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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 Heading closer to a robust EU mercury export ban
Heading closer to a robust EU mercury export ban PDF Print
Thursday, 03 May 2007 01:00

(Brussels, 3 May 2007) - Environmental and health NGOsi[i] welcomed the results of the 1st reading vote from the Environment and Public Health Committee of the European Parliament on the proposed regulation to ban EU mercury exports and ensure the safe storage of surplus mercury. The Committee made a number of improvements to the original Commission proposal. “The proposals from the parliamentarian responsible for the file to really strengthen the regulation got a significant degree of support”, said Elena Lymberidi, the EEB’s Project Coordinator of the Zero Mercury Campaign. “The Committee gave a clear signal that the scope of the export ban should be opened up to include certain mercury compounds, as well as those mercury-containing products which are prohibited for sale in the EU.”

The NGOs believe that this sends a clear message to the European Commission and Council that wider measures should be adopted to close all loopholes.

“Europe has a chance to stop the export of mercury containing products to developing countries, products which are or will be prohibited from sale in the EU. Ending the double standards on mercury in this way would strongly demonstrate to the rest of the world that we Europeans take seriously our commitment to phase out mercury use globally”, said Lisette van Vliet of Health Care Without Harm Europe. The Committee also clarified that protection of EU citizens must be further ensured by a ban on the imports of metallic mercury.

The Environment and Public Health committee correctly draws attention to the fact that with current knowledge and technology, we cannot yet safely permanently dispose of mercury. Therefore, storage of metallic mercury can only be temporary until a safe permanent solution is found. Following the polluters’ pays principle, the Committee proposed that a fund should be set up to ensure financial resources from relevant industries are in place for this process.

The NGOs also welcome the Committee’s position that exchange of information must take place between all stakeholders. Member States must regularly provide information on the movement of mercury and the chlor-alkali and other concerned industries must also provide relevant details. “Starting to collect such information as soon as possible is important because then we know much more about how much mercury we are dealing with and where it is going,” said Elena Lymberidi, EEB.

“We are happy to see that the Committee believes that technical and financial assistance should be given to developing countries and NGOs for better protection and measures to eliminate mercury uses and emissions” said Ravi Agarwal, Toxics Link, India.

However, despite encouraging progress towards a mercury export ban, NGOs would like to have seen a closer implementation date than the 1 December 2010, which poses a greater risk of mercury contamination worldwide. They also regret that not all mercury compounds were included in the ban, contrary to the 2006 European Parliament’s resolution on the issue.

The environment and health NGOs therefore call on the European Parliament and Council to confirm a wide scope and swift implementation of the export ban, and ensure safe temporary storage of the surplus mercury.

Note for the editors:

Mercury is a global pollutant traveling long distances around the globe. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is therefore transferred to our bodies through the fish diet, affecting the most vulnerable people – pregnant women and children.

For further information:-

See letter sent to Environment Committee of the European Parliament: http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070426NGOS1stReadingENVIHgExportban.pdf

Elena Lymberidi, EEB, www.zeromercury.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 496 532818

Lisette van Vliet, Health and Environment Alliance, www.env-health.org, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text71365 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , T: +32 2 234 3645

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 more than 40 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 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 and Environment Alliance (HEAL), http://www.env-health.org/ is an international non-governmental organisation advocating environmental protection as a means to improving 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 organizations) including non-governmental organisations, professional bodies representative of 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), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS).