Intersessional work and Submissions for COP-5

The Conference of the Parties had its fourth meeting online from 1 to 5 November 2021 and in-person from 21 to 25 March 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, and agreed on a number of action items. The Executive Secretary sent a letter to Parties and observers on 13 April 2022 to call for information to follow up on these action items. 

The progress on these action items can be found on the individual pages linked below. Links will be added as information becomes available.

As a crosscutting support to this intersessional process, particularly on decision MC-4/6 on mercury waste and MC-4/11 on effectiveness evaluation, the Secretariat issued a call for nomination of experts to a roster. This roster of scientific and technical experts is created with a view to facilitating the identification of experts to fulfill the need for different types of expertise to contribute to various processes established by the COP, as well as to support information exchange and research development under the Convention. The contributions from the roster of experts will be made through electronic means of communication. Scientific and technical experts may be nominated to the roster by parties or organizations on an ongoing basis and with no limit in the number of experts being nominated by each party or organization. Nominations from parties or organizations must be endorsed by national focal points or heads of organizations, respectively, be accompanied by the completed template and sent to mea-minamatasecretariat [at] un.org.
 

Review of and amendments to annexes A and B

Annexes A and B to the Convention provide for measures to be taken on mercury-added products and manufacturing processes in which mercury or mercury compounds is used.

Amendment of Annex A adopted at COP-4 in 2022

The Conference of the Parties (COP) decided, in its decision MC-4/3, to amend part I of Annex A to the Convention by adding the following mercury-added products, so that the manufacture, import and export of those products not be allowed after 2025:

  • Compact fluorescent lamps with an integrated ballast (CFL.i) for general lighting purposes that are ≤ 30 watts with a mercury content not exceeding 5 mg per lamp burner
  • Cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) and external electrode fluorescent lamps (EEFL) of all lengths for electronic displays, not included in the current listing
  • Strain gauges to be used in plethysmographs;
  • Melt pressure transducers, melt pressure transmitters and melt pressure sensors except those installed in large-scale equipment or those used for high precision measurement, where no suitable mercury-free alternative is available
  • Mercury vacuum pumps
  • Tire balancers and wheel weights
  • Photographic film and paper
  • Propellant for satellites and spacecraft.

COP-4 also agreed to amend part II of Annex A by adding the following provisions for dental amalgam;

  • In addition, Parties shall:
    • (i) Exclude or not allow, by taking measures as appropriate, the use of mercury in bulk form by dental practitioners;
    • (ii) Exclude or not allow, by taking measures as appropriate, or recommend against the use of dental amalgam for the dental treatment of deciduous teeth, of patients under 15 years and of pregnant and breastfeeding women, except when considered necessary by the dental practitioner based on the needs of the patient.

Pursuant to Articles 26 and 27 of the Convention, the Secretary General of the United Nations, acting in his capacity as Depositary, has issued a communication following the adoption of decision MC-4/3 “Review and amendment of annexes A and B to the Minamata Convention on Mercury". The communication, including the texts of the amended Annex A in the six UN official languages, was issued on 28 September 2022 and posted on the UN Treaty Collection website.

The entry into force date set in paragraph 3 (c) of Article 27 of the Convention will be 28 September 2023.

Review and amendment to be considered at COP-5

The COP-4 also decided to consider at its 5th meeting the phase-out dates in Part I of Annex A for the following categories:

  • Button zinc silver oxide batteries with a mercury content < 2% and button zinc air batteries with a mercury content < 2%
  • Very high accuracy capacitance and loss measurement bridges and high frequency radio frequency switches and relays in monitoring and control instruments with a maximum mercury content of 20 mg per bridge switch or relay [except those used for research and development purposes]
  • Linear fluorescent lamps (LFLs) for general lighting purposes:
    • (a) Halophosphate phosphor ≤ 40 watts with a mercury content not exceeding 10 mg per lamp
    • (b) Halophosphate phosphor > 40 watts.
  • Linear fluorescent lamps (LFLs) for general lighting purposes:
    • (a) Triband phosphor < 60 watts with a mercury content not exceeding 5 mg/lamp

The COP also decided to further consider adding the production of polyurethane using mercury-containing catalysts to part I of Annex B at its 5th meeting, and requested the secretariat to compile information on the availability and technical and economic feasibility of mercury-free alternatives of the production of polyurethane using mercury-containing catalysts for submission to its 5th meeting.

Parties are invited to submit any information on these products and processes that will support the consideration by COP-5 by 31 December 2022.

Furthermore, the COP requested the secretariat to prepare a short report on the technical and economic feasibility of mercury-free alternatives for the two processes (vinyl chloride monomer and sodium or potassium methylate or ethylate) listed in Part II of Annex B that refer to the COP establishing such feasibility. Part II of Annex B to the Convention requires Parties not to allow the use of mercury five years after the COP has established that mercury-free processes have become technically and economically feasible.

Parties are invited to submit information on the availability and feasibility of non-mercury alternatives to these processes by 31 December 2022.

The following submissions have been received:

The Secretariat hired a consultant to collect technical information that would support the COP-5 deliberation on Annexes A and B. The consultant’s report is available here. This information was used in the development of document UNEP/MC/COP.5/INF/5.

Mercury releases

The Conference of the Parties (COP) requested the group of technical experts, in its decision MC-4/5, to develop the guidance on best available techniques and best environmental practices, in line with the road map contained in document UNEP/MC/COP.4/31, with a view to adopting the guidance pursuant to paragraph 7 of article 9 of the Convention at COP-5.

Parties and other stakeholders are invited to submit existing information on national regulations or industry practices relating to the control of mercury releases from relevant sources by 30 June 2022 (extended to 15 July). The following submissions have been received.

The list of members of the expert group can be found here. The group started working online in June 2022. The group elected Mr. Cristián Enrique Brito Martínez (Chile) and Ms. Bianca Hlobsile Mkhatshwa-Dlamini (Eswatini) as co-chairs.

The group has developed a first draft of the guidance as available from the link below, accompanied by technical reference materials. Parties and stakeholders are invited to provide comments and input to this draft, using the commenting form, to the secretariat by Friday 17 February 2023.

Comments have been received from Argentina, EU and its member states, Jamaica, Japan, Nigeria, Thailand, US, Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers (ALMR), International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), International Dental Manufacturers Association (IDM), IPEN, Alfa Laval Technologies AB, Atium and OASIS. The draft guidance and technical reference document were revised and submitted to COP-5 as UNEP/MC/COP.5/8 and UNEP/MC/COP.5/INF/11 respectively. The responses to the comments are available here.

Mercury waste thresholds

The Conference of the Parties (COP) requested the group of technical experts, in its decision MC-4/6, to develop a report to recommend and facilitate a COP-5 decision on the thresholds for waste falling under subparagraph 2 (c) of article 11 (waste contaminated with mercury and mercury compounds). The group was also requested to develop a guidance document on test methods to be used for the tier-2 threshold (0.15 mg/L in leachate) for tailings from mining other than primary mercury mining.

Parties and other stakeholders have been invited to share information and data on the waste categories listed in the indicative list contained in Table 3 of decision MC-3/5, including with respect to any relevant national or local thresholds and their establishment, by 30 June 2022 (extended to 15 July). The following submissions have been received.

The list of members of the expert group can be found here. This list also includes experts nominated by Parties and other organizations into a roster to contribute to the work of the group. The group started to work online in June 2022, and elected Ms. Gabriela Denisia Vasiliu Isac (Romania) and Ms. Oluwatoyin Olabanji (Nigeria) as co-chairs.

As advised by the group, the secretariat issued a letter inviting submission of information on approaches other than a total mercury concentration approach, including risk-based considerations, by 24 November 2022. The following submissions were received:

The group will review the submissions through online meetings and at plans to have a face-to-face meeting, which will be held from 16 to 18 February 2023 in Geneva, back-to-back with the Open-Ended Working Group of the Basel Convention, thanks to the financial contribution from Japan.

Second review of the financial mechanism

The terms of reference for the second review of the financial mechanism are set forth in Decision MC-4/7, which invites parties, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and stakeholders to submit information, consistent with the terms of reference for the review and organized by the listed performance criteria, on their experience gained through their interactions with the financial mechanism, as soon as possible and not later than 30 September 2022. Submissions should be emailed to mea-minamatasecretariat [at] un.org with copy to marianne.bailey [at] un.org.

The review covers the time period from August 2019 to July 2022. The listed performance criteria against which the effectiveness and efficiency of the financial mechanism will be assessed are as follows:

(a) Responsiveness of the Global Environment Facility and the Specific International Programme to the guidance adopted by or provided by the Conference of the Parties;

(b) Extent to which the projects funded by the financial mechanism have reduced, or are expected to reduce, the supply, use, emissions and releases of mercury, and deliver other benefits in terms of Convention implementation;

(c) Transparency and timeliness of the project approval processes;

(d) Simplicity, flexibility and expeditiousness of the procedures for accessing funds and for implementing and reporting on projects;

(e) Adequacy and sustainability of the available resources;

(f) Country ownership of activities funded by the financial mechanism;

(g) Level of stakeholder involvement;

(h) Any other significant issues raised by the parties.

Draft reporting guidance

In decision MC-4/8, the Conference of the Parties (COP) requests the Secretariat to seek any additional comments from Parties and other stakeholders on the draft reporting guidance prepared by the Secretariat set out in UNEP/MC/COP.4.17, taking into account their experiences for completing the first full national reports (Reporting period: 16 August 2017 to 31 December 2020, for submittal by 31 December 2021).

The same decision sets the deadline for comments to reach the Secretariat by Thursday, 15 December 2022. To facilitate the commenting process, the secretariat has prepared a version of the draft reporting guidance with line indication and a form for the additional comments. All comments received by Parties and other stakeholders are accessible here.

The secretariat arranged a dedicated Minamata Online Season 3 session on Wednesday, 12 October 2022 from 13:00 to 14:00 Geneva time to introduce the comment form and related documents, and also to respond to any questions and needs for clarifications. The video recording and the full presentation of the session are made available here.

Gender

The Minamata Convention on Mercury pays specific attention to the needs of vulnerable populations, especially women and children, in several parts of its text.

Gender Action Plan

COP-4 decision MC-4/10 on gender mainstreaming invites Parties, inter alia, to support the secretariat in its efforts to mainstream gender into all activities to be undertaken by the secretariat as well as by parties and other stakeholders, including thorough the development of a gender action plan for the Minamata Convention during the biennium 2022‒2023.

Pursuant to decision MC-4/10, the secretariat is organizing online consultations for Parties and other stakeholders between September and November 2022 to receive input on a draft gender action, which was prepared by the secretariat thanks to the generous financial support of Sweden. A call for nominations to participate in this consultive process has been issued by the secretariat on 12 August 2022.

The draft gender action plan, incorporating the inputs received during the consultative process, is expected to be submitted for consideration by the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, which is scheduled to take place from 30 October to 3 November 2023 in Geneva.

Gender Roadmap

At the second segment of COP-4, the Conference of the Parties took note, in decision MC-4/10, of the gender road map of the Minamata Convention, developed by the secretariat in 2021 and submitted to the Conference of the Parties in working document MC/COP.4/22 on gender mainstreaming.

The roadmap is living document, which already incorporates inputs from parties. The Secretariat is looking forward to further collaborating with Parties and stakeholders to recognize the importance of this issue and welcomes the submission of additional comments and inputs on the roadmap.

Should you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact Lara Ognibene, Legal/Programme Officer and Gender Focal Point, at lara.ognibene [at] un.org.

First effectiveness evaluation

Article 22 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury states that the Conference of the Parties (COP) will evaluate the effectiveness of the Convention, beginning no later than six years after the Convention’s entry into force and periodically thereafter at intervals to be decided by the COP.

At its fourth meeting, in decision MC-4/11, the COP agreed to begin the first effectiveness evaluation of the Convention and adopted the framework for the effectiveness evaluation as outlined in annex I to the decision.

Open-Ended Scientific Group (OESG)

In decision MC-4/11, the COP established the Open-ended Scientific Group (OESG) to develop. In accordance with its terms of reference, as contained in annex II to the decision, the work of the OESG during the intersessional period should focus on the compilation of information and development of the following plans:

  • (a) Plan for the monitoring data compilation and summary;
  • (b) Plan for the summary of available emissions and releases data;
  • (c) Plan for data analysis consistent with the Monitoring Guidance (see document UNEP/MC/COP.4/INF/12);

The OESG is co-chaired by Mr. Dominique Bally Kpokro, from Ivory Coast, and Mr. Terry Keating from the United States of America. To date, the OESG has met online eight times and once face-to-face from 27 to 31 March 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland. A progress report of the OESG to the COP is available in document UNEP/MC/COP.5/16/Add.2.

As a next step in the process, the OESG will start compiling and analysing available data on mercury levels in biota, water, sediment, soil, and in humans, as well as data from emissions and releases inventories, with a view to addressing the guiding questions outlined in the Monitoring Guidance.

Accordingly, on behalf of the co-Chairs to the Open-ended Scientific Group, the Secretariat has invited Parties and other relevant stakeholders, through the relevant technical experts, to:

  • (a) Submit an expression of intent to provide data to support the first effectiveness evaluation

The expression of intent will assist the OESG to better plan for and coordinate a subsequent step for the compilation of data. Once the expressions of intent have been received, the OESG will liaise with the data providers on how the data can be submitted to, or accessed by the OESG.

The purpose of the expression of intent is to indicate a preliminary wish to support the effectiveness evaluation by providing data. The expression of intent is voluntary and non-binding and may be withdrawn at any time by the focal points or technical experts of the relevant country or organization at their sole discretion.

To submit an expression of intent, the data providers for each type of data to be submitted should complete the response template and email it to mea-minamatasecretariat [at] un.org as soon as possible. Ideally, one data provider will be identified for each type of data to be submitted.

The submissions received so far are available here.

  • (b) Review the draft plan for data analysis

Parties and relevant stakeholders are invited to review and provide feedback on the “draft plan for data analysis”, which was prepared by the Open-ended Scientific Group to guide the analysis of data to address the guiding questions in the monitoring guidance. The draft plan for data analysis is available here.

To provide feedback on the plan, Parties and other relevant stakeholders are invited to use the commenting template and submit it to mea minamatasecretariat [at] un.org by 24 November 2023.

These and other documents developed by the OESG are available online at the OESG online space.

Please contact the Secretariat through the email above for any questions related to the work of the OESG.

Draft report on mercury trade, supply and demand

In decision MC-4/11, the secretariat was tasked, among other things, with the development of the plan for the report on trade, supply and demand of mercury, including waste flows and stocks. To give effect to the decision, the secretariat engaged the services of a consultant to draft a plan and then work with an additional consultant for the development of the report.

In August 2022, the Executive Secretary informed parties, in communication MC/ES/2022/109, that the Secretariat had begun the development of the report and invited national focal points of parties and other States, as well as relevant organizations, to indicate one or more experts on the subject matter, including themselves, whom the secretariat would contact for feedback on the draft plan.

In September 2022, the Secretariat reached out to the 81 experts who had been identified, among whom 50 were from parties, 9 from five other States and 22 from organizations. Comments on the draft plan were received from four parties, one other State and five organizations. The comments received on the draft plan were taken into account in the development of the draft report.

In June 2023, parties and other stakeholders were invited to provide feedback on a draft version of the full report. The comments received from Parties and other stakeholders are available here.

The key findings of the resulting draft report on mercury trade, supply and demand to support the first effectiveness evaluation is set out in the annex to document UNEP/MC/COP.5/INF/22. The full draft report is available here.

Indicators for the Effectiveness Evaluation Process

In decision MC-4/11, the Conference of the Parties (COP) requested the Secretariat to support an intersessional process to refine the list of indicators to be used in the effectiveness evaluation, with a view to providing a final list of indicators for consideration and possible adoption by the COP at its fifth meeting.

To support the intersessional process to refine the list of indicators to be used, the Secretariat prepared a draft refined list of indicators for commenting by 31 January 2023.

The Secretariat arranged a dedicated Minamata Online Season 3 session on Wednesday, 16 November 2022 from 13:00 to 14:00 Geneva time to introduce the draft refined list of indicators and related details for commenting, and also to respond to any questions and needs for clarifications. The video recording and the full presentation of the session are made available here.

All comments received are accessible on the dedicated online work space for indicators.

On the basis of the comments received, the Secretariat developed a list of draft indicators, which is available here.

Contribution to UNEA resolutions

Pursuant to decision MC-4/12 the Secretariat kept under review the contribution made by the implementation of the Convention to the implementation of relevant resolutions and decisions of UNEA. The Secretariat prepared a mapping document that identifies parts of UNEA resolutions and decisions that are relevant to the implementation of the Convention and provides an update on the status of contributions made so far. The mapping document reviewed resolutions and decisions adopted by UNEA since its first meeting in 2017, which also coincides with the entry into force of the Convention. The mapping document will be available on the Convention’s website soon. The Secretariat will continue updating the mapping document during future intersessional periods and report progress made to the Conferences of the Parties.

Previous intersessional work