December 2, 2019
From November 25 (Mon.) to 29 (Fri.), 2019, the Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention (hereinafter referred to as the “Convention”) on Mercury (COP3) was held in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting brought together over 1,000 stakeholders.
At COP3, working-level officials held discussions on technical rules for the implementation of the Convention and on organizational arrangements of the secretariat and made progress in development of the detailed rules of procedure for the Convention.
1. Organizational arrangements of the secretariat
- The parties to the Convention determined the programme of work and budget for the biennium 2020–2021 for the secretariat of the Convention.
- Regarding the financial mechanism of the Convention, the parties requested the secretariat to prepare draft terms of reference for the second review in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.
- Regarding the agreement already reached that the parties are required to submit a report on some information on mercury supply sources and trade and on mercury wastes once in two years, the parties confirmed that the first deadline for the submission of a report is December 31, 2019, in principle, and they decided on the report format.
- The parties determined that the Executive Secretary of the Convention and the Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, a joint body operated under these three conventions, will continue to be operated in a collaborative manner.
2. Technical matters
(1) Harmonized System codes developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO)
In response to the report on assigning product codes to mercury-added products in order to help customs identify and distinguish non-mercury-added products and mercury-added products, the parties agreed to request the secretariat of the Convention to draft a guidance document and to provide an assessment on the usefulness of such codes.
(2) Review of Annexes A and B
The Convention stipulates that the parties should review Annex A (mercury-added products) and Annex B (manufacturing processes in which mercury or mercury compounds are used) no later than five years after the date of entry into force of the Convention. Accordingly, concerning mercury-added products and manufacturing processes in which mercury or mercury compounds are used, the parties agreed that they will collect information on: technical and economic feasibility and environmental and health risks and benefits of non-mercury alternatives and other facts and that the secretariat of the Convention should compile the information into a report toward COP4 based on the opinions of an ad hoc group of experts to be established. Concerning dental amalgams containing mercury, the parties agreed to request the secretariat of the Convention to prepare an information document on the presence of mercury-free alternatives, impacts on users’ health and other facts.
(3) Releases of mercury
The Convention stipulates that the parties should as soon as practicable, establish an inventory of releases from relevant sources and adopt guidance on best available techniques (BAT) and on best environmental practices (BEP). Concerning this, a group of technical experts, which was established under these provisions of the Convention, submitted a report on its past efforts to COP3. The parties decided to request the group of technical experts to continue to develop the inventory and draft guidance during the intersessional period, and they held discussions on the coverage subject to the inventory and the guidance at COP3.
(4) Guidance on the management of contaminated sites
The parties held discussions on the draft guidance, which is an outcome of the efforts by the secretariat of the Convention in consultation with the group of technical experts, and they revised part of it and adopted the revised one. The guidance is a compilation concerning methods and approaches for: Site identification and characterization, Risk assessments, Options for managing the risks, etc.
(5) Mercury waste, in particular the consideration of relevant thresholds
The parties held discussions on the report compiled by the group of technical experts and other documents. They decided that no threshold needs to be established for “waste metal mercury, etc.” and “waste mercury-added products,” which are two of the three categories of waste mercury under the Convention, and that waste corresponding to the respective types of wastes in the list will be regarded as such mercury waste. Furthermore, the parties requested the group of technical experts to further substantiate its present recommendation that a totals concentration threshold may be appropriate for “objects contaminated with mercury,” In addition, the parties decided to extend the mandate of the group of technical experts until COP4 and to hold discussions on related issues, including the thresholds, during the intersessional period.
(6) Effectiveness evaluation
Based on the report compiled by the ad hoc technical expert group, the parties held discussions on frameworks, organizations, indicators and other elements for evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention. The parties decided on: exchanging information on items necessary for evaluation indicators in preparation for COP4 for the purpose of further information collection and discussions; and requesting the secretariat of the Convention to prepare guidance for monitoring activities, an integrated report of national reports, and a Trade, Supply and Demand Report.
3. Future schedule
COP4 will be held in Bali, Indonesia, from October to November 2021.
References: 1. Meeting materials and other documents at COP3
2. The Minamata Convention on Mercury
- The Minamata Convention on Mercury aims to protect human health and the natural environment on a global basis from artificially emitted or released mercury and its compounds, comprehensively controlling the entire life-cycle of mercury consisting of mining, trading, use, emission, release, disposal and other processes. On October 10, 2013, the parties adopted the Convention at a conference of plenipotentiaries held in Kumamoto City. The Convention entered into force on August 16, 2017. The number of the parties as of the enforcement date was 52, it came to 128 as of the convening of COP3 and is 115 as of today.
- On May 22, 2015, Japan approved the conclusion of the Convention at the 189th ordinary session of the Diet. During the same ordinary session, it also approved the Mercury Pollution Prevention Act and the Act of Partial Revision of the Air Pollution Control Act, which are the laws necessary for the enforcement of the Convention, and established them. On February 2, 2016, Japan deposited its instrument of acceptance with the UN Secretary General, which made Japan the 23rd party that has concluded the Convention.
3. Related websites
- Website of the UN Environment Programme for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (in English)
- List of the participants in the Minamata Convention (see the column titled “Approval (AA), Acceptance(A), Accession(a), Ratification” showing countries’ ratification dates; please note that these countries will become parties 90 days after the ratification date.)
- METI websites
Division in Charge
Chemical Management Policy Division, Manufacturing Industries Bureau