Commemorating the tenth anniversary of the 2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury, the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-5) agreed to update Convention annexes to list phaseout dates for certain types of batteries, switches and relays, fluorescent lamps, and cosmetics, and to mandate the phaseout of mercury as a catalyst in polyurethane production by 2025.

According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report of the meeting, delegates also “agreed on language declaring mercury-free processes for production of sodium or potassium methylate or ethylate to be technically and economically feasible.” The ENB summary notes that efforts by the African Group and others “to agree on a phaseout of dental amalgam, which is still widely used for dental fillings, did not achieve consensus,” with the final decision requiring countries “that have not yet phased out dental amalgam to report on how they plan to do so.”

The COP adopted a decision on mercury waste thresholds, providing “a fixed standard… for measuring whether imports and exports contaminated with mercury contain more than the allowed total concentration value of 15 mg/kg.” “This is important for countries who fear becoming global dumping grounds for mercury-contaminated wastes,” ENB writes, as well as for “producer nations [who] now have a benchmark for blocking exports of mercury-contaminated waste.”

Welcoming the 95% rate of national reporting on countries’ efforts to meet their obligations under the Convention, delegates made some changes to the existing format for national reports to help ensure they are clear and reflect recent data.

Other decisions sought to improve the functioning of the Secretariat and the support provided to parties, including a gender action plan and a knowledge management and digitalization strategy. COP-5 adopted the budget and programme of work for 2024-2025 and discussed emerging themes, including how best to address where mercury comes from.

Delegates highlighted the interlinkages between the Minamata Convention, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), and the Global Framework on Chemicals, with discussions focusing on “how cooperation could strengthen action on mercury, and potentially open up new sources of finance for the Convention’s work.”

COP-5 convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 30 October to 3 November 2023. As the ENB analysis of the meeting highlights, the Minamata Convention “signif[ies] a global commitment to banish mercury and safeguard people and future generations from its enduring threat.” [ENB Coverage of Minamata Convention on Mercury COP-5]




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