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Minamata Convention Parties Agree to Strengthen Action on Mercury

Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury discussed a framework to evaluate the Convention's effectiveness, during the second segment of the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP-4.2). The Convention aims to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury.

The meeting marked the first time that artisanal and small-scale mining (ASGM) was part of the COP agenda. ASGM is the largest source of mercury emissions. Parties agreed to consult with Indigenous Peoples and local communities in developing ASGM national action plans. 

Parties also addressed the review of Annexes A and B on mercury-added products and manufacturing processes in which mercury or mercury compounds are used. The COP added the phase-out of eight mercury-added products, including:

  • compact fluorescent lamps,
  • cold cathode fluorescent lamps,
  • photograph film and paper, and
  • propellant for satellites.

Negotiations on lamps, dental amalgam, and other products focused on how and when countries will eliminate the use of mercury-added products and processes. Parties made progress on phasing down dental amalgam, with two additional measures to protect vulnerable populations against the use of mercury in bulk form by dental practitioners, as well as against dental amalgam for teeth treatment on pregnant and breastfeeding women, and patients under 15 years old.

Negotiations also addressed: reporting on sources, export, and intended uses; preparing inventories of point sources; and setting thresholds for determining when mercury contaminated wastes require special management. Parties supported Secretariat efforts to mainstream gender into all activities, projects, and programmes under the Convention, including the development of a gender action plan.

Parties approved the budget and programme of work for the next biennium. They also set the terms of reference for the next review of its financial mechanism.

The Government of Indonesia presented the Bali Declaration on Combatting Global Illegal Trade of Mercury, a non-binding political declaration that aims to enhance international cooperation, develop practical tools to monitor and share information, and exchange experiences and practices to combat the illegal trade of mercury.

COP-4.2 took place from 21-25 March in Bali, Indonesia, resuming after the first segment met online in November 2021. COP-5 is tentatively scheduled to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from 30 October to 3 November 2023, under the presidency of Romania. [UNEP press release] [Meeting website] [ENB coverage of COP-4.2]