The Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-4) is convening in two parts to ensure the Minamata Convention on Mercury can continue to work, as the current budget and programme of work will expire at the end of 2021.
Minamata is the “youngest” multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) and takes a cradle-to-grave approach to protecting human health and the environment from mercury pollution.
The first segment of COP-4 took place virtually from 1-5 November 2021, with around 1,000 participants. Parties were able to adopt the two most pressing decisions:
- the Convention’s 2022 programme of work and budget – enabling the Secretariat to continue supporting parties in their compliance with the Convention’s legally-binding commitments; and
- agreeing on 21-25 March 2022 as the dates for the second segment of the meeting, which will convene in person in Bali, Indonesia.
Participants also discussed three other time-sensitive issues, beginning with national reporting. Parties’ first long-form national reports are due by 31 December 2021. Preparing each report will require “extensive technical expertise as well as coordination across what will often be several ministries.” During the meeting, the Secretariat introduced draft guidance for parties.
Another discussion focused on financing for the Convention, in particular through the eighth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Parties emphasized the GEF’s importance in supporting implementation of the Minamata Convention by helping countries to comply with its obligations. Both GEF-contributing and GEF-recipient countries urged GEF to increase the allocation of resources to its Chemicals and Waste Focal Area under GEF-8.
Finally, Parties turned to a requirement in the Convention that its effectiveness be evaluated no later than six years after its entry into force, which took place in 2017. COP-4 is therefore the deadline for the effectiveness evaluation. During the first segment of COP-4, the Secretariat reported on intersessional consultations on the evaluation, potential indicators, and draft guidance on monitoring of mercury and mercury compounds. Building on this intersessional work, Norway and Canada proposed a path to establishing a framework for the first effectiveness evaluation.
Several parties, especially from Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa, said the pandemic had precluded their meaningful participation in the intersessional consultations. African countries also noted difficulties in regional coordination, and requested support for an additional day of regional consultations immediately prior to the in-person segment of COP-4.
The Secretariat will continue to facilitate exchanges on the effectiveness evaluation leading up to the COP’s segment in Bali. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of COP 4]