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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 EU mercury export ban advances, safer liquid mercury storage now being considered
EU mercury export ban advances, safer liquid mercury storage now being considered PDF Print
Thursday, 28 June 2007 01:00
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(Brussels/Luxembourg, 28 June, 2007) - Anti-mercury campaigners today expressed mixed feelings at the outcome of the Environment Council’s ruling on the movement and handling of mercury. Environment ministers from the EU’s 27 national governments were meeting to decide on the European Commission’s proposed regulation on banning mercury exports from the EU and ensuring the safe storage of the toxic metal.

“Although we’re glad the legislation is moving forward, we’re disappointed that ministers did nothing to close the loopholes in the mercury export ban,” said Elena Lymberidi, EEB’s ‘Zero Mercury’ campaign project coordinator. “Currently the Council has refused to include mercury compounds in the ban, despite many EU governments supporting such a move. So the door is still wide open for hundreds of tonnes of mercury to be exported indirectly from the EU.”

The Environment Council refused to include in the ban mercury-containing products whose sale is forbidden in the EU. “EU ministers have squandered an excellent chance to halt the export of mercury-containing products to developing countries,” said Lisette van Vliet of Health Care Without Harm Europe. “It’s rank hypocrisy to restrict trade in these products within Europe, but allow them to be exported to our neighbours in the global south.”

The environment ministers kept the implementation date of 1 July 2011 for the export ban, ignoring the European Parliament’s demand for the earlier deadline of 1 December 2010. NGOs had pressed for an even earlier date to prevent toxic mercury exports to developing countries even sooner.

NGOs were cautiously pleased at the Council’s agreement today on the issue of storing mercury. The Council decided that requirements for storage facilities and the criteria to accept storage of liquid metallic mercury must be adopted before any final disposal can occur. The Commission would have to submit a report reviewing research on safe disposal options including the ‘solidification’ of liquid mercury, one year before the export ban start. The Commission then, may present a proposal to revise the regulation as soon as possible and before two years after the ban begins. “At last, environment ministers have realised the danger of already allowing the final disposal of metallic mercury, especially since disposing of liquid waste is explicitly forbidden by the EU Landfill Directive,” said Elena Lymberidi of EEB. Depending on the outcome of the research, permanent underground storage of liquid mercury may still have to be seriously reconsidered. “We’ve got to get the storage issue right. If liquid mercury is just dumped and forgotten, we would be leaving our children a lethal legacy.”

The Environment Council also insisted that the regulation has a legal basis that makes it harder, if not impossible, for individual EU countries to impose stricter national provisions on the export ban.


For further information please contact:-

Elena Lymberidi, Project Coordinator, Zero Mercury Campaign:, www.zeromercury.org, www.eeb.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1301; Mobile: +32 (0)496 532 818

Lisette van Vliet, Toxic Policy Advisor, Health and Environment Alliance / Health Care Without Harm Europe: www.env-health.org; www.noharm.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text83785 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 234 3645

Peter Clarke, Press & Publications Officer, EEB: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309 Notes for editors:-

Mercury is a global pollutant which drifts far across the world. Its most toxic form, methylmercury, accumulates in large predatory fish which we eat, affecting the most vulnerable people, children and pregnant women.

See letters sent to the institutions:-

To the European Parliament (13 June 2007):

http://www.zeromercury.org/EU developments/07061 3NGOsLettertoEP-plenary-Hg-export-ban.pdf

To Environment Committee of the European Parliament (26 April 2007): http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070426NGOS1stReadingENVIHgExportban.pdf

Letter to Commissioners:(8 June 2007) http://www.zeromercury.org/EU_developments/070608NGOsletterto%20Commissioners.pdf

Letter to Environment Ministers (6 June 2007) http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070606NGOs'%20Letter%20to%20Env%20Mins%20Export%2 0Ban.pdf