News from the Convention

1st call for proposals now open until 4 July 2016
Eligible countries are invited to submit projects proposals between USD $50,000 - $250,000 under the Special Programme to support institutional strengthening for implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, the Minamata Convention and SAICM.

1st call for proposals now open until 4 July 2016

1st call for proposals now open until 4 July 2016
Eligible countries are invited to submit projects proposals between USD $50,000 - $250,000 under the Special Programme to support institutional strengthening for implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, the Minamata Convention and SAICM.
Successful outcomes at INC7 pave the way for entry into force and COP1
Governments reached successful outcomes at the seventh session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee held from 10 to 15 March 2016 at the Dead Sea, in Jordan.

Successful outcomes at INC7 pave the way for entry into force and COP1

Successful outcomes at INC7 pave the way for entry into force and COP1

Over 450 participants representing governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations took part in the seventh session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC7) which concluded its work on 15 March 2016 at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center in Jordan after six days of meeting. INC7 was preceded by regional consultations on 9 March 2016.

Successful outcomes have been achieved at this important session to prepare for the entry into force of the Convention, with agreement reached on a number of significant issues which will be considered for adoption by the Conference of Parties at its first meeting. In particular, guidance materials have been adopted on a provisional basis on a number of technical issues, such as on best available techniques and best environmental practices for emissions of mercury, on the identification of stocks and sources of mercury supply as well as on completing the forms required under Article 3. Agreement was also reached on the use of guidance on the development of national action plans on artisanal and small-scale gold mining by countries in developing their national action plans. Good progress was generally made on all areas including the financial mechanism of the Convention as well as administrative matters.

 

Documents prepared for INC7 can be accessed on the INC7 webpage, where the session’s report and final list of participants will also be posted as soon as finalized. The daily coverage and summary report by Earth Negotiations Bulletin are available on the IISD webpage at: www.iisd.ca/mercury/inc7/

Senegal becomes 25th future Party to the Minamata Convention
On 15 March 2016, last day of INC7, Chair Fernando Lugris announces the ratification of the Convention by the Government of Senegal.

Senegal becomes 25th future Party to the Minamata Convention

Senegal becomes 25th future Party to the Minamata Convention
On 15 March 2016, last day of INC7, Chair Fernando Lugris announces the ratification of the Convention by the Government of Senegal.
“Pez-Peste”, symbol of the mercury negotiations
The sculpture “Pez-Peste”, specially created and donated by the Argentinean artist Nicolas Garcia Uriburu, followed the INC throughout the negotiations process as a symbol of the irreversible consequences of mercury contamination.

“Pez-Peste”, symbol of the mercury negotiations

“Pez-Peste”, symbol of the mercury negotiations

The sculpture “Pez-Peste” was presented to the INC at its second session (Chiba, Japan, January 2011) by the health sector and civil society groups, as a symbol of the irreversible consequences of mercury contamination. The Chair of the INC, Ambassador Fernando Lugris, accepted the sculpture on behalf of the Committee.

The sculpture was specially created and donated by the Argentinean artist Nicolas Garcia Uriburu, an internationally recognized Argentinean visual artist and pioneer in landscape art who addresses ecological concerns through his creations.

The INC Bureau was pleased to visit the artist at his home during INC4 (Puta del Este, Uruguay, June-July 2012), see a number of his other works and discuss his commitment to the environment. 

“Pez-Peste” has followed the INC throughout the negotiations process. At the Diplomatic Conference which adopted the Minamata Convention (Kumamoto, Japan, October 2013), the sculpture was passed to the care of the Government of Japan to be displayed at the museum in Minamata in recognition of the important work of the Convention. 
 

Zambia ratifies the Minamata Convention
On 11 March 2016, the Government of the Zambia deposited its instrument of ratification, thereby becoming the 24th future Party to the Minamata Convention.

Zambia ratifies the Minamata Convention

Zambia ratifies the Minamata Convention
On 11 March 2016, the Government of the Zambia deposited its instrument of ratification, thereby becoming the 24th future Party to the Minamata Convention.

7th advisory group meeting of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership
Gathered on 8 March 2016, on the eve of INC7, partners of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership renewed their commitment towards rapid implementation of the Minamata Convention.

7th advisory group meeting of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership

7th advisory group meeting of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership

The UNEP Global Mercury Partnership held its 7th Advisory Group meeting on 8 March 2016, on the eve of INC7.

The Partnership consists of over 150 stakeholders from governments, industry, NGOs, and academia who are dedicated to protecting human health and the environment from the impacts of mercury.

A key role of the Partnership is to assist countries in achieving timely and effective implementation of the Minamata Convention. In line with that role, the Partnership is undertaking capacity-building efforts and producing information and guidance in multiple sectors including mercury-added products, artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), and coal combustion.

The Partnership held its seventh advisory group meeting (PAG7) in Jordan on 8 March 2016, on the eve of INC7. The objective of this meeting was to review Partnership activities, plan future efforts, and develop strategies to increase effectiveness in supporting implementation of the Minamata Convention.

Among its main conclusions, PAG7 reaffirmed partners’ commitment to contribute to the Convention on areas such as mercury interim storage and monitoring, in a similar way the Partnership did on the issue of ASGM national action plans with the development of draft guidance for the consideration of INC7.

The meeting also reviewed the business plans for Partnership areas addressing mercury from coal combustion, mercury-added products, waste management, chlor-alkali plants and cement production.

Finally, the PAG meeting discussed its future work based on outcomes of the Partnership regional consultations held in the margins of the INC7 regional consultations and agreed to strengthen the communication and outreach of the Partnership.

Please visit the Global Mercury Partnership web site for more information, and to find out how you can join.

Minamata Convention now live on Twitter!
Follow the official Twitter Feed of the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention, get latest updates for #INC7 held at the Dead Sea, Jordan from 10 to 15 March 2016 and the work of the Convention.

Minamata Convention now live on Twitter!

Minamata Convention now live on Twitter!

Follow the official Twitter Feed of the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention, get latest updates for #INC7 held at the Dead Sea, Jordan from 10 to 15 March 2016 and the work of the Convention.

 

Japan ratifies the Minamata Convention
On 2 February 2016, the Government of Japan deposited its instrument of acceptance, thereby becoming the 23rd future Party to the Minamata Convention.

Japan ratifies the Minamata Convention

Japan ratifies the Minamata Convention

On 2 February 2016, the Government of JAPAN deposited its instrument of Acceptance, thereby becoming the 23rd future Party to the Minamata Convention.

Peru ratifies the Minamata Convention
On 21 January 2016, the Government of the Peru deposited its instrument of ratification, thereby becoming the 21st  future Party to the Minamata Convention.

Peru ratifies the Minamata Convention

Peru ratifies the Minamata Convention

On 21 January 2016, the Government of the Peru deposited its instrument of ratification, thereby becoming the 21st  future Party to the Minamata Convention.

Bolivia (Plurinational State of) ratifies the Minamata Convention
On 26 January 2016, the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia deposited its instrument of ratification, thereby becoming the 22nd future Party to the Minamata Convention.

Bolivia (Plurinational State of) ratifies the Minamata Convention

Bolivia (Plurinational State of) ratifies the Minamata Convention

On 26 January 2016, the Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia deposited its instrument of ratification, thereby becoming the 22nd future Party to the Minamata Convention.

UNEP Global Mercury Partnership Reaching Out to Stakeholders Ahead of INC7
The Partnership is holding awareness-raising and knowledge sharing events on the margins of the INC7 regional consultations.

UNEP Global Mercury Partnership Reaching Out to Stakeholders Ahead of INC7

UNEP Global Mercury Partnership Reaching Out to Stakeholders Ahead of INC7

The UNEP Global Mercury Partnership consists of stakeholders from governments, industry, NGOs, and academia who are dedicated to protecting human health and the environment from the impacts of mercury. A key role of the Partnership is to assist countries in achieving timely and effective implementation of the Minamata Convention.

Consistent with that role, the Partnership is undertaking capacity-building efforts and producing information and guidance in multiple sectors including mercury-added products, ASGM, and coal combustion.

In order to increase responsiveness to national government stakeholders, the Partnership’s UNEP Secretariat is organizing a series of discussions and information sessions at the INC7 Regional Consultations.

The Partnership will also hold its seventh advisory group meeting (PAG7) in Jordan on March 8, 2016, immediately preceding INC7.  The objective of this meeting is to review Partnership activities, plan future efforts, and develop strategies to increase effectiveness in supporting implementation of the Minamata Convention.

Please visit the Global Mercury Partnership web site for more information, and to find out how you can join.

Kuwait ratifies the Minamata Convention
On 3 December 2015, the Government of Kuwait deposited its instrument of ratification, thereby becoming the 20th future Party to the Minamata Convention.

Kuwait ratifies the Minamata Convention

Kuwait ratifies the Minamata Convention

On 3 December 2015, the Government of Kuwait deposited its instrument of ratification, thereby becoming the 20th future Party to the Minamata Convention.

Regional consultations in preparation for INC7
A series of regional consultations were held in preparation for the seventh session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC7), scheduled to be held in the Dead Sea Area in Jordan, from 10 to 15 March 2016.

Regional consultations in preparation for INC7

Regional consultations in preparation for INC7

A series of regional consultations have been held in preparation for the seventh session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC7), scheduled to be held in the Dead Sea Area in Jordan, from 10 to 15 March 2016.

 

The consultations included presentations of the documents available for INC7,and were followed by discussions among Governments and possible development of positions for the various issues to be addressed at that session.

 

These meetings were held as follows:

  • Asia and the Pacific regional consultations: 20 to 22 January 2016, Jakarta, Indonesia;
  • Africa regional consultations: 2 to 4 February 2016, Lusaka, Zambia;
  • Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asian regional consultations: 3 and 4 February 2016, Brno, Czech Republic;
  • Latin America and the Caribbean regional consultations: 9 to 12 February 2016, Montevideo, Uruguay.

 

Intergovernmental organizations as well as accredited non-governmental organizations  participated as observers in open sessions of these consultations. 

Jordan ratifies the Minamata Convention
On 12 November 2015, the Government of Jordan deposited its instrument of ratification, bringing to 19 the number of future Parties to the Minamata Convention to date.

Jordan ratifies the Minamata Convention

Jordan ratifies the Minamata Convention
On 12 November 2015, the Government of Jordan deposited its instrument of ratification, bringing to 19 the number of future Parties to the Minamata Convention to date.
28 September 2015, Geneva - SDGs: Make it happen for chemicals and wastes!
ICCM4 participants were invited to reflect and share their views on how the SDGs can become reality for chemicals and wastes at interactive Panel Discussion scheduled on Monday 28 September.

28 September 2015, Geneva - SDGs: Make it happen for chemicals and wastes!

28 September 2015, Geneva - SDGs: Make it happen for chemicals and wastes!

 

24 September 2015 - New York: Chad and Samoa join the Minamata Convention
Chad and Samoa deposited their instruments of ratification at Special High-level Event co-hosted by the Governments of japan, Switzerland, Uruguay and the United States of America.

24 September 2015 - New York: Chad and Samoa join the Minamata Convention

24 September 2015 - New York: Chad and Samoa join the Minamata Convention
24 September 2015 - New York: Special High-level Event to foster entry into force and implementation of the Minamata Convention
On 24 September 2015, a Special High-Level event on the Minamata Convention will be convened at the UN Headquarters in New York, in the margins of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly and on the eve of the UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda.

24 September 2015 - New York: Special High-level Event to foster entry into force and implementation of the Minamata Convention

24 September 2015 - New York: Special High-level Event to foster entry into force and implementation of the Minamata Convention

On 24 September 2015, from 1.15 pm to 2.30 pm, a Special High-Level Event "The Minamata Convention on Mercury: Promoting environmental protection through early entry into force and effective implementation" will be convened at the UN Headquarters in New York (Conference Room 6), in the margins of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly and on the eve of the UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda.

Co-hosted by the Governments of Japan where the Minamata Convention was adopted, Switzerland, where the negotiations concluded and the first COP will be held, the United States of America, the first country to ratify the Convention and Uruguay, who chaired the negotiations process, this Special High-Level Event will provide important momentum to accelerate the entry into force and implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The Special High-Level Event will include a ceremony for the deposit of the instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession by Member States as well as an opportunity for speeches and exchange of views among high-level representatives moderated by the Executive Director of UNEP.

Wide participation from Government representatives is encouraged.  The official correspondence may be found below. The event will also be open to non-governmental participation.

The Special High-Level Event will take place immediately before the 2015 Treaty Event convened from 28 September to 1 October 2015 to provide states with an opportunity to fulfil pledges made in national and international forums to sign on to sign and, particularly, to ratify or accede to multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary-General.

To register or receive further information, please contact the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention here.


Invitation Letter to the Special High-Level Event on the Minamata Convention

English

Executive Director Transmittal Letter

English

Practical information and provisional programme for the High-level Special Event on the Minamata Convention

English

Call for comments on draft BAT/BEP guidance
Governments and other interested stakeholders are invited to provide comments on the developing draft guidance on BAT/BEP for controlling and where feasible reducing mercury emissions to the atmosphere. Comments are to be submitted no later than 1 August 2015.

Call for comments on draft BAT/BEP guidance

Call for comments on draft BAT/BEP guidance

Governments and other interested stakeholders are invited to provide comments on the developing draft guidance on BAT/BEP for controlling and where feasible reducing mercury emissions to the atmosphere. Comments are to be submitted no later than 1 August 2015.

Promoting science – policy collaboration on mercury in Jeju, Korea
Over 800 scientists, engineers, and policy makers from more than 60 countries gather in Jeju, Korea, from 14-19 June 2015 to discuss research on mercury and its impacts on human health and the environment at the 12th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant.

Promoting science – policy collaboration on mercury in Jeju, Korea

Promoting science – policy collaboration on mercury in Jeju, Korea

The International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP) is a biennial event that brings together scientists, engineers, and policymakers from a wide variety of disciplines, from atmospheric chemistry to toxicology. At the 12th ICMGP over 800 participants from more than 60 countries gathered in Jeju, Korea, from 14-19 June, 2015, to discuss research on mercury and its impacts on human health and the environment. The contribution of science towards the ratification and implementation of the Minamata Convention also featured prominently in the programme for ICMGP, supported by a number of events organized by the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention and the UNEP Chemicals Branch.

UNEP participated in the opening ceremony, together with members of the Government of the Republic of Korea, and recognized the key role of scientists in shaping both the Minamata Convention and the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership. UNEP’s opening remarks emphasized that the ICMGP community of scientists has already achieved great success in bridging the divide between research and global policy action, and called on conference participants to continue to strengthen the science-policy nexus.

On June 15, the Coordinator of the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention addressed the opening plenary of the ICMGP with a talk about the importance of science to the Minamata Convention. He recognized the tremendous contribution of the scientific community in elaborating the risks that mercury poses to human health and the environment, making possible the international action that culminated in the adoption of the Minamata Convention in 2013. He also stressed that in many ways, the real work is just beginning, as countries move to ratify and implement the Convention, often with significant challenges. The scientific community has a critical role to play in the implementation of the Convention, from assisting governments identify and measure sources of mercury emissions and releases, to providing the framework for evaluating the agreement’s effectiveness.

UNEP also hosted a workshop at the ICMGP on the UNEP Mercury Inventory Toolkit, which assists countries in developing a standardized inventory of mercury emissions and releases. The Toolkit is a key element in Minamata Initial Assessments, enabling activities funded by the Global Environment Facility to help Governments ratify the Convention. In addition, a special session on the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership was held at the conference to explore how the Partnership is working to bridge the gap between science and policy to deliver solutions for effective implementation of the Convention.

The next ICMGP will take place in 2017 in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. By then, it is expected that the Minamata Convention will have entered into force, and the scientific community can again take stock of the efforts to assist in implementation and evaluation.

More information about the 12th ICMGP can be found here

Phasing out mercury-containing thermometers and sphygmomanometers - New step by step WHO guidance
Step by step guidance by WHO on phasing out mercury-containing thermometers and sphygmomanometers in the health care sector.

Phasing out mercury-containing thermometers and sphygmomanometers - New step by step WHO guidance

Phasing out mercury-containing thermometers and sphygmomanometers - New step by step WHO guidance

WHO released a new guidance document to assist countries in phasing out mercury-containing thermometers and sphygmomanometers in the health care sector. The document entitled "Developing national strategies for phasing out mercury-containing thermometers and sphygmomanometers in health care, including in the context of the Minamata Convention on Mercury: Key considerations and step-by-step guidance" is available here.

 

 

Further information on WHO's work and publciations in relation to mercury is available on the WHO/IPCS mercury webpage at: www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury/en/.

Good progress towards ratification reported at Spring 2015 Minamata workshops
Following a first round of 12 sub-regional workshops between March 2014 and February 2015, the Interim Secretariat organized together with the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), a new round of regional workshops to support ratification and effective implementation of the Minamata Convention, back to back with the regional preparatory meetings to the 2015 BRS COPs.

Good progress towards ratification reported at Spring 2015 Minamata workshops

Good progress towards ratification reported at Spring 2015 Minamata workshops

Following a first series of 12 sub-regional awareness raising and capacity building workshops held between March 2014 and February 2015, the Interim Secretariat on the Minamta Convention on Mercury continued its outreach efforts with the organization between mid-March and mid-April 2015, together with the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), of a new round of 4 regional workshops to support ratification and effective implementation of the Convention. These workshops were held back to back with the regional preparatory meetings to the 2015 BRS Conventions conferences of the parties.

The aim of the Minamata regional workshops was to support countries in their efforts towards ratification and effective implementation of the Convention, building on lessons learned from previous sub-regional workshops. They represented an opportunity to discuss progress to date and possible areas of cooperation within the region as well as preparations for the seventh session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee and the first Conference of the Parties to be held upon entry into force of the Convention. These meetings also featured a Minamata & BRS session to discuss joint topics between 4 conventions, including financial resources for chemicals and wastes.

Amongst others, countries reported at these meetings on where they stood in terms of preparation for ratification and implementation of the Convention, with a number of countries invited to deliver presentations on their national processes. Countries were also invited to participate in a pre-workshop survey on their national circumstances. Based on the discussions that took place and the information received from participating countries, the Interim Secretariat is pleased to report significant progress towards ratification and implementation, giving hope for a rapid entry into force of the Minamata Convention.

These meetings gathered a total of over 450 delegates, including representatives from about 130 Governments from Asia and the Pacific (17 to 20 March 2015, Jakarta, Indonesia), Africa (24 to 27 March 2015, Nairobi, Kenya), Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (7 to 10 April 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia) and Latin America and the Caribbean (14 to 17 April 2015, Montevideo, Uruguay). Intergovernmental organizations and UN Agencies that play an important role in supporting efforts towards ratification and implementation of the Convention, including the GEF, UNDP, UNIDO, UNITAR, WHO, UNEP, Basel and Stockholm Regional Centres as well as several NGOs and business federations active in the respective regions also took part in the meetings.

The regional workshops to support the ratification and effective implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury have been organized thanks to the generous support of the Governments of Switzerland and Norway.

Compendiums for the workshops will be made available here as they become available.

 

On the picture, from left to right: Mr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions; Mr. Dieter Cavalleri, Consejero, Embassy of Switzerland in Buenos Aires; H.E. Ms. Eneida De León, Minister, Ministerio de Vivienda, Ordenamiento Territorial y Medio Ambiente (MVOTMA), Uruguay; Mr. Jacob Duer, Coordinator of the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention; Ms. Gabriela Eigenmann, Senior Policy Advisor, International Affairs Division, Global Affairs Section, Federal Office for the Environment, Swtizerland.

Minamata regional workshops back to back with BRS COPs preparatory meetings
Following a first series of 12 sub-regional workshops held between March 2014 and February 2015, the Interim Secretariat is organizing together with the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), a new round of regional workshops to support ratification and effective implementation of the Minamata Convention, back to back with the regional preparatory meetings to the 2015 BRS COPs.

Minamata regional workshops back to back with BRS COPs preparatory meetings

Minamata regional workshops back to back with BRS COPs preparatory meetings

Following a first series of 12 sub-regional workshops held between March 2014 and February 2015, the Interim Secretariat is organizing, together with the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), a new round of regional workshops to support ratification and effective implementation of the Minamata Convention, back to back with the regional preparatory meetings to the 2015 BRS Conventions conferences of the parties (COP).

Two joint Minamata and BRS Conventions regional meetings have been held so far, for Asia and the Pacific in Jakarta from 17 to 20 March 2015 and for Africa in Nairobi from 24 to 27 March 2015. The Asia and the Pacific meetings were attended by 160 participants, including 103 government representatives from 39 countries, and the Africa regional meetings were attended by 163 participants, including 140 government representatives from 43 countries.

The Asia and the Pacific regional meetings were opened on Tuesday 17 March 2015 by His Excellency Mr. Muhammad Ilham Malik, Deputy Minister for Hazardous Substances, Hazardous Waste and Solid Waste Management, Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, Her Excellency Ms. Yvonne Baumann, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Switzerland to Indonesia, Mr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Mr. Jacob Duer, Coordinator, Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention, and Mr. Ridwan Tamin, Head of the Regional Center for the Basel and Stockholm Conventions in Indonesia.

The Africa regional meetings were opened on Tuesday 24 March 2015 by Mr. Geoffrey Wahunga, Director General, National Environmental Management Agency of Kenya, Ms. Gabi Eigenmann, Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland, Mr. Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions and Mr. Tim Kasten, Deputy Director, UNEP DTIE.

The aim of the Minamata regional workshops is to support countries in their efforts towards ratification and effective implementation of the Convention, building on lessons learned from previous sub-regional workshops. They represent an opportunity to discuss progress to date and possible areas of cooperation within the region as well as preparations for the seventh session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee and COP1.

Intergovernmental organizations and UN Agencies that play an important role in supporting efforts towards ratification and implementation of the Convention, including the GEF, UNDP, UNIDO, UNITAR, WHO, UNEP, Basel and Stockholm Regional Centres as well as several NGOs active in the respective regions also took part in the meetings.

Two additional Minamata and BRS regional meetings will be held in April 2015: for Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia from 7 to 10 April in Bratislava, Slovakia, and for Latin America and the Caribbean from 14 to 17 April, in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The regional workshops on the Minamata Convention are organized thanks to the generous support of the Governments of Switzerland and Norway.

Compendiums for the workshops will be made available here.

The Prime Minister of Samoa opens 1st sub-regional Minamata workshop for Pacific Islands
His Excellency Mr. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa opened the 1st sub-regional workshop to support countries from the Pacific in the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention in Apia, Samoa, on 19 January 2015.

The Prime Minister of Samoa opens 1st sub-regional Minamata workshop for Pacific Islands

The Prime Minister of Samoa opens 1st sub-regional Minamata workshop for Pacific Islands

The first sub-regional workshop to support countries from the Pacific in their process towards ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention was held in Apia, Samoa, from 19 to 21 January 2015, at the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The workshop was officially opened on Monday 19 January 2015 by the Prime Minister of Samoa, His Excellency Mr. Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, who highlighted the core importance of cooperation and partnership among all Parties and development partners in order to achieve the successful and coordinated implementation of the Minamata Convention, as well as the Stockholm, Rotterdam, Basel and Waigani Conventions. Samoa was the first country from the Pacific to sign the Minamata Convention at the Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Kumamoto on 10 October 2013.

As an integral part of UNEP’s regional and sub-regional efforts to support the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention, the workshop aimed to further enhance participants knowledge of the Convention, of the processes for its ratification and early implementation, and of the available sources of support, including in the interim period. Governments also had the opportunity to exchange information and discuss joint efforts to address key regional priorities, including control of imports of mercury containg products, management of mercury wastes and mercury monitoring in fish and seafood. One important outcome of the workshop was the presentation by participating countries on Wednesday 21 January of a draft national roadmap for the ratification and early implementation of the Convention that they were invited to prepare during the course of the workshop.

Delegates from ten Pacific countries participated, including the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Intergovernmental organizations and UN Agencies that play a crucial role in the process towards rapid implementation and ratification of the Convention, including the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization .(UNIDO), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the World Health Organization (WHO), SPREP and UNEP as well as the NGOs Ban Toxics and the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry presented amongst others on the support they are  providing to countries from the region.  

Small Island Developing States were clearly in the spotlight in this beginning of 2015 as a sub-regional workshop for Caribbean  countries was held simultaneously in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from 19 to 21 January 2015.

Compendiums for the workshops can be found here.

Watch INC6 Curtain Raiser produced by the GEF Secretariat
Watch Curtain Raiser video prepared by the GEF secretariat for the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury held from 3 to 7 november 2014 in Bangkok.

Watch INC6 Curtain Raiser produced by the GEF Secretariat

Watch INC6 Curtain Raiser produced by the GEF Secretariat

The GEF secretariat prepared a short Curtain Raiser video that was presented at the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC6), held from 3 to 7 november 2014 in Bangkok.

Side events at INC6
A number of side events were held to relay timely and relevant information to participants in the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC6) held from 3 to 7 November 2014 in Bangkok.

Side events at INC6

Side events at INC6

A number of side events were organized by Governments, intergovernmental and non governmental organizations to relay timely and relevant information to participants in the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC6)  held from 3 to 7 November 2014 at the premises of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand and the preceding regional consultations on 2 November 2014. See list of side events here.

 

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention, the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, and the Swiss Confederation jointly organized a side event on "the ratification of the Minamata Convention : Highlights Collaboration Across Countries, Regions and Conventions".

A summary of the discussions during this event is available on UNITAR's website at: www.unitar.org/side-event-ratification-minamata-convention-highlights-collaboration-across-countries-regions-and-conventions.

 

 

Guinea, Lesotho and Nicaragua deposit instrument of ratification and accession
Guinea, Lesotho and Nicaragua joined Djibouti, Gabon, Guyana, Monaco, the United States and Uruguay as the first nine future Parties to the Minamata Convention.

Guinea, Lesotho and Nicaragua deposit instrument of ratification and accession

Guinea, Lesotho and Nicaragua deposit instrument of ratification and accession
Guinea, Lesotho and Nicaragua joined Djibouti, Gabon, Guyana, Monaco, the United States and Uruguay as the first nine future Parties to the Minamata Convention.
Upcoming Central America sub-regional workshop in Mexico
Countries from Central America will gather in Mexico city from 26 to 28 November July 2014 to participate in the sub-regional workshop in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Upcoming Central America sub-regional workshop in Mexico

Upcoming Central America sub-regional workshop in Mexico

Countries from Central America will gather in Mexico city from 26 to 28 November July 2014 to take part in a sub-regional workshop in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

This meeting is part of a series of workshops launched in March 2014 by the interim secretariat to support countries in their efforts at national and sub-regional levels. It will aim at further enhancing  participants knowledge of the Convention, of the processes for its ratification and early implementation, and of the available sources of financial and technical support, including in the interim period.

Governments will have the opportunity to exchange information, discuss joint actions and on the last day of the workshop, they will be invited to present their draft national roadmap for the ratification and early implementation of the Convention prepared during the course of the workshop.

Further information on the awareness-raising work undertaken by the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Secretariat can be found here.

Governments reach successful outcome at INC6 in Bangkok
Gathered in Bangkok from 3 to 7 November 2014 for the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury, Governments completed a key milestone towards making the Minamata Convention an effective and fully functioning instrument upon its entry into force

Governments reach successful outcome at INC6 in Bangkok

Governments reach successful outcome at INC6 in Bangkok

Over 400 delegates representing 122 Governments, 29 non-governmental and 13 intergovernmental organizations gathered in Bangkok from  3 to 7 November 2014 for the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC6).

The meeting was held at the premises of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok and was preceded by regional consultations on 2 November 2014 as well as by a meeting of the Global Mercury Partnership Advisory Group from 30 October to 1 November 2014.

The committee made significant progress on a number of issues, contributing to INC6’s objective of facilitating the rapid entry into force and effective implementation of the Minamata Convention.  A number of areas indeed require action before entry into force of the Convention or the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP1). Entry into force will happen once 50 States or regional economic integration organization have deposited  their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, and COP1 will be held no later than one year after this date.

During this week of negotiations, Governments met in contact groups to discuss the issues of finance, trade, exemptions, reporting and draft rules of procedure and draft financial rules for the Conference of the Parties. They adopted a number of elements on a provisional basis pending possible adoption by the Conference of the Parties at its first meeting, including forms to be used for trade in mercury between Parties and with non-Parties, proposed formats for the registration of exemptions and for the register of exemptions to be maintained by the secretariat.

While INC6 paved the way for INC7 and COP1, significant work remain both during the intersessional period and at these upcoming meetings. On the issue of financial resources and mechanism (Article 13), the committee agreed to establish an ad hoc working group of experts on financing to conduct intersessional work. During this interim period, the technical expert group will also continue its work on the development of the guidance called for in Article 8 on emissions. Finally, the committee tasked the interim secretariat to seek input and undertake work on a number of issues to be further considered by the committee at its seventh session, including the development of draft guidance on Article 3 on mercury supply sources and trade, Article 7 on artisanal and small-scale gold mining, Article 10 on environmentally sound interim storage of mercury, other than waste mercury, Article 11 on mercury wastes, Article 22 on effectiveness evaluation as well as Article 23 on the Conference of the Parties.

Documents prepared for INC6 can be accessed on the INC6 webpage, where the session’s report and final list of participants will also be posted as soon as finalized. The daily coverage and summary report by Earth Negotiations Bulletin are available on the IISD webpage at: www.iisd.ca/mercury/inc6/.

Upcoming sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury
From 3 to 7 November 2014 will be held in Bangkok the sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury

Upcoming sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury

Upcoming sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury

As mandated in the resolution on arrangements in the interim period adopted by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the intergovernmental negotiating committee to prepare a global legally binding instrument on mercury, established pursuant to Governing Council decision 25/5, will meet during the period between the date on which the Convention is opened for signature and the date of the opening of the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention as may be necessary to facilitate the rapid entry into force of the Convention and its effective implementation upon its entry into force.

The sixth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC6) is scheduled to take place from 3 to 7 November 2014 at the premises of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. The session will be preceded by regional consultations on 2 November 2014.

A series of meeting documents have been prepared for the session which can be downloaded here.

Practical information for participants, including on accommodation near the meeting venue can be found here.

The week prior from 30 October to 1 November 2014, also in Bangkok, a meeting of the Global Mercury Partnership Advisory Group as well as a half day orientation session on 'Principles of Effective Partnership' will be organized.

Further information about the Global Mercury Partnernship can be found here: http://www.unep.org/chemicalsandwaste/Mercury/GlobalMercuryPartnership/tabid/1253/Default.aspx



5 countries ratify and 18 sign the Minamata Convention at 2014 Treaty event
Ministers and senior government officials from around the world renew the international community’s commitment to combat the global threat posed to human health and the environment from mercury pollution worldwide.

5 countries ratify and 18 sign the Minamata Convention at 2014 Treaty event

5 countries ratify and 18 sign the Minamata Convention at 2014 Treaty event

New York, 24 September 2014 – Twenty-two countries have taken major steps to address the emissions and releases of one of the most notorious heavy metals – mercury.

A year after the adoption of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, Ministers and senior government officials from around the world have renewed the international community’s commitment to combat the global threat posed to human health and the environment from mercury pollution worldwide.

The high-level special event - “The Minamata Convention on Mercury: Towards its early entry into force and effective implementation” - witnessed three States agreeing to become Parties to the Minamata Convention and an additional 15 States signing the treaty. In addition, two more States joined the Convention and three signed it since UN Treaty Event started on 23 September 2014.

The Governments of Djibouti, Gabon, Guyana, Monaco and Uruguay have joined the United States as the first six future Parties to the Convention. The United States had joined the Convention last November.

An additional 18 countries, bringing to the total number to 120, used this occasion to sign the Convention, namely: Belarus, Cameroon, Croatia, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Latvia, Liberia, Malaysia, Monaco, Montenegro, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey.

Held in the margins of the opening of the sixty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly, and in conjunction with the Secretary-General’s annual Treaty Event, the event was jointly convened by the Governments of Japan, Switzerland, the United States and Uruguay, with the assistance of UNEP, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

 

Read UNEP Press Release on the special high-level event at  :

http://unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2796&ArticleID=11001&l=en

 

 

 

 

 

South American sub-regional workshop in Brasilia, 2 to 4 September 2014
South American countries discussed the ratification and rapid implementation of the Minamata Convention during sub-regional workshop in Brasilia

South American sub-regional workshop in Brasilia, 2 to 4 September 2014

South American sub-regional workshop in Brasilia, 2 to 4 September 2014

To support the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the generous support of the Government of Brazil, invited South American governments, international organizations and  civil society representatives active in the region to gather for a 3-day workshop in Brasília, Brazil, from 2 to 4 September 2014.

The workshop was opened on Tuesday 2 September by Francisco Gaetani, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Environment of Brazil, Fernando Lugris, Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on mercury, Denise Hamu, UNEP Representative in Brazil, and Jacob Duer, Coordinator of the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention.

Integral part of UNEP’s regional and sub-regional efforts to support the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention, the workshop aimed to further enhance participants knowledge of the Convention, of the processes for its ratification and early implementation, and of the available sources of support, including in the interim period.  Governments also had the opportunity to exchange information and discuss joint efforts. One important outcome of the workshop was the presentation by participating countries on Thursday 4 September of a draft national roadmap for the ratification and early implementation of the Convention that they were invited to prepare during the course of the workshop.  

Delegates from ten South American countries participated, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Representatives from Intergovernmental organizations and UN Agencies that play a crucial role in the process towards rapid implementation and ratification of the Convention, including the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (OCTA), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UNEP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, the UNEP Brazil Office and the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention, as well as  representatives from a range of NGOs and industrial sectors, attended the event. 

Special High-level Event for the signature and ratification of the Minamata Convention
On 24 September 2014, from 1.15 pm to 2.30 pm, a Special High-Level event on the Minamata Convention on Mercury was held at UN Headquarters in the margin of the 2014 Treaty Event organized by the UN Office of Legal Affairs.

Special High-level Event for the signature and ratification of the Minamata Convention

Special High-level Event for the signature and ratification of the Minamata Convention

On 24 September 2014, from 1.15 pm to 2.30 pm, a Special High-Level event on the Minamata Convention on Mercury was held at UN Headquarters in the margin of the 2014 Treaty Event organized by the UN Office of Legal Affairs. Representatives were invited to attend to sign the Convention and, where possible, deposit the instrument of ratification. A booklet with additional information on the High-Level event is available in English and French.

On 28 May 2014, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon invited Heads of State and Government to the 2014 Treaty Event, held from 23 to 25 September 2014 and from 30 September to 1 October 2014 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This event is held concurrently with the General Debate of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly, opening on 24 September 2014.

Among 40 multilateral treaties highlighted for the 2014 Treaty Event, the Minamata Convention, as well as the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions are included in the field of the environment. The Secretary-General invited Heads of State and Government to profit from the Treaty Event to sign treaties and deposit instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or  accession to the treaties concerned.

Therefore, and to facilitate the signature and ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a Special High-level Event was held. This event invited representatives to sign the Convention, with the presence of Treaty Section, and where possible, deposit the instrument of ratification.  Following the signing ceremony, representatives were committed to make statements regarding their signature. This event offered an opportunity to Governments to demonstrate their commitment to the Minamata Convention and will be used also as a mean for outreach in order to facilitate rapid entry into force of the Convention. The convention will remain open for signature until 9 October 2014.

For more information about the event, please contact the Interim Secretariat of the Mercury Convention here.


Executive Director Transmittal Letter

English

Invitation Letter to the High-level Special Event on the Minamata Convention

English

Provisional programme for the High-level Special Event on the Minamata Convention

English

Practical information

English
Francophone Workshops in Africa, Dakar
In accordance with the resolution on arrangements taken by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Kumamoto in October 2013, sub-regional workshops for Francophone Africa in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury ended in Dakar on 16 July.

Francophone Workshops in Africa, Dakar

Francophone Workshops in Africa, Dakar

In accordance with the resolution on arrangements taken by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Kumamoto in October 2013, sub-regional workshops for Francophone Africa in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury ended in Dakar on 16 July. Two workshops were held, from 9 to 11 July and from 14 to 16 July 2014. The participating countries to the workshops were:

  • First Workshop (9 to 11 July): Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Gabon, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe.
  • Second Workshop (14 to 16 July): Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia.

The workshops, organized by the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre in Senegal, were hosted at the Ngor Diarama Hotel and covered six main topics:

  • Emissions and releases ;
  • Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) ;
  • Supply sources, trade and storage ;
  • Waste and contaminated sites ;
  • Mercury-added products and manufacturing processes in which mercury is used ;
  • Health aspects.

These sessions were an opportunity for the attending countries and organizations to learn from each other and show the different aspects of their work related to mercury, either in terms of policies and technical solutions, or in terms of experience acquired. ASGM benefited from specific attention as gold mining is a major source of mercury contamination and is extensive in some of the participating countries.

Among the challenges addressed by the workshops, attention was given to mobilization of resource for implementation as well as suitable local approaches in order to manage the economic and political constraints. The presentation of national roadmaps on the ratification and implementation of the Convention by each participating country concluded the workshops as a key outcome. This set out the measures to be taken at a national level to move towards ratification and implementation.

Workshops for Francophone Africa also offered a chance to the attending countries to enhance their collaboration on environmental issues and promote more communication.

Gabon becomes 100th signatory
On 30 June 2014, Ms. Odette Marianne Bibalou, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Gabon to the United Nations in new York, signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury in New York, making the country the 100th signatory of the Convention.

Gabon becomes 100th signatory

Gabon becomes 100th signatory

On 30 June 2014, Ms. Odette Marianne Bibalou, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Gabon to the United Nations in new York, signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury in New York, making the country the 100th signatory of the Convention.

The Convention has been opened for signature since 10 October 2013, and will remain open until 9 October 2014.  The signature of the Convention demonstrates a State’s intent to examine the treaty domestically and consider ratifying it. While signing does not commit a State to ratification, it does oblige the State to refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose.

By signing the Convention, Gabon becomes eligible to receive financial support from the Global Environment Facility for enabling activities, including an initial assessment of the mercury situation in the country.

The Government of Gabon is congratulated on its signature.

A complete list of signatories can be found here:

Matthew Selwyn Gubb
The interim secretariat of the Minamata Convention is saddened to inform you of the passing of Mr Matthew Gubb on 4 May 2014 following a courageous battle with cancer.

Matthew Selwyn Gubb

Matthew Selwyn Gubb

The interim secretariat of the Minamata Convention is saddened to inform you of the passing of Mr Matthew Gubb on 4 May 2014 following a courageous battle with cancer.  

Matthew has worked extensively in the international chemicals arena, initially as a representative of the Government of New Zealand.  He joined the Chemicals Branch of UNEP prior to the negotiations of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, and was integral to their negotiation. He went on to coordinate the SAICM secretariat until his appointment as the Coordinator of the Mercury Negotiations Team following the decision by the Governing Council of UNEP in 2009 to negotiate a legally binding instrument on mercury.  His consultative approach, and the importance he placed on inclusive methods of working, were a key to the successful negotiations he supported. He coordinated the negotiation activities until 2011 when he was promoted to head the International Environment Technology Centre (IETC) in Osaka.  Despite moving from the Chemicals Branch, and the Mercury Negotiations Team, he maintained his keen interest in the negotiations and served as a point of liaison with the Government of Japan during the preparations for the Diplomatic Conference. 

When he moved back to Geneva due to ill health, he maintained his relationship with Chemicals Branch, contributing to further work on mercury. 

For all who knew and worked with Matthew, we will remember his calm and productive approach to challenges, his dedication to excellent outcomes and his dry sense of humour. 

The chemicals community has lost an incredible asset and a great friend, and Matthew will be sorely missed.

May he rest in peace.

Publication of WHO commissioned study on health impacts of mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining
The WHO-commissioned study "Mercury Exposure and Health Impacts among Individuals in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Community: A Comprehensive Review" has been published in Environmental Health Perspectives (early on-line version).

Publication of WHO commissioned study on health impacts of mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining

Publication of WHO commissioned study on health impacts of mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining

The WHO-commissioned study "Mercury Exposure and Health Impacts among Individuals in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Community: A Comprehensive Review" has been published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The early on-line version of the study can be accessed at  http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1307864.

The findings of this study, summarized for decision makers, were presented at the Conference of Plenipotentiaries for the Minamata Convention on Mercury in Kumamoto in October 2014, and published on the WHO website. 

 

This short information documents for decision makers can be accessed 
in English at www.who.int/entity/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_asgm.pdf and in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian at www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury/en/.

 

First workshop in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention
The first workshop in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury was held from 19 to 21 March 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  

First workshop in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention

First workshop in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention

The first workshop in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury was held from 19 to 21 March 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Convened by the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention thanks to the generous support from the Government of China, this workshop gathered representatives from eleven South East Asian countries, IGOs and NGOs active in the sub-region.

The objectives of the workshop were to further enhance participants knowledge of the Convention and the processes for its signature, ratification and early implementation. It also aimed at providing the participants with information on the available sources of support and at creating opportunities for exchange and action at the sub-regional level. By the end of the workshop, each participating country had prepared a draft national roadmap for the ratification and early implementation of the Convention.

In its resolution on arrangements in the interim period, the Conference of Plenipotentiaries held from 10 to 11 October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan called upon States and regional economic integration organizations to take, as soon as possible, the domestic measures necessary to enable them to meet their obligations upon ratification and thereafter to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the Convention with a view to its entry into force as soon as possible. The Conference further requested the Executive Director of UNEP to facilitate activities at regional and country level to support implementation during the interim period in an effective and efficient manner.

In response to this request, UNEP will be conducting a series of workshops in the interim period until the Convention enters into force to assist countries in their process towards ratification and early implementation of their obligations under the Convention. The next workshops organized in support for the ratification and early implementation of the Minamata Convention will be the first and second Anglophone Africa workshops, scheduled to be held in Nairobi from 23 to 25 April and 28 to 30 April 2014.

 

Minamata Convention Interim Secretariat participates in joint GEF retreat
On Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 January 2014, the Minamata Convention Interim Secretariat participated in a retreat with the GEF and GEF STAP (Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel) Secretariats in Glion, Switzerland.  

Minamata Convention Interim Secretariat participates in joint GEF retreat

Minamata Convention Interim Secretariat participates in joint GEF retreat

On Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 January 2014, the Minamata Convention Interim Secretariat participated in a retreat with the GEF and GEF STAP (Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel)  Secretariats in Glion, Switzerland. The first day of the meeting was a joint meeting with the SAICM and Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariats.

The objective of the retreat was to enhance cooperation and seek opportunities for future synergies with the GEF Secretariat, including during the interim period prior to enter into force of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. A series of joint follow up action items were agreed upon at the end of the retreat for further collaboration in the interim period.

The retreat, which took place in an informal setting in the beautiful Swiss mountains, contributed to fostering a stronger relationship with the GEF secretariat. The Minamata Convention Interim Secretariat welcomes the opportunity to establish strong working relationship with the GEF Secretariat and looks forward to strengthening this relationship during the interim period.

WHO Executive Board adopts resolution on mercury
The Executive Board of the World Health Organization adopted on Thursday, 23 January 2014 a resolution pertaining to "Public health impacts of exposure to mercury and mercury compounds: the role of WHO and ministries of public health in the implementation of the Minamata Convention".  

WHO Executive Board adopts resolution on mercury

WHO Executive Board adopts resolution on mercury

The Executive Board of the World Health Organization adopted on Thursday, 23 January 2014 a resolution pertaining to "Public health impacts of exposure to mercury and mercury compounds: the role of WHO and ministries of public health in the implementation of the Minamata Convention" for forwarding to the Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly.

The Executive Board recommends the World Health Assembly adopts this resolution at its next meeting scheduled to take place in Geneva from 19 to 24 May 2014.

Amongst others, the resolution welcomes the formal adoption by States of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in October 2013 and encourages Member States (and, where applicable, regional economic integration organizations) to take the necessary domestic measures to promptly sign, ratify and implement the Minamata Convention on Mercury and to actively participate in national, regional and international efforts to implement the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Full text of the resolution is available at: http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/EB134/B134_R5-en.pdf


Global Treaty on Mercury Pollution Gets Boost from United States
UNEP's Achim Steiner Welcomes First Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.  

Global Treaty on Mercury Pollution Gets Boost from United States

Global Treaty on Mercury Pollution Gets Boost from United States

UNEP's Achim Steiner Welcomes First Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Nairobi, 7 November 2013 - The United States has strengthened the international effort to bring down emissions and releases of a notorious heavy metal after simultaneously signing and ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The treaty, adopted on 10 October in the Japanese city of Kumamoto and named after the place where thousands of people were poisoned by mercury in the mid-20th century, has now been signed by 93 countries.

The United States has become the first nation to complete the next and final step after Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs deposited the ‘instrument of acceptance’ at the United Nations’ headquarters on Wednesday.

Dr Jones said: “The Minamata Convention is a major step forward to address mercury exposure and improve public health. The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) essential role in facilitating the successful negotiation of this convention is deeply appreciated. The Minamata Convention is an important achievement for the health of people around the world and the U.S. is pleased to be able to join the Convention."

The move, which marks an important step forward towards the global agreement coming into force was today welcomed by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.

“I would like to thank the United States for this important act that assists in paving the way for a new era on international cooperation on mercury pollution and global efforts to lift a serious health and environmental threat from the lives of people everywhere,” he said.

Mercury's impacts on the human nervous system have been well known since Greek and Roman times. Its potential impacts include impaired thyroid and liver function, irritability, tremors, disturbances to vision, memory loss and cardiovascular problems.

Mr Steiner added: “UNEP has been proud to facilitate and support the treaty negotiations over the past four years because almost everyone in the world- be they small-scale gold miners, expectant mothers or waste-handlers in developing countries- will benefit from its provisions”.

The Minamata Convention provides for controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted. The treaty also addresses the direct mining of mercury, export and import of the metal and safe storage of waste mercury.

Pinpointing populations at risk, boosting medical care and better training of health-care professionals in identifying and treating mercury-related effects will all result from adherence to the obligations of the new treaty.

The Convention will come into force when 50 signatory countries have ratified it.

In a statement the United States State Department said Wednesday: The United States has already taken significant steps to reduce the amount of mercury we generate and release to the environment, and can implement Convention obligations under existing legislative and regulatory authority.  The Minamata Convention complements domestic measures by addressing the transnational nature of the problem”.

Editors' notes

The full text of the treaty can be found here

For more information about the Diplomatic Conference, please see here

For a list of the countries that have signed the Convention so far, please see (from 10 October) here

Contacts

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Director of Communications and Spokesperson, Tel.: +254 733 632 755 or +254 733 632 755 (Roaming) Email:  nick.nuttall@unep.org

Tim Kasten, Head, UNEP Chemicals Branch, Geneva. Tel.: +41 22 917 81 83 Email:  tim.kasten@unep.org

UNEP HQ: Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP News Desk. Tel.: +254 713 601 259 Email:  unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Moira O'Brien-Malone, UNEP Communications, Paris. Tel: +33 1 44 37 76 12 or +33 6 82 26 93 73. Email: moira.obrien-malone@unep.org

New global treaty cuts mercury emissions and releases, sets up controls on products, mines and industrial plants
Japan among the first to sign Minamata Convention on Mercury.  

New global treaty cuts mercury emissions and releases, sets up controls on products, mines and industrial plants

New global treaty cuts mercury emissions and releases, sets up controls on products, mines and industrial plants

Japan among the first to sign Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Kumamoto, Japan, 10 October 2013 - Japan, a country which has come to epitomize mercury poisoning in modern times, today became one of the first countries to sign a historic new international convention to reduce emissions and releases of the toxic metal into air, land and water and to phase out many products that contain mercury.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury - a global, legally binding treaty which opened for signature today - was agreed to by governments in January and formally adopted as international law today.

The new treaty is the first new global convention on environment and health for close to a decade. Coming at a time when some multilateral negotiations have faced challenges, its successful negotiation, after a four-year process, provides a new momentum to intergovernmental cooperation on the environment.

Its agreement is also significant in that many countries, despite the lingering effects of the global financial crisis, remained prepared to commit resources to combating the harmful effects of mercury.

Countries began the recognition for this new treaty at a special ceremonial opening of the Diplomatic Conference in Minamata, the city where many local people were poisoned in the mid-20th Century after eating mercury-contaminated seafood from Minamata Bay. As a consequence, the neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning has come to be known as Minamata Disease.

But the Minamata that delegates visited yesterday during a special field trip from the main conference venue in nearby Kumamoto City, is a vastly different place to that affected by mercury in the mid-1950s. Since then the city has remodelled itself as an eco-city, receiving international recognition for its wide range of recycling and environmental programmes.

The Minamata Convention provides for controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted. The treaty also addresses the direct mining of mercury, export and import of the metal, and safe storage of waste mercury.

Pinpointing populations at risk, boosting medical care and better training of health-care professionals in identifying and treating mercury-related effects will all result from adherence to the obligations of the new treaty.

"The Minamata Convention will protect people and improve standards of living for millions around the world, especially the most vulnerable,'' United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in an address read to the conference. "Let us strive to achieve universal adherence to this valuable new instrument, and advance together toward a safer, more sustainable and healthier planet for all."

"Mercury has some severe effects, both on human health and on the environment. UNEP has been proud to facilitate and support the treaty negotiation over the past four years because almost everyone in the world - be they small-scale gold miners, expectant mothers or waste-handlers in developing countries - will benefit from its provisions," said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Under-Secretary General of  the United Nations.

Global action on mercury was agreed to in a landmark decision at the United Nations Environment Programme's Governing Council meeting in 2009.

Governments unanimously decided to launch negotiations on an international mercury treaty to deal with world-wide emissions and discharges of the pollutant, which threatens the health of millions, from foetuses and babies to small-scale gold miners and their families.

Mercury's impacts on the human nervous system have been known for more than a century: the Mad Hatter of Alice in Wonderland fame was so called because hat-makers used the liquid metal to strengthen brims, breathing in the poisonous fumes.

Other potential impacts include impaired thyroid and liver function, irritability, tremors, disturbances to vision, memory loss and cardiovascular problems.

"With the signing of the Minamata Convention on Mercury we will be going a long way in protecting the world forever from the devastating health consequences from mercury," says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. "Mercury is one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern and is a substance which disperses into and remains in ecosystems for generations, causing severe ill health and intellectual impairment to exposed populations."

Governments successfully completed their negotiations at the fifth session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee to prepare a global legally binding instrument on mercury, held in Geneva from 13 to 18 January 2013. They agreed to the text of the "Minamata Convention on Mercury", which has now been presented for adoption and opened for signature at the Conference of Plenipotentiaries Diplomatic Conference, taking place at Hotel Nikko in Kumamoto and in Minamata, Japan, from 9 to 11 October 2013. 

The Diplomatic Conference was preceded by an intergovernmental preparatory meeting on 7 and 8 October 2013 in Kumamoto.

Some key facts about the Diplomatic Conference:

  • Over 1,000 participants
  • Convention adopted by 139 governments
  • Convention signed by 92 governments

Treaty provisions

Under the provisions of the Minamata Convention, Governments have agreed on a range of mercury-containing products whose production, import and export will be banned by 2020. These items have non-mercury alternatives that will be further phased in as these are phased out. They include:

  • Batteries, except for 'button cell' batteries used in implantable medical devices
  • Switches and relays
  • Some compact fluorescent lamps
  • Mercury in cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps
  • Soaps and cosmetics (mercury is used in skin-whitening products)
  • Some mercury-containing medical items such as thermometers and blood pressure devices.

Mercury from small-scale gold-mining and from coal-fired power stations represent the biggest source of mercury pollution worldwide. Miners inhale mercury during smelting, and mercury run-off into rivers and streams contaminates fish, the food chain and people downstream.

Under the Minamata Convention, Governments have agreed that countries will draw up strategies to reduce the amount of mercury used by small-scale miners and that national plans will be drawn up within three years of the treaty entering into force to reduce - and if possible eliminate - mercury.

The Convention will also control mercury emission and releases from large-scale industrial plants such as coal-fired power stations, industrial boilers, waste incinerators and cement clinkers facilities.

Editors' notes

The full text of the treaty can be found here

For more information about the Diplomatic Conference, please see here

For a list of the countries that have signed the Convention so far, please see (from 10 October) here

Contacts

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Director of Communications and Spokesperson, Tel: +254 733 632 755 or +41 79 596 5737 (Roaming), Email:  nick.nuttall@unep.org

Tomoko Ishii, Media Consultant, UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre, Osaka, Japan.  Mobile: +81 90 7091 8194 Tel: +81 6 6915 4581

Email: tomoko.ishii@unep.org (for information in English or in Japanese).

UNEP HQ: Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP News Desk. Tel.: +254 713 601 259 Email:  unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Moira O'Brien-Malone, UNEP Communications, Paris. Tel: +33 1 44 37 76 12 or +33 6 82 26 93 73. Email: moira.obrien-malone@unep.org

 

United Nations Convention Tackling Hazardous Mercury To Open for Signature
Long-awaited United Nations Treaty will curb use and emissions, reduce human health impacts  

United Nations Convention Tackling Hazardous Mercury To Open for Signature

United Nations Convention Tackling Hazardous Mercury To Open for Signature

Long-awaited United Nations Treaty will curb use and emissions, reduce human health impacts

Nairobi, 7 October 2013 - A landmark treaty to curb the use of mercury will open for signature on Wednesday, 9 October in Japan, marking a further watershed moment towards the global phase-out of the notorious heavy metal in many products and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted.

The newest United Nations treaty, named the Minamata Convention after a Japanese city where serious health damage occurred as a result of mercury pollution in the mid-20th Century, is both wide-ranging and legally binding. It provides controls and reductions in areas ranging from medical equipment such as thermometers to energy-saving light bulbs to the mining, cement and coal-fired power sectors. Pinpointing populations at risk, boosting medical care and better training of health care professionals in identifying and treating mercury-related effects will also form part of the new agreement.

Agreed in January, the Convention marks the culmination of four years of complex negotiations among over 140 member states, which were convened in Geneva by UNEP beginning in 2009.

"With this convention, nations have laid the foundations for a global response to a pollutant whose notoriety has been recognized since Greek and Roman times," said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Achim Steiner. "Everyone in the world stands to benefit from it, in particular the workers and families of small-scale gold miners, the peoples of the Arctic and this generation of mothers and babies and the generations to come."

Mercury and its various compounds have a range of serious health impacts including brain and neurological damage especially among the young. Others include kidney damage and damage to the digestive system. Victims can suffer memory loss and language impairment alongside many other well documented problems.

According to a recent UNEP report, Global Mercury Assessment 2013, Asia is the largest regional emitter of mercury, and accounts for just under half of all global releases. The report also finds that an estimated 260 tonnes of mercury - previously held in soils - are being released into rivers and lakes. As much human exposure to mercury is through the consumption of contaminated fish, aquatic environments are the critical link to human health.

In the new treaty, governments have agreed on a range of mercury containing products whose production, export and import will be banned by 2020. These include batteries, except for 'button cell' batteries used in implantable medical devices, switches and relays, certain types of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), mercury in cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps and soaps and cosmetics.

The treaty will also target the artisanal and small-scale gold mining industries, where mercury is used to separate gold from the ore-bearing rock. In addition, it will control mercury emissions and releases from various large industrial facilities ranging from coal-fired power stations and industrial boilers to certain kinds of smelters handling for example zinc and gold.

Initial funding to fast track action until the new treaty comes into force in the expected three to five years' time has been pledged by Japan, Norway and Switzerland.

For more information, please contact: Melissa Gorelick, UNEP Information Officer, +254 20 762 3088/ +254 71 621 4041 melissa.gorelick@unep.org

Minamata Convention Agreed by Nations
Global Mercury Agreement to Lift Health Threats from Lives of Millions World-Wide  

Minamata Convention Agreed by Nations

Minamata Convention Agreed by Nations

Global Mercury Agreement to Lift Health Threats from Lives of Millions World-Wide

Geneva/Nairobi, 19 January 2013 - International effort to address mercury-a notorious heavy metal with significant health and environmental effects-was today delivered a significant boost with governments agreeing to a global, legally-binding treaty to prevent emissions and releases.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury-named after a city in Japan where serious health damage occurred as a result of mercury pollution in the mid-20th Century-provides controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted.  

These range from medical equipment such as thermometers and energy-saving light bulbs to the mining, cement and coal-fired power sectors.

The treaty, which has been four years in negotiation and which will be open for signature at a special meeting in Japan in October, also addresses the direct mining of mercury, export and import of the metal and safe storage of waste mercury.

Pinpointing populations at risk, boosting medical care and better training of health care professionals in identifying and treating mercury-related effects will also form part of the new agreement.

Mercury and its various compounds have a range of serious health impacts including brain and neurological damage especially among the young.

Others include kidney damage and damage to the digestive system. Victims can suffer memory loss and language impairment alongside many other well documented problems.

Initial funding to fast track action until the new treaty comes into force in the expected three to five years' time has been pledged by Japan, Norway and Switzerland.

Support for developing countries is also expected from the Global Environment Facility and a programme once the convention is operational.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) which convened the negotiations among over 140 member states in Geneva, said at the close:" After complex and often all night sessions here in Geneva, nations have today laid the foundations for a global response to a pollutant whose notoriety has been recognized for well over a century." 

"Everyone in the world stands to benefit from the decisions taken this week in Geneva- in particular the workers and families of small-scale gold miners, the peoples of the Arctic and this generation of mothers and babies and the generations to come. I look forward to swift ratification of the Minamata Convention so that it comes into force as soon as possible," he said.

Fernando Lugris, the Uruguayan chair of the negotiations, said : " Today in the early hours of 19 January 2013 we have closed a chapter on a journey that has taken four years of often intense but ultimately successful negotiations and opened a new chapter towards a sustainable future. This has been done in the name of vulnerable populations everywhere and represents an opportunity for a healthier and more sustainable century for all peoples".

Ambassador Franz Perrez of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Switzerland said:"Switzerland, which initiated with Norway the negotiations for a mercury convention, is very pleased about this impressive success. It will help us to protect human health and the environment all over the world and is a proof that multilateralism can work when political will exists."

"This treaty will not bring immediate reductions of mercury emissions. It will need to be improved and strengthened, to make all fish safe to eat," said David Lennett from the Natural Resources Defense Council representing the Zero Mercury Working Group a global coalition of environmental NGOs "Still, the treaty will phase out mercury in many products and we welcome it as a starting point."

The decision to launch negotiations was taken by environment ministers at the 2009 session of the UNEP Governing Council and the final and fifth negotiation took place this week in Geneva.

The scope of the new treaty which puts in controls and also reduction measures in respect to mercury is as follows.

Products

Governments have agreed on a range of mercury containing products whose production, export and import will be banned by 2020.

These include:

  • Batteries, except for 'button cell' batteries used in implantable medical devices
  • Switches and relays
  • Certain types of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
  • Mercury in cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps
  • Soaps and cosmetics

Certain kinds of non-electronic medical devices such as thermometers and blood pressure devices are also included for phase-out by 2020.

Governments approved exceptions for some large measuring devices where currently there are no mercury-free alternatives.

  • Vaccines where mercury is used as a preservative have been excluded from the treaty as have products used in religious or traditional activities
  • Delegates agreed to a phase-down of the use of dental fillings using mercury amalgam.

Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining

The booming price of gold in recent years has triggered a significant growth in small-scale mining where mercury is used to separate gold from the ore-bearing rock.

Emissions and releases from such operations and from coal-fired power stations represent the biggest source of mercury pollution world-wide.

Workers and their families involved in small-scale gold mining are exposed to mercury pollution in several ways including through inhalation during the smelting.

Mercury is also being released into river systems from these small-scale operations where it can contaminate fish, the food chain and people downstream.

  • Governments agreed that the treaty will require countries to draw up strategies to reduce the amount of mercury used by small-scale miners
  • Nations with artisanal and small-scale gold mining operations will draw up national plans within three years of the treaty entering into force to reduce and if possible eliminate the use of mercury in such operations
  • Public awareness campaigns and support for mercury-free alternatives will also be part of the plans

From Power Stations to Cement Factories

The new treaty will control mercury emissions and releases from various large industrial facilities ranging from coal-fired power stations and industrial boilers to certain kinds of smelters handling for example zinc and gold.

Waste incineration and cement clinker facilities are also on the list.

Nations agreed to install the Best Available Technologies on new power plants and facilities with plans to be drawn up to bring emissions down from existing ones.

The negotiations were initially looking to set thresholds on the size of plants or level of emissions to be controlled. But it was decided this week to defer this until the first meeting of the treaty after it comes into force.

Notes to Editors

Background to the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to prepare a global legally binding instrument on mercury (INC5)

Global Mercury Assessment 2013

Time to Act

For More Information Please Contact
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson on Tel: +254 733632755 or when travelling +41 79 596 5737

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