Minamata Online: Special Briefing on COP4

Friday, October 16, 2020

On 3 November, Minamata Online held a special briefing on the Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP4) to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which is scheduled to take place from 1 to 5 November 2021 in Bali, Indonesia. The event, facilitated by the Geneva Environment Network, included a panel discussion to mark the third anniversary of the Convention and information about COP4. More about the event details on the GEN website.

Moderated by Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary of the Minamata Convention, the event gave the opportunity to its panelists to share their vision on advancing the mercury agenda in the run up to COP-4, and on strengthening collaboration among Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in particular in the context of climate change.

Executive Secretary Monika Stankiewicz welcomed the participants, pointing out that “the world has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. We see the Convention as a solution to build back better, especially for the most vulnerable communities, such as millions working in small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and still using mercury in their practices, indigenous people and communities relying on marine food, pregnant women and children who are at particular risk to be exposed to toxic mercury”.

COP-4 President Rosa Vivien Ratnawati of Indonesia outlined her vision for the successful work on mercury and COP-4, stating that “124 countries have ratified the Convention, joining us to demonstrate our common desire to work for the environment and people by reducing the risk of mercury pollution. Commitment, coordination and communication are key, particularly in the current pandemic”.

H.E. Franz Perrez, Ambassador for the Environment of Switzerland, shared his perspectives on the impact of environmental conventions, including the Minamata Convention, saying that “in just a few years, this young Convention is beginning to phase out mining, and products and processes utilizing mercury. Multilateral environmental agreements like the Minamata Convention make a difference. They are beneficial for the environment, for the health, for many people, and they contribute to the economy. The global environment would be in worse shape without them”.

H.E. Amb. Miriam Shearman, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, addressed linkages and complementarities among multilateral environmental agreements in the context of climate change, stressing that “chemicals and climate change are intimately linked, and consequently policy action in one area has the potential to deliver core benefits in the other, to improve the environment within a generation”.

Monika MacDevette, Chief of Chemicals and Health Branch at UNEP, presented recent work towards closer programmatic collaboration between multilateral environmental agreements and UNEP, underlining that “UNEP presents a very powerful platform for concerted efforts among the chemicals related multilateral environmental agreements and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) to foster our efforts in a mutually reinforcing manner to deliver on our mandates toward common goals on the environment”. After sharing some of the work that UNEP undertakes in partnership with, and in support of implementation of the Minamata Convention, she added that “as always, we stand ready with our colleagues to make COP-4 a resounding success”.

In the second part of the session, the Minamata Secretariat presented an overall timeline for preparation of COP-4, upcoming meetings and opportunities for Parties and stakeholders to contribute to the intersessional work in the run-up to COP4. Led by Claudia ten Have, Senior Policy and Coordination Officer and Eisaku Toda, Senior Programme Management Officer, the presentation highlighted the various areas of work under preparation for COP4 to continue efforts to address the global issues of mercury and promote implementation of the Convention.

The event saw a virtual attendance of 256 participants, who were given the opportunity to ask questions after the panel discussion and at the end of the session.

The complete list of panelists was the following:

  • Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, Director General for Solid Waste, Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Substances Management, Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, COP4 President
  • E. Amb. Franz Perrez, Ambassadorfor the Environment, Switzerland
  • E. Amb. Miriam Shearman, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva
  • Monika MacDevette, Chief, Chemicals and Health Branch, United Nations Environment Programme
  • Monika Stankiewicz, Executive Secretary, Minamata Convention on Mercury
  • Claudia ten Have, Senior Policy and Coordination Officer, Minamata Convention on Mercury
  • Eisaku Toda, Senior Programme Officer, Minamata Convention on Mercury

This weekly digital series, aimed at building better understanding of the Convention's provisions, as well as policy and scientific aspects, will be held weekly until December. Attendance is free for each session and registrations for the November events are open. More information about Minamata Online, the season’s calendar and registration details can be found here.

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