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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 Merury still rising! World governments fail to agree on global regulations
Merury still rising! World governments fail to agree on global regulations PDF Print
Friday, 09 February 2007 01:00

(Nairobi, - 9 February 2007) Anti-mercury advocates conditionally welcomed the results of the 24th United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council meeting in Nairobi on 5-9 February. “Environment Ministers failed to set global demand reduction goals and export bans to reduce impacts of mercury around the world,” said Michael Bender, from the Zero Mercury coalition. “The steps they agreed on are inadequate to address the urgency of the global mercury crisis.”

The amount of mercury used and released in the world is increasing. Since UNEP’s Global Mercury Assessment report was released in 2002, overall reductions in mercury use worldwide have not taken place.i Mercury use has gone down in industrialised nations, but developing countries have become increasingly reliant on this toxic metal. Air releases have also increased over the past 15 years (see charts belowii).

“Once again, a few countries led by US and India delayed real progress, whereas the EU, the African Region, Japan, Brazil, the Philippines, Norway and Switzerland were ready to make a political decision on a legally binding instrument as the way forward,” said Elena Lymberidi from the European Environmental Bureau. “Instead, we have a process to consider options including enhanced voluntary measures, rather than focusing only on a legally binding framework, in the next Governing Council in 2009. We must finally move beyond promising words into real action.”

“These are baby steps, while giant steps are needed!” said Zuleica Nycz , ACPO, Brazil, “Not having a legally binding instrument means that developing countries will not have the necessary incentive to develop national programmes or policies to protect their people from toxic mercury.”

There were some small positive developments:

o Priorities were identified to reduce risks from emissions, demand, and supply of mercury, as well as from contaminated sites.

o There was a call to fill data gaps on supply and demand

o An air emissions report will be developed

o An ad hoc open ended working group will be formed to further discuss priorities and options for reducing supply, demand and emissions. The group will report back to the 25th Governing Council.

The NGOs now call on governments to engage in good faith in this newly agreed process to pave the way towards a legally-binding agreement, with the necessary financial assistance and explicit reduction goals.

Notes to editors:-

Mercury is a potent nerve poison and affects the brain and central nervous system. Workers exposed to mercury, eg small-scale gold miners, often suffer from tremors, memory loss and other neurological damage. Those most at risk from methylmercury-contaminated food are babies and small children. The brains of babies in the uterus are the most vulnerable. The greatest risk is to young women, before or during pregnancy, eating fish containing high levels of methylmercury (eg shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and some types of tuna) or miners being exposed during gold mining.

In 2002, UNEP’s own Global Mercury Assessment concluded that: “Despite data gaps, sufficient understanding has been developed of mercury (including knowledge of its fate and transport, health and environmental impacts, and the role of human activity), based on extensive research over half a century, that international actions to address the global mercury problem should not be delayed.” (GMA, key findings, #35, see: http://www.chem.unep.ch/Mercury/Report/Key-findings.htm).

For more information please see:

  • the special report in preparation of the 24 UNEP GC:

“NGO Strategy for Addressing the “Global Mercury Crisis” at the February 2007 UNEP Governing Council Meeting

http://www.zeromercury.org/UNEP_developments/070130NGOs_addressing_Global_Mercury_ Crisis_for_2007_U N EP_GC.pdf



i Both available in a single document at http://www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/Trade-information.htm

ii Figure 1 is derived from the recently published UNEP mercury trade report prepared for the 5-9 February 2007 Governing Council meeting, and indicates global mercury use has changed little since 1994 as the developed world exports its excess mercury and outdated technologies to the developing world. Figure 2 is based on the work of Jozef Pacyna and his colleagues, and illustrates that atmospheric mercury releases have actually increased, from sources such as coal combustion, smelting of metal ores (particularly zinc and copper), chlor-alkali plants, and waste handling/disposal of products containing mercury.

For more information please contact:-

Elena Lymberidi, European Environmental Bureau : Tel: +32 (0)2 2891301;

Mobile: +32 (0)496 532818 ;Email : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, Mercury Policy Project: Tel: +1 802 223 9000; Email:, www.mercurypolicy.org Linda Greer, Natural Resources Defense Council, Tel:+1 202 289 6868; Email:, www.nrdc.org Eric Uram, Sierra Club, T: +1 608 347-8008, www.sierraclub.org