing. More information on NRDC is available at its Web site: www.nrdc.org.

The European Environmental Bureau, www.eeb.org, is a federation of more than 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

The Mercury Policy Project works to promote policies to eliminate mercury uses, reduce the export and trafficking of mercury, and significantly reduce mercury exposures at the local, national, and international levels. We strive to work harmoniously with other groups and individuals who have similar goals and interests. More information is available on our website at: www.mercurypolicy.org.

The Zero Mercury Working Group, www.zeromercury.org, is an international coalition of more than 56 public interest non-governmental 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 reach ‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, towards eliminating mercury in the environment at EU level and globally.”