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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

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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)
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).
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