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Summary of the Second Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury

19-23 November, 2018, Geneva, Switzerland.

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) closely followed the Second Conference of the Parties for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP2) in Geneva, Switzerland, 19-23 November 2018, and intervened as appropriate Our main priorities for COP2 were waste thresholds, interim storage guidelines, and effectiveness evaluation. We also closely followed matters for future action, including the review process of annexes A and B; and harmonized custom codes to distinguish mercury-added products.

Waste Thresholds

Decision MC2/2 established a process to develop mercury waste thresholds. As advocated by ZMWG, an expert group will focus its efforts on establishing mercury content thresholds for “waste contaminated with mercury”.  The group will also develop lists of wastes falling under three definitional categories: “consisting of mercury,” “containing mercury” and “contaminated with mercury.”

Effectiveness Evaluation

Decision MC 2/10 amended the effectiveness evaluation roadmap set forth in COP 1, modifying the experts mandate and composition of its membership while agreeing on an outline of work.  The group will review the outcome indicators developed previously as part of the EE framework, and further elaborate on sources of information and baselines for those indicators. It will consider how to integrate monitoring data into the framework. In addition, the group will identify those categories of monitoring data most effective in providing information on global trends, what data could be used to assess the impact on levels and trends of mercury, and data limitations. Importantly, as advocated by ZMWG, the group will also assess the information, identify gaps and outline options to enhance the quality of the information.

Interim storage 

Decision MC 2/6 adopted the interim mercury storage guidelines which included a number of key elements to facilitate environmentally sound management.  We were pleased to see many of the important elements that ZMWG had proposed during the intersessional period are included in the guidelines, including provisions on financial assurances related to closure of the sites.

Releases

Decision MC 2/3 established an intersessional process to identify relevant point source categories of releases of mercury and mercury compound to land and water, including the establishment of a group of technical experts.

Contaminated sites

Decision MC 2/8 invites parties and other stakeholders to submit additional comments and information to complement and further improve the draft guidance, calling in particular for information and comments to make the guidance more practicable.

Review of Annex A and B

No specific decision was taken by the COP to start reviewing annexes A and B. However, a call for relevant information was launched by the Secretariat to prepare for COP3.

This is an important area for ZMWG; given the technological and political developments around the world since Annex A and B were adopted in 2013, we will be seeking to further strengthen the Convention.

HS Codes for mercury-added products

The Decision requests the Secretariat to suggest approaches for modifying customs codes to allow countries to distinguish mercury-added products from those products that do not contain mercury, including approaches for possible harmonization among countries. This is an important success for ZMWG, in support of the Global Mercury Partnership, recognizing the critical need for Parties to identify the production, import and export of mercury-added products to comply with Article 4.

Other issues

Other issues included a request for further information on capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer; as well as on the SIP; a small modification to the rules of procedure of the Implementation and Compliance Committee; and a decision that the secretariat of the MC will be autonomous and based in Geneva, with special arrangements with the BRS Secretariat. Finally, a new president, David Kapindula (Zambia), was elected for COP 3, along with new Bureau members.

ZMWG looks forward to a productive third meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Geneva 25-29 November 2019.   

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Zero Mercury Working Group

Publications 2009

Introduction and background
Mercury is an extremely toxic metal that is now ubiquitous in the environment due to centuries of unchecked releases. When airborne, mercury is a transcontinental pollutant that, once deposited, bioaccumulates and bioconcentrates as it makes its way up the food chain. Exposure to mercury, even at low levels, has been linked to central nervous system damage, kidney and liver impairment, reproductive and development disorders, defects in fetuses and learning deficits.
Introduction
It is widely known that mercury is highly toxic, causing damage in particular to the nervous system, with the highest risk to humans occurring during the early development phases.

In response to European Union and global concerns about mercury pollution, the aim of the Community Mercury Strategy is to reduce mercury levels in the environment, and thereby reduce human exposure, by restricting mercury use, supply, and releases. These critical objectives were also key factors behind the recent 25th UNEP Governing Council Decision to begin negotiating a legally binding instrument on mercury, with the aim to have a treaty in place by 2013.
Introduction
Il est de notoriété publique que le mercure est hautement toxique, et atteint notamment le système nerveux en particulier, avec un risque maximum pour les humains dans les premières phases de leur développement.
Mercury in Fish: A Global Health Hazard

Executive Summary

Methylmercury contamination of fish and fish-eating mammals is a global public health concern. The risk is greatest for populations whose per capita fish consumption is high, and in areas where environmental pollution has elevated the average mercury content of fish. But methylmercury hazards also exist where per capita fish consumption and average mercury levels in fish are comparatively low. In cultures where fish-eating marine mammals such as whales and seals are part of the traditional diet, methylmercury in these animals adds to total dietary exposure.

10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (EN) (1.17 MB)
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Methylmercury contamination of fish and fish-eating mammals is a global public health concern. The risk is greatest for populations whose per capita fish consumption is high, and in areas where environmental pollution has elevated the average mercury content of fish. But methylmercury hazards also exist where per capita fish consumption and average mercury levels in fish are comparatively low. In cultures where fish- eating marine mammals such as whales and seals are part of the traditional diet, methylmercury in these animals adds to total dietary exposure.
10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (FR) (1.24 MB)
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La contamination par le methylmercure des poissons et des mammiferes piscivores constitue une preoccupation de sante publique a l' echelle mondiale. Les populations dont la consommation de poisson par habitant est elevee sont les plus exposees, mais ce risque concerne egalement les regions oil la pollution environnementale a augmente la teneur moyenne en mercure du poisson.
10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (ES) (1.18 MB)
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La contaminaciOn por metilmercurio de pescados y mamiferos que se alimentan de pescado es un problema de salud pilblica. El riesgo es mayor para las poblaciones cuyo consumo de pescado es alto, en zonas donde la contaminaciOn ha elevado el contenido medio de mercurio en el pescado. Pero el peligro del metilmercurio tambien existe donde el consumo de pescado y su contaminaciOn por mercurio son, comparativamente, bajos. En las culturas donde ademas los mamiferos marinos que se alimentan de pescado, como ballenas y focas, forman parte de la dieta tradicional, la exposiciOn al mercurio aumenta de forma considerable
10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (PT) (1.20 MB)
A contaminacào por metilmerciirio em peixes e mamiferos que se alimentam de peixes é uma preocupacao mundial de sande pfiblica. 0 risco é maior para populaciies cujo consumo per capita é alto, e em areas onde a poluicào ambiental tem aumentado o contendo medio de merciirio empeixes. Mas os riscos do metilmerciirio tambem existem onde o consumo per capita e os niveis medios de merciirio em peixe sào comparativamente baixos. Em culturas em que fazem parte da dieta tradicional os mamiferos marinhos que se alimentam de peixes tais como baleias e focas, o metilmerciirio nesses animais aumenta a exposicào total na dieta.
10 February 2009
Mercury in fish executive summary (CHI) (1.16 MB)
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Executive summary
This assessment has been prepared for the Mercury Policy Project/Tides Center and is being co-released by the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), Ban Toxics! and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).