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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 Parliament votes for wide export ban and temporary storage of mercury
EU Parliament votes for wide export ban and temporary storage of mercury PDF Print
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 01:00
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(Brussels/Strasbourg, 20 June, 2007) – Environmental and health organisationsi[i] have welcomed the European Parliament’s plenary vote on a proposed regulation to ban mercury exports from the EU and ensure surplus mercury is stored out of harm’s way.

The Parliament endorsed holding excess mercury securely in constantly-monitored storage sites, until technical advances allow the safe and permanent disposal of the noxious substance. It also supports preventing the export of certain mercury compounds and goods containing the toxic metal which are already banned from sale in the EU. Parliament also voted to strengthen protection of EU citizens by banning imports of metallic mercury and certain mercury compounds.

“They’ve clearly signalled that until further notice, liquid mercury storage can only be a temporary arrangement: there’s no ‘out of sight, out of mind’ option," said Elena Lymberidi, EEB’s ‘Zero Mercury’ campaign project Coordinator. “Now the Commission and Council must do the right thing, too.” Parliament also advocated the ‘polluter pays’ principle, and recommended creating a fund to ensure money from mercury-related industries is available to pay for this process.

Although encouraged at progress towards a mercury export ban, NGOs would have preferred an earlier implementation date than December 2010, which prolongs the risk of mercury contamination worldwide over the next three years.

“Following this decision, we’ve got an excellent opportunity to stop the export of mercury-containing products to developing countries,” said Lisette van Vliet of Health Care Without Harm Europe. “At present, we’re restricting the trade of these products inside Europe, but effectively saying it’s OK for poorer nations to suffer the consequences of their use. Ending these double standards would be a powerful demonstration that we’re serious about phasing out mercury use anywhere on the planet.”

The NGOs backed Parliament’s demand that all stakeholders must exchange information. EU countries must regularly provide information on movements of mercury, and the chlor-alkali and other concerned industries must also give details. “We must start collecting this information as soon as possible. That will tell us how much mercury we’re dealing with and where it’s going,” said Elena Lymberidi of EEB.

The environmental and health groups are now calling on the European Commission, the Presidency and other EU leaders to follow Parliament’s example before a potential agreement at the Environment Council on 28 June.

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_text32126 ); 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/EUdevelopments/070613NGOsLettertoEP-plenary-Hg-export-ban.pdf

To Environment Committee of the European Parliament[26 April 2007]:                                                    1


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/EU developments/070606NGOs'%20Letter%20to%20Env%20Mins%20Export%20B an.pdf

i[i] i Environmental NGOS include

The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of more then 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 Zero Mercury Working Group, www.zeromercury.org, is an international coalition of over 48 public-interest non-governmental organisations worldwide formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group. The group’s aim 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.”

Health & Environment Alliance (HEAL), http://www.env-health.org is an international non-governmental organisation advocating environmental protection as a means to improve health and well-being. Member groups and organisations represent health, environment, women, health professionals and others. The group has a diverse membership of 41 member groups (6 international organisations, 11 European networks and 24 national/local organisations) including non-governmental organisations, professional bodies representing doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, academic institutions and other not-for-profit organisations.

Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH), www.noharm.org, is an international coalition of hospitals and health-care systems, medical and nursing professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labour unions, environmental and religious organisations. HCWH is dedicated to transforming the health-care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

And with the support of NGOs from the USA (Natural Resources Defence Council), India (Toxics Link), People’s Republic of China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS).