Intersessional work and Submissions for COP4

At its third meeting, the Conference of the Parties agreed on a number of action items to effectively implement the Minamata Convention and prepare for the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which was ultimately held in two segments: a first segment was conducted online within the period of 1 to 5 November 2021 and a second segment was held in-person within the period of 21 to 25 March 2022 in Bali, Indonesia.

In some areas, submissions are invited by parties and other stakeholders, while in other areas submissions are expected through the members of the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties. The details of calls for information can be found in the Executive Secretary’s letter dated 13 December 2019 and its attachment. In view of the coronavirus pandemic situation, some of the deadlines were extended as explained below.

An overview of the calendar of the meetings that were planned for COP4 intersessional period is available here.

Review of annexes A and B

COP3 decided to establish an ad hoc group of experts on the review of annexes A and B to the Convention, to prepare a document in which it will enrich and organize the information on the uses of mercury and on non-mercury alternatives referred to in the submissions from the Parties.

1. Information on the uses of mercury and on non-mercury alternatives

Parties were invited to submit information on the uses of mercury and on non-mercury alternatives as set out in (a) and (b) below by 31 March 2020.

(a) Information on mercury-added products and on the availability, technical and economic feasibility, and environmental and health risks and benefits of non-mercury alternatives to mercury-added products, pursuant to paragraph 4 of Article 4 of the Convention;

(b) Information on processes that use mercury or mercury compounds and, on the availability, technical and economic feasibility and environmental and health risks and benefits of mercury-free alternatives to manufacturing processes in which mercury or mercury compounds are used, pursuant to paragraph 4 of Article 5.

The following submissions have been received. Submissions received by 15 April are also be posted below. Further submissions were received by July 31 (see point 3 below). As agreed by the ad hoc group of experts, parties were recommended to use the available templates (here) for further submissions.

Non-parties and others were invited to provide further information on the use of mercury and on non-mercury alternatives referred to in the submissions by the Parties by 30 April 2020. The following submissions were received by 15 May. Further submissions were received by July 31 (see point 3 below). As agreed by the ad hoc group of experts, bon-parties and others were recommended to use the available templates (here) for further submissions.

2. Measures or strategies implemented by Parties

Parties that notified the Secretariat at the time of their becoming a Party to the Convention that they would implement various measures or strategies to address products listed in part I of Annex A to the Convention are to report on the measures or strategies they have implemented, including a quantification of the reductions achieved by 30 June 2020. The following submission was received.

3. Work of the ad hoc group of experts

Parties were invited to nominate members of the ad hoc group of experts through the Bureau members by 31 March 2020. The list of nominated members is available here.

The group had its first on-line meeting on 7 May. The group decided to receive submissions of information from Parties, non-parties and other stakeholders until 31 July 2020.  The group will continue to discuss further plans including the invitation of observers at the next on-line meeting.

At its second on-line meeting on 3 June, the group decided to hold separate group-calls on different categories of products and processes, covering all categories included in Annexes A and B. The group will discuss details on how to arrange these group-calls at the next meeting. Observers will be invited to respective group-calls, and the secretariat will reach out to selected observers.

At its third on-line meeting on 1 July, the group discussed about the schedule of work including arrangements of separate group-calls. The group will meet again in mid-July to further discuss about the detailed schedule of work.

Online information sessions were held on 7 July 2020 to present the progress of the intersessional work including review of Annexes A and B and to call for submission of information. The presentation from the Secretariat and recorded video of the session are available here.

4. Outcome of the work of the group of experts (30 April 2021)

The following report summarizes the outcome of the work of the ad hoc group of experts on review of Annexes A and B.

The submitted and supplemented information, organized in a tabular format indicating the sources of information, is presented in the following compilation documents. As of 30 April 2021, by which the report on the work of the group was due, some additional information on mercury-added products, particularly on lamps, was still to be provided by experts or to be incorporated into the documents. The group further worked to organize such additional information into the compilation document by 30 June 2021, which is to be made available to the Conference of the Parties as an information document. (Updated on 24 August 2021)

Dental amalgam

COP3 encouraged Parties to take more than the two required measures in accordance with part II of Annex A to the Convention to phase down the use of dental amalgam, and requested the Secretariat to collect information on the implementation of any such additional measures taken by Parties.

In addition, it requested the Secretariat to collect from Parties and others information pursuant to paragraph 7, Article 4 of the Convention, i.e. information including that related to the availability, technical and economic feasibility and environmental and health risks and benefits of the non-mercury alternatives to the product.

  1. Information on the implementation of any additional measures taken by Parties

Parties were invited to provide information on the implementation of any additional measures taken in accordance with part II of Annex A to the Convention by 31 January 2021.

Submissions from governments
  1. Information on non-mercury alternatives to dental amalgam

Parties and others were invited to provide information including that related to the availability, technical and economic feasibility and environmental and health risks and benefits of the non-mercury alternatives to dental amalgam by 1 July 2020. The following submissions have been received. Upon the request from some Parties, the deadline for this submission was extended until 15 August 2020.

Submissions on the review of Annexes A and B from Argentina and Colombia, available above, also contain information on dental amalgam

Submissions from governments
Submissions from other organisations

Customs codes

COP3 requested the Secretariat to continue its work in collaboration with the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership Mercury in Products Partnership area and involving relevant experts to;

(a) Draft a guidance document that includes:

(i) For the mercury-added products listed in Annex A to the Convention, a list of possible customs nomenclature codes of more than six digits that could be used by Parties;

(ii) For mercury-added products not listed in Annex A to the Convention, a compilation of examples provided by national experts of customs nomenclature codes of more than six digits currently in use by Parties; and

(iii) Examples of good practice where the use of customs nomenclature codes at the national level has been supplemented by the use of other control tools for the purpose of implementing trade provisions, such as those found in Article 4 to the Convention.

(b) Provide an assessment of whether the subsequent development of six-digit harmonized codes would be a useful complement to the outcome of the work undertaken under (a) (i) above for the mercury-added products listed in Annex A or under (a) (ii) above for mercury-added products not listed in Annex A. The assessment shall, where possible, include several examples of the use of such codes for both listed and unlisted mercury-added products, taking into account experience concerning such codes under other international environmental conventions.

Parties, non-parties and other stakeholders including relevant organisations were invited to identify experts familiar with the use of national customs codes to participate in the open-ended process by 29 February 2020. Two nomination have been received.

Identified experts were invited to submit information relevant for the work related to (a) (i)-(iii) above by 31 March 2020. The following submissions have been received from nominated experts. The Secretariat will work with the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership - Mercury in Products Partnership area to collect more information from parties and stakeholders.

A draft guidance document on the use of customs codes under the Minamata Convention has been developed as described above in response to Decision MC-3/3 on Customs codes and posted below on 18 June 2021.

Parties and other stakeholders were invited to submit comments on the draft, including any additional information on point (a) (i)-(iii) above, by 19 July 2021 to: mea-minamatasecretariat [at] un.org. The guidance document is to be submitted as a COP-4 document.

Releases of mercury

COP3 requested the group of technical experts to continue to work by electronic means, with the possibility of one face-to-face meeting, in line with the road map set out in annex II to document UNEP/MC/COP.3/6, to produce a report including draft guidance on the methodology for preparing inventories of releases, the proposed categories of point sources of releases and a road map for the development of guidance on best available techniques and best environmental practices.

Parties were invited to confirm the current members of the group of technical experts, nominate new members or replace members as appropriate, through the Bureau members by 31 March 2020. Bureau members were informed that the Secretariat would wait for the nominations until 15 April. The list of nominated members and observers is available here. Parties and other stakeholders were invited to submit existing information on the calculation of releases and on other methodologies for the estimation of releases from the source categories identified in UNEP/MC/COP.3/6. The following submissions have been received.

The group of technical experts works on-line to develop a report including draft guidance on the methodology for preparing inventories of releases, the proposed categories of point sources of releases and a road map for the development of guidance on best available techniques and best environmental practices. The group agreed to post the draft general guidance for release inventories (PDF), noting that it will be updated after agreeing on the list of point source categories.

The draft report to be submitted to COP-4 (PDF and Word versions) was posted on the web on 25 June 2021. Please note that the group of technical experts is still to further discuss some wording, such as the reference to wastewater in the table of relevant release categories, at its meeting after the commenting period. Parties and other stakeholders were invited to submit comments on the draft by 23 July 2021 to: mea-minamatasecretariat [at] un.org . The draft is being revised taking into account the comments received, to be submitted as a COP-4 document.

Mercury waste thresholds

COP3 requested the group of technical experts to work further on thresholds for mercury wastes falling under subparagraph 2(c) of Article 11. It also requested the Secretariat, in cooperation with the ASGM partnership area, to seek comments from Parties and other stakeholders to improve the guidance on the preparation of national action plans for ASGM regarding management of tailings from such mining, with a view to presenting a revised version of the guidance for consideration and possible adoption by COP4.

Parties were invited to confirm the current members of the group of technical experts, nominate new members or replace members as appropriate, through the Bureau members by 31 March 2020. Bureau members have been informed that the Secretariat will wait for the nominations until 15 April. The list of nominated members and observers is available here. The group had its first on-line meeting on 12 May.

COP3 encouraged the parties and other stakeholders to contribute to the process of updating the technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with mercury or mercury compounds by providing comments on the draft updated guidelines when invited to do so. The draft guidelines are available on the website of the Basel Convention as an information document UNEP/CHW/OEWG.12/INF/13 for the 12th Open-Ended Working Group of the Convention, for comments until 31 July 2020.

Parties and other stakeholders were invited to provide comments to improve the guidance on the preparation of national action plans for ASGM regarding management of tailings from such mining by 1 November 2020.

Effectiveness evaluation

COP-3 adopted decision MC-3/10: Arrangements for the first effectiveness evaluation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The Secretariat has developed an overview of the provisions of the Convention and the guidance by the COP on effectiveness evaluation.

Work on the proposed indicators for evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention

Decision MC-3/10 includes the provisions on intersessional work on the proposed indicators for evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention included in annex I to the decision. Parties were invited to submit views on the indicators and the Secretariat is requested to compile those views in advance of COP-4. In consultation with the COP-4 Bureau, the Secretariat has prepared a plan on the modalities and timeline for providing and receiving commenting to assist parties in their work.

In line with the plan of work, an information session on proposed indicators was held on Thursday 17 September.

As next step in the plan of work, Parties and stakeholders were invited to submit initial views and responses to the Secretariat on the proposed indicators by 30 November 2020. All submissions received to date are collated in this online work space for indicators for consideration.

According to the plan of work, the Secretariat facilitated an exchange session on the received initial views and responses on Tuesday, 2 February (to present submissions and views), and on Thursday, 4 February (to reflect on submissions and views). To further support Parties in their consideration of the proposed indicators, the Secretariat was requested to prepare a compilation of the initial views submitted. The Secretariat also prepared a note on information resources as supplementary information.

Parties requested the Secretariat to facilitate an additional exchange session, which was held on Thursday, 4 March (13:00 to 15:00 Geneva time). All materials for consideration are accessible at the above mentioned online workspace. This additional exchange session was to enable clarifications on the views and responses submitted, additional questions that may have arisen, and other relevant information sharing and exchange on the proposed indicators. This opportunity to further exchange was also to assist Parties in their formal preparation of their views, as requested by MC-3/10. The deadline for submission to the Secretariat of views of Parties was Wednesday, 31 March 2021. 

Development of the guidance on monitoring to support the effectiveness evaluation

At its third meeting, COP requested the Secretariat to advance the work to support the effectiveness evaluation by securing services for drafting, among others, guidance on monitoring to maintain harmonized, comparable information on mercury levels in the environment (decision MC-3/10).

In response to the decision, the secretariat, in consultation with the Bureau of the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, set out a process, as described in document UNEP/MC/COP.4/INF/12, to advance work to develop guidance on monitoring of mercury to support evaluation of the effectiveness of the Convention.

As a result, the draft “Guidance on monitoring of mercury and mercury compounds to support evaluation of the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention” was developed as contained in the annex to document UNEP/MC/COP.4/INF/12. The guidance consists of six chapters: (1) Introduction and objectives; (2) Comparable monitoring data and the effectiveness evaluation; (3) Atmospheric mercury monitoring; (4) Biota mercury monitoring; (5) Human biomonitoring; and, (6) Cross-media data management and analysis. It also has an executive summary, a list of references to the publications cited, and an annex containing an overview of a tiered approach to monitoring mercury in the environment and in humans.

A supplement to the main guidance document, entitled “Supplementary material – guidance on monitoring of mercury and mercury compounds to support evaluation of the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention” (UNEP/MC/COP.4/INF/25), has two parts: part A, containing an overview of existing monitoring programmes organized by matrix (air, biota and human biomonitoring), an overview of existing gaps, and a non-exhaustive list of standard operating procedures; and part B, which contains an overview of quality assurance and quality control procedures in laboratory analysis and data management and a draft template for the submission of monitoring data.

Furthermore, the secretariat also facilitated the development of technical documents on monitoring of mercury in and around sites of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), through in situ and remote sensing methods to support parties in planning and implementing measures pursuant to article 7 of the Convention, and provide additional support to monitoring efforts in the context of evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention. The latest drafts of the technical documents on mercury monitoring in and around ASGM sites are available here.

Work on other reports for effectiveness evaluation

The decision also requests the Secretariat to advance the work by securing services for drafting a trade, supply and demand report, which includes mercury waste flows and stocks, and an Article 21 synthesis report. While some initial work on a trade report was foreseen for the second half of 2020, most of the work was foreseen for 2021 (funding from the General Trust Fund was provided for 2021). Work has begun on the Article 21 Synthesis report following the submission of the first short national reports. The full national reports were due 31 December 2021, the outcome of which will feed directly into the Article 21 Synthesis report.

Consultations on the framework for evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention

Since the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties in September 2017, the Conference of the Parties, the Parties, the ad hoc technical expert group and the Secretariat have undertaken work in various areas to give full effect to Article 22 on effectiveness evaluation.

During the deliberations on the agenda item on effectiveness evaluation at the online segment of COP-4 (COP-4.1), the Secretariat presented the work done intersessionally as mandated by the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties through its Decision MC-3/10, namely on (i) the proposed indicators, (ii) advancing the work on drafting guidance on monitoring, and (iii) advancing the work on the synthesis report on national reporting under article 21, and a report on trade, supply and demand (which includes mercury waste flows and stocks).

At the online segment of COP-4 (COP-4.1) the Secretariat also presented an overview, as contained in Document UNEP/MC/COP.4/18 of the work mandated and done since COP-1 and the remaining areas of work needed for the Conference of the Parties to put in place the framework and arrangements for evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention, and to conduct its first evaluation.

Article 22, paragraph 1 states that the Conference of the Parties shall evaluate the effectiveness of this Convention, beginning no later than six years after the date of entry into force of the Convention and periodically thereafter at intervals to be decided by it.

In view of Article 22, paragraph 1, at the online segment of COP-4 (COP-4.1), the President recalled that, following the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties, some Parties had initiated informal consultation on the items that had remained unresolved at that meeting and which had not been subject to further work under Decision MC-3/10. The representative of Norway reported on these consultations and introduced a proposal by Norway and Canada on a framework for the first effectiveness evaluation as was set out in a conference room paper for the fourth meeting (UNEP/MC/COP.4/CRP.1).

Following the ensuing discussion, there was general consensus that it was worthwhile pursuing discussions on issues on which consensus had yet to be reached to help avoid delays and ensure that the deadline for the establishment of the first evaluation of the effectiveness of the Convention could be met.

The representative of the Secretariat informed participants at the online segment of COP-4 (COP-4.1) that the Secretariat would be in a position to invite written comments on the framework for evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention, and arrange an online session to enable Parties to exchange views thereon in preparation for the resumed fourth meeting convening from 21 to 25 March 2022 in Bali, Indonesia. The Conference of the Parties thus agreed to the holding of intersessional consultations organised in that manner. On 9 December 2021, the Executive Secretary sent a Communication to inform on the Secretariat’s plan of work to support the consultations on the framework in preparation for the resumed fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

In line with the plan of work, an information session was held on Wednesday, 15 December 2021.

Parties were invited to submit written comments on the framework by Thursday, 20 January 2022. The same deadline applied to stakeholders who may wish to provide input. The comments submitted are available in the online workspace on the framework.

On Tuesday, 25 January 2022 and Thursday, 27 January 2022, the Secretariat facilitated an online consultation session on the written comments received and provided the opportunity for additional comments to be made. The video recordings and presentations of the two parts of the session can be found here.

Thereafter, the Secretariat will compile the comments and input received in light of the consultations on the framework for evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention, to support further consideration by the Conference of the Parties at the resumed fourth meeting under agenda item 4(i) on effectiveness evaluation.

Gender

The third Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (25-29 November 2019, Geneva, Switzerland) decided to include gender as a focus area of the Convention’s Programme of Work for the biennium 2020—2021 (Activity 13). Thanks to the generous financial support of Sweden, the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention has undertaken to develop a gender roadmap with the objective of mainstreaming gender within its programme of work.

The Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury invited Parties and interested stakeholders to submit, by December 13th, 2020, scientific, technical and policy information on gender and mercury following the indications on the Call for information on Gender and Mercury.

Information on integrating gender into national policies, plans, and actions, as well as material of a scientific or technical nature is sought, including studies, webinars and videos that explore: 

  • the impacts of mercury exposure on vulnerable groups, such as women and children;
  • gender-differentiated relationships in producing, using, working with, or otherwise engaging with mercury;
  • advocacy around controlling use and exposures;
  • gender relationship across all sectors – mining, energy, manufacturing processes, consumer products, such as cosmetics and other mercury-added products, and mercury waste management.

Previous intersessional work